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Colonel general is a military rank used in some armies. The rank originates from the Old European System and it is particularly associated with Germany, where historically general officer ranks were one grade lower than in the Commonwealth and the United States, and Generaloberst was a rank above full General, but below Generalfeldmarschall. The rank of colonel general also exists in the armed forces organized along the lines of the Soviet model, where it is comparable to that of a lieutenant general.


See also: List of Austro-Hungarian colonel generals

Insignia of an Austro-Hungarian Army colonel general

In the Austro-Hungarian Army, the second-highest rank was colonel general (German: Generaloberst, Hungarian: vezérezredes). The rank was introduced in 1915, following the German model. The rank was not used after World War I in the Austrian Army of the Republic.


See also: Military ranks of Hungary

The rank of vezérezredes (lit.'Chief regimental commander') is still used in Hungary. The rank replaced the ranks of gyalogsági tábornok (general of infantry), lovassági tábornok (general of cavalry), and táborszernagy (general of artillery) in the early 1940s.[citation needed]

Since 1991, vezérezredes has been the highest rank in the Hungarian Defence Forces, and is officially translated as General.[1]


The rank of colonel general (generálplukovník) was created in the Czechoslovak army in 1950; it was dropped after the 1993 dissolution of the state.


Main article: Colonel General (France)

In the French Army, under the Ancien régime, the officer in nominal command of all the regiments of a particular branch of service (i. e. infantry, cavalry, dragoons, Swiss troops, etc.) was known as the colonel general. This was not a rank, but an office of the Crown.


The Republic of Georgia adopted Soviet designations after its independence in 1991 so that the rank of colonel-general (Georgian: გენერალ-პოლკოვნიკი, general-polkovniki) exists, yet it is only used as highest possible rank in the Patrol Police and Border Police of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. In the Defence Forces it is the highest possible rank for all general officers and the Chief of Defence Forces (who currently holds minimum rank of major general).


Main article: Generaloberst

See also: List of German colonel generals

The rank of Generaloberst was introduced in the Prussian Army in 1854, originally as Colonel General with the rank of Field Marshal (Generaloberst mit dem Rang als Generalfeldmarschall) as field marshal was a wartime promotion and excluded members of the royal family. It later was split into said two ranks and eventually was adopted by the other state forces of the German Empire.

It was also used in the Reichswehr of the Weimar Republic, and more prominently within the Wehrmacht. The rank continued in the National People's Army of East Germany until German reunification in 1990. The Bundeswehr, first in West Germany and since 1990 in unified Germany, does not use it and has General as highest rank.


In 1961, J.Lkhagvasuren was awarded the title of Colonel General of the People's Republic of Mongolia. There are 9 people in Mongolia who have been promoted to colonel general. Currently, one person is currently living. He is Sonomyn Luvsangombo. Since 2006, this rank has been removed from the ranks of the Mongolian Armed Forces.

North Korea

Rank insignia colonel general
Air Force

The North Korean rank of sangjang translates as "colonel general". Sangjang is senior to that of jungjang (usually translated as "lieutenant general") and junior to that of daejang (usually translated as "general").

This rank is typically held by the commanding officer of units along the Korean DMZ and the North Korean security zone at Panmunjom. It is also the rank held by the KPA Pyongyang Defense Command's commanding general.


Rank insignias colonel general
Air Force

The rank of colonel general (Russian: генерал-полковник, romanizedgeneral-polkovnik) was first established in the Red Army on 7 May 1940, as a replacement for the previously existing Komandarm 2nd rank (kommandarm vtorovo ranga, "army commander of the second rank").[4] During World War II, about 199 officers were promoted to colonel general. Before 1943, Soviet colonel generals wore four stars on their collar patches (petlitsy). Since 1943, they have worn three stars on their shoulder straps, making the rank equivalent to a United States lieutenant general.[5]

Unlike the German Generaloberst (which it most probably calqued)[according to whom?], the Soviet and Russian colonel general rank is neither an exceptional nor a rare one, as it is a normal step in the "ladder" between a two-star lieutenant general and a four-star army general.[citation needed]

Other than that, the Soviet and Russian rank systems sometimes cause confusion in regard to equivalence of ranks, because the normal Western title for brigadier or brigadier general ceased to exist for the Russian Army in 1798. The kombrig rank that corresponded to one-star general only existed in the Soviet Union during 1935–1940. Positions typically reserved for these ranks, such as brigade commanders, have always been occupied by colonels (polkovnik) or, very rarely, major generals (see History of Russian military ranks).

The rank has usually been given to district, front and army commanders, and also to deputy ministers of defense, deputy heads of the general staff and so on.[citation needed]

In some post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States armies (for example in Belarus), there are no generals of the army or marshals, and so colonel general is the highest rank, usually held by the minister of defense.

The corresponding naval rank is admiral, which is also denoted by three stars.


Colonel general (generalöverste) has also been a senior military rank in Sweden, used principally before the 19th century.


In Ukraine, colonel general (Ukrainian: Генерал-полковник, romanizedgeneral-polkovnik) is now an obsolete military rank of general officers of the Ground Forces, Air Force, Navy (only Marine Corps, Naval Aviation and Shore Establishment). It was first introduced in 1920 as part of a rank system in Ukrainian People's Army replacing such terms as Sotnyk general and Bunchuk general.

From October 1, 2020, the rank of colonel general in Ukraine was no longer assigned and the highest rank of general was introduced. Until 2020, it was a higher rank than a lieutenant general, but a lower rank than general of the Army of Ukraine.

Although the rank of colonel general has not been awarded since 2020, it remains with its current bearers until they receive the military rank of general. Despite the fact that the military rank of colonel-general was withdrawn from circulation, after the next version of the order, the insignia of this rank were indicated. A colonel general has shoulder straps with four four-rayed stars above the maces. To distinguish the holders of the rank of colonel general from the holders of the newly introduced rank of general (have the same number of stars on the shoulder straps), it was decided to apply different schemes of star placement. The stars on the shoulder straps of the generals are located along the axis of the shoulder strap, and the stars of the colonel generals are arranged in a diamond.

Equivalent to the ranks of colonel general and general in the navy is the rank of admiral. Until 2020, the ranks of colonel general and admiral were denoted by three stars. Since 2020, the ranks of general, colonel general and admiral have become four-star ranks (with existing colonel generals slotted below generals of the Armed Forces).

Insignia of the rank of colonel general, Ukraine:

until 2016 project 2016 2016–2020 from 2020

United Kingdom

The title of colonel general was used before and during the English Civil War in both Royalist and Parliamentarian armies. In these cases, it often appears to have meant a senior colonel as opposed to a senior general.

Colonel generals' insignia

See also



  1. ^ Andrea, Kánya (6 May 2009). "A gallér és az ötágú csillag". (in Hungarian). Hungarian Defence Forces. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  2. ^ Davis, Brian Leigh (1980). German Uniforms of the Third Reich 1933–1945 (1st ed.). Poole, Dorset: Blandford Press. pp. 219–220. ISBN 0-7137-0881-6.
  3. ^ Stumpf, Reinhard (2017). Die Wehrmacht-Elite: Rang- und Herkunftsstruktur der deutschen Generale und Admirale 1933–1945 (in German). De Gruyter. p. 139. ISBN 9783486817683.
  4. ^ Charles D. Pettibone (2009). Organization and Order of Battle of Militaries in World War II : Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. Trafford On Demand Pub. p. 905. ISBN 978-1-4269-2251-0.
  5. ^ Ziemke 1968, p. 505.
  6. ^ "ԶԻՆՎՈՐԱԿԱՆ ԾԱՌԱՅՈՒԹՅԱՆ ԵՎ ԶԻՆԾԱՌԱՅՈՂԻ ԿԱՐԳԱՎԻՃԱԿԻ ՄԱՍԻՆ". (in Armenian). Legal information system of Armenia. 15 November 2017. Retrieved 3 June 2021.
  7. ^ "Azərbaycan Respublikası Silahlı Qüvvələri hərbi qulluqçularının hərbi geyim forması və fərqləndirmə nişanları haqqında Əsasnamə" (PDF). (in Azerbaijani). Ministry of Defense. 25 June 2001. pp. 64–70. Retrieved 16 February 2021.
  8. ^ "Указ Президента Республики Беларусь от 21.07.2009 N 388 "О военной форме одежды, знаках различия по воинским званиям и внесении дополнений в Указ Президента Республики Беларусь от 9 июня 2006 г. N 383"". (in Russian). Government of Belarus. Retrieved 30 May 2021.
  9. ^ "OBILJEŽJA I ČINOVI OS BIH". (in Bosnian). Oružane snage Bosne i Hercegovine. Archived from the original on 6 May 2019. Retrieved 30 September 2019.
  10. ^ "Oznake činova". (in Croatian). Republic of Croatia Armed Forces. 1 April 2019. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  11. ^ "Қазақстан Республикасының Қарулы Күштері, басқа да әскерлері мен әскери құралымдары әскери қызметшілерінің әскери киім нысаны және айырым белгілері туралы". (in Kazakh). Ministry of Justice (Kazakhstan). 25 August 2011. Retrieved 29 May 2021.
  12. ^ "IV. Izgled Činova u Vojsci". Official Gazette of Montenegro (in Montenegrin). 50/10: 22–28. 16 August 2010. Retrieved 17 September 2021.
  13. ^ "Указ Президента Российской Федерации от 11 марта 2010 года № 293 "О военной форме одежды, знаках различия военнослужащих и ведомственных знаках отличия"". (in Russian). Российской газеты. 12 March 2010. Retrieved 26 May 2021.
  14. ^ "ҚОНУНИ ҶУМҲУРИИ ТОҶИКИСТОН ДАР БОРАИ ЎҲДАДОРИИ УМУМИИ ҲАРБӢ ВА ХИЗМАТИ ҲАРБӢ". (in Tajik). The National Assembly of the Republic of Tajikistan. 13 April 2017. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  15. ^ "TÜRKMENISTANYŇ KANUNY Harby borçlulyk we harby gulluk hakynda (Türkmenistanyň Mejlisiniň Maglumatlary 2010 ý., № 3, 58-nji madda) (Türkmenistanyň 01.10.2011 ý. № 234-IV Kanuny esasynda girizilen üýtgetmeler we goşmaçalar bilen)" [LAW OF TURKMENISTAN On military service and military service (Information of the Mejlis of Turkmenistan, 2010, No. 3, Article 58) (as amended by the Law of Turkmenistan of October 1, 2011 No. 234-IV)] (PDF). (in Turkmen). Ministry of Defense (Turkmenistan). pp. 28–29. Retrieved 2 June 2021.
  16. ^ "O'zbekiston Respublikasi fuqarolarining harbiy xizmatni o'tash tartibi to'g'risida". (in Uzbek). Ministry of Justice of the Republic of Uzbekistan. 12 September 2019. Retrieved 3 June 2021.