Army general (France)
|Service branch||Army and Gendarmerie|
|Formation||6 June 1939|
|Next higher rank||Army
|Next lower rank||Army and Gendarmerie|
Officially, it is not a rank but a position and style bestowed on some divisional generals, which is the highest substantive rank, in charge of important commands, such as Chief of Staff of the French Army or Chief of the Defence Staff. It is an OF–9 NATO rank, equivalent to the Air Force air army general and the Navy admiral.
In the army, only a Marshal of France is higher; however, Marshal of France is not a rank, but a dignity in the State, today not bestowed. There is no higher rank in the Gendarmerie.
The rank was created on 6 June 1939 by a decree of the President of the French Republic published in the Journal Officiel de la République Française, following a joint report by the Ministers of War, of the Navy and of the Air. They came to the conclusion that the higher hierarchy was more often in relation with the one of other countries, which frequently had more than two general ranks. By necessity, two positions and styles were created to address this issue, army general and corps general. The decree also provided that the divisional generals already commanding a corps were made corps generals and the ones members of the Superior War Council army generals.
A French army general displays five stars on a shoulder board; the number of stars should not be compared with that of generals from other NATO countries, usually denoted by four stars only. The rank in the National Gendarmerie additionally displays a golden grenade above the stars. No shoulder board are worn on the full dress or service dress uniform; instead, the insignia is worn on the sleeves.
After the Second World War the design of the full dress uniform kepi for a general changed, now also displaying the stars. It was already the case for field headgear, with no other ornament than the stars.
The title of army general in France and elsewhere should not be confused with the rank of general of the army, which is more senior, and corresponds to other countries' marshal or field marshal. The rank of "general of the army" theoretically corresponds to overall command of an entire national army with several armies in the field, while the title "army general" only corresponds to the command of an individual army in the field.
- Not a rank, but a dignity in the State.
- Not a rank, but a position and style.
- Governement of the French Republic (6 June 1939). "Decree on designations in the high ranks of the military hierarchy". gallica.bnf.fr (in French). Retrieved 1 May 2020.
- Ministry of Defence of the French Republic. "Distinctive signs of rank and designation of General Officers" (in French). Archived from the original on 27 June 2009. Retrieved 26 April 2009.
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