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Army general (France)

A Général d'armée (army general) is the highest active military rank of the French Army.

Army General
Général d'armée
CountryFrance French Republic
Service branchArmy and Gendarmerie
NATO rankOF-9
Formation6 June 1939[1]
Next higher rankMaréchal de France[a]
Next lower rankGénéral de corps d'armée[b]

Officially, général d'armée is not a rank (grade in French), but a position and style (rang et appellation) bestowed on some généraux de division (divisional general, which is the highest substantive rank) in charge of important commands, such as chief of staff of the army (chef d'état-major de l'armée de terre) or chiefs of general staff (chef d'état-major des armées). The Air Force equivalent is Général d'armée aérienne and the Navy equivalent is Amiral.

Only a Marshal of France (Maréchal de France) is higher; however, Marshal of France is not a rank, but a dignity of the State (dignité dans l'État), today not bestowed. It is considered to be a position of distinction rather than an actual military rank. A seventh star is displayed on the general of the army insignia by a Marshal of France.


The rank was created on 6 June 1939 by a decree[1] published in the Journal Officiel de la République Française, following a 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 those of other countries, which frequently had more than two general ranks. By necessity, two positions and styles were created to adress this issue : Général d'armée and Général de corps d'armée.

Insignia descriptionEdit

Insignia for a Gendarmerie Général d'armée

A général d'armée displays five stars on a shoulder board.[c] The mention of the current usage of "a sixth star authorized for the army general in command of the Paris sector" is a legend, this sixth star never existed.[2]

The rank in the National Gendarmerie additionally displays a golden grenade above 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 theoretically corresponds to the command of an individual army in the field.

Famous rank holdersEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Not a rank, but a dignity in the state
  2. ^ Not a rank, but a position and style
  3. ^ The number of stars should not be compared with the ranks of generals of other NATO countries; the général d'armée is a NATO "OF-9" rank, denoted in other NATO armies by 4 stars
    See Army general
  1. ^ a b Governement of the French Republic (6 June 1939). "Décret relatif aux appellations dans les hauts grades de la hiérarchie militaire". Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  2. ^ French MOD "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-06-27. Retrieved 2009-04-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)»