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Field marshal (or field-marshal, abbreviated as FM) (UK: /fldˈmɑːʃəl/, US: /fildˈmɑːrʃəl/) is a very senior military rank, ordinarily senior to the general officer ranks. Usually it is the highest rank in an army, and when it is, few (if any) persons are appointed to it. It is considered as a five-star rank (OF-10) in modern-day armed forces in many countries.

Navies Armies Air forces
Commissioned and Non-commissioned officers
Admiral of
the fleet
General of the Army or
Field marshal
Marshal of
the air force
Admiral General Air chief marshal
Vice admiral Lieutenant general Air marshal
Rear admiral Major general Air vice-marshal
Commodore Brigadier or
Brigadier general
Air commodore
Captain Colonel Group captain
Commander Lieutenant colonel Wing commander
Lieutenant
commander
Major or
Commandant
Squadron leader
Lieutenant Captain Flight lieutenant
Sub-lieutenant Lieutenant or
First lieutenant
Flying officer
Ensign Second lieutenant Pilot officer
Midshipman Officer cadet Flight cadet
Enlisted grades
Warrant officer or
Chief petty officer
Warrant officer or
Sergeant major
Warrant officer
Petty officer Sergeant Sergeant
Leading seaman Corporal Corporal
Seaman Private or
Trooper
Aircraftman
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The origin of the term dates to the early Middle Ages, originally meaning the keeper of the king's horses (from Old German Marh-scalc = "horse-servant"), from the time of the early Frankish kings.

Promotion to the rank of field marshal in many countries historically required extraordinary military achievement by a general (a wartime victory). However, the rank has also been used as a divisional command rank and also as a brigade command rank. Examples of the different uses of the rank include Austria-Hungary, Prussia and Germany for an extraordinary achievement; Spain and Mexico for a divisional command (Spanish: mariscal de campo); and France, Portugal and Brazil for a brigade command (French: maréchal de camp, Portuguese: marechal de campo).

The traditional attribute distinguishing a field marshal is a baton. The baton nowadays is purely ornamental, and as such may be richly decorated. That said, it is not necessary for the insignia to be a baton. (Such is the case in Russia post-1991 and the former Soviet Union, which use a jewelled star referred to as a Marshal's Star.)

The exact wording of the titles used by field marshals varies: examples include "marshal" and "field marshal general". The air force equivalent in Commonwealth and many Middle Eastern air forces is marshal of the air force (not to be confused with air marshal). Navies, which usually do not use the nomenclature employed by armies or air forces, use titles such as "fleet admiral," "grand admiral" or "admiral of the fleet" for the equivalent rank.

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Regional examplesEdit

AfghanistanEdit

 
Afghan National Army (ANA) insignia

Field marshal Mohammad Qasim Fahim was a politician in Afghanistan who served as Vice President from June 2002 until December 2004 and from November 2009 until his death. Between September 2001 and December 2004, he also served as Defense Minister under the Afghan Transitional Administration.

AustraliaEdit

Sir Thomas Blamey was the first and is the only Australian-born field marshal. He was promoted to the rank on the insistence of the Australian prime minister, Sir Robert Menzies, in 1951. His field marshal's baton is on display in the Second World War galleries at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. Currently, the only Australian field marshal is HRH Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who was promoted to the rank of field marshal in the Australian Army on 1 April 1954.

ChinaEdit

During Imperial rule in China, different dynasties gave different titles to generals. A very similar title is "司馬" (sima) in the Eastern Han dynasty, which literally means "master of horse", and later became a two-character surname too. "司馬" is one of the Three Excellencies in Eastern Han, who is in charge of the country's military affairs.

Later, a more common title for a field marshal or a commandant was (元帥 Yuan Shuai) or grand field marshal (大元帥 da yuan shuai). One of the most famous of these generals was Yue Fei from the Song Dynasty

Since the People's Republic of China was established in 1949, it has promoted 10 military commanders to the rank of marshal, all in 1955 and abolished in 1965. Since then, the rank has remained defunct.

EgyptEdit

Egypt military history had 8 field marshals. Currently there are two living field marshals; ex military chief Mohamed Hussein Tantawi and President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Previous field marshals are Abdel Hakim Amer, Mohamed Abdel Ghani el-Gamasy, Ahmad Ismail Ali, Ahmed Badawi, Mohammed Aly Fahmy and Abd al-Halim Abu Ghazala.

FinlandEdit

Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim was promoted to Field Marshal in 1933. In 1942 he was promoted to Marshal of Finland, which really is not a distinctive military rank but an honour.

FranceEdit

In the French army of the Ancien Régime, the normal brigade command rank was field marshal (maréchal de camp). In 1793, during the French Revolution, the rank of field marshal was replaced by the rank of brigade general. The rank insignia of field marshal was two stars (one-star being used for a senior colonel rank). The French field marshal rank was below lieutenant-general, which in 1793 became divisional-general. In the title maréchal de camp and the English "field marshal", there is an etymological confusion in the French camp between the English words "camp" and "field".

The French rank of field marshal should not be confused with the rank of Marshal of France, which has been the highest rank of the French Army since the higher dignity of Marshal General of France was abolished in 1848 (although in theory it is not an actual rank but a "state dignity").

GermanyEdit

 
Generalfeldmarschall

Generalfeldmarschall (general field marshal, field marshal general, or field marshal /   listen , abbreviated to Feldmarschall) was the most senior general officer rank in the armies of several German states. In the Habsburg Monarchy, the Austrian Empire and Austria-Hungary, the rank Feldmarschall was used.

GreeceEdit

Stratarches (Greek: στρατάρχης, pl. στρατάρχαι (archaic) or στρατάρχες (modern)), means ruler of the army in Greek, and is a title associated with successful generals. In modern Greek usage, it corresponds to the rank of Field Marshal.

IndiaEdit

 
Indian insignia

Field marshal is the highest attainable rank in the Indian Army. It is a ceremonial / war time rank. There have been two Indian field marshals to date: Sam Manekshaw, the 8th chief of staff of the Indian Army in 1969, and Kodandera Madappa Cariappa in 1986. [1]

IndonesiaEdit

 
Jenderal Besar (lit; Grand General) of Indonesia

The rank "Field marshal" in Indonesia is known as Jenderal Besar (Grand General). Only three men have earned this rank: Generals Sudirman, Abdul Haris Nasution, and Soeharto.

LibyaEdit

Khalifa Haftar was the first to receive this rank in Libya from the House of Representatives (Libya) in 2016 after the liberation of oil ports in the Operation Swift Lightning.[2]

PakistanEdit

 
Pakistani insignia

Muhammad Ayub Khan is the only field marshal in the history of Pakistan. He appointed himself when he was the second president of Pakistan and commander in chief of the army.

PhilippinesEdit

US Army General Douglas MacArthur was the first and only field marshal in the history of the Philippine Army, a position he held while also acting as the Military Advisor to the Commonwealth Government of the Philippines with a rank of major general. President Quezon conferred the rank of field marshal on 24 August 1936 and MacArthur's duty included the supervision of the creation of the Philippines nation-state.

Portugal and BrazilEdit

In the Portuguese Army, the rank of marechal de campo was created in 1762, as the most junior general officer rank. Hierarchically, it was between the rank of tenente-general (lieutenant-general) and the rank of brigadeiro (brigadier), this last one not being considered a general rank, but a kind of senior colonel.

In Portugal, the ranks of marechal-general (marshal-general) and marechal do Exército (marechal of the Army) or simply marechal also existed. Distinctively from the rank of marechal de campo, the ranks of marechal-general and marechal were the highest in the Portuguese Army, usually being reserved for the commanders-in-chief of the Army. Latter, the rank of marechal-general became reserved for the Monarch, as a mere honorary dignity.

When Brazil became independent from Portugal in 1822, the Portuguese system of ranks was maintained by the Brazilian Army, including the rank of marechal de campo.

In the second half of the 19th century, the rank of marechal de campo was replaced, both in Portugal and Brazil, by the rank of general de brigada (brigade general). This last rank still exists today in the Brazilian Army, but corresponds to the present rank of major-general (major-general) in the Portuguese Army.

SerbiaEdit

 
Serbian voivode

In Serbian, field marshal can be translated as vojvoda (Serbian: Бојни Војвода). It was the highest rank in the army of the Kingdom of Serbia and Kingdom of Yugoslavia until the Second World War. It was created with the passing of the law on the Organization of the Army of the Kingdom of Serbia in 1901. The law was passed on the suggestion of Lieutenant Colonel (later Divisional General) Miloš Vasić who was minister of defense at the time. The rank was awarded only during the war for particular military contributions of top generals.

In the Balkan Wars and World War I this title was used to designate the highest military rank in the Serbian Army (above general – the equalent of field marshal in other armies). The first vojvoda was promoted by a great military decree of the Kingdom of Serbia on 20 October 1912. Only four people ever officially held that military rank: Radomir Putnik (attained the rank in 1912), Stepa Stepanović (1914), Živojin Mišić (1914) and Petar Bojović (1918). The Montenegrin General Janko Vukotić (1915) and the French General Louis Franchet d'Espérey (1921) held the rank as an honorary title. During the World War I for a time, general Petar Bojović held the position of Chief of Staff of the Supreme Command (the highest military position in the Serbian Army) and was a superior to two army commanders who were field marshals (Stepa Stepanović and Živojin Mišić).

Before this rank was introduced, the highest rank in the Kingdom of Serbia was army general. After Second World War, the newly formed Yugoslav People's Army stopped using the royal ranking system, so this rank ceased to exist.

Sri LankaEdit

Field Marshal is the highest rank in the Sri Lanka Army. It is a ceremonial rank. Sarath Fonseka is the Sri Lankan officer to hold the rank. He was promoted to the position on 22 March 2015 as a recognition of his extraordinary contribution to Sri Lanka's war victory over the LTTE as the army commander.[3]

ThailandEdit

 
Thai Chom Phon (จอมพล)

In the Royal Thai Army the rank of Chom Phon (Thai: จอมพล, จอมพลทหารบก) was created in 1888, together with all other military ranks along western lines, by King Chulalongkorn. Until the first appointment in 1910, the rank was reserved solely for the reigning monarch. Currently the rank is in abeyance.

TurkeyEdit

In the Turkish Armed Forces, the corresponding rank is mareşal. Its origins can be traced to the Ottoman Empire and to the military of Persia, where it was called "مشير" (müşir)[4] and bestowed upon senior commanders upon order of the ruling sultan. The rank of mareşal can only be bestowed by the National Assembly, and only given to a general who leads an army, navy or air force successfully in three battles or at various front lines at the same time, gaining a victory over the enemy. Only two persons have been bestowed the rank: Kemal Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey, and his Chief of Staff Fevzi Çakmak, both for their successes in the Turkish War of Independence.

UgandaEdit

Field Marshal Idi Amin Dada was the military dictator and third president of Uganda from 1971 to 1979. Amin joined the British colonial regiment, the King's African Rifles in 1946, serving in Somalia and Kenya. Eventually, Amin held the rank of major general in the post-colonial Ugandan Army and became its commander before seizing power in the military coup of January 1971, deposing Milton Obote. He later promoted himself to field marshal while he was the head of state.

United KingdomEdit

 
United Kingdom insignia

Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, held the rank of a field marshal, or equivalent rank, in eight armies. Nine of his field marshal batons are on display in Apsley House (see Batons of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington).

United StatesEdit

The United States has never used the rank of field marshal; however, General Douglas MacArthur was field marshal of the Philippine Army from 24 August 1936, until 31 December 1937.

On 14 December 1944, Congress created the rank of "general of the army", a five-star rank equivalent to that of field marshal in other countries. Two days later, George Marshall was promoted to this rank, becoming the first five-star general in American history. A Washington columnist suggested (with tongue in cheek) that Marshall disliked the plan because five stars was the rank of field marshal and the Chief of Staff could then be addressed as "Marshal Marshall."[5]

Other nationsEdit

See alsoEdit

NotesEdit

  1. ^ The equivalent of a Generalfeldmarschall in the German navy was Großadmiral (grand admiral). The rank of Generalfeldmarschall was abolished after the fall of Nazi Germany in 1945.

ReferencesEdit