General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation

The General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (Russian: Генеральный штаб Вооружённых сил Российской Федерации, romanizedGeneral'nyy shtab Vooruzhonnykh sil Rossiyskoy Federatsii) is the military staff of the Russian Armed Forces. It is the central organ of the military command of the Armed Forces Administration and oversees operational command of the armed forces under the Russian Ministry of Defence.

General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation
Генеральный штаб Вооружённых сил Российской Федерации
Great emblem of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces.svg
General Staff emblem
Flag of Russia's Chief of Staff.svg
Official flag
Ministerstvo oborony novoe zdanie.JPG
Main Building of the General Staff in Moscow
Staff overview
Formed10 June 1992
Preceding agencies
  • General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Soviet Union (1946–1991)
  • General Staff of the Red Army (1921–1946)
  • Revolutionary Military Council of the Republic (1918–1921)
  • Council of People's Commissars on War and Navy Affairs (1917–1918)
  • Imperial Russian Army (1812–1917)
JurisdictionMinistry of Defence
HeadquartersZnamenka 14/1, Moscow
Annual budgetClassified
Ministers responsible

As of 2012, the Chief of the General Staff is Army General Valery Gerasimov and the First Deputy Chief of the General Staff is Colonel General Nikolai Bogdanovsky.

The General Staff Building is located in Moscow on Znamenka Street [ru] in the Arbat District. Together with the Main Building of the Ministry of Defense and several Staff directorate office buildings nearby, it forms the so-called "Arbat military district" as it is often referred to among the military personnel to outline the highest supreme command of the Russian Armed Forces.


Chief of the General Staff Army General Valery Gerasimov with shoulder boards.
General Staff (old building) in Moscow
Memorial sign "250 years of the General Staff" (2013)

In the Soviet Armed Forces, the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the USSR [ru] acted as the main commanding and supervising body of the military. A Red Army Staff first formed in 1921 but, historian John Erickson says, until 1924 developed into an unwieldy grouping dealing with combat training, routine Red Army affairs, and defence policy, all without real definition. Erickson dates the development of the Staff as the Soviet "military brain" from Mikhail Frunze's appointment to the post of Chief of Staff by Order No.78 of 1 April 1924. 'From this date.. the history of the Soviet General Staff – as it was to become – begins'.[1]

On 22 September 1935, the authorities renamed the RKKA Staff as the General Staff, which essentially reincarnated the General Staff of the Russian Empire.[2] Many of the former RKKA Staff officers had served as General Staff officers in the Russian Empire and became General Staff officers in the USSR. General Staff officers typically had extensive combat experience and solid academic training.

William Odom wrote:

During World War II [the General Staff] became Stalin's main organ for operational direction of all military forces. After the war it became the most powerful centre for virtually all aspects of military planning, operations, and determination of resource requirements. The minister of defence had only a limited staff for his own support, leaving him heavily dependent on the General Staff. … Within the Ministry of Defence, all the resource allocation issues were normally resolved by the chief of the General Staff before going to the minister, and finally, after consultation with GOSPLAN, to the Politburo.'[3]

During the Cold War, the Soviet General Staff maintained Soviet plans for the invasion of Western Europe, whose massive scale was made known secretly to the West by spies such as Ryszard Kukliński and later published by German researchers working with the National People's Army files,[4] and the Parallel History Project[5] and the associated Polish exercise documents, Seven Days to the River Rhine (1979).

Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union and especially since 2004 the General Staff and the Russian Ministry of Defence have attempted to divide direction of the armed forces between them, often in intense bouts of bureaucratic disagreement. It has been reported that the General Staff's main role now is that of the Russian Ministry of Defence's department of strategic planning, and the Minister of Defence himself is now gaining executive authority over the troops. This is, however, contradicted by some Russian commentators and defence analysts.[6]

Defence Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov who initiated the 2008 military reform, in order for separation of operational and administrative functions, the Ministry of Defense formed two functional lines of responsibility: the first was planning the use and construction of the Armed Forces, the second was planning the comprehensive support of troops (forces). The transition to a three-tier principle of responsibility was conducted: the main commands of the branches and formations were responsible for combat training, and the General Staff, joint strategic commands and formations were responsible for operational training. As a result of the transformations carried out, the General Staff was freed from duplicate functions and became a full-fledged strategic planning body that organizes and exercises control of the Armed Forces in fulfilling the assigned tasks.

The General Staff's history dates back to its creation as early as 25 January 1763 during the Russian Empire. The Day of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation is celebrated annually on 25 January even though the current General Staff of Russia was established at a different date. The General Staff of Imperial Russia then became the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the USSR [ru] in 1918 before being succeeded by the present Staff.

General Staff organizationEdit

As of September 2015:


  1. ^ John Erickson, The Soviet High Command 1918–1941: A Military-Political History 1918–1941, St Martin's Press (Macmillan), London, 1962 (1964?), pp. 173, 203–204, 796.
  2. ^ See Philip Bayer, Evolution of the Soviet General Staff 1917–1941, New York, Garland, 1987
  3. ^ Odom, The Collapse of the Soviet Military, Yale, 1998, p. 27.
  4. ^ Odom, William E. (1998). "The Collapse of the Soviet Military". Yale. pp. 72–80. Missing or empty |url= (help)
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2010-01-22. Retrieved 2009-12-12.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ Pavel Felgenhauer, "Russia's Imperial General Staff", Perspective, Volume XVI Number 1 (October–November 2005)
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v RF MOD website
  8. ^ Marsh, Dr. Christopher (2017). Developments in Russian Special Operations - Russia's Spetsnaz, SOF and Special Operations Forces Command (PDF). CANSOFCOM Education & Research Centre Monograph Series. Ottawa, Ontario: Canadian Special Operations Forces Command. ISBN 9780660073538. Retrieved 22 September 2017.

Further readingEdit

  • Захаров М.В. Генеральный штаб в предвоенные годы. — М.: Воениздат, 1989
  • Zakharov, M.V. General Staff in the pre-war years, Moscow, Voenizdat., 1989 (chapter 6) [1]

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 55°45′02″N 37°36′10″E / 55.75056°N 37.60278°E / 55.75056; 37.60278