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six star generals etc

Page history last edited by Andrew Alder 5 years, 9 months ago

There is a great deal of interest in six-star ranks. Do they really exist? Yes, in both the past and the present. 

 

Preamble and why this page

 

I'm a passionate and I hope loyal Wikipedian. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Andrewa/creed for my views on it.

 

But frankly, the current Wikipedia article at six-star rank  is a disgraceful example of American bias. Not even of all Americans, it's the view of some military history hobbyists who think that the biggest and best of everything has to be American. So the article reads six-star rank was a short-lived 1955 proposal for a special grade immediately superior to a five-star rank, to be worn by a proposed General of the Armies of the United States. 

 

And if the only armed forces in the world were American, that might be true. Even then it's doubtful at best, highly misleading and dare I say POV. Six-star ranks have probably existed in the US, and this has never been officially denied despite many requests to the authorities, and were also "proposed" in 1945, for both the army and navy. But there is at least one example of an unambiguous six-star rank elsewhere, and several probables.

 

The article was actually deleted at one stage, and quickly recreated with the current US-centric version. This tactic removed all the non-US material from the article history  as well as from the article.  

 

Can this page help WIkipedia?

 

Wikipedia suffers from Robert Heinlein's observation on democracy: 

 

Democracy is based on the principle that a million men are more likely to be right than one man, Let's have that one again too...

 

And so far I have found no better illustration than our efforts to write an article on six star ranks, and some related articles there. These articles have see-sawed as relevant material has been removed and irrelevant material added. Strong points of view have been expressed in the discussions which did not belong in Wikipedia at all. And this is not entirely the fault of the contributors concerned. There is a lot of misinformation out there!  

 

This page is my own original research on the subject. No more and no less. It contains some opinions, but only those that I believe are supported by this research.

 

It is I hope both accurate, and even verifiable. But even so it certainly doesn't belong in Wikipedia as is. It is not encyclopedic as it stands, nor does it pretend to be so.

 

So my goal here is not for it to be a substitute or even a draft Wikipedia article, but rather:

  • To provide an accurate, comprehensive and readable source of information on the subject, something that seems lacking on the World Wide Web currently.
  • To provide a foil against which progress on the Wikipedia articles can be measured.  

 

Wikipedia does not publish original research, and nor should it publish the rhetoric with which I have sometimes decorated the information below. Our standards for inclusion of material are higher in this and other ways than mine are here, and that's good. On the other hand, comparing our article to this page will I hope help to identify both gaps in our coverage that could and should be filled, and material that is baseless or just plain wrong and should be removed.

 

I don't believe anything that contradicts what is said below belongs in Wikipedia. The whole idea of verifiability surely is as a means of producing and demonstrating accuracy. I hope as I said above that what follows is at least accurate, and if I have achieved this then material that contradicts it is ipso facto inaccurate. 

 

I do believe that all of the information below does ideally belong in Wikipedia. But including it depends on finding reliable sources, and for various reasons this is difficult. First and foremost of these is, both the Internet and print media are flooded by material written by American military hobbyists (possibly even by some of those responsible for the US-centric and POV versions of the Wikipedia article). It is very difficult to find the wheat amongst all that chaff, and even if it's found the reply will be "Ah yes, but most sources say...". 

 

This page itself is not a good reliable source as Wikipedia uses the term. It is at least borderline as able to be cited, but also borderline at best. It is the work of a conscientious researcher who is doing his best to be impartial, but is not hiding his personal points of view either.

 

I have no qualifications in this particular field, and do not pretend otherwise. And in any case, I won't cite my own work. Tempted as I might be on occasions.

 

How can the information below help improve Wikipedia? In exactly two ways:

  • Material below which is not currently in Wikipedia can serve as a warning that Wikipedia may be incomplete. We need to seek reliable sources for it, and if they can be found, the material can be added. If not, I'm afraid we just need to wait until such are published.
  • Material below which contradicts Wikipedia can serve as a warning that Wikipedia is wrong. If, as I hope, the corresponding material in Wikipedia is unsourced, then it should be removed. 

 


 

History of the six star rank

 

Five star ranks in the USA

The concept of a star rank seems to have originated in the United States during the Second World War, when the ranks of General of the Army and Fleet Admiral were created, each with an insignia of five stars. This made five grades of General Officer in all, each with an insignia of from one to five stars, with the more senior ranks having the more stars.

 

This consistency of insignia was new. Two officers, Admiral George Dewey and General John Pershing, had previously been promoted to ranks superior to the four-star ranks of Admiral and General respectively, but in both cases their insignia for these higher ranks still featured only four stars. 

 

The five-star ranks were first awarded in December 1944, partly at least in response to the fact that other allied forces had serving officers with ranks such as Field Marshal and Admiral of the Fleet which were superior to the four-star ranks of (full) General and (full) Admiral. The new five-star ranks were explicitly to be equal to these existing overseas ranks. 

 

In the army in particular, this also offered a solution to several long standing problems of terminology. The first was the ambiguity of the term and title General. This had previously been the only official title for the rank immediately senior to Major General, but the term could also mean any of the ranks from Brigadier General to full General (and now also General of the Army). To this day, holders of all five General Officer ranks are addressed simply as General. The term full General was sometimes used for the four-star rank and still is, but was relatively rare, and still is. Four-star General on the other hand is unambiguous. The navy had a similar problem with the term Admiral.

 

Another was the quirk that although a Major was (and is) several levels superior to a Lieutenant, a Lieutenant General was (and is) superior to a Major General. Calling these Generals two- and three-star instead of Major General and Lieutenant General avoided this potential confusion. (The navy had no corresponding problem.)

 

Finally and most important of all, warfare was changing. Army Generals had not often previously commanded naval formations, nor had Admirals commanded army formations, and when they had done so it had only been at the very top of the command structure. This had changed forever. At the higher levels of command, army, navy, marine and air force units were regularly working together in a single command structure. There was an urgent need to unify the rank structure at these upper levels. The concept of the star ranks did this very neatly.  

 

(Well, neatly in theory. The Army had said that Iwo Jima was useless both to them and to the Japanese Army. The Navy had said that it was useless both to them and to the Japanese Navy. The Air Force had said... wait for it... that it was useless both to them and to the Japanese Air Force. The US Marines took it anyway, with support from the other services, and significant losses all around. But at least they got a good photo opportunity... on the second try, the first flag raised wasn't big enough... and three of the six who raised the second flag actually survived the battle and returned to the USA, each of them terminally traumatised but well enough to become national heroes and to play themselves in the 1949 John Wayne film. Plus side, one good photo, one good film, one useless island, lots and lots of medals. Minus side, how many dead and wounded?) 

 

Six star ranks in the USA

In 1945 the need was foreseen to further promote General Macarthur and Admiral Nimitz, both already five-star officers, in preparation for the invasion of Japan in Operation Downfall. A sketch of a six-star insignia, by an unidentified member of Macarthur's staff, is in his war record and can be obtained from the US Army Institute of Heraldry (IOH). It has been falsely reported that the sketch was by them. It wasn't. But it and another sketch for a different six-star insignia both found their way into the IOH archives.

 

Neither of these promotions took place, and the six-star rank was never authorised by Congress. After the war and his retirement there were further attempts to have Macarthur promoted to a six-star rank, to no avail. Had any of these promotions taken place it would have been explicitly to a six-star rank, but they didn't.

 

Then in 1976, George Washington was posthumously promoted to General of the Armies of the United States, that rank to have precedence over all other ranks current and past. At least three US newspapers called this a six-star rank, but it wasn't. It was an infinity-star rank. No official documents call it six star, and if anyone is ever promoted to a six-star rank, Washington will still outrank them. Or at least that seems to be the intention.

 

But the official version on this is... well, there isn't one. Many times US authorities have been asked whether Washington should be considered a six-star officer. There has been no reply. Similarly, both General Pershing and Admiral Dewey held ranks superior to the five-star ranks later created in 1944. Should they therefore be considered to be six-star officers? Again there has been no reply. Both Dewey and Pershing wore insignia featuring four stars, but each with some extra feature to indicate that they outranked the four-star officers of their day. As serving officers in wartime, both of them wanted their ranks and insignia to be as helpful as possible in winning wars, and so they chose something that would be instantly recognised for what it was: The rank immediately above the previously highest rank, whose insignia were already familiar. If that created a problem for later military hobbyists in peacetime, they probably didn't care much.   

 

There were no five-star officers at that time, so the question as to the relationship of Dewey and Pershing to five-star ranks only became a question in 1944 when these were created, and perhaps surprisingly in view of later reluctance to comment on such matters, it was answered at the time. These ranks were and are explicitly junior to those of Dewey and Pershing.

 

So it's clear that the ranks of Dewey and Pershing are superior to the five-star ranks of 1944, and that Washington's 1976 rank is superior to the five-star ranks of 1944, and to those of the few officers subsequently appointed to five-star ranks, and to those of Dewey and Pershing. The relationship of any of these ranks to a six-star rank, such as that proposed for Macarthur and Nimitz, has yet to be officially established. Washington's 1976 promotion is superior to ranks current and past as of then, but future ranks are not mentioned.

 

Most if not all authorities believe that Washington's rank is superior to any future rank as well, if they say anything at all on the matter.

 

Five star ranks in the rest of the world

The concept of a five star officer has now been applied to officers in armed forces outside of the USA, in some cases officially, and in nearly all cases consistently. 

 

And this was the clear intention of the 1944 proposal. The ranks were to match those of Field Marshal and Admiral of the Fleet then current in the forces of US allies, and so these ranks have validly and widely also become known as five star, both by Americans and others. Rommel had been promoted to Generalfeldmarschall in 1942, and when the American five-star army ranks were introduced, they were seen as equivalent to his. 

 

And another related US invention has similarly taken off, that of grade as opposed to rank. Fleet Admiral and General of the Army are both ranks, and exist in some forces but not others, but five star is a grade, and is applicable to any service although some, such as the US Coast Guard, may not be currently authorised to use it. The NATO designation OF-10 quite officially refers to the grade represented in the US Navy by the rank of Fleet Admiral, in the US Army by the rank of General of the Army, in the British Army by the rank of Field Marshal, and in the Royal (British) Air Force by the rank of Air Marshal, among many others. They are different ranks, but they are all five-star grade.

 

This concept of grade, by unifying the rank structure across not only the various forces of a single nation but also across those of allied nations, is an essential one in modern warfare, where elements of these disparate services must quickly be organised and reorganised to operate together. Without it, they would be at an enormous disadvantage opposing an enemy that possessed it. It's no more optional than the machine gun.

 

And it is even necessary between enemies as well as between friends. Treaties, protocols and conventions concerning how prisoners of war are treated, how surrenders are accepted, many such details of warfare, depend on the opposing officers recognising the grade each of the other. 

 

And it exposes and hopefully solves some interesting problems. Some rank structures are flatter than others, in that they have fewer levels of rank. So, for example, the NATO officer grades don't quite match the US pay grades; O-1 and O-2 in the US system both correspond to OF-1 in the NATO system, with the result that at the top of the scale the US grade of O-11 then corresponds to the NATO grade of OF-10.

 

The upshot of all of this is, many non-US ranks, such as Field Marshal in the Australian Army, are commonly and almost universally now referred to as five star.

 

And there's a consequence. The insignia of all US ranks that are officially and explicitly defined to be five star include five stars arranged in a pentagon. But outside of the USA, the insignia of five star ranks vary widely, even within NATO, where there is an official five-star grade of OF-10. Of the twelve founding members of NATO, only the USA and the UK have ever had five-star ranks, with Italy and France in addition having five-star positions with their own insignia but unlike the USA holders of these positions are considered appointed to the position rather than temporarily promoted to the rank that goes with it. Anyway, in all four of these countries officers have worn the uniform with the insignia of a five-star rank, but among the NATO founding members only the US has a five-star insignia with five stars.

 

There are a few other countries worldwide that do have five star ranks with an insignia featuring five stars, South Korea and the Philippines for example. But they are the exception not the rule. Five-star ranks are rare, but US-style five-star insignia are far, far rarer. And they are certainly not the same thing.

 

Five-star ranks, where they exist at all, typically do not have five-star ensignia.

 

Six star ranks in the rest of the world

So a six-star rank has been explicitly discussed in the USA but not awarded (Macarthur twice and Nimitz once), and twice awarded in all but name (Dewey and Pershing), and a rank superior to all of these ranks has also been awarded and is (falsely but) widely believed to itself be a six-star rank (Washington).

 

If America were all of the world, there would be some justification for seeing the six-star rank as newsworthy but hypothetical. What of the rest of the world? Have any six-star ranks been held?

 

The answer is yes, and the position regarding actual, awarded six-star ranks in at least three other armed forces is far clearer than the position in the USA. Which isn't saying much, admittedly!

 

Germany

The clearest case is probably that of  Hermann Goering. In July 1940, Hitler promoted twelve generals to the rank of Generalfeldmarschall or Field Marshal, a five-star rank. Goering had been promoted to this rank in 1938, so at the same ceremony he was promoted to Reichsmarschall, literally Marshal of the Empire, the only person to ever hold this rank. 

 

There is no doubt that Goering's rank was a fully authorised, fully operational, genuine military rank, awarded to an officer in active service. There is none of the wiggle-room that phrases such as ceremonial might provide in other cases. But is it a six-star rank?

 

The rank of Generalfeldmarschall had been held by five German generals during the First World War. It was banned as one of the restrictions placed on Germany after that war, but revived by Hitler as a ceremonial rank in 1936, and subsequently also awarded to serving officers such as Friedrich Paulus in 1940 and of course Goering. When explicit five-star ranks were created by the USA in 1944, the war in Europe was still in progress, the rank of Field Marshal was held by several German officers and also by UK officer Bernard Montgomery, and the five-star American ranks were explicitly equal in grade to theirs.

 

So there seems no doubt that Generalfeldmarschall was a five-star rank, and no doubt that the 1944 rank of Reichsmarschall was the rank immediately above it. And unless you wish to deny one of these two premises, to deny that Reichsmarschall was a six-star rank seems strange to say the least. That's exactly what the phrase six star means. It's the grade immediately above five star. The prosecution rests. 

 

The Soviet Union

The rank of Marshal of the Soviet Union, and the current rank of Marshal of the Russian Federation, both appear to be five star ranks.

 

Joseph Stalin was promoted to Marshal of the Soviet Union in May 1943. Then on June 27, 1945, the higher rank of Generalissimus of the Soviet Union was created and awarded to Stalin, and a uniform prepared. However Stalin refused to endorse the order of his own promotion.

 

The scenario has some similarity to that surrounding Macarthur's six star rank. The rank was never actually awarded nor the insignia ever worn. But it seems clear that had it been awarded, the rank of Generalissimus of the Soviet Union would have been a six star rank.

 

Or if you like, Stalin came as close to that promotion as Macarthur did.

 

North Korea

When reserves and paramilitaries are included, North Korea currently has the largest military in the world, and a rank structure that reflects this. There are at least seven grades of General Officer in the North Korean military, as opposed to five in the US and South Korean militaries. This and the isolation of North Korea from other militaries, even those of their allies, make comparisons difficult.

 

At least one of these extra ranks is explained by the fact that North Korea, like the Stalin-era Soviet Union, has a military Commander-in-Chief, while the US has a civilian one, the President, who therefore doesn't have a military rank. The top North Korean rank of Taewonsu has even so been awarded only twice, one of these posthumously, to the first two national leaders of North Korea. The current incumbent, who is also only the third leader in the nation's history, currently holds the rank of Wonsu. immediately below Taewonsu. There is however some evidence that there are several grades of Wonsu, which would mean more than seven grades of General Officer in all.

 

Another extra level is explained by the existence of the rank of Chasu. which is senior to the four-star rank of Daejang but junior to Wonsu.

 

It seems best to consider Taewonsu as a rank similar to that of George Washington, superior to all others including six star ranks. Even so, there are still at least two grades below it but superior to full four-star General, and so Wonsu seems to be a six star rank in North Korea even if it represents only one grade, and if it represents several grades then the lowest of these would still be six star.

 

South Korea also has a rank of Wonsu, but it is explicitly a five-star rank. 

 

Summary

  • Goering received a six star rank in 1944. He is the only officer yet to have served in a rank that was unambiguously of exactly six star grade.
  • Dewey and Pershing received ranks explicitly superior to five star grade, as have several North Korean officers, but the relationship of these ranks to six star grade is unclear and likely to remain so.
    • Some reliable sources (see below) do describe Pershing's rank as six star, but others dispute this. (And some reliable sources also describe Washington's posthumous rank as six star and this is false.)
    • Assuming that there is no "five and a half star" grade in between five and six star, the ranks of Dewey and Pershing are either six star grade or superior to it. There is no likelihood of this ever being clarified by US authorities but it is possible. There is no possibility of it being tested.
    • It is tempting to assume that the ranks of Dewey and Pershing are of similar grade one to the other, with Dewey then being senior owing to the backdating of his promotion to 1899. The similarities in the insignia may even indicate this intention, and if so in this they anticipate the five-star ranks of WWII.  
  • Macarthur, Nimitz, and Stalin were all proposed for six star ranks (Macarthur twice), but did not receive them.
  • Washington and two North Korean leaders have received ranks explicitly superior to six star grade (Washington and one of the Koreans posthumously).

 

Some other countries, notably France, may have had ranks superior to five star grade. The position may become clear with further research.

 

Is that clear enough?

 

Material that contradicts those bullet points does not belong in Wikipedia, surely? Even if an army of US military hobbyists have written copious works denying the truth? But it's a problem! What is truth? 

 

Misinformation and other confusion

There are several related falsehoods widely believed:  

  • Washington's rank has been reported as six star in several newspapers. This is not true.
  • The six star insignia formed by adding a sixth star to the centre of the US five star insignia was reported to have been drawn by the IOH. This is not true, although it does appear in their archives.
  • It has been assumed that there is only one design of a proposed six star insignia in the IOH archives. There are in fact two different designs.
  • It is regularly assumed that a five-star rank has a five-star insignia, a six-star rank has a six-star insignia, and so on. This is a complete nonsense and always was. The original five-star ranks were specifically created to be equal in grade to ranks such as for example Field Marshal, which has existed in many armies and still exists but has never had a five-star insignia anywhere in the world. 

 

Probably more to follow!

 

Rank names

And there's another common source of confusion. There have been several instances where the same rank name, in the same country, has been given at different times to different ranks, and there have been a few ranks that have more than one name, in the same country at the same time and applied to the same individual. And sometimes it's not even clear whether the same name refers to the same rank or not.

 

A rank of Reichsmarschall existed in the 12th century in the Holy Roman Empire, but it has no relationship to that of 20th century Germany. Same name, same part of the world, different rank. That one is easy! But still potentially confusing.

 

General of the Armies in the United States is more difficult. It has been applied to the ranks granted to Pershing and Washington and proposed for Macarthur, but these appear to be three different ranks, and represent at least two different grades. Worse still, these ranks are all sometimes named General of the Armies of the United States. These two names may be used interchangeably, or one may be used to distinguish one of the three ranks from another. There is no obvious pattern, it's just a mess.

 

The games people play

We should not be too hard on the military authorities of the USA for the mess they have created by evading questions regarding six star ranks. Their job is not to satisfy the curiosity of people such as ourselves. It is to win wars that they do not create but do understand, with a minimum of casualties to their side, while obeying the orders of those who create wars that they do not understand, and who sometimes seem indifferent to casualties. I'm sorry if that seems harsh.

 

It's not an easy or trivial job. Other countries, allies and enemies alike, are very sensitive to protocol where it comes to senior officers. And the stakes are extremely high. Any slip up that had postponed a Japanese surrender in 1945, for example, would have cost an extra four thousand US casualties for every day of delay. That was the cost, even after orders had been issued to minimise casualties in anticipation of an immediate surrender. (And that's why Groves had already been given the budget to produce another nine nuclear bombs every two months, indefinitely, presumably all to be dropped on Japan.) Even in peacetime the stakes are significant. Congress sometimes takes good care of retired soldiers, and sometimes does not, as the question of Macarthur's proposed six star promotion shows most elegantly.

 

The job of Congress, on the other hand, is to win elections. In doing this they make some very strange decisions which bring us back to the Robert Heinlein quote above. Nobody asked Washington whether he wanted his exalted rank, and it seems unlikely that he would have accepted it. He might even have seen it as an insult to his subordinates, as Stalin did of his own proposed promotion to a six star rank. And he probably would not have wanted to share his grade with North Korean dictators.

 

Macarthur on the other hand was there to ask, and he did want the relatively modest rank of six-star general, but was in the end refused it by some tactics peculiar to the status of five- and six-star ranks in the USA.

 

Macarthur's five star rank was for life. Any five star officer in the USA receives full serving pay for as long as they wish. Admiral Dewey's superior rank of Admiral of the Navy also carried this privilege, but the 1903 act of Congress that authorised this applied to him only. The six star rank proposed for Macarthur might not have had this privilege, or so he was advised by the Judge Advocate General in 1955 when the matter was before the Senate. Had it been awarded and accepted, then he would have forfeited his retirement rights as a five star officer, or so the argument went, despite the fact that the proposed resolution read in part No change in compensation or allowances shall occur by reason of the appointment authorized by this joint resolution.

 

The games people play. But it seems, Macarthur fell for it. Maybe the US-based hobbyists who now deny that Goering really held a six star rank are expressing their feelings of guilt for that? There seems no more logical explanation!  

 

Feedback please

 

I'm not infallible. A Pope is only infallible if he speaks ex catherdra. And I never speak ex cathedra.

- Pope John XXIII

 

I hope and believe that the above is all accurate. But I'm not infallible either. If you find anything inaccurate, please contact the workspace owner and say what. I'd very much appreciate it!

 

But note, I'm only really concerned with things I've said that are demonstrably false. I do make blunders, I just added another X to Pope John above, for example, because as I first typed it in it said XIII. What's ten Popes between friends? But I don't think there are any now, and I want to keep it that way. So send me something to worry about, and I will.

 

If you think there's not enough evidence for what I've claimed, that's the risk I take. If you think that your own pet theory is better than mine, publish yours on the web, and send me the URL and I'll probably link to it. See below.

 

 

Some interesting links, sources, quotes...

Some of these show a good understanding. All of them reveal what somebody thinks.

 

http://www.answers.com/Q/Why_does_the_U.S._military_not_have_any_five_star_generals  retrieved 26 August 2014 All general officers wear one or more stars, and all are addressed simply as "General" as a mark of respect. We have even had a couple of six star Generals of the Armies (plural), but this rank was strictly an honorarium and has been held by only two men in history: John J. Pershing after WW1, and George Washington long after his death.    

 

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/2943109/posts retrieved 26 August 2014   BTW, did you know we’ve had two six star Generals of the Armies? George Washington (promoted posthumously in 1976) and John “Black Jack” Pershing in WWI.  

 

http://commonwealthmilitaryranks.weebly.com/glossary-of-ranks.html retrieved 26 August 2914 ...no officer of the United States Armed Forces will ever outrank Lieutenant General George Washington.  

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Talk:General_of_the_Armies&oldid=579964989#The_Answer.21  I just received a VERY large package in the mail from the IOH about this rank insignia. Very fascinating stuff - there is a six star general "projected" insignia, recognized in 1964 by the Army but never worn or held by anyone. The insignia also was expanded to cover possible promotions of Navy and Air Force officers to this rank - possible meaning that a Navy officer so promoted would be known as a General of the Armies. On top of everything - and this a bombshell - the 6 star sketch in MacArthur's record from 1945 is completely unofficial. It was drawn by a member of his staff with no endorsement or recognition. The projected insignia in 1964 resembled the 1945 sketch, but during WWII there was nothing officially recognized. When I have time, I will revamp the article with all this new info and upload some of the PD images the Army mailed me. But, at last, we have an answer.

 

http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/102630-general-of-the-armies-6-star-insignia/ Gives a second design for the six-star shoulder board, with a much larger five-pointed star in the centre and five smaller stars between the points. This ring of five smaller stars is not even arranged in the fashion of the five-star general's insignia; One of the points of each faces the centre. In the five-star insignia, they face away from the centre forming a pentagon in the middle. Indeed the need for American field marshal status came to a head in September 1944, when the irascible general, Bernard Montgomery, was promoted to the highest rank in the British Army. How could (4-star) General Eisenhower carry out his superior function as combined Supreme Commander in Europe, if he was of lower rank than Field Marshal Montgomery? As noted, the issue was solved by an act of Congress in December 1944, and Eisenhower became a 5-star General of the Army one week after MacArthur. General MacArthur for his part, was later considered for an unprecedented new 6-star rank, "General of the Armies", which planners were calling for in July 1945, given the sheer scale of the invasion force being contemplated for Japan and its surrounding islands. The Institute of Heraldry produced a single sketch of how the insignia for six star rank would appear, which was later filed into Douglas MacArthur's service record. The 6-star rank was not to be, however, and the Instrument of Japan's Surrender was signed on September 2, 1945. Interestingly, the United States came within a hair's distance of establishing a military rank superior to that of even a field marshal. That said, the senior 5-star (initially a 4-star) rank of "General of the Armies of the United States" (a development that goes back to 1799, which is the substantive reason why field marshal was not chosen) does currently exist and is the highest possible officer rank of the United States Army. Only two soldiers have been granted the rank of General of the Armies; John J. Pershing in 1919 to honor his service in World War I, is the only person to be promoted in his own lifetime to such a rank; and George Washington (a retroactive Congressional edict passed in 1976 promoted General Washington to the same rank but with higher seniority), as part of the American bicentennial celebrations, to commemorate his leadership and involvement in the founding of the United States. As mentioned above, Douglas MacArthur was considered for the rank, both during and after World War II, but a formal promotion order was never issued.

 

http://unimpedia.pbworks.com/w/page/15359880/six%20star%20rank much the same material in a satirical style, and it also has examples of the two six-star insignia. Take your sense of humour, particularly if you're an American.

 

http://books.google.com.au/books?id=NvfyLM8IyvwC&pg=PA287&lpg=PA287&dq=%22Rommel%22+%22five+star%22&source=bl&ots=POXjf2EGIJ&sig=4AG_Ip5e8N_T_28zmVmaj7R4TGo&hl=en&sa=X&ei=Li0GVKNrw4m4BOrdgKAN&ved=0CD8Q6AEwBQ#v=onepage&q=%22Rommel%22%20%22five%20star%22&f=false 

Believe it or not, some people want evidence that authorities regard Field Marshal Rommel as having held a five-star rank. This was Rommel's fifth promotion since his promotion to Generalmajor in August 1939, and in achieving five-star rank he had become "an immortal". Lots more like it, just Google them.

 

http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/102630-general-of-the-armies-6-star-insignia/ Shows two insignia, and some none too consistent comments about them

 

http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/184041-us-navy-style-6-star-admiral-shoulder-board-prototype/ Shows lots and lots of US six star insignia, nearly all of them stated there to be recent fantasies, and all such held to be dubious by some contributors, while others say they did exist for "all services" (which in the context probably means just Army, Navy and Air Force, but may include Marine Corps) and that they've seen them but can't post them. Probable source of the famous "my digital camera isn't working" quote by one such. 

 

http://z13.invisionfree.com/The_NS_Draftroom/ar/t974.htm Fictional ranks go up to 0-17 on this page, a fictional nation in Max Barry's online game.

 

http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/forums/index.php?/topic/188811-douglas-macarthur-general-of-the-armies/

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Talk%3ASix-star_rank&type=revision&diff=728689810&oldid=712979780

Doing a little digging I found ''The New Dictionary of American History'' Rowman & Littlefield (who "publishes high-quality college texts, entertaining and informative books for general readers, and professional and scholarly books in the humanities and social sciences.") which on page 29 states "JOHN J. PERSHING held the rank of six star General of the Armies, especially conferred upon him by Congress" The book was published in 1965 and in paperback form in 2014. Several other sources identify Pershing as a "six star general" :Mark Grossman's 2007 ''World Military Leaders: A Biographical Dictionary'', Intervention!: The United States and the Mexican Revolution, 1913-1917 calls it an "artificial rank" on pg 327, Alan Boye's ''The Complete Roadside Guide to Nebraska'' University of Nebraska Press pg 268 states that "Pershing was America's first six star general", and so on. 

 

See also

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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