Insignia of the General Staff of the Russian Federation Armed Forces.
By Oleg Kuznetsov.
Tseikhgauz, No. 10 (1/2000).
In 1993 a Section for Military Heraldry and Insignia was created within the structure of the Historical-Archival and Military Memorial Center of the Russian Federation's Armed Forces General Staff. At the beginning of the following year, on the initiative of Major A. B. Stepanov, deputy to the section chief, the first design was worked out for an emblem for the General Staff and its main directorates. A drawing of the emblem was drafted by the section artist, Senior Ensign Yu. V. Abaturov, based on the Russian coat-of-arms of the first quarter of the 19th century: a silver two-headed eagle clutching a sword in its right talon and a laurel wreath in its left, with a Russian helmet on the top of a breast shield. However, in view of the absence of an applicable regulation basis this project remained on paper.
Ukase No. 46 of the president of the Russian Federation, dated 27 January 1997, confirmed an heraldic military insignia--the emblem of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. Subsequently, in accordance with Ministry of Defense Orders Nos. 210 and 15, dated 28 March 1997 and 19 January 1998, officers and generals of the general staff, as well as all military personnel of the Ministry of Defense's central offices, began to wear a round shoulder-sleeve insignia that depicted this emblem on a gray background.
The functions of the general staff and Ministry of Defense were delineated by Ukase No. 1357 of the president of the Russian Federation, dated 11 November 1998. After this the question once again arose as to the need to create emblems for these two main organs of military command. The creation of insignia for the general staff was complicated by the fact that applicable regulatory documentation only foresaw a flag and emblem for the Russian Federation Ministry of Defense. Under these circumstances, the general staff insignia was the previously mentioned heraldic emblem of the Russian Federation Armed Forces with the addition of elements traditional to the general staff: a black circle edged with orange and an eagle in the center, framed by a silver wreath that was a stylized version of the embroidery worn on general-staff officers' uniforms in the 19th and early 20th centuries (see illustration at the head of this article).
The new insignia was approved on 2 June 1999 by the chief of the general staff, Army General A. V. Kvashnin, in agreement with the State Master of Heraldry, G. V. Vilinbakhov, and was introduced by Order No. 344 of the Ministry of Defense, dated 6 August 1999. At this time samples of the insignia were prepared and submitted for review by the heraldry experts. These were made by the Signum firm using silk-thread embroidery with gold and silver and by the Barakuda firm in polyester. The samples embroidered with gold and silver thread were approved for wear, and a lot of 2000 was manufactured. The chief of the general staff presented the first shoulder-sleeve insignia to 37 generals who were commanders of major units (the first insignia was given to Colonel-General V. L. Manilov). As an exception, these shoulder-sleeve patches were also given to and allowed to be worn by the chief of the Armed Forces' Military Memorial Center, Major General A. V. Kirilin, and the chief of the center's Section for Military Heraldry and Insignia, Colonel O. V. Kuznetsov.
The heraldric elements used in the shoulder-sleeve insignia were the basis for a uniform style for general staff symbols. In making a standard for the chief of the general staff, there was used the crossways division of the field traditional to Russia in the first half of the 19th century. The corners of the standard repeated the colors of the Military Order of St. George. The standard was confirmed by Ministry of Defense Order No. 348, dated 10 August 1999, and made by the Ministry's Central Experimental Manufacturing Center No. 43. The set of flag appurtences (point, shaft, butt) was made by the Signum firm.
Ministry of Defense Order No. 346, 6 August 1999, established a chief of the general staff's commemorative pin for presentation to military personnel and civilians who made significant contributions to the development and improvement of the Russian Federation's armed forces. The insignia is in the form of a miniature copy of the chief of the general staff's standard, but without the central medallion. Instead, in the center is the emblem of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation. The commemorative insignia is 20mm wide, 24mm high; the eagle's wingspread is 16mm, and the eagle's height is 12mm. In October 1999, 600 unnumbered examples of the insignia were made from tompak and enamel by the Kazakovskoe artisan shop. In accordance with Order No. 496 of the chief of the general staff, dated 3 November 1999, the first commerative pins were received by 30 participants of the 1st Military Heraldry Conference. The very first insignia was presented to Colonel V. N. Medvedev, who created the Section for Military Heraldry and Insignia and was its chief until 1997. Afterwards, several presentations were made under the insignia's regulation charter. The greatest single group award was on 22 February 2000 to 378 military personnel of the general staff and Ministry of Defense's central directorates. Up to the present time, 526 awards have been made.
On the initiative of Major General A. V. Kirilin, supported by the chief of the general staff, A. V. Kvashin, specialists of the Military Memorial Center's Section for Military Heraldry and Insignia designed an award badge for officers of the general staff, which was confirmed by Ministry of Defense Order No. 175 of 30 April 1999. This badge is intended for officers serving on the general staff for not less than one year. Nominations are made by chiefs of the general staff's main directorates. The badge is presented by the chief of the general staff or another official named by him, on Russian army "days of military glory." Military personnel who took part in combat operations wear the badge with swords. All examples are numbered in a single series. A note of the badge being issued is made on the officer's identity card.
The badge is in the pattern of the Russian Federation's Armed Forces, framed by a wreath of stylized embroidery. The wreath is silvered, with two stylized rosettes below. Between the rosettes are crossed swords are placed between the rosettes. The wreath is 38mm wide and 45mm high; the eagle's wingspread is 40mm and its height is 30mm. The badge is made of tompak and enamel in two production runs: 500 examples by UPP-2 (Nos. 1 through 500), and a further 200 (Nos. 501 through 700) by the Kazakovskoe artisan works.
The first award of this badge was on 23 June 1999 at a meeting of high commanders, where Chief of the General Staff A. V. Kvashnin presented the insignia to 37 chiefs in the general staff's directorates. Medal No. 1 with swords was given to Army General A. V. Kvashnin, and medal No. 2 to Colonel-General V. L. Malinov. These medals were also presented to the designers: Major General A. V. Kirilin and Colonel O. V. Kuznetsov.
Subsequently, on the initiative of the chief of the general staff, Major General A. V. Kirilin perfected the badge and 2000 examples were made by the firm Orel and Co.: 800 with swords and 1200 without. The badge acquired a wreath that was more round and higher in relief. In the lower part was a small shield of red enamel with the gold letters "G Sh." The badges issued earlier (made by UPP-2) were replaced with ones of the new pattern while maintaining the previous numbering. At the present time more than 1000 officers of the general staff wear the badge.
In the immediate future a chief of the general staff's award insignia is planned that will be a higher class of the established award badge.
Inside front cover: Symbols of the General Staff of the Russian Federation Armed Forces; 1-2. General staff award badges for wear on the breast (1st variant) with swords and without; 3-4. General staff award badges for wear on the breast (2nd variant) with swords and without; 5. Chief of the general staff's commerative pin; 6. Shoulder-sleeve insignia of the Russian Federations' Ministry of Defense's central offices and Russian Federation's Armed Forces General Staff, 1998 pattern; 7. Shoulder-sleeve insignia of the Russian Federation's Armed Forces General Staff, 1999 pattern.
Page 50. First Deputy to the Chief of the General Staff, Colonel-General V. L. Manilov wearing the 1999-pattern shoulder-sleeve insignia of the general staff.
Page 51. Standard of the Russian Federation's Armed Forces Chief of the General Staff. Photo by Yurii Yukhimchuk.
Translated by Mark Conrad, 2001.