World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Army group

Article Id: WHEBN0000555031
Reproduction Date:

Title: Army group  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Military organization, Battle of Stalingrad, Field army, Army, Armies of the Imperial Japanese Army
Collection: Army Groups
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Army group

Navies Armies Air forces
Commissioned officers
Admiral of
the fleet
Marshal 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
Major or
Squadron leader
Lieutenant Captain Flight lieutenant
Sub-lieutenant Lieutenant or
First lieutenant
Flying officer
Ensign Second
Pilot officer
Midshipman Officer cadet Officer 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 Aircraftman
Standard NATO symbol for an army group (or Soviet front)

An army group is a full general or field marshal—and it generally includes between 400,000 and 1,000,000 soldiers.

In the Polish Armed Forces and former Soviet Red Army an army group was known as a Front. The equivalent of an army group in the Imperial Japanese Army was a "general army" (Sō-gun (総軍)).

Army groups may be multi-national formations. For example, during World War II, the Southern Group of Armies (also known as the U.S. 6th Army Group) comprised the U.S. Seventh Army and the French First Army; the 21st Army Group comprised the British Second Army, the Canadian First Army and the US Ninth Army.

In U.S. Army usage, the number of an army group is expressed in Arabic numerals (e.g., "12th Army Group"), while the number of a field army is spelled out (e.g., "Third Army").


  • World War I 1
    • France 1.1
    • Germany 1.2
  • World War II 2
    • China 2.1
    • Germany 2.2
    • Japan 2.3
    • Soviet Union 2.4
    • Western Allies 2.5
  • NATO 'Army Groups' 3
  • References 4

World War I


The French Army formed a number of groupe d'armees during the First World War. The first of these was Army Group North, formed on a provision basis in October 1914. Army Group East and Army Group Centre both followed in 1915 while Army Group Reserve was established in 1917. A Franco-Belgian Army Group Flanders also existed briefly in 1918, under the command of Albert I of Belgium.


The German Army formed its first two Heeresgruppen in 1915, to control forces on the eastern front. A total of eight army groups would ultimately be raised; four for service on each front, with one of the eastern front army groups being a multinational German and Austro-Hungarian formation. Originally the Imperial German army groups were not separate formations, but instead additional responsibilities granted to certain army commanders. Crown Prince Wilhelm for instance, was simultaneously commander of the 5th Army and Army Group German Crown Prince from August 1915 to November 1916.

All eight German army groups were named after their commanders.

World War II


A Chinese "army group" was usually equivalent in numbers only to a field army in the terminology of other countries, as the regimental level was sometimes omitted. On 16 May 1940, Zhang Zizhong, commander of the 33rd Army Group was killed in action in Hubei province. He was the highest ranking Chinese officer to be killed in the war.


See List of German Army Groups in WWII

The German Army was organized into army groups (Heeresgruppen). Some of these army groups were multinational, containing armies from several Axis countries. For example Army Group Africa contained both German and Italian corps.


During World War II there were six general armies:

  • Shina Hakengun, the "China Expeditionary Army", was formed in Nanjing, in September 1939, to control operations in central China. At the end of World War II, it consisted of 620,000 personnel in 25 infantry and one armored divisions.

In April 1945, the Boei So-Shireibu (translated as "general defense command" or "home defense general headquarters" and similar names) was split into three general armies:

By August 1945, these comprised two million personnel in 55 divisions and numerous smaller independent units. After the surrender of Japan, the Imperial Japanese Army was dissolved, except for the Dai-Ichi So-Gun, which existed until 30 November 1945 as the 1st Demobilization Headquarters.

Soviet Union

The Soviet Army was organized into fronts (фронт, pl. фронты) which were often as large as an army group. (See List of Soviet fronts in World War II.) Some of the fronts contained Allied formations raised in exile. For example, the Polish First Army was part of the 1st Belorussian Front.

Western Allies

Six army groups were created by the Western Allies during the Second World War, although no more than five existed at any one time. The army groups were in turn subordinate to the Allied theatre supreme commanders. While led by British and American officers they included troops from numerous allied nations; the 15th Army Group included Canadian and Polish Corps, Divisions from Brazil, India, New Zealand and South Africa and a Greek brigade.

  • 18th Army Group: Established on 20 February 1943, under the command of General Harold Alexander for the Tunisia Campaign. A primarily British formation, it comprised the British First Army and Eighth Army, but included French and American corps. After the capture of Tunisia it was reorganized as the 15th Army Group.
  • 15th Army Group: Established on 15 May 1943, under the command of General Alexander for the invasion of Italy. For the invasion of Sicily it consisted of the British Eighth Army and U.S. Seventh Army. Subsequently the Seventh Army was replaced by the U.S. Fifth Army and in Alexander was succeeded by Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark in December 1944.
  • 21st Army Group: Established in June 1943 under the command of General Bernard Paget. In January 1944 Paget was replaced by General Bernard Montgomery who led the army group through Operation Overlord and the subsequent North West Europe campaign. 21st Army Group was made up of the Canadian First Army and the British Second Army, but also had command of the First Allied Airborne Army, U.S. First Army and U.S. Ninth Army for some operations. After the breakout from Normandy, it formed the northern wing of the Allied Expeditionary Force and was sometimes referred to as the Northern Army Group.
  • First Army and Third Army, respectively. Eventually, 12th Army Group included Ninth Army under the command of Lieutenant General William Simpson and Fifteenth Army under the command of Lieutenant General "Gee" Gerow, it was the largest of the Western Allies' army groups in World War II. 12th Army Group occupied the middle of the allied line, between the 21st and 6th Army Groups, and was sometimes referred to as the Central Army Group. This is the only army group in World War II that consisted entirely of U.S. troops. At its peak at end of the war, 12th Army Group consisted of the four aforementioned field armies, twelve corps, and over forty divisions -- four-star General Bradley commanded over 1.3 million men in his army group, the largest number of soldiers ever commanded by a single officer in United States history.
  • 6th Army Group: Established on 29 July 1944 under the command of Lieutenant General Jacob L. Devers for Operation Dragoon. Made up of the U.S. Seventh Army and the First French Army, it occupied the southern flank of the Allied Expeditionary Force and was sometimes referred to as the Southern Army Group.
  • Burma Campaign. The 11th Army Group was originally comprised the British Fourteenth Army and Ceylon Army, with a degree of control over the Sino-American Northern Combat Area Command. In November 1944 Giffard was succeeded by Lieutenant General Oliver Leese and firm command established over the Northern Combat Area Command. Leese was in turn replaced by General William Slim in July 1945, shortly before the war ended.

As part of Operation Quicksilver, a fictitious First United States Army Group was created.

NATO 'Army Groups'

Northern Army Group

During the Cold War, NATO land forces in what was designated the Central Region (most of the Federal Republic of Germany) would have been commanded in wartime by two 'army groups'. Under Allied Forces Central Europe and alongside air force elements, the two army groups would have been responsible for the defence of Germany against any Soviet/Warsaw Pact invasion. These two principal subordinate commanders had only limited peacetime authorities, and issues such as training, doctrine, logistics, and rules of engagement were largely a national, rather than NATO, responsibility.[1]

The two formations were the 'Northern Army Group' (NORTHAG) and the 'Central Army Group' (CENTAG). By World War II and previous standards these two formations were only armies, as they contained four corps each.[2] NORTHAG consisted, from north to south, of I Netherlands Corps (I (NE) Corps), I German Corps (I (GE) Corps), I (BR) Corps, and I Belgian Corps (I (BE) Corps). Its commander was the British commander of the British Army of the Rhine (BAOR). CENTAG consisted, from north to south, of III (GE) Corps, V US Corps, VII (US) Corps, and II (GE) Corps in the extreme south of the Federal Republic of Germany. The commander of the United States Army Europe commanded CENTAG.

In November 1991, the NATO heads of state and government adopted the "New Strategic Concept" at the NATO Summit in Rome. This new conceptual orientation led, among other things, to fundamental changes both in the force and integrated command structure. Structural changes began in June 1993, when HQ Central Army Group (CENTAG) at Heidelberg and Northern Army Group (NORTHAG) at Mönchengladbach, GE were deactivated and replaced by Headquarters Allied Land Forces Central Europe (LANDCENT), which was activated at Heidelberg on 1 July 1993.


  1. ^, Cold War NATO Army Groups, accessed 20 June 2010
  2. ^ David C Isby & Charles Kamps Jr, Armies of NATO's Central Front, Jane's Publishing Company Limited, 1985
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.