After the 1917 revolution, the Bolsheviks eliminated traditional military ranks. Ranks were re-established in 1935, but without any generals, because of the Red Army commanders’ lasting resentment against those pre-revolutionary Russian generals who had joined the counter-revolutionary White Army during the Civil War of 1918 – 1921. Between 1935 and 1940, the Soviet Army was instead led by a hierarchy of “commanders.” In 1940, however, on the eve of World War II, Stalin reconstituted the traditional corps of generals.

Combrig is the Russian abbreviation for a) a Brigade Commander after 1917 (equivalent to the rank of Colonel or Major General in the modern Russian Army), and b) a Red Army rank from 1935 to 1940 which was equivalent to a U.S. Army Brigadier General (a rank between Colonel and Major General). After the reintroduction of traditional ranks for generals in 1940, most Combrigs became Colonels, while a few became Major Generals.  A Combrig was also the equivalent of a Captain in the Russian Navy.