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Military personnel are members of the state's
armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societies, or pa ...
. Their roles, pay, and obligations differ according to their
military branch Military branch (also service branch or armed service) is according to common standard a subdivision of the national armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily int ...
(
army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" eminine, ground force or land force is a fighting force that fights primarily on land. In the broadest sense, it is the land-based military branch, service branc ...

army
,
navy A navy, naval force, or maritime force is the branch of a nation's armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense ...

navy
,
marines Marines, or naval infantry, are typically a military force trained to operate in Littoral Zone, littoral zones in support of naval operations. Historically, tasks undertaken by marines have included helping maintain discipline and order aboard th ...

marines
, air force,
space force A space force is a military branch Military branch (also service branch or armed service) is according to common standard a subdivision of the national armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily arme ...
, and
coast guard A coast guard or coastguard is a maritime security Maritime may refer to: Geography * Maritime Alps, a mountain range in the southwestern part of the Alps * Maritime Region, a region in Togo * Maritime Southeast Asia * The Maritimes ...
),
rank Rank is the relative position, value, worth, complexity, power, importance, authority, level, etc. of a person or object within a ranking A ranking is a relationship between a set of items such that, for any two items, the first is either "ranked ...
(
officer An officer is a person who has a position of authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture that surrounds everyday life. It ...
,
non-commissioned officer A non-commissioned officer (NCO) is a military officer who has not pursued a Commission (document), commission. Non-commissioned officers usually earn their position of authority by promotion through the enlisted ranks. (Non-officers, which inclu ...
, or enlisted recruit), and their military task when deployed on
operations Operation or Operations may refer to: Science and technology * Surgical operation Surgery ''cheirourgikē'' (composed of χείρ, "hand", and ἔργον, "work"), via la, chirurgiae, meaning "hand work". is a medical or dental specialty that ...
and on
exercise Exercise is any bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness Physical fitness is a state of health Health is a state of physical, mental and social well-being Well-being, also known as ''wellness'', ''prudential value ...
.


Overview

Those who serve in a typical large ground or land force are
soldier A soldier is a person who is a member of a professional army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" eminine, ground force or land force is a fighting force that fights primarily on land. In the ...

soldier
s, making up an
army An army (from Latin ''arma'' "arms, weapons" via Old French ''armée'', "armed" eminine, ground force or land force is a fighting force that fights primarily on land. In the broadest sense, it is the land-based military branch, service branc ...

army
. Those who serve in seagoing forces are seamen or
sailors A sailor, seaman, mariner, or seafarer is a person who works aboard a watercraft Watercraft, also known as water vessels or waterborne vessels, are vehicles used in water, including boats, ship A ship is a large watercraft that travel ...
, and their branch is a
navy A navy, naval force, or maritime force is the branch of a nation's armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense ...

navy
or
coast guard A coast guard or coastguard is a maritime security Maritime may refer to: Geography * Maritime Alps, a mountain range in the southwestern part of the Alps * Maritime Region, a region in Togo * Maritime Southeast Asia * The Maritimes ...
. Naval infantry or
Marines Marines, or naval infantry, are typically a military force trained to operate in Littoral Zone, littoral zones in support of naval operations. Historically, tasks undertaken by marines have included helping maintain discipline and order aboard th ...
serve in land and sea, and their branch is the
marine corps Marines, or naval infantry, are typically a military force trained to operate in in support of naval operations. Historically, tasks undertaken by marines have included helping maintain discipline and order aboard the ship (reflecting the natu ...
. In the 20th century, the development of powered flight aircraft prompted the development of air forces, serviced by
airmen An airman is a member of an air force or air arm of a nation's armed forces. In certain air forces, it can also refer to a specific enlisted rank. He can also be referred as soldier in other definition. In civilian aviation usage, the term air ...
. In the 21st century, the fervent return to extraterrestrial activities spawned the first
space force A space force is a military branch Military branch (also service branch or armed service) is according to common standard a subdivision of the national armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily arme ...
, peopled by guardians, aided by rudimentary automated systems. Designated leaders of military personnel are
officers An officer is a person who has a position of authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture that surrounds everyday life. It ...
. These include
commissioned officers An officer is a person who holds a position of authority as a member of an armed force A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an in ...
,
warrant officer Warrant officer (WO) is a rank Rank is the relative position, value, worth, complexity, power, importance, authority, level, etc. of a person or object within a ranking, such as: Level or position in a hierarchical organization * Academic rank * ...

warrant officer
s and
non-commissioned officer A non-commissioned officer (NCO) is a military officer who has not pursued a Commission (document), commission. Non-commissioned officers usually earn their position of authority by promotion through the enlisted ranks. (Non-officers, which inclu ...
s (NCOs). For naval forces, non-commissioned officers are referred to as
petty officer A Petty Officer (PO) is a non-commissioned officer A non-commissioned officer (NCO) is a military officer who has not pursued a Commission (document), commission. Non-commissioned officers usually earn their position of authority by promotion t ...

petty officer
s. Organizations other than state armed forces include military personnel, such as paramilitary organizations and non-state armed groups.


Demographics

Most personnel at the start of their military career are young adults. For example, in 2013 the average age of a
United States Army The United States Army (USA) is the land warfare, land military branch, service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the eight Uniformed services of the United States, U.S. uniformed services, and is designated as the Army o ...
soldier beginning initial training was 20.7 years. Historically, the use of children under the age of 18 for military purposes has been widespread – see
Children in the military Children in the military are children (defined by the Convention on the Rights of the Child The United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and international ...
– but has been in decline in the 21st century. According to
Child Soldiers International Child Soldiers International, formerly the Coalition to Stop the Use of Child Soldiers, was a UK-based non-governmental organization that worked to prevent the recruitment, use and exploitation of children by armed forces and groups. As of 07 June ...
, as of 2017 approximately two-thirds of states worldwide had committed to restrict military recruitment to adults, while 50 states were still recruiting personnel aged 16 or 17, including most of the world's major military powers. Most personnel are male. The proportion of female personnel varies internationally; for example, it is approximately 3% in India, 10% in the UK, 13% in Sweden, 16% in the US, and 27% in South Africa. Many state armed forces that recruit women ban them from ground close
combat Combat (French language, French for ''fight'') is a purposeful violence, violent conflict meant to physically harm or kill the opposition. Combat may be armed (using weapons) or unarmed (Hand-to-hand combat, not using weapons). Combat is sometim ...

combat
roles (roles that would require them to kill at
close quarters Overcrowding or crowding is the condition where more people are located within a given space than is considered tolerable from a safety and health perspective. Safety and health perspectives depend on current environments and on Norm (social), loc ...
). Compared with male personnel and female civilians, female personnel face substantially higher risks of
sexual harassment Sexual harassment is a type of involving the use of explicit or implicit sexual overtones, including the unwelcome and inappropriate promises of rewards in exchange for sexual favors. Sexual harassment includes a range of actions from verbal ...
and
sexual violence Sexual violence is any sexual act Human sexual activity, human sexual practice or human sexual behaviour is the manner in which humans experience and express their Human sexuality, sexuality. People engage in a variety of sexual acts, rangi ...
, according to British, Canadian, and US research. Personnel who join as
officers An officer is a person who has a position of authority In the fields of sociology Sociology is the study of society, human social behaviour, patterns of social relationships, social interaction, and culture that surrounds everyday life. It ...
tend to be
upwardly mobile ''Upwardly Mobile'' was an Irish television sitcom that was made and broadcast by RTÉ. Three series, including three Christmas specials, were originally broadcast on RTÉ One between 8 September 1995 and 26 December 1997. The programme starr ...
young adults from age 18. Most enlisted personnel have a childhood background of relative socio-economic deprivation.Brett, Rachel, and Irma Specht. Young Soldiers: Why They Choose to Fight. Boulder:
Lynne Rienner Publishers Lynne Rienner Publishers is an independent scholarly and textbook publishing firm based in Boulder, CO. It was founded in 1984 and remains one of the few independent publishers in the US. It publishes primarily in the fields of international stud ...
, 2004.
 For example, after the US suspended conscription in 1973, 'the military disproportionately attracted African American men, men from lower-status socioeconomic backgrounds, men who had been in nonacademic high school programs, and men whose high school grades tended to be low'. However, a 2020 study suggests that
U.S. Armed Forces The United States Armed Forces are the Military, military forces of the United States of America. The armed forces consists of six Military branch, service branches: the United States Army, Army, United States Marine Corps, Marine Corps, Unit ...

U.S. Armed Forces
personnel's socio-economic status are at parity or slightly higher than the civilian population and that the most disadvantaged socio-economic groups are less likely to meet the requirements of the modern U.S. military. As an indication of the socio-economic background of
British Army The British Army is the principal Army, land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of the British Armed Forces. , the British Army comprises 80,040 regular full-time personnel and 30,020 Army Reserve (United Kingdom), reserve personnel ...
personnel, in 2015 three-quarters of its youngest recruits had the
literacy Literacy is popularly understood as an ability to read and write Writing is a medium of human communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share") is the act of developing Semantics, meaning among Subject (p ...
skills normally expected of an 11-year-old or younger, and 7% had a reading age of 5–7.


Recruitment

Military personnel may be
conscripted Conscription, sometimes called the draft in the United States, is the mandatory enlistment of people in a national service, most often a military service. Conscription dates back to Ancient history, antiquity and it continues in some countries to ...

conscripted
(recruited by compulsion under the law) or recruited by attracting civilians to join the armed forces.


Initial training

Military personnel must be prepared to perform tasks that in civilian life would be highly unusual or absent. In particular, they must be capable of injuring and killing other people, and of facing mortal danger without fleeing. This is achieved in initial training, a physically and psychologically intensive process which resocializes recruits for the unique nature of military demands. According to an expert in military training methods, Lt Col. Dave Grossman, initial training uses four conditioning techniques:
role model A role model is a person whose behaviour, example, or success is or can be emulated by others, especially by younger people. The term ''role model'' is credited to sociologist Robert K. Merton, who hypothesized that individuals compare themselves ...
ing,
classical conditioning Classical conditioning (also known as Pavlovian or respondent conditioning) is a behavioral procedure in which a biologically potent (e.g. food) is paired with a previously neutral stimulus (e.g. a bell). It also refers to the learning process t ...

classical conditioning
,
operant conditioning Operant conditioning (also called instrumental conditioning) is a type of associative learning process through which the strength of a behavior is modified by reinforcement or punishment. It is also a procedure that is used to bring about such lea ...
, and
brutalizationIn criminology Criminology (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through ...
. For example, throughout initial training: * Individuality is suppressed (e.g. by shaving the head of new recruits, issuing uniforms, denying privacy, and prohibiting the use of first names); * Daily routine is tightly controlled (e.g. recruits must make their beds, polish boots, and stack their clothes in a certain way, and mistakes are punished); * Continuous
stressor A stressor is a chemical or biological agent, environment (biophysical), environmental condition, Stimulus (physiology) , external stimulus or an event seen as causing Stress (biology), stress to an biological organism, organism. Psychologically sp ...
s deplete psychological resistance to the demands of their instructors (e.g. depriving recruits of sleep, food, or shelter, shouting insults and giving orders intended to humiliate); and * Frequent punishments serve to condition group conformity and discourage poor performance. * The disciplined drill instructor is presented as a role model of the ideal soldier. In conditions of continuous physical and psychological stress, the trainee group normally forms a bond of mutual loyalty, commonly experienced as an emotional commitment. It has been called a "we-feeling", and helps to commit recruits to their military organisation. Throughout their initial training, recruits are repeatedly instructed to stand, march, and respond to orders in a ritual known as
foot drill Foot drill is a part of the training Training is teaching, or developing in oneself or others, any s and or that relate to specific . Training has specific goals of improving one's , capacity, and . It forms the core of s and provides t ...
, which trains recruits to obey orders without hesitation or question. According to
Finnish Army The Finnish Army ( Finnish: ''Maavoimat'', Swedish: ''Armén'') is the land forces branch of the Finnish Defence Forces. The Finnish Army is divided into six branches: the infantry at the Battle of the Somme (July–November 1916) during ...

Finnish Army
regulations, for example, the close-order drill: * Is essential for the
esprit de corps Morale, also known as esprit de corps (), is the capacity of a group's members to maintain belief in an institution or goal, particularly in the face of opposition or hardship. Morale is often referenced by authority figures as a generic value j ...
and cohesion for
battle A battle is an occurrence of combat Combat ( French for ''fight'') is a purposeful violent conflict meant to physically harm or kill the opposition. Combat may be armed (using weapon A weapon, arm or armament is any implement or devic ...

battle
field conditions; * Gets the recruits used to instinctive obedience and following the orders; * Enables large units to be marched and moved in an orderly manner; and * Creates the basis for action in the battlefield. In order to ensure that recruits will kill if ordered to do so, they are taught to objectify (dehumanize) their opponent as an ‘enemy target’ to ‘be engaged’, which will ‘fall when hit’. They are also taught the basic skills of their profession, such as
military tactics Military tactics encompasses the art of organizing and employing fighting forces on or near the battlefield A battlefield, battleground, or field of battle is the location of a present or historic battle A battle is an occurrence of comb ...
,
first aid First aid is the first and immediate assistance given to any person suffering from either a minor or serious illness A disease is a particular abnormal condition that negatively affects the structure or function of all or part of a ...

first aid
, managing their affairs in the field, and the use of
weapon A weapon, arm or armament is any implement or device that can be used with the intent to inflict physical damage or harm. Weapons are used to increase the efficacy and efficiency of activities such as hunting, crime, law enforcement, self-defe ...
ry and other equipment. Training is designed to test and improve the
physical fitness Physical fitness is a state of health Health, according to the World Health Organization, is "a state of complete physical, Mental health, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity".World Health Organiza ...
of recruits, although the heavy strain on the body also leads to a rate of injury.


Terms of service

Recruits enter a binding
contract A contract is a legally binding agreement that defines and governs the rights and duties between or among its parties Image:'Hip, Hip, Hurrah! Artist Festival at Skagen', by Peder Severin Krøyer (1888) Demisted with DXO PhotoLab Clearview ...

contract
of service, which may differ according to
rank Rank is the relative position, value, worth, complexity, power, importance, authority, level, etc. of a person or object within a ranking A ranking is a relationship between a set of items such that, for any two items, the first is either "ranked ...
,
military branch Military branch (also service branch or armed service) is according to common standard a subdivision of the national armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily int ...
, and whether the employment is full-time or part-time.


Minimum service period

Full-time military employment normally requires a minimum period of service of several years; between two and six years is typical of armed forces in Australia, the UK and the US, for example, depending on role, branch, and rank. The exception to this rule is a short discharge window, which opens after the first few weeks of
training Training is teaching, or developing in oneself or others, any s and or that relate to specific . Training has specific goals of improving one's , capacity, and . It forms the core of s and provides the backbone of content at (also known as ...
and closes a few months later, and allows recruits to leave the armed force as of right. Part-time military employment, known as reserve service, allows a recruit to maintain a civilian job while training under military discipline for a minimum number of days per year in return for a financial bounty. Reserve recruits may be called out to deploy on operations to supplement the full-time personnel complement. After leaving the armed forces, for a fixed period (between four and six years is normal in the UK and US, for example), former recruits may remain liable for compulsory return to full-time military employment in order to train or deploy on operations.


Military law

Military law Military justice (also military law) is the legal system The contemporary national legal systems are generally based on one of four basic systems: civil law (legal system), civil law, common law, statutory law, religious law or combinations o ...
introduces offenses not recognized by civilian courts, such as absence without leave (AWOL), desertion, political acts,
malingering Malingering is the fabrication, feigning, or exaggeration of physical or psychological symptoms designed to achieve a desired outcome, such as relief from duty or work. Malingering is not a medical diagnosis, but may be recorded as a "focus of cl ...
, behaving disrespectfully, and disobedience (see, for example,
Offences against military law in the United KingdomThe main Offences against military law in the United Kingdom are set out in the Armed Forces Act 2006 The Armed Forces Act 2006 (c 52) is an Act of Parliament, Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It came into force on 31 October 2006. It r ...
). Penalties range from a summary reprimand to imprisonment for several years following a
court martial A court-martial or court martial (plural ''courts-martial'' or ''courts martial'', as "martial" is a postpositive adjective) is a military court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority ...
. Certain fundamental rights are also restricted or suspended, including the freedom of association (e.g. union organizing) and freedom of speech (speaking to the media). Military personnel in some countries have a right of
conscientious objection A conscientious objector is an "individual who has claimed the right to refuse to perform military service" on the grounds of freedom of thought, conscience, or religion Religion is a social system, social-cultural system of designated ...
if they believe an order is immoral or unlawful, or cannot in good conscience carry it out.


Posting and deployment

Personnel may be posted to bases in their home country or overseas, according to operational need, and may be deployed from those bases on
exercises Exercise is any Human body, bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health and wellness. It is performed for various reasons, to aid growth and improve strength, preventing senescence, aging, developing muscles ...
or
operations Operation or Operations may refer to: Science and technology * Surgical operation Surgery ''cheirourgikē'' (composed of χείρ, "hand", and ἔργον, "work"), via la, chirurgiae, meaning "hand work". is a medical or dental specialty that ...
anywhere in the world. The length of postings and deployments are regulated. In the UK, for example, a soldier is expected to be on deployment for no more than six months in every 30 months. These regulations may be waived at times of high operational tempo, however.


Benefits

Benefits and perks of military service typically include adventurous training, subsidised accommodation, meals and travel, and a
pension A pension (, from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be ...

pension
. Some armed forces also subsidise recruits' education before, during and/or after military service; examples are the St Jean military college in Canada, the
Welbeck Defence Sixth Form College Welbeck Defence Sixth Form College (stylised as Welbeck – The Defence Sixth Form College), formerly named and often referred to as simply Welbeck College, is an independent, selective sixth form college Shrewsbury Sixth Form College in Shrop ...
in the UK, and the
GI Bill The Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944, commonly known as the G.I. Bill, was a law that provided a range of benefits for some of the returning World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, ...
arrangements in the U.S. Conditions for participation normally apply, including a minimum period of formal military employment.


Appearance

While on duty, military personnel are normally required to wear a
military uniform A military uniform is a standardised clothing, dress worn by members of the armed forces and Paramilitary, paramilitaries of various nations. Military dress and styles have gone through significant changes over the centuries, from colourful an ...
, normally showing their name,
rank Rank is the relative position, value, worth, complexity, power, importance, authority, level, etc. of a person or object within a ranking A ranking is a relationship between a set of items such that, for any two items, the first is either "ranked ...
and
military branch Military branch (also service branch or armed service) is according to common standard a subdivision of the national armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily int ...
.


See also

*
Military recruitment Military recruitment refers to the activity of attracting people to, and selecting them for, Recruit training, military training and Military service, employment. Demographics Gender Across the world, a large majority of recruits to state ...
*
Recruit training Recruit training, more commonly known as basic training or regularly boot camp, refers to the initial instruction of new military personnel Military personnel are members of the state's armed forces A military, also known collectively as ...
*
Women in the military Four American F-15 Eagle pilots from the 3rd Wing walk to their jets at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. Women have served in the military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force ...
*
Children in the military Children in the military are children (defined by the Convention on the Rights of the Child The United Nations The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization that aims to maintain international peace and international ...
* Transgender people and military service *
Conscientious objector A conscientious objector (often shortened to conchie) is an "individual who has claimed the right to refuse to perform military service Military service is service by an individual or group in an army or other militia A militia () is ...
*
Conscription Conscription, sometimes called the draft in the United States, is the mandatory enlistment of people in a national service National service is a system of either compulsory or voluntary government service, usually military service. Conscription ...

Conscription
* Military specialism


References


External links

* {{Authority control Positions of authority