The Info List - Army

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An army (from Latin
arma "arms, weapons" via Old French
Old French
armée, "armed" (feminine)) or ground force is a fighting force that fights primarily on land. In the broadest sense, it is the land-based military branch, service branch or armed service of a nation or state. It may also include aviation assets by possessing an army aviation component. In certain nations, the term army refers to the entire armed forces of a nation (e.g., People's Liberation Army). Within a national military force, the word army may also mean a field army. They differ from army reserves who are activated only during such times as war or natural disasters. In several countries, the army is officially called the Land Army
to differentiate it from an air force called the Air Army, notably France. In such countries, the word "army" on its own retains its connotation of a land force in common usage. The current largest army in the world, by number of active troops, is the People's Liberation Army
Ground Force of China
with 1,600,000 active troops and 510,000 reserve personnel followed by the Indian Army
Indian Army
with 1,129,000 active troops and 960,000 reserve personnel. By convention, irregular military is understood in contrast to regular armies which grew slowly from personal bodyguards or elite militia. Regular in this case refers to standardized doctrines, uniforms, organizations, etc. Regular military can also refer to full-time status (standing army), versus reserve or part-time personnel. Other distinctions may separate statutory forces (established under laws such as the National Defence Act), from de facto "non-statutory" forces such as some guerrilla and revolutionary armies. Armies may also be expeditionary (designed for overseas or international deployment) or fencible (designed for – or restricted to – homeland defence)

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units and organization

Subordinated element

Fireteam Ø 

/ Crew  ● 

Section / Patrol

/ Flight ●●● 


Company / Battery / Troop  

/ Cohort / Squadron  



/ Group / Wing x 

Division / Legion xx 

Corps xxx 


Field army xxxx 

Army group
Army group
/ Front xxxxx 

Region / Theater XXXXXX 


Detachment Patrol Task force Brigade
group Flying column Field force Combat command Battlegroup Regimental combat team


1 History

1.1 India 1.2 China 1.3 Sparta 1.4 Ancient Rome 1.5 Medieval Europe 1.6 Early modern 1.7 Late modern

2 Armies as armed services 3 Field army

3.1 Formations

4 See also 5 References

History[edit] India[edit] India
has had the earliest armies in the world. During the Indus Valley Civilization (3500–1900 BCE) however, there was just a small guard force as they didn't fear invasion at the time.[citation needed] The first known recorded battles, the War
of the Ten Kings, happened when a Hindu Aryan emperor Sudas defeated an alliance of ten kings and their supportive chieftains. During the Iron Age, the Maurya and Nanda Empires had the largest armies in the world, the peak being approximately over 600,000 Infantry, 30,000 Cavalry, 8,000 War-Chariots and 9,000 War
Elephants not including tributary state allies. [1][2][3][4] In the Gupta age, large armies of longbowmen were recruited to fight off invading horse archer armies. Elephants, pikemen and cavalry were other featured troops. In Rajput
times, the main piece of equipment was iron or chain-mail armour, a round shield, either a curved blade or a straight-sword, a chakra disc and a katar dagger.[citation needed] China[edit]

A bronze crossbow trigger mechanism and butt plate that were mass-produced in the Warring States period
Warring States period
(475-221 BCE)

The states of China
raised armies for at least 1000 years before the Spring and Autumn Annals[citation needed]. By the Warring States period, the crossbow had been perfected enough to become a military secret, with bronze bolts which could pierce any armor. Thus any political power of a state rested on the armies and their organization. China
underwent political consolidation of the states of Han (韓), Wei (魏), Chu (楚), Yan (燕), Zhao (趙) and Qi (齊), until by 221 BCE, Qin Shi Huang
Qin Shi Huang
(秦始皇帝), the first emperor of the Qin dynasty, attained absolute power. This first emperor of China could command the creation of a Terracotta Army
Terracotta Army
to guard his tomb in the city of Xi'an
(西安), as well as a realignment of the Great Wall of China
to strengthen his empire against insurrection, invasion and incursion. Sun Tzu's The Art of War
remains one of China's Seven Military Classics, even though it is two thousand years old.[5] Since no political figure could exist without an army, measures were taken to ensure only the most capable leaders could control the armies.[6] Civil bureaucracies (士大夫) arose to control the productive power of the states, and their military power.[7] Sparta[edit] The Spartan Army
Spartan Army
was one of the earliest known professional armies. Boys were sent to a barracks at the age of seven or eight to train for becoming a soldier. At the age of thirty they were released from the barracks and allowed to marry and have a family. After that, men devoted their lives to war until their retirement at the age of 60. Unlike other civilizations, whose armies had to disband during the planting and harvest seasons, the Spartan serfs or helots, did the manual labor. This allowed the Spartans to field a full-time army with a campaign season that lasted all year.[citation needed] The Spartan Army
Spartan Army
was largely composed of hoplites, equipped with arms and armor nearly identical to each other. Each hoplite bore the Spartan emblem and a scarlet uniform. The main pieces of this armor were a round shield, a spear and a helmet. Ancient Rome[edit]

A 2nd-century depiction of Roman soldiers on Trajan's column

The Roman Army
Roman Army
had its origins in the citizen army of the Republic, which was staffed by citizens serving mandatory duty for Rome. Reforms turned the army into a professional organization which was still largely filled by citizens, but these citizens served continuously for 25 years before being discharged.[citation needed] The Romans were also noted for making use of auxiliary troops, non-Romans who served with the legions and filled roles that the traditional Roman military could not fill effectively, such as light skirmish troops and heavy cavalry. After their service in the army they were made citizens of Rome and then their children were citizens also. They were also given land and money to settle in Rome. In the Late Roman Empire, these auxiliary troops, along with foreign mercenaries, became the core of the Roman Army; moreover, by the time of the Late Roman Empire
Late Roman Empire
tribes such as the Visigoths
were paid to serve as mercenaries. Medieval Europe[edit]

Armies of the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
consisted of noble knights, rendering service to their suzerain, and hired footsoldiers

In the earliest Middle Ages
Middle Ages
it was the obligation of every aristocrat to respond to the call to battle with his own equipment, archers, and infantry. This decentralized system was necessary due to the social order of the time, but could lead to motley forces with variable training, equipment and abilities. The more resources the noble had access to, the better his troops would be. The knights were drawn to battle by feudal and social obligation, and also by the prospect of profit and advancement. Those who performed well were likely to increase their landholdings and advance in the social hierarchy.[citation needed] The prospect of significant income from pillage, and ransoming prisoners was also important. For the mounted knight war could be a relatively low risk affair. As central governments grew in power, a return to the citizen armies of the classical period also began, as central levies of the peasantry began to be the central recruiting tool. England
was one of the most centralized states in the Middle Ages, and the armies that fought in the Hundred Years' War
were, predominantly, composed of paid professionals. In theory, every Englishman had an obligation to serve for forty days. Forty days was not long enough for a campaign, especially one on the continent.[8] Thus the scutage was introduced, whereby most Englishmen paid to escape their service and this money was used to create a permanent army. However, almost all high medieval armies in Europe were composed of a great deal of paid core troops, and there was a large mercenary market in Europe from at least the early 12th century. As the Middle Ages
Middle Ages
progressed in Italy, Italian cities began to rely mostly on mercenaries to do their fighting rather than the militias that had dominated the early and high medieval period in this region. These would be groups of career soldiers who would be paid a set rate. Mercenaries tended to be effective soldiers, especially in combination with standing forces, but in Italy
they came to dominate the armies of the city states. This made them considerably less reliable than a standing army. Mercenary-on-mercenary warfare in Italy
also led to relatively bloodless campaigns which relied as much on maneuver as on battles. In 1439 the French legislature, known as the Estates General (French: états généraux), passed laws that restricted military recruitment and training to the king alone. There was a new tax to be raised known as the taille that was to provide funding for a new Royal army. The mercenary companies were given a choice of either joining the Royal army as compagnies d'ordonnance on a permanent basis, or being hunted down and destroyed if they refused. France
gained a total standing army of around 6,000 men, which was sent out to gradually eliminate the remaining mercenaries who insisted on operating on their own. The new standing army had a more disciplined and professional approach to warfare than its predecessors. The reforms of the 1440s, eventually led to the French victory at Castillon in 1453, and the conclusion of the Hundred Years' War. By 1450 the companies were divided into the field army, known as the grande ordonnance and the garrison force known as the petite ordonnance .[9] Early modern[edit]

Swiss mercenaries
Swiss mercenaries
and German Landsknechts
fighting for glory, fame and money at the Battle of Marignan
Battle of Marignan
(1515). The bulk of the Renaissance armies was composed of mercenaries.

First nation states lacked the funds needed to maintain standing forces, so they tended to hire mercenaries to serve in their armies during wartime. Such mercenaries typically formed at the ends of periods of conflict, when men-at-arms were no longer needed by their respective governments. The veteran soldiers thus looked for other forms of employment, often becoming mercenaries. Free Companies would often specialize in forms of combat that required longer periods of training that was not available in the form of a mobilized militia. As late as the 1650s, most troops were mercenaries. However, after the 17th century, most states invested in better disciplined and more politically reliable permanent troops. For a time mercenaries became important as trainers and administrators, but soon these tasks were also taken by the state. The massive size of these armies required a large supporting force of administrators. The newly centralized states were forced to set up vast organized bureaucracies to manage these armies, which some historians argue is the basis of the modern bureaucratic state. The combination of increased taxes and increased centralisation of government functions caused a series of revolts across Europe such as the Fronde
in France and the English Civil War. In many countries, the resolution of this conflict was the rise of absolute monarchy. Only in England
and the Netherlands did representative government evolve as an alternative. From the late 17th century, states learned how to finance wars through long term low interest loans from national banking institutions. The first state to master this process was the Dutch Republic. This transformation in the armies of Europe had great social impact. The defense of the state now rested on the commoners, not on the aristocrats. However, aristocrats continued to monopolise the officer corps of almost all early modern armies, including their high command. Moreover, popular revolts almost always failed unless they had the support and patronage of the noble or gentry classes. The new armies, because of their vast expense, were also dependent on taxation and the commercial classes who also began to demand a greater role in society. The great commercial powers of the Dutch and English matched much larger states in military might. As any man could be quickly trained in the use of a musket, it became far easier to form massive armies. The inaccuracy of the weapons necessitated large groups of massed soldiers. This led to a rapid swelling of the size of armies. For the first time huge masses of the population could enter combat, rather than just the highly skilled professionals.

The colonels of the French Guards and British guards politely discussing who should fire first at the Battle of Fontenoy
Battle of Fontenoy
(1745).[10] An example of "lace war".

It has been argued that the drawing of men from across the nation into an organized corps helped breed national unity and patriotism, and during this period the modern notion of the nation state was born. However, this would only become apparent after the French Revolutionary Wars. At this time, the levée en masse and conscription would become the defining paradigm of modern warfare. Before then, however, most national armies were in fact composed of many nationalities. In Spain armies were recruited from all the Spanish European territories including Spain, Italy, Wallonia
(Walloon Guards) and Germany. The French recruited some soldiers from Germany, Switzerland
as well as from Piedmont. Britain recruited Hessian and Hanovrian troops until the late 18th century. Irish Catholics made careers for themselves in the armies of many Catholic European states. Prior to the English Civil War
in England, the monarch maintained a personal Bodyguard of Yeomen of the Guard
Yeomen of the Guard
and the Honourable Corps
of Gentlemen at Arms, or "gentlemen pensioners", and a few locally raised companies to garrison important places such as Berwick on Tweed
Berwick on Tweed
or Portsmouth
(or Calais
before it was recaptured by France
in 1558). Troops
for foreign expeditions were raised upon an ad hoc basis. Noblemen
and professional regular soldiers were commissioned by the monarch to supply troops, raising their quotas by indenture from a variety of sources. On January 26, 1661 Charles II issued the Royal Warrant that created the genesis of what would become the British Army, although the Scottish and English Armies would remain two separate organizations until the unification of England
and Scotland in 1707. The small force was represented by only a few regiments. After the American Revolutionary War
the Continental Army
Continental Army
was quickly disbanded as part of the Americans' distrust of standing armies, and irregular state militias became the sole ground army of the United States, with the exception of one battery of artillery guarding West Point's arsenal. Then First American Regiment
was established in 1784. However, because of continuing conflict with Native Americans, it was soon realized that it was necessary to field a trained standing army. The first of these, the Legion of the United States, was established in 1791. Until 1733 the common soldiers of Prussian Army
Prussian Army
consisted largely of peasantry recruited or impressed from Brandenburg-Prussia, leading many to flee to neighboring countries.[11] To halt this trend, Frederick William I divided Prussia
into regimental cantons. Every youth was required to serve as a soldier in these recruitment districts for three months each year; this met agrarian needs and added extra troops to bolster the regular ranks.[12]

The battle of the Nations (1813), marked the transition between aristocratic armies and national armies.[13] Masses replace hired professionals and national hatred overrides dynastic conflicts. An early example of total wars.

Russian tsars before Peter I of Russia
maintained professional hereditary musketeer corps (streltsy in Russian) that were highly unreliable and undisciplined. In times of war the armed forces were augmented by peasants. Peter I introduced a modern regular army built on German model, but with a new aspect: officers not necessarily from nobility, as talented commoners were given promotions that eventually included a noble title at the attainment of an officer's rank. Conscription
of peasants and townspeople was based on quota system, per settlement. Initially it was based on the number of households, later it was based on the population numbers.[14] The term of service in the 18th century was for life. In 1793 it was reduced to 25 years. In 1834 it was reduced to 20 years plus 5 years in reserve and in 1855 to 12 years plus 3 years of reserve.[14][chronology citation needed] The first Ottoman standing army were Janissaries. They replaced forces that mostly comprised tribal warriors (ghazis) whose loyalty and morale could not always be trusted. The first Janissary units were formed from prisoners of war and slaves, probably as a result of the sultan taking his traditional one-fifth share of his army's booty in kind rather than cash. From the 1380s onwards, their ranks were filled under the devşirme system, where feudal dues were paid by service to the sultan. The "recruits" were mostly Christian youths, reminiscent of mamluks. China
organized the Manchu people
Manchu people
into the Eight Banner system
Eight Banner system
in the early 17th century. Defected Ming armies formed the Green Standard Army. These troops enlisted voluntarily and for long terms of service. Late modern[edit]

Indian Army
Indian Army
personnel during Operation Crusader
Operation Crusader
in Egypt, 1941

allowed the French Republic to form the La Grande Armée, what Napoleon
Bonaparte called "the nation in arms", which successfully battled European professional armies. Conscription, particularly when the conscripts are being sent to foreign wars that do not directly affect the security of the nation, has historically been highly politically contentious in democracies. Canada
also had a political dispute over conscription during World War II. Similarly, mass protests against conscription to fight the Vietnam War
occurred in several countries in the late 1960s. In developed nations, the increasing emphasis on technological firepower and better-trained fighting forces, the sheer unlikelihood of a conventional military assault on most developed nations, as well as memories of the contentiousness of the Vietnam War
experience, make mass conscription unlikely in the foreseeable future. Russia, as well as many other nations, retains mainly a conscript army. There is also a very rare citizen army as used in Switzerland (see Military
of Switzerland). Armies as armed services[edit] Western armies are usually subdivided as follows:

Corps: A corps usually consists of two or more divisions and is commanded by a Lieutenant General. Division: Each division is commanded by a Major
General, and usually holds three brigades including infantry, artillery, engineers and communications units in addition to logistics (supply and service) support to sustain independent action. Except for the divisions operating in the mountains, divisions have at least one armored unit, some have even more depending upon their functionality. The basic building block of all ground force combat formations is the infantry division. Brigade: A brigade is under the command of a Brigadier
or Brigadier General and sometimes is commanded by a Colonel. It typically comprises three or more battalions of different units depending on its functionality. An independent brigade would be one that primarily consists of an artillery unit, an infantry unit, an armour unit and logistics to support its actions. Such a brigade is not part of any division and is under direct command of a corps. Battalion: Each battalion is commanded by a Colonel
or sometimes by Lieutenant Colonel
who commands roughly 500 to 750 soldiers. This number varies depending on the functionality of the regiment. A battalion comprises 3–5 companies (3 rifle companies, a fire support company and headquarters company) or its functional equivalent such as batteries (artillery) or squadrons (armour and cavalry), each under the command of a Major. The company can be divided into platoons, each of which can again be divided into sections or squads. (Terminology is nationality and even unit specific.)[15]

Field army[edit] A field army is composed of a headquarters, army troops, a variable number of corps, typically between three and four, and a variable number of divisions, also between three and four. A battle is influenced at the Field Army
level by transferring divisions and reinforcements from one corps to another to increase the pressure on the enemy at a critical point. Field armies are controlled by a General or Lieutenant General. Formations[edit]

Standard map symbol for a numbered Army, the 'X's are not substituting the army's number

A particular army can be named or numbered to distinguish it from military land forces in general. For example, the First United States Army
and the Army
of Northern Virginia. In the British Army
British Army
it is normal to spell out the ordinal number of an army (e.g. First Army), whereas lower formations use figures (e.g. 1st Division). Armies (as well as army groups and theaters) are large formations which vary significantly between armed forces in size, composition, and scope of responsibility. In the Soviet Red Army
Red Army
and the Soviet Air Force, "Armies" could vary in size, but were subordinate to an Army
Group-sized "front" in wartime. In peacetime, a Soviet army was usually subordinate to a military district. Viktor Suvorov's Inside the Soviet Army
describes how Cold War
era Soviet military districts were actually composed of a front headquarters and a military district headquarters co-located for administration and deception ('maskirovika') reasons. See also[edit]

Armed forces Army
aviation First world war List of armies List of armies by country List of numbered armies List of countries by number of military and paramilitary personnel Mercenary Military
history Military
organization Militia Military Paramilitary Soldier War


Wikimedia Commons has media related to army.

^ sfnMajumdar2003pg=107 ^ History of India
By Dr Malti Malik, Pg.84 [1] ^ The Great Armies of Antiquity By Richard A. Gabriel Pg.218 [2] ^ Roy 2004, pp. 28–31. ^ In the twentieth c., Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong
(People's Republic of China), General Vo Nguyen Giap
Vo Nguyen Giap
(Viet Nam), General Douglas MacArthur
Douglas MacArthur
(United States), and in medieval Japan, Takeda Shingen
Takeda Shingen
(1521–1573) have drawn inspiration from the work ^ "who wishes to fight must first count the cost" —Sun Tzu, The Art of War ^ "You conquered the empire on horseback, but from horseback you will never succeed in ruling it." —Lu Chia, as quoted by Joseph Needham, Science and Civilisation in China. vol 7, part II. ^ Carruthers, Bob (2013). Medieval Warfare. Pen and Sword. p. 10. ISBN 9781781592243.  ^ Vale, M.G.A. (1992). Charles VII. Berkeley: University of California Press. ^ Mackinnon, Daniel. Origin and services of the Coldstream Guards, London 1883, Vol. 1, p. 368, note 2 ^ Clark, Christopher (2006). Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia
1600–1947. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard. p. 97. ISBN 0-674-02385-4.  ^ Koch, H. W. (1978). A History of Prussia. New York: Barnes & Noble Books. p. 88. ISBN 0-88029-158-3.  ^ Napoléon a réinventé l’art de la guerre Archived 2016-03-03 at the Wayback Machine.. lecavalierbleu.com ^ a b Jerome Blum (1971) "Lord and Peasant in Russia: From the Ninth to the Nineteenth Century", ISBN 0-691-00764-0, pp. 465, 466 ^ "Subdivisions of the army". Archived from the original on 2006-11-16. Retrieved 2007-01-21. 

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