Corps (/kɔːr/; plural corps /kɔːrz/; via French, from the Latin
corpus "body") is a term used for several different kinds of
Within military terminology a corps may be:
an operational formation, sometimes known as a field corps, which
consists of two or more divisions, such as the
Corps d'armée, later
known as I
Corps ("First Corps") of Napoleon's Grande Armée);
an administrative corps (or mustering) – that is a specialized
branch of a military service (such as an artillery corps, a medical
corps, or a force of military police) or;
in some cases, a distinct service within a national military (such as
the United States Marine Corps).
These usages often overlap. For example, during the Korean War, the
United States' X
Corps – a field corps – included infantry units
from the US Marine
Corps and smaller units from many different
administrative corps of the US Army.
Corps may also be a generic term for a non-military organization, such
as the U.S. Peace Corps.
1 Military usage
1.1 Operational formation
1.1.7 Poland (1938–39)
1.1.8 United Kingdom
1.1.9 United States
188.8.131.52 Civil War
184.108.40.206 Spanish–American War
220.127.116.11 World Wars I & II
18.104.22.168 Cold War and 21st Century
1.1.10 Soviet Union
1.2 Administrative corps
1.2.4 United States
2 Non-military use
3 See also
5 Further reading
In many armies, a corps is a battlefield formation composed of two or
more divisions, and typically commanded by a lieutenant general.
World War I
World War I and World War II, due to the large scale of combat,
multiple corps were combined into armies which then formed into army
groups. In Western armies with numbered corps, the number is often
Roman numerals (e.g., VII Corps).
In the later stages of World War I, the five infantry divisions of the
First Australian Imperial Force
First Australian Imperial Force (AIF)—consisting entirely of
personnel who had volunteered for service overseas—were united as
the Australian Corps, on the Western Front, under
Sir John Monash.
During World War II, the
Australian I Corps was formed to co-ordinate
Second Australian Imperial Force
Second Australian Imperial Force (2nd AIF) units: the 6th, 7th
and 9th Divisions, as well as other Allied units on some occasions, in
North African campaign
North African campaign and Greek campaign. Following the
commencement of the Pacific War, there was a phased withdrawal of I
Corps to Australia, and the transfer of its headquarters to the
Brisbane area, to control Allied army units in
Queensland and northern
New South Wales
New South Wales (NSW). II
Corps was also formed, with Militia units,
to defend south-eastern Australia, and III
Corps controlled land
forces in Western Australia. Sub-corps formations controlled Allied
land forces in the remainder of Australia. I
Corps headquarters was
later assigned control of the New Guinea campaign. In early 1945, when
Corps was assigned the task of re-taking Borneo, II
Corps took over
in New Guinea.
Canada first fielded a corps-sized formation in the First World War;
Canadian Corps was unique in that its composition did not change
from inception to the war's end, in contrast to British corps in
France and Flanders. The
Canadian Corps consisted of four Canadian
divisions. After the Armistice, the peacetime Canadian militia was
nominally organized into corps and divisions but no full-time
formations larger than a battalion were ever trained or exercised.
Early in the Second World War, Canada's contribution to the
British-French forces fighting the Germans was limited to a single
division. After the fall of France in June 1940, a second division
moved to England, coming under command of a Canadian corps
headquarters. This corps was renamed I
Canadian Corps as a second
corps headquarters was established in the UK, with the eventual
formation of five Canadian divisions in England. I Canadian Corps
eventually fought in Italy, II
Canadian Corps in NW Europe, and the
two were reunited in early 1945. After the formations were disbanded
after VE Day,
Canada has never subsequently organized a Corps
National Revolutionary Army
National Revolutionary Army (NRA)
Corps (軍團) was a type of
military organization used by the Chinese Republic, and usually
exercised command over two to three NRA Divisions and often a number
of Independent Brigades or Regiments and supporting units. The Chinese
Republic had 133
Corps during the Second Sino-Japanese War. After
losses in the early part of the war, under the 1938 reforms, the
remaining scarce artillery and the other support formations were
withdrawn from the Division and was held at Corps, or Army level or
Corps became the basic tactical unit of the NRA having
strength nearly equivalent to an allied Division.
French Army under
Napoleon used corps-sized formations (French:
Corps d'Armée) as the first formal combined-arms groupings of
divisions with reasonably stable manning and equipment establishments.
Napoleon first used the
Corps d'armée in 1805 . The use of the Corps
d'armée was a military innovation that provided
Napoleon with a
significant battlefield advantage in the early phases of the
Napoleonic Wars. The
Corps was designed to be an independent military
group containing cavalry, artillery and infantry, and capable of
defending against a numerically superior foe. This allowed
mass the bulk of his forces to effect a penetration into a weak
section of enemy lines without risking his own communications or
flank. This innovation stimulated other European powers to adopt
similar military structures. The
Corps has remained an echelon of
French Army organization to the modern day.
Command flag of a commanding general (German: Kommandierender General)
of an Army corps (1933-1945).
As fixed military formation already in peace-time it was used almost
in all European armies after
Battle of Ulm
Battle of Ulm in 1805. In Prussia it was
introduced by Order of His Majesty (de: Allerhöchste Kabinetts-Order)
from November 5, 1816, in order to strengthen the readiness to war.
The paramilitary forces of Pakistan's two main western provinces of
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan are the
Frontier Corps (FC) founded
in 1907 during British Rule as at least three various organizations
before being combined together. They are charged with guarding the
country's western borders as well as providing internal security
including guarding important sites and participating in law
enforcement activities. They are divided into two sub-organizations:
FC Pakhtunkhwa and FC Balochistan.
Polish Armed Forces
Polish Armed Forces used Independent Operational Group's in the
place of the
Corps before and during World War Two. An example would
be Independent Operational Group Polesie. The groups, as the name
indicates, were more flexible and showed greater capacity to absorb
and integrate elements of broken units over a period of just a couple
days and keep cohesion during the
September Campaign than more
traditional army units such as divisions, regiments, or even brigades.
Wellington formed a "corps d'armee" in 1815 for commanding his mixed
allied force of four divisions against Napoleon.
British Army was expanded from an expeditionary force in the
First World War, corps were created to manage the large numbers of
divisions. The British corps in
World War I
World War I included 23 infantry corps
and a few mounted corps. The word was adopted for other special
formations such as the Officers Training Corps. Military training of
teenage boys is undertaken at secondary schools through the Combined
Cadet Force, in which participation was compulsory at some schools in
the 1950s. Schoolboy jargon called the CCF simply "Corps."
British Army still has a corps headquarters for operational
control of forces. I
Corps of the
British Army of the Rhine was
Allied Rapid Reaction Corps
Allied Rapid Reaction Corps in 1994. It is no longer
a purely British formation, although the UK is the 'framework nation'
and provides most of the staff for the headquarters. A purely national
Corps headquarters could be quickly reconstituted if necessary.
It took command of the International Security Assistance Force in
Afghanistan on 4 May 2006. Previously, it was deployed as the
headquarters commanding land forces during the
Kosovo War in 1999 and
also saw service in Bosnia and Herzegovina, commanding the initial
stages of the
IFOR deployment prior to that in 1996. Otherwise, the
only time a British corps headquarters has been operationally deployed
since 1945 was II
Corps during the Suez Crisis.
XVIII Airborne Corps
XVIII Airborne Corps command group returns home from Operation
Iraqi Freedom in 2009
The structure of a field corps in the
United States Army
United States Army is not
permanent; many of the units that it commands are allocated to it as
needed on an ad hoc basis. On the battlefield, the corps is the
highest level of the forces that is concerned with actual combat and
operational deployment. Higher levels of command are concerned with
administration rather than operations, at least under current
doctrine. The corps provides operational direction for the forces
under its command.
As of 2014, the active field corps in the
U.S. Army are I
Corps and XVIII Airborne Corps; their lineages derive from
three of the corps formed during
World War I
World War I (I and III Corps) and
World War II
World War II (XVIII Airborne Corps).
The first field corps in the
United States Army
United States Army were legalized during
American Civil War
American Civil War by an Act of Congress on July 17, 1862, but
George B. McClellan
George B. McClellan had designated six corps
organizations within his
Army of the Potomac
Army of the Potomac that spring. Previously,
groupings of divisions were known by other names, such as "wings" and
"grand divisions". The term "army corps" was often used at this time.
These organizations were much smaller than their modern counterparts:
they were usually commanded by a major general, were composed of two
to six divisions (although predominantly three) and typically included
from 10,000 to 15,000 men. Although designated with numbers that are
sometimes the same as those found in the modern U.S. Army, there is no
direct lineage between the 43 Union field corps of the Civil War and
those with similar names in the modern era, due to Congressional
legislation caused by the outcry from Grand Army of the Republic
veterans during the Spanish–American War.
In the Confederate States Army, field corps were authorized in
November 1862. They were commanded by lieutenant generals and were
usually larger than their
Union Army counterparts because their
divisions contained more brigades, each of which could contain more
regiments. All of the Confederate corps at the Battle of Gettysburg,
for instance, exceeded 20,000 men. However, for both armies, unit
sizes varied dramatically with attrition throughout the war. In Civil
War usages, by both sides, it was common to write out the number, thus
"Twenty-first Army Corps", a practice that is usually ignored in
modern histories of the war.
U.S. Army in the years following the Civil War lacked
standing organization at the corps and division levels, it moved
swiftly to adopt these during the mobilization for the
Spanish–American War in the spring of 1898. On May 7,
36 called for the establishment of seven "army corps" (repeating the
nomenclature of the Civil War); an eighth was authorized later that
month. Two of these saw action as a unit: the Fifth in Cuba and the
Eighth in the Philippines; elements of the First, Fourth and Seventh
made up the invasion force for Puerto Rico (the Second, Third and
Seventh provided replacements and occupation troops in Cuba, while the
Sixth was never organized). The corps headquarters were disbanded
during the months following the signing of the peace treaty (with the
exception of the Eighth Army Corps, which remained active until 1900
due to the eruption of the Philippine–American War), and like the
corps of the Civil War, their lineage ends at that point.
World Wars I & II
World War I
World War I the
American Expeditionary Forces
American Expeditionary Forces (AEF) adopted the
common European usage of designating field corps by Roman numerals.
Several "corps areas" were designated under the authority of the
National Defense Act of 1920, but played little role until the Army's
buildup for World War II. While some of the lower numbered
used for various exercises the inter-war years corps serve mostly as a
pool of units. During that war, the Marine
Corps organized corps
headquarters for the first time, the I Marine (later III Amphibious
Corps) and V Amphibious Corps. The Army would ultimately designate 25
field corps (I–XVI, XVIII–XXIV, XXXVI and I Armored Corps) during
World War II.
Cold War and 21st Century
After the Korean War, the Army and Marines would diverge in their
approach to the concept of the field corps. The Army, continued to
group its divisions into traditional corps organizations in the
Continental United States (CONUS), West Germany (V
Corps & VII
Corps), and South Korea (I Corps). However, during the Vietnam War,
the Army designated its corps-level headquarters in South Vietnam as I
Field Force and I
I Field Force
I Field Force to avoid confusion with the ARVN corps
areas. As of July 2016, the Army has deactivated all corps
headquarters save three CONUS based corps (I
Corps - Washington, III
Corps - Texas, and
XVIII Airborne Corps
XVIII Airborne Corps - North Carolina).
In the 1960s, the Marine
Corps activated the I Marine Expeditionary
Force (I MEF) on Okinawa (based in California since 1971) and II
Marine Expeditionary Force
Marine Expeditionary Force (II MEF) in North Carolina, and
re-activated the III Amphibious
Corps (which had been deactivated in
III Marine Expeditionary Force
III Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF) in South Vietnam
(re-deployed to Okinawa in 1971). In 1965 all three MEFs were
subsequently re-designated as Marine Amphibious Forces or MAFs and in
1988 all three Marine
Corps corps-level commands were again
re-designated as Marine Expeditionary Forces (MEF). The MEF had
evolved into a self-contained, corps-level, Marine Air Ground Task
Force (MAGTF) consisting of a MEF Headquarters Group, a Marine
Division, a Marine Aircraft Wing, and a Force Service Support Group
(re-designated as Marine Logistics Group in 2005).
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Main article: Formations of the Soviet Army
World War II
World War II
Red Army of the former USSR had rifle corps much
like in the Western sense with approximately three divisions to a
corps. However, after the war started, the recently purged Soviet
senior command (Stavka) structure was apparently unable to handle the
formations, and the armies and corps were integrated. Rifle
re-established during the war after
Red Army commanders had gained
experience handling larger formations. Before and during World War II,
however, Soviet armored units were organized into corps. The pre-war
Corps were made up of divisions. In the reorganizations,
these "Corps" were reorganized into tank brigades and support units,
with no division structure. Due to this, they are sometimes,
informally, referred to as "
After the war, the Tank and Mechanized
Corps were re-rated as
divisions. During the reforms of 1956–58, most of the corps were
again disbanded to create the new Combined Arms and Tank Armies. A few
corps were nevertheless retained, of both patterns. The Vyborg and
Corps of the
Leningrad Military District
Leningrad Military District were smaller armies
with three low-readiness motorized rifle divisions each. The Category
Corps of the
Belarussian Military District (Western
TVD/Strategic Direction) and
Carpathian Military District (also
Western TVD) were of the brigade pattern.
Soviet Air Forces
Soviet Air Forces used ground terminology for its formations down
to squadron level. As intermediates between the
Aviation Division and
the Air Army were Corps—these also had three Air Divisions each.
In many English-speaking countries and other countries influenced by
British military traditions, a corps is also a grouping of personnel
by common function, also known as an arm, service, mustering or
In the British Army, an administrative corps performs much the same
role – for personnel that otherwise lack them – as a ceremonial
regiment. An administrative corps therefore has its own cap badge,
stable belt, and other insignia and traditions.
Royal Logistic Corps
Corps of Royal Marines
Corps of Signals
In some cases, the term corps is also used informally, for looser
groupings of independent regiments and other units – and without
many or any unifying regalia, military traditions or other
accoutrements – such as the
Royal Armoured Corps
Royal Armoured Corps or the "
Main article: List of
Australian Army Corps
In Australia, soldiers belong foremost to a
Corps which defines a
common function or employment across the army. The
Australian Army has
a system of coloured lanyards, which each identify a soldier as part
of a specific
Corps (or sometimes individual battalion). This lanyard
is a woven piece of cord which is worn on ceremonial uniforms and
dates back to the issue of clasp knives in the early 20th century
which were secured to the uniform by a length of cord.
If a soldier is posted to a unit outside of their parent corps, except
in some circumstances the soldier continues to wear the hat badge and
lanyard of their
Corps (e.g. a Clerk posted to an infantry battalion
would wear the hat badge of the Royal Australian Ordnance
would wear the lanyard of the battalion they are posted to.)
In Canada, with the integration of the Canadian army into the Canadian
Forces, the British
Corps model was replaced with personnel branches,
Canadian Forces Administrative Orders (CFAOs) as
"...cohesive professional groups...based on similarity of military
roles, customs and traditions." CFAO 2-10) However, the Armour
Branch has continued to use the title Royal Canadian Armoured Corps,
Infantry Branch continued to use the Royal Canadian
designation, and the Artillery Branch uses the term Royal
When the Army, Royal Canadian Navy, and
Royal Canadian Air Force
Royal Canadian Air Force were
merged in 1968 to form the Canadian Forces, the Royal Canadian Dental
Corps and Royal
Medical Corps were deactivated and
merged with their Naval and Air Force counterparts to form the Dental
Branch (Canadian Forces) and the
Canadian Forces Medical Service of
Canadian Forces Health Services Group (CF H Svcs Gp). The Royal
Canadian Army Service
Corps transport and supply elements were
combined with the
Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps
Royal Canadian Ordnance Corps to form the Logistics
Branch The Royal
Canadian Army Service
Corps clerical trades were
merged with the Royal
Canadian Army Pay
Corps and the Royal Canadian
Corps to form the Administration Branch (later merged with the
Logistics Branch) 
Other "corps", included: Canadian Engineer Corps, Signalling Corps,
Corps of Guides, Canadian Women's Army Corps, Royal Canadian Army
Veterinary Corps, Canadian Forestry Corps,
Canadian Provost Corps and
Canadian Intelligence Corps.
U.S. Armed Forces
U.S. Armed Forces use corps administratively in several ways.
1) In the title of the United States Marine Corps,
Corps is used as a
service-branch designator, in much the same way as Force and Guard are
used for the U.S. Air Force, U.S. Coast Guard, Army National Guard,
and Air National Guard.
U.S. Army (all components; Regular Army, Army Reserve, and Army
National Guard) uses administrative corps, also known as Army
Branches, to group personnel with a common function. These include the
Acquisition Corps, Adjutant General's Corps, Chaplain Corps, Chemical
Corps, Civil Affairs Corps, Cyber Corps, Dental Corps*,
Engineers, Finance Corps, Judge Advocate General's Corps, Logistics
Corps, Medical Corps*, Medical Service Corps*, Medical Specialist
Corps*, Military Intelligence Corps, Military Police Corps, Nurse
Corps*, Ordnance Corps, Psychological Operations Corps, Quartermaster
Corps, Signal Corps, Transportation Corps, and Veterinary Corps.* Each
of these corps is also considered a regiment for purposes of: "...
affiliation, ... loyalty and commitment, ... sense of belonging, ...
unit esprit, and ... war fighting ethos." However, these regiments
have no tactical function. The six corps (annotated by an asterisk
above after each applicable corps' name) of the Army Medical
Department (AMEDD) are included in the AMEDD
U.S. Navy officers who are not Line officers (i.e., those who
exercise general command authority and are eligible for operational
command positions, as opposed to officers who normally exercise
authority only within their own specialty) are commissioned into
various Staff Corps. These officers are specialists in career fields
that are professions unto themselves, such as ministers, civil
engineers, architects, dentists, lawyers, physicians, healthcare
administrators, healthcare scientists, clinical care providers,
nurses, financial managers, and logistics and supply specialists.
These corps' include the Chaplain Corps, Civil Engineer Corps, Dental
Corps*, Judge Advocate General's Corps, Medical Corps*, Medical
Service Corps*, Nurse Corps*, and the Supply Corps. The Navy also has
Corps consisting of enlisted medical technicians. The
Hospital Corps, along with the four Navy health services corps' listed
above (indicated by asterisk), is one of the five corps' of the Navy
Bureau of Medicine and Surgery.
U.S. Air Force
U.S. Air Force uses the title corps to designate several
non-tactical organizations. These corps' include five distinct health
services corps of the
United States Air Force Medical Service
United States Air Force Medical Service (AFMS).
The AFMS corps' are the Biomedical Sciences Corps, Dental Corps,
Medical Corps, Medical Service Corps, and Nurse Corps. The Air Force
also has its own Chaplain
Corps and Judge Advocate General's Corps.
5) In the U.S. Armed Forces, the term corps is also used in a general
sense to mean the collective membership of a specified military body.
Those uses include: the Officer
Corps and Noncommissioned Officer
Corps (NCO Corps) of the armed forces, either collectively or
individually by branch of service; the United States
Corps of Cadets
United States Military Academy
United States Military Academy and the United States Coast
Corps of Cadets of the United States Coast Guard Academy; the
overall program title and aggregate collection of cadets and
midshipmen enrolled in the Reserve Officer Training Corps’ (ROTC) of
the several services (i.e., Army ROTC, Navy ROTC, and Air Force ROTC),
as well as the cadet organizations of the six federally recognized
United States Senior Military Colleges (The Citadel, Norwich
University, Texas A&M University, the University of North Georgia,
the Virginia Military Institute, and Virginia Polytechnic Institute
and State University); and the members of the Naval Sea Cadet Corps.
The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army calls its local units/church "corps" (e.g. The
Rockford Temple Corps, The St. Petersburg Citadel Corps), echoing the
pseudomilitary name and structure of the organization.
In the United Kingdom, the
Royal Observer Corps
Royal Observer Corps was a civil defence
unit from 1925 until disbanded in 1995.
In the US, there are non-military, administrative, training and
Corps for commissioned officers of the government's
uniformed services, such as the United States Public Health Service
Corps and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration Commissioned Corps.
Many volunteer municipal or university ambulance, rescue, and first
aid squads are known as VACs (volunteer ambulance corps). Prominent
examples are the Order of Malta (the largest in Ireland), Hatzolah
(largest VAC network worldwide), Hackensack VAC. The usage of the term
Corps dates to Civil War
General George B. McClellan's
General Order No 147 to create an "ambulance corps" within the Union
Army. GO 147 used "Corps" in one of its standard military senses.
However, subsequent formations of non-military ambulance squads
continued to use the term, even where they adhere less to paramilitary
Peace Corps was organized by the United States as an "army" of
Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are known as corps.
Global Health Corps
Global Health Corps and Mercy Corps.
Patent Examiner in the US is a member of the Examiner Corps.
The Salvation Army
United States Marine Corps
List of military corps
List of corps of the United States
Drum and bugle corps (modern)
Drum and bugle corps (classic)
Signal Corps (other)
United States Army
United States Army
Corps of Engineers
Green Lantern Corps
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