INFANTRY is the general branch of an army that engages in military
combat on foot. As the troops who engage with the enemy in
close-ranged combat, infantry units bear the largest brunt of warfare
and typically suffer the greatest number of casualties during a
military campaign. Historically, as the oldest branch of the combat
arms , the infantry are the tip of the spear of a modern army, and
continually undergo training that is typically more physically
demanding and psychologically stressful than that of any other branch
of the combat arms. Common representations of infantry fighting forces
include the U.S. Army
* 1 History and etymology
* 4 Doctrine
* 4.1 Retractions to the infantry concept
* 5 Operations
* 5.1 Attack operations
* 5.1.1 Patrol operations * 5.1.2 Pursuit operations
* 5.2 Defense operations
* 5.2.1 Escort operations * 5.2.2 Base defense
* 5.3 Maneuvering operations * 5.4 Reconnaissance/intelligence gathering * 5.5 Military reserve force * 5.6 Construction/engineering * 5.7 Raids/Hostage rescue * 5.8 Urban combat
* 6 Day to day service
* 7 Equipment and training
* 7.1 Protective equipment and survival gear
* 8 Other infantry * 9 Descriptions of infantry * 10 See also * 11 Citations and notes * 12 References * 13 External links
HISTORY AND ETYMOLOGY
History of infantry
In English, the 16th-century term INFANTRY (ca. 1570s) describes soldiers who walk to the battlefield, and there engage, fight, and defeat the enemy in direct combat , usually to take and occupy the terrain. As describing the branch of the combat arms , the term infantry derives from the French INFANTERIE, which, in turn, is derived from the Italian FANTERIA and ultimately from the Latin INFANTERA; the individual-soldier term INFANTRYMAN (1837) was not coined until the 19th century. Historically, before the invention and the introduction of firearms to warfare, the foot soldiers of previous eras—armed with blunt and edged weapons, and a shield—also are considered and identified as infantrymen.
The term arose in Sixteenth-Century Spain, which boasted one of the first professional standing armies seen in Europe since the days of Rome. It was common to appoint royal princes (Infantes) to military commands, and the men under them became known as Infanteria.
As a branch of the armed forces , the role of the infantry in warfare
is to engage, fight, and kill the enemy at close range—using either
a firearm (rifle , pistol , machine gun ), an edged-weapon (knife ,
bayonet ), or bare hands (close quarters combat )—as required by the
mission to hand; thus 20th-century infantry: Australian infantry
at Tobruk, Libya, in 1941, during the Second World
* in the
Beginning with the
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19th-century infantry: Brigadier General
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The development of machine guns and other weapons with increased
firepower forced infantry units to disperse in order to make them less
vulnerable to such weapons. This decentralization of command was made
possible by improved communications equipment and greater focus on
small unit training. From World
Among the various subtypes of infantry is "Medium infantry." This
refers to infantry which are less heavily armed and armored than heavy
infantry , but more so than light infantry . In the early modern
period , medium infantry were largely eliminated due to discontinued
use of body armour up until the 20th century. In the United States
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Doctrine provides a very common frame of reference across the military forces, allowing the infantry to function cooperatively in what are now called combined arms operations. Doctrine helps standardise operations, facilitating readiness by establishing common ways of accomplishing infantry tasks. Doctrine links theory, history, experimentation, and practice. Its objective is to foster initiative and creative thinking in the infantry's tactical combat environment.
Doctrine provides the infantry with an authoritative body of statements on how infantry forces conduct operations and provides a common lexicon for use by infantry planners and leaders.
Until the development of effective artillery doctrines, and more recently precision guided air delivered ordnance, the most recent important role of the infantry has been as the primary force of inflicting casualties on the enemy through aimed fire. The infantry is also the only combat arm which can ultimately decide whether any given tactical position is occupied, and it is the presence of infantry that assures control of terrain. While the tactics of employment in battle have changed, the basic missions of the infantry have not.
RETRACTIONS TO THE INFANTRY CONCEPT
Although it has been argued that infantrymen and infantry tactics are
an antiquated and careless use of military manpower and resources, the
infantryman has proven quite capable against many units, some much
more sophisticated. For instance, light infantry has proven to be
effective against tank units by exploiting a tank's limited field of
fire and view when using grenades or antitank rockets. Air bombardment
that otherwise have flattened cities may be ineffective against a dug
in infantry force, such as at the
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Canadian army reserve infantrymen train in urban operations.
Attack operations are the most basic role of the infantry, and along with defense, form the main stances of the infantry on the battlefield. Traditionally, in an open battle, or meeting engagement , two armies would maneuver to contact, at which point they would form up their infantry and other units opposite each other. Then one or both would advance and attempt to defeat the enemy force. The goal of an attack remains the same: to advance into an enemy-held objective, most frequently a hill, river crossing, city or other dominant terrain feature, and dislodge the enemy, thereby establishing control of the objective.
Attacks are often feared by the infantry conducting them because of the high number of casualties suffered while advancing to close with and destroy the enemy while under enemy fire. In mechanized infantry the armored personnel carrier (APC) is considered the assaulting position. These APCs can deliver infantrymen through the front lines to the battle and—in the case of infantry fighting vehicles —contribute supporting firepower to engage the enemy. Successful attacks rely on sufficient force, preparative reconnaissance and battlefield preparation with bomb assets. Retention of discipline and cohesion throughout the attack is paramount to success. A subcategory of attacks is the ambush , where infantrymen lie in wait for enemy forces before attacking at a vulnerable moment. This gives the ambushing infantrymen the combat advantage of surprise, concealment and superior firing positions, and causes confusion. The ambushed unit does not know what it is up against, or where they are attacking from.
Patrolling is the most common infantry mission. Full-scale attacks and defensive efforts are occasional, but patrols are constant. Patrols consist of small groups of infantry moving about in areas of possible enemy activity to locate the enemy and destroy them when found. Patrols are used not only on the front-lines, but in rear areas where enemy infiltration or insurgencies are possible.
Pursuit is a role that the infantry often assumes. The objective of
pursuit operations is the destruction of withdrawing enemy forces
which are not capable of effectively engaging friendly units, before
they can build their strength to the point where they are effective.
Defense operations are the natural counter to attacks, in which the mission is to hold an objective and defeat enemy forces attempting to dislodge the defender. Defensive posture offers many advantages to the infantry, including the ability to use terrain and constructed fortifications to advantage; these reduce exposure to enemy fire compared with advancing forces. Effective defense relies on minimizing losses to enemy fire, breaking the enemy's cohesion before their advance is completed, and preventing enemy penetration of defensive positions.
Escorting consists of protecting support units from ambush,
particularly from hostile infantry forces.
Maneouvering consumes much of an infantry unit's time. Infantry, like all combat arms units, are often maneuvered to meet battlefield needs, and often must do so under enemy attack. The infantry must maintain their cohesion and readiness during the move to ensure their usefulness when they reach their objective. Traditionally, infantry have relied on their own legs for mobility, but mechanised or armoured infantry often uses trucks and armored vehicles for transport. These units can quickly disembark and transition to light infantry, without vehicles, to access terrain which armoured vehicles can't effectively access.
Surveillance operations are often carried out with the employment of small recon units or sniper teams which gather information about the enemy, reporting on characteristics such as size, activity, location, unit and equipment. These infantry units typically are known for their stealth and ability to operate for periods of time within close proximity of the enemy without being detected. They may engage high-profile targets, or be employed to hunt down terrorist cells and insurgents within a given area. These units may also entice the enemy to engage a located recon unit, thus disclosing their location to be destroyed by more powerful friendly forces.
MILITARY RESERVE FORCE
Some assignments for infantry units involve deployment behind the front, although patrol and security operations are usually maintained in case of enemy infiltration. This is usually the best time for infantry units to integrate replacements into units and to maintain equipment. Additionally, soldiers can be rested and general readiness should improve. However, the unit must be ready for deployment at any point.
This can be undertaken either in reserve or on the front, but consists of using infantry troops as labor for construction of field positions, roads, bridges, airfields, and all other manner of structures. The infantry is often given this assignment because of the physical quantity of strong men within the unit, although it can lessen a unit's morale and limit the unit's ability to maintain readiness and perform other missions. More often, such jobs are given to specialist engineering corps.
Urban combat poses unique challenges to the combat forces. It is one of the most complicated type of operations an infantry unit will undertake. With many places for the enemy to hide and ambush from, infantry units must be trained in how to enter a city, and systematically clear the buildings, which most likely will be booby trapped, in order to kill or capture enemy personnel within the city. Care must be taken to differentiate innocent civilians who often hide and support the enemy from the non-uniformed armed enemy forces. Civilian and military casualties both are usually very high.
DAY TO DAY SERVICE
Because of an infantryman's duties with firearms, explosives,
physical and emotional stress , and physical violence, casualties and
deaths are not uncommon in both war and in peacetime training or
operations. It is a highly dangerous and demanding combat service; in
The physical, mental, and environmental operating demands of the
infantryman are high. All of the combat necessities such as
ammunition, weapon systems, food, water, clothing, and shelter are
carried on the backs of the infantrymen, at least in light role as
opposed to mounted/mechanised.
Despite the hardships, infantrymen are expected to continue with their combat missions despite death and injury of friends, fear, despair, fatigue, and bodily injury. U.S. Army Rangers, Vietnam, 1969.
Some infantry units are considered
Foreign and domestic militaries typically have a slang term for their infantrymen. In the U.S. military, the slang term among both Marine and Army infantrymen for themselves is "grunt." In the British Army, they are the "squaddies." The infantry is a small close-knit community, and the slang names are terms of endearment that convey mutual respect and shared experiences.
EQUIPMENT AND TRAINING
The Training of the infantry has differed drastically over time and from place to place. The antiquity saw everything from the well-trained citizen armies of Greek and Rome, the tribal host assembled from farmers and hunters with only passing acquaintance with warfare and masses of lightly armed and ill-trained militia put up as a last ditch effort. In medieval times the foot soldier ran the gamut from peasant levies to semi-permanent mercenary host of mercenaries, foremost among them the Swiss, English, Aragonese and German companies, to the men-at-arms who went into battle as well-armored as knights who at times also fought on foot. The modern age saw an increase in training standards, mostly due to the increased use of firearms and the need for drill to handle them efficiently. The introduction of national and mass armies saw an establishment of minimum requirements and the introduction of special troops (first of them the engineers going back to medieval times, but also different kinds of infantry adopted to specific terrain, bicycle, motorcycle, motorized and mechanized troops) culminating with the introduction of highly trained special forces during the first and second World War.
The equipment of infantry forces has evolved along with the
development of military technology and tactics in general, but certain
constants remain regarding the design and selection of this equipment.
Primary types of equipment are weaponry, protective gear, survival
gear, and special, mission specific equipment.
Infantry tactics have
become much more involved, and yet must be learned and rehearsed until
they become second nature when the infantry soldier is stumbling with
fatigue and in the middle of the "fog of war ." Spreading out, making
use of cover and concealment, monitoring teammates and leaders, and
watching for the enemy must all become instinctive and simultaneous.
A French infantryman wearing a
FÉLIN suit electronically linked to
Modern infantrymen may be trained to use equipment in addition to
their personal rifles , such as hand guns or pistols, shotguns ,
machine guns , anti-tank missiles , infantry mortars , anti-personnel
mines, other incendiary and explosive devices, bayonets ,
PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT AND SURVIVAL GEAR
Japan Ground Self-Defense Force infantry wearing helmets and camouflage , 2006.
Beginning in the Vietnam
Specialized equipment consists of a variety of gear which may or may not be carried, depending on the mission and the level of equipment of an army. Communications gear has become a necessity, as it allows effective command of infantry units over greater distances, and communication with artillery and other support units. In some units, individual communications are being used to allow the greatest level of flexibility. Engineering equipment, including explosives, mines , and other gear, is also commonly carried by the infantry or attached specialists. A variety of other gear, often relating to a specific mission, or to the particular terrain in which the unit is employed, can be carried by infantry units.
Naval infantry, commonly known as marines , are primarily a category of infantry that form part of the naval forces of states and perform roles on land and at sea, including amphibious operations , as well as other, naval roles. They also perform other tasks, including land warfare, separate from naval operations.
Air force infantry and base defence forces, such as the Royal Air
Force Regiment ,
Royal Australian Air Force
DESCRIPTIONS OF INFANTRY
U.S. Army infantrymen from 3rd Platoon, Charlie Company, 2/327th
* "Ah, yes, mere infantry—poor beggars. ..." —
CITATIONS AND NOTES
* ^ Royal Australian Corps of
* LCCN : sh85066019 * GND : 4161647-9 * BNF : cb126475022 (data) * NDL