light infantry
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Light infantry refers to certain types of lightly equipped
infantry Infantry is a military specialization which engages in ground combat on foot. Infantry generally consists of light infantry, mountain infantry, motorized infantry & mechanized infantry, airborne infantry, air assault infantry, and marine i ...
throughout history. They have a more mobile or fluid function than other types of infantry, such as
heavy infantry Heavy infantry consisted of heavily weapon, armed and body armor, armoured Infantry, infantrymen who were trained to mount frontal assaults and/or anchor the defensive center of a line (formation), battle line. This differentiated them from ligh ...
or
line infantry Line infantry was the type of infantry that composed the basis of European land armies from the late 17th century to the mid-19th century. Maurice of Nassau and Gustavus Adolphus are generally regarded as its pioneers, while Henri de la Tour d ...
. Historically, light infantry often fought as
scouts Scouting, also known as the Scout Movement, is a worldwide youth Social movement, movement employing the Scout method, a program of informal education with an emphasis on practical outdoor activities, including camping, woodcraft, aquatics, hik ...
, raiders, and
skirmishers Skirmishers are light infantry Light infantry refers to certain types of lightly equipped infantry throughout history. They have a more mobile or fluid function than other types of infantry, such as heavy infantry or line infantry. Histor ...
. These are loose formations that fight ahead of the main army to harass, delay, disrupt supply lines, engage the enemy’s own skirmishing forces, and generally "soften up" an enemy before the main battle. Light infantrymen were also often responsible for screening the main body of a military formation. Post-
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the World War II by country, vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great power ...
, the term "light infantry" evolved to include rapid-deployment units (including
commando file:Royal_Marines_in_Sangin_MOD_45151554.jpg, Royal Marines from 40 Commando on patrol in the Sangin area of Afghanistan are pictured A commando is a combatant, or operative of an elite light infantry or special operations force, specially tr ...
s and airborne units) that emphasize speed and mobility over armor and firepower. Some units or battalions that historically held a skirmishing role have kept their designation "light infantry" for the sake of tradition.


History


Ancient history

The concept of a skirmishing screen is a very old one and was already well-established in
Ancient Greece Ancient Greece ( el, Ἑλλάς, Hellás) was a northeastern Mediterranean Sea, Mediterranean civilization, existing from the Greek Dark Ages of the 12th–9th centuries BC to the end of Classical Antiquity, classical antiquity ( AD 600), th ...
and
Roman Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome, the capital city of Italy *Ancient Rome, Roman civilization from 8th century BC to 5th century AD *Roman people, the people of ancient Rome *''Epistle to the Romans'', shortened to ''Romans'', a letter ...
times in the form, for example, of the Greek
peltast A ''peltast'' ( grc-gre, πελταστής ) was a type of light infantryman, originating in Thrace Thrace (; el, Θράκη, Thráki; bg, Тракия, Trakiya; tr, Trakya) or Thrake is a geographical and historical region in Sou ...
and psiloi, and the Roman ''
velites ''Velites'' (singular: ) were a class of infantry Infantry is a military specialization which engages in ground combat on foot. Infantry generally consists of light infantry, mountain infantry, motorized infantry & mechanized infantry, ...
''. As with the so-called "light infantry" of later periods, the term more adequately describes the role of such infantry rather than the actual weight of their equipment. Peltast equipment, for example, grew steadily heavier at the same time as
hoplite Hoplites ( ) ( grc, ὁπλίτης : hoplítēs) were citizen-soldiers of Ancient Greece, Ancient Greek Polis, city-states who were primarily armed with spears and shields. Hoplite soldiers used the phalanx formation to be effective in war with ...
equipment grew lighter. It was the fact that peltasts fought in open order as skirmishers that made them light infantry and that hoplites fought in the battle line in a
phalanx formation The phalanx ( grc, φάλαγξ; plural phalanxes or phalanges, , ) was a rectangular mass military Tactical formation, formation, usually composed entirely of heavy infantry armed with spears, pike (weapon), pikes, sarissas, or similar pole we ...
that made them heavy infantry.


Modern history

Early regular armies of the modern era frequently relied on
irregulars Irregular military is any non-standard military component that is distinct from a country's national armed forces. Being defined by exclusion, there is significant variance in what comes under the term. It can refer to the type of military orga ...
to perform the duties of light infantry skirmishers. In particular, the French Army employed detachments of German and Balkan mercenaries to serve as patrols in the rough country until a permanent corps of Mountain
Fusilier Fusilier is a name given to various kinds of soldiers; its meaning depends on the historical context. While fusilier is derived from the 17th-century French language, French word ''fusil'' – meaning a type of flintlock musket – the term has ...
s (''Fusiliers des Montagnes'') was raised in the 1740s. In the 17th century,
dragoon Dragoons were originally a class of mounted infantry, who used horses for mobility, but dismounted to fight on foot. From the early 17th century onward, dragoons were increasingly also employed as conventional cavalry and trained for combat w ...
s were sometimes employed as the skirmishers of their day –
mounted infantry Mounted infantry were infantry who rode horses instead of marching. The original dragoons were essentially mounted infantry. According to the 1911 ''Encyclopædia Britannica'', "Mounted rifles are half cavalry, mounted infantry merely specially mo ...
men who rode into battle but dismounted to fight, giving them a mobility lacking to regular foot soldiers. In the 18th and 19th centuries most
infantry Infantry is a military specialization which engages in ground combat on foot. Infantry generally consists of light infantry, mountain infantry, motorized infantry & mechanized infantry, airborne infantry, air assault infantry, and marine i ...
regiments or
battalion A battalion is a military unit, typically consisting of 300 to 1,200 soldiers commanded by a lieutenant colonel Lieutenant colonel ( , ) is a rank of commissioned officers in the army, armies, most Marine (armed services), marine fo ...
s had a ''light company'' as an integral part of its composition. Its members were often smaller, more agile men with high shooting ability and capability of using initiative. They did not usually fight in disciplined ranks as did the ordinary infantry but often in widely dispersed groups, necessitating an understanding of skirmish warfare. They were expected to avoid
melee A melee ( or , French: mêlée ) or pell-mell is disorganized hand-to-hand combat in close combat, battles fought at abnormally close range with little central control once it starts. In military aviation, a melee has been defined as " air ...
engagements unless necessary and would fight ahead of the mainline to harass the enemy before falling back to the main position. During the period 1777–1781, the
Continental Army The Continental Army was the army of the United Colonies (the Thirteen Colonies) in the American Revolution, Revolutionary-era United States. It was formed by the Second Continental Congress after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary Wa ...
of the United States adopted the British Army practice of seasonally drafting light infantry regiments as temporary units during active field operations, by combining existing light infantry companies detached from their parent regiments. Light infantry sometimes carried lighter
musket A musket is a muzzle-loaded long gun that appeared as a smoothbore weapon in the early 16th century, at first as a heavier variant of the arquebus, capable of penetrating plate armour Plate armour is a historical type of personal body a ...
s than ordinary infantrymen while others carried rifles and wore
rifle green Shades of Chartreuse (color), chartreuse are listed below. Historically, many of these colors have gone under the name of either yellow or green, as the specifics of their color composition was not known until later. Wrapping the spectrum into a ...
uniforms. These became designated as ''rifle regiments'' in Britain and '' Jäger'' and '' Schützen'' (sharpshooter) regiments in German-speaking Europe. In France, during the
Napoleonic Wars The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major global conflicts pitting the First French Empire, French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon, Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of Coalition forces of the Napoleonic Wars, Europe ...
, light infantry were called ''
voltigeurs The Voltigeurs were French military skirmish units created in 1804 by Emperor Napoleon I Napoleon Bonaparte ; it, Napoleone Bonaparte, ; co, Napulione Buonaparte. (born Napoleone Buonaparte; 15 August 1769 – 5 May 1821), later known ...
'' and '' chasseurs'' and the sharpshooters ''
tirailleur A tirailleur (), in the Napoleonic era, was a type of light infantry trained to skirmisher, skirmish ahead of the main columns. Later, the term "''tirailleur''" was used by the French Army as a designation for indigenous infantry recruited in t ...
s''. The Austrian army had
Grenzer Grenz infantry or Grenzers or Granichary (from german: Grenzer "border guard" or "frontiersman"; Serbo-Croatian: graničari, krajišnici, sr-cyr, граничари, крајишници, Russian Cyrillic: граничары) were light infantr ...
regiments from the middle of the 18th century, who originally served as irregular militia skirmishers recruited from frontier areas. They were gradually absorbed into the line infantry becoming a hybrid type that proved successful against the French, to the extent that Napoleon recruited several units of Austrian army Grenzer to his own army after victory over Austria in 1809 compelled the Austrians to cede territories from which they were traditionally recruited. In Portugal, 1797, companies of '' Caçadores'' (Hunters) were created in the Portuguese Army, and in 1808 led to the formation of independent "Caçador" battalions that became known for their ability to perform precision shooting at long distances. Light infantry officers sometimes carried muskets or rifles, rather than pistols, and their
sword A sword is an edged and bladed weapons, edged, bladed weapon intended for manual cutting or thrusting. Its blade, longer than a knife or dagger, is attached to a hilt and can be straight or curved. A thrusting sword tends to have a straighter ...
s were light curved
sabre A sabre (French language, French: Help:IPA/French, sabʁ or saber in American English) is a type of backsword with a curved blade associated with the light cavalry of the Early Modern warfare, early modern and Napoleonic period, Napoleon ...
s; as opposed to the heavy, straighter swords of other infantry officers. Orders were sent by
bugle The bugle is one of the simplest brass instruments, normally having no brass instrument valve, valves or other pitch-altering devices. All pitch (music), pitch control is done by varying the player's embouchure. History The bugle developed ...
or
whistle A whistle is an instrument which produces sound from a stream of gas, most commonly air. It may be mouth-operated, or powered by air pressure, steam, or other means. Whistles vary in size from a small slide whistle or nose flute type to a larg ...
instead of drum (since the sound of a bugle carries further and it is difficult to move fast when carrying a drum). Some armies, including the British and French, recruited whole regiments (or converted existing ones) of light infantry. These were considered elite units, since they required specialised training with emphasis on
self-discipline Discipline refers to rule following behavior, to regulate, order, control and authority. It may also refer to punishment. Discipline is used to create habits, routines, and automatic mechanisms such as blind obedience. It may be inflicted on ot ...
, manoeuvre and initiative to carry out the roles of light infantry as well as those of ordinary infantry. By the late 19th century the concept of fighting in formation was on the wane due to advancements in weaponry and the distinctions between light and heavy infantry began to disappear. Essentially, all infantry became light infantry in operational practice. Some regiments retained the name and customs, but there was in effect little difference between them and other infantry regiments. On the eve of World War I the British Army included seven light infantry regiments. These differed from other infantry only in maintaining such traditional distinctions as badges that included a bugle-horn, dark green home service helmets for
full dress Western dress codes are a set of dress codes detailing what clothes are worn for what occasion. Conversely, since most cultures have intuitively applied some level equivalent to the more formal Western dress code traditions, these dress codes a ...
, and a fast-stepping parade ground march.


Contemporary

Today the term "light" denotes, in the United States
table of organization and equipment A table of organization and equipment (TOE or TO&E) is the specified organization, staffing, and equipment of Military unit, units. Also used in acronyms as 'T/O' and 'T/E'. It also provides information on the mission and capabilities of a unit as ...
, units lacking heavy weapons and armor or with a reduced vehicle footprint. Light infantry units lack the greater firepower, operational mobility and protection of mechanized or armored units, but possess greater tactical mobility and the ability to execute missions in severely restrictive terrain and in areas where weather makes vehicular mobility difficult. Light infantry forces typically rely on their ability to operate under restrictive conditions, surprise, violence of action, training, stealth, field craft, and fitness levels of the individual soldiers to compensate for their reduced lethality. Despite the usage of the term "light", forces in a light unit will normally carry heavier individual loads vis-à-vis other forces; they must carry everything they require to fight, survive and win due to lack of vehicles. Although units like the 101st Airborne (Air Assault) and the
82nd Airborne Division The 82nd Airborne Division is an airborne infantry division of the United States Army specializing in parachute assault operations into denied areasSof, Eric"82nd Airborne Division" ''Spec Ops Magazine'', 25 November 2012. Archived from tho ...
are categorized as Air Assault Infantry and Airborne Infantry respectively, they fall under the overall concept of light infantry. They are typically infantry intended for difficult terrain such as mountains or arctic conditions (US Marines) (
Royal Marines The Corps of Royal Marines (RM), also known as the Royal Marines Commandos, are the UK's special operations capable commando force, amphibious warfare, amphibious light infantry and also one of the :Fighting Arms of the Royal Navy, five fighti ...
,
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 ...
10th Mountain Division The 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) is a light infantry division in the United States Army based at Fort Drum, New York. Formerly designated as a mountain warfare unit, the division was the only one of its size in the US military t ...
,
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 ...
86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain),
Italian Army "The safeguard of the republic shall be the supreme law" , colors = , colors_labels = , march = ''Parata d'Eroi'' ("Heroes's parade") by Francesco Pellegrino, ''4 Maggio'' (May 4) ...
Alpini The Alpini are the Italian Army's specialist mountain infantry. Part of the army's infantry corps, the speciality distinguished itself in combat during World War I and World War II. Currently the active Alpini units are organized in two operatio ...
,
French Army History Early history The first permanent army, paid with regular wages, instead of feudal levies, was established under Charles VII of France, Charles VII in the 1420 to 1430s. The Kings of France needed reliable troops during and after the ...
27ème bataillon de chasseurs alpins) or jungle ( Philippine Army Scout Rangers, Brazilian Army Jungle Infantry Brigades). In the 1980s, the United States Army increased light forces to address contingencies and increased threats requiring a more deployable force able to operate in restrictive environments for limited periods. At its height, this included the 6th Infantry Division (light), 7th Infantry Division (light),
10th Mountain Division The 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) is a light infantry division in the United States Army based at Fort Drum, New York. Formerly designated as a mountain warfare unit, the division was the only one of its size in the US military t ...
(light infantry), 25th Infantry Division, and the
75th Ranger Regiment The 75th Ranger Regiment, also known as United States Army Rangers, Army Rangers, is the U.S. Army's premier light infantry unit and special forces, special operations force within the United States Army Special Operations Command. The U.S. A ...
.
Operation Just Cause Operation or Operations may refer to: Arts, entertainment and media * Operation (game), ''Operation'' (game), a battery-operated board game that challenges dexterity * Operation (music), a term used in musical set theory * Operations (magazine ...
is often cited as proof of concept. Almost 30,000 U.S. Forces, mostly light, deployed to
Panama Panama ( , ; es, link=no, Panamá ), officially the Republic of Panama ( es, República de Panamá), is a List of transcontinental countries#North America and South America, transcontinental country spanning the Central America, southern ...
within a 48-hour period to execute combat operations. On 30 September 1985, the 29th Infantry Division (Maryland and Virginia Army National Guard) was reactivated at Fort Belvoir, Virginia as the only light Infantry Division in the US Army's reserve components. During the
Falklands War The Falklands War ( es, link=no, Guerra de las Malvinas) was a ten-week undeclared war between Argentina and the United Kingdom in 1982 over two British Overseas Territories, British dependent territories in the South Atlantic: the Falkland I ...
in 1982, both Argentina and the United Kingdom made heavy use of light infantry and its doctrines during the campaign, most notably the Argentine 5th Naval Infantry Battalion (Argentina) and 25th Infantry Regiment (Argentina) and the British Parachute Regiment and
Royal Marines The Corps of Royal Marines (RM), also known as the Royal Marines Commandos, are the UK's special operations capable commando force, amphibious warfare, amphibious light infantry and also one of the :Fighting Arms of the Royal Navy, five fighti ...
of
3 Commando Brigade 3 Commando Brigade (3 Cdo Bde), previously called the 3rd Special Service Brigade, is a Commandos (United Kingdom), commando formation of the British Armed Forces. It is composed of the Royal Marine Commandos, alongside All Arms Commando Course, ...
. Due to the rocky and mountainous terrain of the
Falkland Islands The Falkland Islands (; es, Islas Malvinas, link=no ) is an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, South Atlantic Ocean on the Patagonian Shelf. The principal islands are about east of South America's southern Patagonian coast and about fro ...
, operations on the ground were only made possible with the use of light infantry because the use of mechanized infantry or armour was severely limited by of the terrain, leading to the " Yomp" across the Falklands, in which Royal Marines and Paras yomped (and tabbed) with their equipment across the islands, covering 56 miles (90 km) in three days carrying 80-pound (36 kg) loads after disembarking from ships at San Carlos on
East Falkland East Falkland ( es, Isla Soledad) is the largest island of the Falklands The Falkland Islands (; es, Islas Malvinas, link=no ) is an archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, South Atlantic Ocean on the Patagonian Shelf. The principal islands ...
, on 21 May 1982. During the 1990s, the concept of purely light forces in the US military came under scrutiny due to their decreased lethality and survivability. This scrutiny has resulted in the
Stryker Brigade Combat Team The brigade combat team (BCT) is the basic Military deployment, deployable Military unit, unit of maneuver in the United States Army, U.S. Army. A brigade combat team consists of one combat arms branch maneuver Brigade (United States Army), br ...
, a greater focus on task organized units (such as Marine Expeditionary Units) and a reduction of purely light forces. Despite their reduction, light forces have proven successful in
Afghanistan Afghanistan, officially the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan,; prs, امارت اسلامی افغانستان is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central Asia and South Asia. Referred to as the Heart of Asia, it is bordere ...
(
Operation Enduring Freedom Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) was the official name used synonymously by the U.S. government for both the War in Afghanistan (2001–2014) and the larger-scale Global War on Terrorism. On 7 October 2001, in response to the September 11 atta ...
), underlining the continued need for light infantry.


National examples


Argentina

* Mountain Huntsmen, in Spanish: ''Cazadores de Montaña'' * Jungle Huntsmen, in Spanish: ''Cazadores de Monte''


Austria


Belgium

* 12th-13th Battalion of the Line * 1st Regiment Jagers te Paard, mechanized reconnaissance battalion * 2nd/4th Regiment Mounted Rifles, mechanized reconnaissance battalion with electronic warfare unit * Regiment Carabiniers Prins Boudewijn – Grenadiers


Brazil

There are three light infantry brigades, (4ª Brigada de Infantaria Leve de Montanha, 11ª Brigada de Infantaria Leve and 12ª Brigada de Infantaria Leve Aeromóvel), and an airborne infantry brigade (Brigada de Infantaria Paraquedista). The 12º Light Infantry Brigade and the Airborne Infantry Brigade both belong to the Força de Ação Rápida Estratégica (Quick Strategic Action Force), which is composed of units capable of rapidly engaging in combat anywhere in Brazil.


Canada

Each of the three regular army regiments (
Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (PPCLI, generally referred to as the Patricia's) is one of the three Regular Force infantry regiments of the Canadian Army of the Canadian Armed Forces. Formed in 1914, it is named for Princess Patricia ...
,
Royal Canadian Regiment , colors = , identification_symbol_2 = Maple Leaf (2nd Bn pipes and drums) , identification_symbol_2_label = Tartan , identification_symbol_4 = The RCR , identification_symbol_4_label = Abbreviation , mar ...
and Royal 22e Régiment) maintains their third battalion as light infantry capable in airborne, mountain, and amphibious operations, with varying degrees of capability. All reserve infantry units are classed as light infantry, all with varying degrees of capability.


Denmark

*
Schleswig Regiment of Foot The Schleswig Regiment of Foot ( da, Slesvigske Fodregiment) is a Royal Danish Army infantry regiment. On 1 January 2001 the regiment was merged with the Queen's Life Regiment, into the Prince's Life Regiment. In 2018 it was announced that the regi ...


Finland

* Finnish Jäger troops, volunteers from Finland in Germany trained as Jägers * Guard Jaeger Regiment, a Finnish Army unit * Jaeger Brigade, a unit of the Finnish Army * Para Jägers, Special Operations Airborne Infantry in the Finnish Army * Utti Jaeger Regiment, the Finnish Army training and development centre for special forces and helicopter operations * Sissi troops can also be considered light infantry Finnish infantry units are also known as Jäger (Finnish pl. ''Jääkärit'', Swedish pl. ''Jägarna''), a legacy of a Finnish volunteer Jäger battalion formed in Germany during
World War I World War I (28 July 1914 11 November 1918), often abbreviated as WWI, was List of wars and anthropogenic disasters by death toll, one of the deadliest global conflicts in history. Belligerents included much of Europe, the Russian Empire, ...
to fight for the liberation of Finland from Russia.


France


Ancien régime

The ''
Chasseur ''Chasseur'' ( , ), a French language, French term for "hunter", is the designation given to certain regiments of France, French and Belgium, Belgian light infantry () or light cavalry () to denote troops trained for rapid action. History Th ...
'' designation was given to certain regiments of French light infantry (''Chasseurs à pied'') or
light cavalry Light cavalry comprised lightly armed and armored cavalry Historically, cavalry (from the French word ''cavalerie'', itself derived from "cheval" meaning "horse") are soldiers or warriors who fight mounted on horseback. Cavalry w ...
(''Chasseurs à cheval''). The ''Chasseurs à pied'' (light infantry) were originally recruited from hunters or woodsmen. The ''Chasseurs à Pied'', as the marksmen of the French army, were considered an elite. The first unit raised was Jean Chrétien Fischer's Free Hunter Company in 1743. Early units were often a mix of cavalry and infantry. In 1776, all ''Chasseurs'' units were re-organized into six battalions, each linked to a cavalry regiment (''Chasseurs à cheval''). In 1788, the link between infantry battalions and cavalry regiments was broken.


Revolution and Napoleon

In 1793, the Ancien Régime's Chasseur battalions were merged with volunteer battalions in new units called Light Infantry half-brigades (''demi-brigades d’infanterie légère''). In 1803, the half-brigades were renamed regiments. These units had three battalions of three regular ''Chasseurs'' companies, one elite ''
Carabinier A carabinier (also sometimes spelled carabineer or carbineer) is in principle a soldier armed with a carbine. A carbiniere is a carabiniere musket or rifle and were commonplace by the beginning of the Napoleonic Wars in Europe. The word is deri ...
s'' company and one reconnaissance ''voltigeurs'' company. In Napoléon's
Imperial Guard An imperial guard or palace guard is a special group of troops (or a member thereof) of an empire An empire is a "political unit" made up of several territories and peoples, "usually created by conquest, and divided between a dominant ce ...
, many units used names linked to light infantry: * Chasseurs à pied: three regiments (1809–1815; 1815–1815; 1815–1815). The regiments were the elite of the light infantry regiments. * Fusilier-Chasseurs: a single regiment, originally the first Guard Fusilier Regiment (1809–1815) * Voltigeur: 16 regiments, originally two regiments of ''Tirailleurs-chasseur'' and two regiments of ''Conscrits-chasseurs'' (1810–1815), then twelve new regiments (1811–1815). These regiments were expected to become Chasseurs à pieds. * Flanqueurs-Chasseurs: two regiments, from drafted Forest Service members (1811–1815; 1813–1815) In Bourbon royalist * Chasseurs Britanniques: battalion-sized corps of royalist volunteers.


19th century

The Napoleonic light infantry regiments existed until 1854, but there were very few differences between them and the
line infantry Line infantry was the type of infantry that composed the basis of European land armies from the late 17th century to the mid-19th century. Maurice of Nassau and Gustavus Adolphus are generally regarded as its pioneers, while Henri de la Tour d ...
regiments, so the 25 remaining light infantry regiments were transformed to line infantry in 1854. * Chasseurs à pied: The
Duke of Orléans Duke of Orléans (french: Duc d'Orléans) was a French royal title usually granted by the List of French monarchs, King of France to one of his close relatives (usually a younger brother or son), or otherwise inherited through the male line. First ...
, heir to the throne, created in 1838 a new light infantry unit, the ''Tirailleurs'' battalion. It soon became, under the name ''Chasseur à Pied'', the main light infantry unit in the French Army. The number of battalions grew up steadily through the century. The current Chasseurs battalions drew their lineage form this unit. *
Chasseurs alpins The ''chasseurs alpins'' ( en, Mountain warfare, Alpine Chasseurs, Rangers) are the elite mountain warfare, mountain infantry force of the French Army. They are trained to operate in Mountain, mountainous terrain and in urban warfare. History ...
: Some of Chasseurs à pied battalions were converted to specialized mountain units as ''Bataillons de
Chasseurs Alpins The ''chasseurs alpins'' ( en, Mountain warfare, Alpine Chasseurs, Rangers) are the elite mountain warfare, mountain infantry force of the French Army. They are trained to operate in Mountain, mountainous terrain and in urban warfare. History ...
'' in 1888, as an answer to the Italian Alpine (''
Alpini The Alpini are the Italian Army's specialist mountain infantry. Part of the army's infantry corps, the speciality distinguished itself in combat during World War I and World War II. Currently the active Alpini units are organized in two operatio ...
'') regiments stationed along the Alpine frontier. * Chasseurs Forestiers: The ''Chasseurs forestiers'' (Forest Huntsmen) were militarized units of the Forest Service. They were organized in companies. They existed between 1875 and 1924. *Infanterie Légère d'Afrique ( African Light Infantry) were penal battalions forming part of the French forces serving in North Africa. These units were recruited mainly from convicted military criminals from all branches of the French Army, who had finished their sentences in military prisons but still had time to serve before their engagement periods were finished. *
Zouaves The Zouaves were a class of light infantry regiments of the French Army serving between 1830 and 1962 and linked to French North Africa; as well as some units of other countries modelled upon them. The zouaves were among the most decorated unit ...
: The ''
Zouaves The Zouaves were a class of light infantry regiments of the French Army serving between 1830 and 1962 and linked to French North Africa; as well as some units of other countries modelled upon them. The zouaves were among the most decorated unit ...
'' battalions and regiments were colonial troops, formed originally by Algerians, then by European settlers and colonists. The first Zouave battalion was created in 1831 and changed its recruiting to Europeans in 1841. During the
Franco-Austrian War The Second Italian War of Independence, also called the Franco-Austrian War, the Austro-Sardinian War or Italian War of 1859 ( it, Seconda guerra d'indipendenza italiana; french: Campagne d'Italie), was fought by the Second French Empire and t ...
of 1859, effective use was made of Zouaves and ''Chasseurs à pied'' (see above) in evolving light infantry tactics that went further than merely screening the main battle line. At the
Battle of Solferino The Battle of Solferino (referred to in Italy as the Battle of Solferino and San Martino) on 24 June 1859 resulted in the victory of the allied Second French Empire, French Army under Napoleon III and Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia, Piedmont-Sard ...
these newly organized skirmishers operated as independent groups that were able to disrupt their Austrian opponents by sudden flank assaults. * Tirailleurs: ''
Tirailleurs A tirailleur (), in the Napoleonic era The Napoleonic era is a period in the history of France and history of Europe, Europe. It is generally classified as including the fourth and final stage of the French Revolution, the first ...
'' (
Skirmisher Skirmishers are light infantry or light cavalry soldier A soldier is a person who is a member of an army An army (from Old French ''armee'', itself derived from the Latin verb ''armāre'', meaning "to arm", and related to the Latin ...
s) were light infantry who formed a shallow line ahead of the line of battle during the Revolutionary/Napoleonic Wars and subsequently. The name was also used for the locally recruited colonial troops in the French Empire between 1841 and 1962.


20th century

* Chasseurs à pied: The ''Chasseurs à pieds'' evolved during the mid 20th century into mechanized infantry units (''Chasseurs mécanisés'') or armored division infantry (''Chasseurs portés''). After World War Two, all Chasseur units were organized on the mechanized infantry model. * Chasseurs alpins: The ''Chasseurs alpins'', mountain warfare units of the French Army created in 1888. * Chasseurs pyrénéens and Chasseurs pyrénéens were the short-lived (1939–1940) mountain warfare units formed in the Pyrénées. * Chasseurs-Parachutistes: The ''Chasseurs-parachutistes'' were airborne infantry units formed in 1943 from Air Force infantry compagnies transferred to the Army. * Zouaves and Tirailleurs: After the independence of the countries that made up the French Colonial Empire, the ''Zouaves'' and the ''Tirailleurs'' units, save for one, were disbanded.


Modern French Army Light Infantry

* 7th Chasseurs Alpins Battalion * 13th Chasseurs Alpins Battalion * 16th Chasseur Battalion * 27e bataillon de chasseurs alpins * 1st Tirailleur Regiment *
1st Parachute Chasseur Regiment The 1st Parachute Chasseur Regiment (french: 1er Régiment de Chasseurs Parachutistes, 1er R.C.P) is the oldest and among the most decorated airborne regiments of the French Army History Early history The first permanent army, paid with re ...
Although the traditions of these different branches of the French Army are very different, there is still a tendency to confuse one with the other. For example, when World War I veteran Léon Weil died, the AFP press agency stated that he was a member of the 5th "Regiment de Chasseurs Alpins". It was in fact the 5th Bataillon.


Germany


Hungary


India

The Indian Army of 1914 included ten regiments with "Light Infantry" in their titles. These were the: * 2nd Queen Victoria's Own Rajput Light Infantry * 5th Light Infantry * 6th Jat Light Infantry * 63rd Palamcottah Light Infantry * 83rd Wallajahabad Light Infantry * 91st Punjabis (Light Infantry) * 103rd Mahratta Light Infantry * 105th Mahratta Light Infantry * 110th Mahratta Light Infantry * 127th Baluch Light Infantry Most of these regiments lost their separate identity as a result of extensive amalgamations in 1922. The modern Indian Army retains the
Maratha Light Infantry The Maratha Light Infantry is a light infantry regiment of the Indian Army. It traces its lineage to the Bombay Sepoys, raised in 1768, making it the most senior light infantry regiment in the Indian Army. The class composition of the regiment ...
and the
Sikh Light Infantry The Sikh Light Infantry is a light infantry Light infantry refers to certain types of lightly equipped infantry throughout history. They have a more mobile or fluid function than other types of infantry, such as heavy infantry or line inf ...
. Of the 28 infantry regiments of the modern Indian Army, the following ten are designated as "Rifles". They are distinguished by their black rank badges, black buttons on their service and ceremonial uniforms and a beret in a darker shade of green than other regiments. Two paramilitary forces—the
Assam Rifles The Assam Rifles (AR) is a central paramilitary force responsible for border security, counter-insurgency, and maintaining law and order in Northeast India. It guards the Indo-Myanmar border. The Assam rifles is the oldest paramilitary ...
and the
Eastern Frontier Rifles The Eastern Frontier Rifles (EFR) are a State Armed Police Forces, State Armed Police Force for the Indian state of West Bengal. They are a part of the West Bengal Police, as opposed to the Kolkata jurisdiction. The Border Guards Bangladesh are ...
—also follow the traditions of a rifle regiment. * Rajputana Rifles *
Garhwal Rifles The Garhwal Rifles, formerly known as the Royal Garhwal Rifles, are an infantry regiment of the Indian Army The Indian Army is the Land warfare, land-based branch and the largest component of the Indian Armed Forces. The President of India ...
*
1st Gorkha Rifles (The Malaun Regiment) 1st Gorkha Rifles (The Malaun Regiment), often referred to as the 1st Gorkha Rifles, or 1 GR in abbreviation, is the most senior Gorkha regiments (India), Gorkha Infantry regiment of the Indian Army. It was originally formed as part of the East I ...
*
3 Gorkha Rifles The 3rd Gorkha Rifles or Third Gorkha Rifles, abbreviated as 3 GR is an Indian Army infantry regiment. It was originally a Gurkha regiment of the British Indian Army formed in 1815. This regiment recruit mainly Magars and Khas/Chhetri tribes. ...
*
4 Gorkha Rifles The 4th Gorkha Rifles or the Fourth Gorkha Rifles, abbreviated as 4 GR, is an infantry regiment of the Indian Army comprising Gurkha soldiers of Nepalese nationality, especially Magars and Gurungs hill tribes of Nepal. The Fourth Gorkha Rifles ...
* 5 Gorkha Rifles (Frontier Force) *
8 Gorkha Rifles The 8th Gorkha Rifles is a Gorkha regiment of the Indian Army The Indian Army is the Land warfare, land-based branch and the largest component of the Indian Armed Forces. The President of India is the Commander-in-Chief, Supreme Commander o ...
*
9 Gorkha Rifles The 9th Gorkha Rifles is a Gorkha infantry regiment of the Indian Army The Indian Army is the Land warfare, land-based branch and the largest component of the Indian Armed Forces. The President of India is the Commander-in-Chief, Supreme C ...
* 11 Gorkha Rifles * Jammu and Kashmir Rifles * Jammu and Kashmir Light Infantry *
Maratha Light Infantry The Maratha Light Infantry is a light infantry regiment of the Indian Army. It traces its lineage to the Bombay Sepoys, raised in 1768, making it the most senior light infantry regiment in the Indian Army. The class composition of the regiment ...
*
Sikh Light Infantry The Sikh Light Infantry is a light infantry Light infantry refers to certain types of lightly equipped infantry throughout history. They have a more mobile or fluid function than other types of infantry, such as heavy infantry or line inf ...


Ireland

The Irish famously employed "Cethernacht" or Kern as light infantry. These usually made up the bulk of Gaelic and even later Anglo Norman Irish armies during the Middle Ages to renaissance era's. Traditionally armed with javelins and swords while wearing no armour, in later periods they were equipped with caliver muskets while still using little to no armour. They were notably effective while employed in tandem with heavily armed "Galloglaich" or anglicised Gallowglass. They could provide effective support to heavily armed troops as well as endlessly harassing enemies in difficult terrain. Today, all infantry battalions of the Irish Army are light infantry soldiers.


Italy

Most of the states of the Italian peninsula had their own units of skirmishers before
Italian unification The unification of Italy ( it, Unità d'Italia ), also known as the ''Risorgimento'' (, ; ), was the 19th-century Political movement, political and social movement that resulted in the Merger (politics), consolidation of List of historic stat ...
. One of the few that survived it were the Sardinian ''
Bersaglieri The Bersaglieri, singular Bersagliere, (, "sharpshooter") are a troop of marksmen in the Italian Army's infantry corps. They were originally created by General Alessandro La Marmora on 18 June 1836 to serve in the Royal Sardinian Army, which ...
'', who were formed in 1836. They became some of the most iconic soldiers in
Italian Army "The safeguard of the republic shall be the supreme law" , colors = , colors_labels = , march = ''Parata d'Eroi'' ("Heroes's parade") by Francesco Pellegrino, ''4 Maggio'' (May 4) ...
and were its "quick reaction force". The
Alpini The Alpini are the Italian Army's specialist mountain infantry. Part of the army's infantry corps, the speciality distinguished itself in combat during World War I and World War II. Currently the active Alpini units are organized in two operatio ...
are the Italian Army's elite mountain troops, founded in 1875. Although they may not seem a true "light infantry" unit, (they were assigned their own artillery, carried double load of everything, and had a slower marching pace of 45 steps per minute), the Alpini were trained as jagers and skirmishers, introducing the use of skis and climbing training for all of their recruits. Those two corps still exist today, but in the years the Bersaglieri, have become a
mechanised infantry Mechanized infantry are infantry units equipped with armored personnel carriers (APCs) or infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) for transport and combat (see also mechanized force). As defined by the United States Army, mechanized infantry is disti ...
unit, working closely with armoured units, and up until the mid-1990s had their own tank and artillery units. Other units that can be classified as light infantry are: * The ''Folgore'' Parachute Brigade, created in 1963, is the only airborne unit in the Italian Army. Apart from one light cavalry regiment, it comprises three airborne infantry and two special force regiments. * The Friuli Air Assault Brigade was originally an Italian Army mechanised brigade. In 2000 it converted to a fully airmobile role and is part of the "Friuli" Division. It is composed of three light aviation regiments and one infantry regiment—66th Reggimento Fanteria Aeromobile "Trieste"—the only regiment in the Italian Army to be fully airmobile. * The San Marco Marine Brigade of the
Italian Navy "Fatherland and Honour" , patron = , colors = , colors_label = , march = ( is the return of soldiers to their barrack, or sailors to their ship after a ...
comprises three regiments. The First is an amphibious assault unit, the Second carries out force protection, boarding and search and seizure procedures on ships and the Third is a training unit. Given that it has almost only light vehicles (the heaviest being the amphibious Arisgator and AAV7 landing vehicles) and is tasked to operate in harsh terrain (shore lines, lagoons, deserts, mountains, jungles), it is one of the purest "light infantry" units in the Italian Armed Forces. * The 13th and 7th regiments of the
Carabinieri The Carabinieri (, also , ; formally ''Arma dei Carabinieri'', "Arm of Carabineers"; previously ''Corpo dei Carabinieri Reali'', "Royal Carabineers Corps") are the national gendarmerie of Italy who primarily carry out domestic and foreign poli ...
were created during WW2 as highly mobile infantry. They are still deployed to war zones as light infantry and military law enforcement units. The Carabinieri also have some domestic law enforcement units trained as light or airmobile infantry. The ''Squadrone Eliportato "Cacciatori di Calabria'' (nicknamed the ''Falchi d'Aspromonte'', meaning "Hawks of the Aspromonte") is tasked with opposing the "
Camorra The Camorra (; ) is an Italian Mafia-typeMafia and Mafia-type orga ...
" criminal organisation, who are numerous and typically armed with military-grade weapons acquired on the black market, and operate deep within the mountainous region of the Aspromonte. The ''Squadrone Eliportato Cacciatori di Sardegna'' was created by the Carabinieri to reduce the spree of banditry (mainly kidnapping) that afflicted the innermost areas of Sardinia.


Netherlands

*
Garderegiment Grenadiers en Jagers, guards regiment, an amalgamation of the Garderegiment Grenadiers and the Garderegiment Jagers. Consists of one air mobile infantry battalion * Regiment Limburgse Jagers, line infantry (former 2nd Infantry Regiment). Consists of one armoured infantry battalion


Norway

* Hærens Jegerkommando, the armed forces competence center for ranger, airborne and counter-terrorist duty in the Norwegian Army * Jegerkompaniet, the Norwegian Army's northernmost unit * Marinejegerkommandoen, a maritime special forces unit * Kystjegerkommandoen, coastal units * Grensejeger, border rangers at the border between Russia and Norway


Poland

* Wojska Obrony Terytorialnej, Territorial Defence Force 17 light infantry brigades


Portugal

Portuguese light infantry soldiers were known as '' caçadores'' (literally "huntsmen"). Initially organized as a light company in each of the line infantry regiments, the ''caçadores'' were latter organized as independent battalions. They constituted the elite light infantry of the
Portuguese Army The Portuguese Army ( pt, Exército Português) is the Army, land component of the Portuguese Armed Forces, Armed Forces of Portugal and is also its largest branch. It is charged with the defence of Portugal, in co-operation with other branches ...
during the
Peninsular War The Peninsular War (1807–1814) was the war, military conflict fought in the Iberian Peninsula by Spain, Kingdom of Portugal, Portugal, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, United Kingdom against the invading and occupying ...
, being considered by the
Duke of Wellington Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, (1 May 1769 – 14 September 1852) was an Anglo-Irish people, Anglo-Irish soldier and Tories (British political party), Tory statesman who was one of the leading military and political figures of Uni ...
as the "
fighting cock A cockfight is a blood sport, held in a ring called a cockpit. The history of raising fowl for fighting goes back 6,000 years. The first documented use of the ''word'' gamecock, denoting use of the cock (bird), cock as to a "game", a sport, pas ...
s of his army". They wore distinctive brown uniforms as an early form of
camouflage Camouflage is the use of any combination of materials, coloration, or illumination for concealment, either by making animals or objects hard to see, or by disguising them as something else. Examples include the leopard's spotted coat, the b ...
. The ''caçadores'' units were disbanded by the Army organization of 1911, but were recreated in 1926 as high readiness units, responsible for defending the border and other strategic points of the Country until the line units could be mobilized. In the 1950s, the designation ''caçadores'' started to be also given to the expeditionary provisional light infantry battalions and independent companies responsible for reinforcing the
overseas territories A territory is an area of land, sea, or space, particularly belonging or connected to a country, person, or animal. In international relations, international politics, a territory is usually either the total area from which a state may extr ...
garrisons. These units constituted the bulk of the Portuguese forces engaged in the several theatres of the Portuguese Overseas War, from 1961 to 1975.
Colonial troops Colonial troops or colonial army refers to various military units Military recruitment, recruited from, or used as garrison troops in, colonial territories. Colonial background Such colonies may lie overseas or in areas dominated by neighbour ...
with this title also existed, being recruited among both Portuguese European settlers and from indigenous populations. In the 1950s, the
Portuguese Air Force , colours = , colours_label = , march = , mascot = , anniversaries = 1 July , equipment = , equipment_label ...
formed a unit of
paratroopers A paratrooper is a military parachutist—someone trained to parachuting, parachute into a military operation, and usually functioning as part of an airborne forces, airborne force. Military parachutists (troops) and parachutes were first used ...
called ''caçadores paraquedistas'' ("parachutist hunters"). Additional battalions of ''caçadores paraquedistas'' were later created in
Angola , national_anthem = " Angola Avante"() , image_map = , map_caption = , capital = Luanda , religion = , religion_year = 2020 , religion_ref = , coordina ...
,
Mozambique Mozambique (), officially the Republic of Mozambique ( pt, Moçambique or , ; ny, Mozambiki; sw, Msumbiji; ts, Muzambhiki), is a country located in southeastern Africa bordered by the Indian Ocean to the east, Tanzania to the north, Malawi ...
and
Portuguese Guinea Portuguese Guinea ( pt, Guiné), called the Overseas Province of Guinea from 1951 until 1972 and then State of Guinea from 1972 until 1974, was a West African colony of Portugal from 1588 until 10 September 1974, when it gained independence as Gu ...
. At the beginning of the 1960s, Portuguese Army raised
special forces Special forces and special operations forces (SOF) are military units trained to conduct special operations. NATO has defined special operations as "military activities conducted by specially designated, organized, selected, trained and equip ...
companies of that were named ''caçadores especiais'' (special huntsmen). The ''caçadores especiais'' wore a brown beret in the colour of the uniforms of the ''caçadores'' of the Peninsular War. These units were later abolished and the brown beret started to be used by most of the units of the Portuguese Army. In 1975, the designation "''caçadores''" was discontinued in the
Portuguese Armed Forces The Portuguese Armed Forces ( pt, Forças Armadas) are the military of Portugal. They include the Armed Forces General Staff (Portugal), General Staff of the Armed Forces, the other unified bodies and the three service branches: Portuguese Navy ...
. All former units of ''caçadores'' were redesigned as "infantry". Currently, every infantry soldier of the Portuguese Army is known as ''atirador''. Today, the Portuguese Army uses the designation "light infantry" as a generic collective classification of the Paratroopers, Commandos and Special Operations troops, while the remaining infantry is classified as "motorized/mechanized infantry".


Rhodesia

The Rhodesian Light Infantry was a regular regiment of the Rhodesian Army, unique in having the traditions of light infantry while serving as a modern
Commando file:Royal_Marines_in_Sangin_MOD_45151554.jpg, Royal Marines from 40 Commando on patrol in the Sangin area of Afghanistan are pictured A commando is a combatant, or operative of an elite light infantry or special operations force, specially tr ...
regiment.


Romania

* Vânători de Munte, or "Mountain Huntsmen" comprised elite units of the Romanian infantry prior to 1945.


Russia

The
Imperial Russian Army The Imperial Russian Army (russian: Ру́сская импера́торская а́рмия, Romanization of Russian, tr. ) was the armed land force of the Russian Empire, active from around 1721 to the Russian Revolution of 1917. In the earl ...
, which was heavily influenced by the Prussian and Austrian military systems, included fifty Jäger or ''yegerskii'' герскийregiments in its organisation by 1812, including the
Egersky Guards Regiment His Majesty Lifeguard Jaeger Regiment (russian: «Лейб-гвардии Егерский Его Величества полк»), short also Lifeguard Jaeger Regiment (or: ''LG Jaeger Regiment''), was a Jäger regiment A regiment is ...
. They were mostly united with line infantry regiments in 1833, when almost all Russian infantry began to receive the same training; including skirmishing. At the same time ''strelkovyi'' трелковыйbattalions were introduced. These undertook light infantry functions when the skirmishing skills of line infantry were insufficient.


Spain

Historically the Spanish infantry included several battalions of light infantry that were designated as ''Cazadores''. These units were incorporated into the ordinary infantry following army reorganization in the early 1930s. Until 2006 the modern Spanish Army maintained a Brigada de Cazadores de Montaña "Aragón I" (Mountain Huntsmen Brigade "Aragón I")


Sweden

*Jägare, elite units in the
Swedish Armed Forces The Swedish Armed Forces ( sv, Försvarsmakten, "the Defense Force") is the Government agencies in Sweden, government agency that forms the armed forces of Sweden, tasked with the defense of the country as well as with promoting Sweden's wider ...
* Fallskärmsjägarna, the Parachute Rangers * Swedish Parachute Ranger School * Ö-Nerike skvadron, Intelligence squadron * Vadsbo skvadron, Airborne squadron * Army Ranger Battalion, Arctic warfare rifles * Kustjägarna, Coastal Rangers


Somalia

* Danab, which translates to "Lightning" are the elite commandos units of the
Somali Armed Forces The Somali Armed Forces are the military forces of the Federal Republic of Somalia. Headed by the President of Somalia, president as commander-in-chief, they are constitutionally mandated to ensure the nation's sovereignty, independence and terr ...
.


United Kingdom

The
British Army The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the north-western ...
first experimented with light infantry in the
French and Indian War The French and Indian War (1754–1763) was a theater of the Seven Years' War, which pitted the North American colonies of the British Empire against those of the French colonial Empire, French, each side being supported by various Native Ame ...
, to counter the tactics used by the French-allied Native Americans. Along with secondment of regular infantry, several specialised units were raised (including Rogers' Rangers and the 80th Regiment of Light-Armed Foot), though most if not all had been disbanded by the middle of the 1760s. From 1770, all regular battalions were required to designate one of their ten companies a "Light Company", though their training in skirmishing was poor and inconsistent. Dedicated rifle and light infantry regiments began to be formed or converted in the
Napoleonic Wars The Napoleonic Wars (1803–1815) were a series of major global conflicts pitting the First French Empire, French Empire and its allies, led by Napoleon, Napoleon I, against a fluctuating array of Coalition forces of the Napoleonic Wars, Europe ...
, to counter the French ''
Chasseur ''Chasseur'' ( , ), a French language, French term for "hunter", is the designation given to certain regiments of France, French and Belgium, Belgian light infantry () or light cavalry () to denote troops trained for rapid action. History Th ...
s''. A new battalion of the 60th Royal Americans (later the
King's Royal Rifle Corps The King's Royal Rifle Corps was an infantry rifle regiment of the British Army that was originally raised in British North America as the Royal American Regiment during the phase of the Seven Years' War in North America known in the United St ...
) was raised in 1797, and an "Experimental Corps of Riflemen" (later the 95th Rifles and then the
Rifle Brigade The Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort's Own) was an infantry rifle regiment of the British Army formed in January 1800 as the "Experimental Corps of Riflemen" to provide sharpshooters, Reconnaissance, scouts, and skirmishers. They were soon ren ...
) in 1800. Both were equipped with green jackets and Baker rifles. Some extant regiments began to be designated "Light Infantry" at this point, receiving skirmishing training but generally still equipped with red coats and muskets. In the
Peninsular War The Peninsular War (1807–1814) was the war, military conflict fought in the Iberian Peninsula by Spain, Kingdom of Portugal, Portugal, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, United Kingdom against the invading and occupying ...
, a Light Brigade and later a
Light Division The Light Division was a light infantry Division (military), division of the British Army. Its origins lay in "Light Companies" formed during the late 18th century, to move at speed over inhospitable terrain and protect a main force with skirmi ...
were formed, at some points incorporating Portuguese '' Caçadores''. By the
Crimean War The Crimean War, , was fought from October 1853 to February 1856 between Russian Empire, Russia and an ultimately victorious alliance of the Ottoman Empire, Second French Empire, France, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, Uni ...
, rifles had become universal and tactics had substantially changed. This meant that the distinctions between light and line infantry were effectively limited to details such as name, a rapid march of 140 steps per minute, buglers instead of drummers and fifers, a parade drill which involved carrying rifles parallel to the ground ("at the trail") and dark green cloth helmets instead of dark blue. Light infantry badges always incorporated bugle horns as a central feature. In the
Second World War World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the World War II by country, vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great power ...
, the use of light infantry was revived in what became the
British Commandos The Commandos, also known as the British Commandos, were formed during the Second World War in June 1940, following a request from Winston Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (30 November 187424 January 1965) was a British ...
and the Parachute Regiment. Because of the nature of their role and deployment, they were more lightly equipped than most infantry battalions. The Parachute Regiment has survived to this day, while the Royal Marine Commandos are directly descended from those units formed in the Second World War. Most of the old light infantry and rifle regiments were administratively grouped in a new Light Division in 1968. The British Army ordered regimental amalgamations in
1957 1957 (Roman numerals, MCMLVII) was a Common year starting on Wednesday, common year starting on Tuesday of the Gregorian calendar, the 1957th year of the Common Era (CE) and ''Anno Domini'' (AD) designations, the 957th year of the 2nd millennium, t ...
,
1966 Events January * January 1 – In a coup, Colonel Jean-Bédel Bokassa takes over as military ruler of the Central African Republic, ousting President David Dacko. * January 3 – 1966 Upper Voltan coup d'état: President Maurice Yaméogo is ...
,
1990 File:1990 Events Collage.png, From left, clockwise: The 1990 FIFA World Cup is played in Italy; The Human Genome Project is launched; Voyager I takes the famous Pale Blue Dot image- speaking on the fragility of Humankind, humanity on Earth, Astroph ...
and
2003 File:2003 Events Collage.png, From top left, clockwise: The crew of STS-107 perished when the Space Shuttle Columbia Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, disintegrated during reentry into Atmosphere of Earth, Earth's atmosphere; SARS became an 2002– ...
.
The Rifles The Rifles is an infantry Infantry is a military specialization which engages in ground combat on foot. Infantry generally consists of light infantry, mountain infantry, motorized infantry & mechanized infantry, airborne infantry, air ...
(the largest infantry regiment in the British Army) was formed in 2007 from the amalgamation of the regiments of the Light Division. The Rifles maintain the traditional quick parade march of all British light infantry, the
Rifle Brigade The Rifle Brigade (The Prince Consort's Own) was an infantry rifle regiment of the British Army formed in January 1800 as the "Experimental Corps of Riflemen" to provide sharpshooters, Reconnaissance, scouts, and skirmishers. They were soon ren ...
's "
rifle green Shades of Chartreuse (color), chartreuse are listed below. Historically, many of these colors have gone under the name of either yellow or green, as the specifics of their color composition was not known until later. Wrapping the spectrum into a ...
" No 1 dress with blackened buttons and black leather belts, and many other traditions and "golden threads" of its parent regiments. Rifle and light infantry regiments that did not become part of the Rifles included the
Royal Ulster Rifles The Royal Irish Rifles (became the Royal Ulster Rifles from 1 January 1921) was an infantry rifle regiment of the British Army, first created in 1881 by the amalgamation of the 83rd (County of Dublin) Regiment of Foot and the 86th (Royal County D ...
, the
Royal Gurkha Rifles The Royal Gurkha Rifles (RGR) is a rifle regiment of the British Army, forming part of the Brigade of Gurkhas. Unlike other regiments in the British Army, RGR soldiers are recruited from Nepal, which is neither a dependent territory of the United ...
, the
Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) The Cameronians (Scottish Rifles) was a rifle regiment of the British Army, the only regiment of rifles amongst the Scottish regiment, Scottish regiments of infantry. It was formed in 1881 under the Childers Reforms by the amalgamation of the 26t ...
and the Highland Light Infantry. Today, "Light role infantry" is a designation that can be applied to an infantry battalion of any regiment. Light role infantry are not (by default) equipped with armoured vehicles (unlike Armoured Infantry or
Mechanised Infantry Mechanized infantry are infantry units equipped with armored personnel carriers (APCs) or infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) for transport and combat (see also mechanized force). As defined by the United States Army, mechanized infantry is disti ...
).


United States

In 1780, General
George Washington George Washington (February 22, 1732, 1799) was an American military officer, statesman, and Founding Fathers of the United States, Founding Father who served as the first president of the United States from 1789 to 1797. Appointed by the ...
published an
order of battle In modern use, the order of battle of an armed force participating in a military operation or campaign shows the hierarchical organization, command structure, strength, disposition of personnel, and equipment of units and formations of the armed ...
which included a corps of light infantry, under the command of General Lafayette. The light infantry participated in several major battles of the southern states in 1781, including the Battle of Yorktown. The entire
Continental Army The Continental Army was the army of the United Colonies (the Thirteen Colonies) in the American Revolution, Revolutionary-era United States. It was formed by the Second Continental Congress after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary Wa ...
was dismissed after the war, with all regiments disbanded in 1784. In 1808, the
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 ...
created its first Regiment of Riflemen. During the
War of 1812 The War of 1812 (18 June 1812 – 17 February 1815) was fought by the United States, United States of America and its Indigenous peoples of the Americas, indigenous allies against the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, United Kingdom ...
three more Rifle Regiments were raised but disbanded after the war. The Rifle Regiment was disbanded in 1821. In the
Mexican–American War The Mexican–American War, also known in the United States as the Mexican War and in Mexico as the (''United States intervention in Mexico''), was an armed conflict between the United States and Second Federal Republic of Mexico, Mexico f ...
Colonel
Jefferson Davis Jefferson F. Davis (June 3, 1808December 6, 1889) was an American politician who served as the President of the Confederate States of America, president of the Confederate States from 1861 to 1865. He represented Mississippi in the United Sta ...
created and led the Mississippi Rifles. Riflemen were listed as separate to infantry up to the
American Civil War The American Civil War (April 12, 1861 – May 26, 1865; also known by Names of the American Civil War, other names) was a civil war in the United States. It was fought between the Union (American Civil War), Union ("the North") and t ...
., During the Civil War, Sharpshooter regiments were raised in the North with several companies being raised by individual states for their own regiments. In 1943, the United States formed the 10th Light Division (Alpine), re-designated as the
10th Mountain Division The 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) is a light infantry division in the United States Army based at Fort Drum, New York. Formerly designated as a mountain warfare unit, the division was the only one of its size in the US military t ...
in 1944. In 1983, General John A. Wickham Jr.,
Chief of Staff of the United States Army The chief of staff of the Army (CSA) is a statutory position in the United States Army held by a general officer. As the highest-ranking officer assigned to serve in the Department of the Army, the chief is the principal military advisor and ...
, announced the creation of five light infantry divisions to increase the U.S. Army's ability to deploy quickly. These included the 7th Infantry Division, 25th Infantry Division, 6th Infantry Division, 10th Mountain Division, as well as the 29th Infantry Division of the
Army National Guard The Army National Guard (ARNG), in conjunction with the Air National Guard, is an organized Militia (United States), militia force and a Reserve components of the United States Armed Forces, federal military reserve force of the United States A ...
.


See also

*
Heavy cavalry Heavy cavalry was a class of cavalry intended to deliver a battlefield charge and also to act as a Military reserve, tactical reserve; they are also often termed ''shock cavalry''. Although their equipment differed greatly depending on the re ...
*
Heavy infantry Heavy infantry consisted of heavily weapon, armed and body armor, armoured Infantry, infantrymen who were trained to mount frontal assaults and/or anchor the defensive center of a line (formation), battle line. This differentiated them from ligh ...
*
Light cavalry Light cavalry comprised lightly armed and armored cavalry Historically, cavalry (from the French word ''cavalerie'', itself derived from "cheval" meaning "horse") are soldiers or warriors who fight mounted on horseback. Cavalry w ...
*
Line infantry Line infantry was the type of infantry that composed the basis of European land armies from the late 17th century to the mid-19th century. Maurice of Nassau and Gustavus Adolphus are generally regarded as its pioneers, while Henri de la Tour d ...
* Roman infantry tactics, strategy and battle formations Similar types of unit *
Long-range reconnaissance patrol A long-range reconnaissance patrol, or LRRP (pronounced "lurp"), is a small, well-armed reconnaissance team that patrolling, patrols deep in enemy-held territory.Ankony, Robert C., ''Lurps: A Ranger's Diary of Tet, Khe Sanh, A Shau, and Quang Tri ...
*
Marksman A marksman is a person who is skilled in precision shooting using projectile weapons (in modern days most commonly an accurized telescopic sight, scoped long gun such as designated marksman rifle or a sniper rifle) to shoot at high-value targets ...
*
Rifleman A rifleman is an infantry soldier armed with a rifling, rifled long gun. Although the rifleman role had its origin with 16th century hand cannoneers and 17th century musketeers, the term originated in the 18th century with the introduction o ...
*
Sharpshooter A sharpshooter is one who is highly proficient at firing firearms or other projectile weapons accurately. Military units composed of sharpshooters were important factors in 19th-century combat. Along with "marksman" and "expert", "sharpshooter" i ...
*
Skirmisher Skirmishers are light infantry or light cavalry soldier A soldier is a person who is a member of an army An army (from Old French ''armee'', itself derived from the Latin verb ''armāre'', meaning "to arm", and related to the Latin ...


References and notes


Further reading

*'' The Partisan in War'', a treatise on light infantry tactics written by Colonel Andreas Emmerich in 1789. * Beattie, Daniel J. (1986). “The Adaptation of the British Army to Wilderness Warfare, 1755-1763”, Adapting to Conditions: War and Society in the Eighteenth Century, ed. Maarten Ultee (University of Alabama Press), 56-83. * Chet, Guy. “The Literary and Military Career of Benjamin Church: Change or Continuity in Early American Warfare,” Historical Journal of Massachusetts 35:2 (Summer 2007): 105-112 * Chet, Guy (2003). Conquering the American Wilderness: The Triumph of European Warfare in the Colonial Northeast. University of Massachusetts Press. * Pargellis, Stanley McCrory. “Braddock’s Defeat”, American Historical Review 41 (1936): 253-269. * Pargellis, Stanley McCrory (1933). Lord Loudoun in North America. Yale University Press.


External links


Skirmishers and light infantry during the Napoleonic Wars

A Historical Perspective on Light Infantry
{{DEFAULTSORT:Light Infantry Infantry Combat occupations