An ARMY (from
Latin _arma_ "arms, weapons" via
Old French _armée_,
"armed" (feminine)) or GROUND FORCE is a fighting force that fights
primarily on land. In the broadest sense, it is the land-based
military branch , service branch or armed service of a nation or state
. It may also include other branches of the military such as the air
force via means of aviation corps. Within a national military force,
the word army may also mean a field army . They differ from army
reserves who are activated only during such times as war or natural
In several countries, the army is officially called the LAND ARMY to
differentiate it from an air force called the AIR ARMY, notably France
. In such countries, the word "army" on its own retains its
connotation of a land force in common usage. The current largest army
in the world, by number of active troops, is the People\'s Liberation
Army Ground Force of
China with 1,600,000 active troops and 510,000
reserve personnel followed by the
Indian Army with 1,129,000 active
troops and 960,000 reserve personnel.
By convention, irregular military is understood in contrast to
regular armies which grew slowly from personal bodyguards or elite
militia . Regular in this case refers to standardized doctrines,
uniforms, organizations, etc. Regular military can also refer to
full-time status (standing army ), versus reserve or part-time
personnel. Other distinctions may separate statutory forces
(established under laws such as the
National Defence Act ), from de
facto "non-statutory" forces such as some guerrilla and revolutionary
armies. Armies may also be expeditionary (designed for overseas or
international deployment) or fencible (designed for – or restricted
to – homeland defence).
Army units and organization
Squad / Crew ●
* Section /
Platoon / Flight ●●●
* Company / Battery /
Battalion / Cohort / Squadron
Brigade / Group / Wing X
* Division / Legion XX
Field army XXXX
Army group / Front XXXXX
* Region / Theater XXXXXX
Regimental combat team
* 1 History
* 1.3 Sparta
* 1.4 Ancient Rome
* 1.5 Medieval Europe
* 1.6 Early modern
* 1.7 Late modern
* 2 Armies as armed services
* 3.1 Formations
* 4 See also
* 5 References
During the Iron Age in
India , the Maurya and Nanda Empires had large
armies. According to
Megasthenes , the Greek ambassador to the court
Chandragupta Maurya (r. 321 – 298 BCE), the Mauryas wielded a
military of 600,000 infantry, 30,000 cavalry, 8,000 chariots and 9,000
war elephants not including followers and attendants.
A bronze crossbow trigger mechanism and butt plate that were
mass-produced in the
Warring States period (475-221 BCE)
China has existed as a continuous culture for thousands of years; the
China raised armies for at least 1000 years before the
Spring and Autumn Annals , which date back to the time of Sparta. By
Warring States period , the crossbow had been perfected enough to
become a military secret, with bronze bolts which could pierce any
armor. Thus any political power of a state rested on the armies and
China underwent political consolidation of the
states of Han (韓) , Wei (魏) , Chu (楚) , Yan (燕) , Zhao (趙)
and Qi (齊) , until by 221 BCE,
Qin Shi Huang (秦始皇帝), the
first emperor of the
Qin dynasty , attained absolute power. This first
China could command the creation of a
Terracotta Army to
guard his tomb in the city of Xi\'an (西安), as well as a
realignment of the Great Wall of
China to strengthen his empire
against insurrection, invasion and incursion.
Sun Tzu 's _The Art of
War _ remains one of China's Seven Military
Classics , even though it is two thousand years old. Since no
political figure could exist without an army, measures were taken to
ensure only the most capable leaders could control the armies. Civil
bureaucracies (士大夫) arose to control the productive power of the
states, and their military power.
Spartan Army was one of the earliest known professional armies.
Boys were sent to a barracks at the age of seven to train for becoming
a soldier. At the age of thirty they were released from the barracks
and allowed to marry and have a family. After that, men devoted their
lives to war until their retirement at the age of 60. Unlike other
civilizations, whose armies had to disband during the planting and
harvest seasons, the Spartan serfs or _helots ,_ did the manual labor.
This allowed the Spartans to field a full-time army with a campaign
season that lasted all year. The
Spartan Army was largely composed of
hoplites , equipped with arms and armor nearly identical to each
other. Each hoplite bore the Spartan emblem and a scarlet uniform. The
main pieces of this armor were a round shield, a spear and a helmet.
A 2nd-century depiction of Roman soldiers on Trajan\'s column
Roman Army had its origins in the citizen army of the Republic ,
which was staffed by citizens serving mandatory duty for Rome. Reforms
turned the army into a professional organization which was still
largely filled by citizens, but these citizens served continuously for
25 years before being discharged.
The Romans were also noted for making use of auxiliary troops ,
non-Romans who served with the legions and filled roles that the
traditional Roman military could not fill effectively, such as light
skirmish troops and heavy cavalry . After their service in the army
they were made citizens of Rome and then their children were citizens
also. They were also given land and money to settle in Rome. In the
Late Roman Empire , these auxiliary troops, along with foreign
mercenaries, became the core of the Roman Army; moreover, by the time
Late Roman Empire tribes such as the
Visigoths were paid to
serve as mercenaries .
Armies of the
Middle Ages consisted of noble knights, rendering
service to their suzerain , and hired footsoldiers
In the earliest
Middle Ages it was the obligation of every aristocrat
to respond to the call to battle with his own equipment, archers, and
infantry. This decentralized system was necessary due to the social
order of the time, but could lead to motley forces with variable
training, equipment and abilities. The more resources the noble had
access to, the better his troops would be.
The knights were drawn to battle by feudal and social obligation, and
also by the prospect of profit and advancement. Those who performed
well were likely to increase their landholdings and advance in the
social hierarchy. The prospect of significant income from pillage, and
ransoming prisoners was also important. For the mounted knight war
could be a relatively low risk affair.
As central governments grew in power, a return to the citizen armies
of the classical period also began, as central levies of the peasantry
began to be the central recruiting tool.
England was one of the most
centralized states in the Middle Ages, and the armies that fought in
the Hundred Years\'
War were, predominantly, composed of paid
In theory, every Englishman had an obligation to serve for forty
days. Forty days was not long enough for a campaign, especially one on
Thus the scutage was introduced, whereby most Englishmen paid to
escape their service and this money was used to create a permanent
army. However, almost all high medieval armies in Europe were composed
of a great deal of paid core troops, and there was a large mercenary
market in Europe from at least the early 12th century.
Middle Ages progressed in
Italy , Italian cities began to rely
mostly on mercenaries to do their fighting rather than the militias
that had dominated the early and high medieval period in this region.
These would be groups of career soldiers who would be paid a set rate.
Mercenaries tended to be effective soldiers, especially in combination
with standing forces, but in
Italy they came to dominate the armies of
the city states. This made them considerably less reliable than a
standing army. Mercenary-on-mercenary warfare in
Italy also led to
relatively bloodless campaigns which relied as much on maneuver as on
In 1439 the French legislature, known as the Estates General (French
: _états généraux_), passed laws that restricted military
recruitment and training to the king alone. There was a new tax to be
raised known as the _taille _ that was to provide funding for a new
Royal army. The mercenary companies were given a choice of either
joining the Royal army as _compagnies d\'ordonnance _ on a permanent
basis, or being hunted down and destroyed if they refused. France
gained a total standing army of around 6,000 men, which was sent out
to gradually eliminate the remaining mercenaries who insisted on
operating on their own. The new standing army had a more disciplined
and professional approach to warfare than its predecessors. The
reforms of the 1440s, eventually led to the French victory at
Castillon in 1453, and the conclusion of the Hundred Years\'
War . By
1450 the companies were divided into the field army, known as the
_grande ordonnance_ and the garrison force known as the _petite
Swiss mercenaries and German
Landsknechts fighting for glory,
fame and money at the
Battle of Marignan (1515). The bulk of the
Renaissance armies was composed of mercenaries.
First nation states lacked the funds needed to maintain standing
forces, so they tended to hire mercenaries to serve in their armies
during wartime. Such mercenaries typically formed at the ends of
periods of conflict, when men-at-arms were no longer needed by their
The veteran soldiers thus looked for other forms of employment, often
becoming mercenaries. Free Companies would often specialize in forms
of combat that required longer periods of training that was not
available in the form of a mobilized militia.
As late as the 1650s, most troops were mercenaries. However, after
the 17th century, most states invested in better disciplined and more
politically reliable permanent troops. For a time mercenaries became
important as trainers and administrators, but soon these tasks were
also taken by the state. The massive size of these armies required a
large supporting force of administrators.
The newly centralized states were forced to set up vast organized
bureaucracies to manage these armies, which some historians argue is
the basis of the modern bureaucratic state. The combination of
increased taxes and increased centralisation of government functions
caused a series of revolts across Europe such as the
Fronde in France
and the English Civil
In many countries, the resolution of this conflict was the rise of
absolute monarchy . Only in
England and the Netherlands did
representative government evolve as an alternative. From the late 17th
century, states learned how to finance wars through long term low
interest loans from national banking institutions. The first state to
master this process was the
Dutch Republic . This transformation in
the armies of Europe had great social impact. The defense of the state
now rested on the commoners, not on the aristocrats.
However, aristocrats continued to monopolise the officer corps of
almost all early modern armies, including their high command.
Moreover, popular revolts almost always failed unless they had the
support and patronage of the noble or gentry classes. The new armies,
because of their vast expense, were also dependent on taxation and the
commercial classes who also began to demand a greater role in society.
The great commercial powers of the Dutch and English matched much
larger states in military might.
As any man could be quickly trained in the use of a musket, it became
far easier to form massive armies. The inaccuracy of the weapons
necessitated large groups of massed soldiers. This led to a rapid
swelling of the size of armies. For the first time huge masses of the
population could enter combat, rather than just the highly skilled
professionals. The colonels of the French Guards and British
guards politely discussing who should fire first at the Battle of
Fontenoy (1745). An example of "lace war".
It has been argued that the drawing of men from across the nation
into an organized corps helped breed national unity and patriotism,
and during this period the modern notion of the nation state was born.
However, this would only become apparent after the French
Revolutionary Wars . At this time, the _levée en masse _ and
conscription would become the defining paradigm of modern warfare .
Before then, however, most national armies were in fact composed of
many nationalities. In Spain armies were recruited from all the
Spanish European territories including Spain, Italy,
Guards ) and Germany. The French recruited some soldiers from Germany,
Switzerland as well as from
Piedmont . Britain recruited Hessian and
Hanovrian troops until the late 18th century. Irish Catholics made
careers for themselves in the armies of many Catholic European states.
Prior to the English Civil
War in England, the monarch maintained a
personal Bodyguard of
Yeomen of the Guard and the Honourable
Gentlemen at Arms , or "gentlemen pensioners", and a few locally
raised companies to garrison important places such as Berwick on Tweed
Calais before it was recaptured by
France in 1558).
Troops for foreign expeditions were raised upon an _ad hoc_ basis.
Noblemen and professional regular soldiers were commissioned by the
monarch to supply troops, raising their quotas by indenture from a
variety of sources. On January 26, 1661 Charles II issued the Royal
Warrant that created the genesis of what would become the British Army
, although the Scottish and English Armies would remain two separate
organizations until the unification of
England and Scotland in 1707.
The small force was represented by only a few regiments.
After the American Revolutionary
Continental Army was quickly
disbanded as part of the Americans' distrust of standing armies, and
irregular state militias became the sole ground army of the United
States, with the exception of one battery of artillery guarding West
Point 's arsenal. Then First American
Regiment was established in
1784. However, because of continuing conflict with Native Americans ,
it was soon realized that it was necessary to field a trained standing
army. The first of these, the
Legion of the United States , was
established in 1791.
Until 1733 the common soldiers of
Prussian Army consisted largely of
peasantry recruited or impressed from
Prussia , leading
many to flee to neighboring countries. To halt this trend, Frederick
William I divided
Prussia into regimental cantons . Every youth was
required to serve as a soldier in these recruitment districts for
three months each year; this met agrarian needs and added extra troops
to bolster the regular ranks. The battle of the Nations (1813),
marked the transition between aristocratic armies and national armies.
Masses replace hired professionals and national hatred overrides
dynastic conflicts. An early example of total wars .
Russian tsars before Peter I of
Russia maintained professional
hereditary musketeer corps (streltsy in Russian) that were highly
unreliable and undisciplined. In times of war the armed forces were
augmented by peasants. Peter I introduced a modern regular army built
on German model, but with a new aspect: officers not necessarily from
nobility , as talented commoners were given promotions that eventually
included a noble title at the attainment of an officer's rank.
Conscription of peasants and townspeople was based on quota system,
per settlement. Initially it was based on the number of households,
later it was based on the population numbers. The term of service in
the 18th century was for life. In 1793 it was reduced to 25 years. In
1834 it was reduced to 20 years plus 5 years in reserve and in 1855 to
12 years plus 3 years of reserve.
The first Ottoman standing army were
Janissaries . They replaced
forces that mostly comprised tribal warriors (_ghazis _) whose loyalty
and morale could not always be trusted. The first Janissary units were
formed from prisoners of war and slaves, probably as a result of the
sultan taking his traditional one-fifth share of his army's booty in
kind rather than cash.
From the 1380s onwards, their ranks were filled under the _devşirme
_ system, where feudal dues were paid by service to the sultan. The
"recruits" were mostly Christian youths, reminiscent of mamluks .
China organized the
Manchu people into the
Eight Banner system in the
early 17th century. Defected Ming armies formed the Green Standard
Army . These troops enlisted voluntarily and for long terms of
Indian Army personnel during
Operation Crusader in Egypt, 1941
Conscription allowed the French Republic to form the _La Grande
Armée _, what
Napoleon Bonaparte called "the nation in arms", which
successfully battled European professional armies.
Conscription, particularly when the conscripts are being sent to
foreign wars that do not directly affect the security of the nation,
has historically been highly politically contentious in democracies.
Canada also had a political dispute over conscription during World
War II . Similarly, mass protests against conscription to fight the
War occurred in several countries in the late 1960s.
In developed nations, the increasing emphasis on technological
firepower and better-trained fighting forces, the sheer unlikelihood
of a conventional military assault on most developed nations, as well
as memories of the contentiousness of the Vietnam
War experience, make
mass conscription unlikely in the foreseeable future.
Russia , as well as many other nations, retains mainly a conscript
army. There is also a very rare _citizen army_ as used in Switzerland
ARMIES AS ARMED SERVICES
Western armies are usually subdivided as follows:
* CORPS : A corps usually consists of two or more divisions and is
commanded by a
Lieutenant General .
* DIVISION : Each division is commanded by a
Major General , and
usually holds three brigades including infantry, artillery, engineers
and communications units in addition to logistics (supply and service)
support to sustain independent action. Except for the divisions
operating in the mountains, divisions have at least one armored unit,
some have even more depending upon their functionality. The basic
building block of all ground force combat formations is the infantry
* BRIGADE : A brigade is under the command of a
Brigadier General and sometimes is commanded by a
Colonel . It
typically comprises three or more battalions of different units
depending on its functionality. An independent brigade would be one
that primarily consists of an artillery unit, an infantry unit, an
armour unit and logistics to support its actions. Such a brigade is
not part of any division and is under direct command of a corps.
* BATTALION : Each battalion is commanded by a
Colonel or sometimes
Colonel who commands roughly 500 to 750 soldiers. This
number varies depending on the functionality of the regiment. A
battalion comprises 3–5 companies (3 rifle companies, a fire support
company and headquarters company) or its functional equivalent such as
batteries (artillery) or squadrons (armour and cavalry), each under
the command of a
Major . The company can be divided into platoons,
each of which can again be divided into sections or squads.
(Terminology is nationality and even unit specific.)
A field army is composed of a headquarters, army troops , a variable
number of corps , typically between three and four, and a variable
number of divisions , also between three and four. A battle is
influenced at the Field
Army level by transferring divisions and
reinforcements from one corps to another to increase the pressure on
the enemy at a critical point. Field armies are controlled by a
General or Lieutenant General.
Standard map symbol for a numbered Army, the 'X's are not
substituting the army's number
A particular army can be named or numbered to distinguish it from
military land forces in general. For example, the First United States
Army and the
Army of Northern Virginia . In the
British Army it is
normal to spell out the ordinal number of an army (e.g. First Army),
whereas lower formations use figures (e.g. 1st Division).
Armies (as well as army groups and theaters ) are large formations
which vary significantly between armed forces in size, composition,
and scope of responsibility.
In the Soviet
Red Army and the
Soviet Air Force , "Armies" could vary
in size, but were subordinate to an
Army Group -sized "front " in
wartime. In peacetime, a Soviet army was usually subordinate to a
military district .
Viktor Suvorov 's _Inside the Soviet Army_
describes how Cold
War era Soviet military districts were actually
composed of a front headquarters and a military district headquarters
co-located for administration and deception ('maskirovika') reasons.
* First world war
List of armies
List of armies by country
List of numbered armies
* List of countries by number of military and paramilitary personnel
Wikimedia Commons has media related to ARMY _.
* ^ Majumdar, R.C. (1977). _Ancient India_ (8th ed.). Delhi:
Motilal Banarsidass Publ. p. 107. ISBN 9788120804364 . Retrieved 26
* ^ In the twentieth c.,
Mao Zedong (People's Republic of China),
Vo Nguyen Giap (Viet Nam), General
Douglas MacArthur (United
States), and in medieval
Takeda Shingen (1521–1573) have
drawn inspiration from the work
* ^ "who wishes to fight must first count the cost" —
Sun Tzu ,
_The Art of
* ^ "You conquered the empire on horseback, but from horseback you
will never succeed in ruling it." —Lu Chia, as quoted by Joseph
Needham , _Science and Civilisation in
China _. vol 7, part II.
* ^ Carruthers, Bob (2013). _Medieval Warfare_. Pen and Sword. p.
10. ISBN 9781781592243 . access-date= requires url= (help )
* ^ Vale, M.G.A. (1992). Charles VII. Berkeley: University of
* ^ Mackinnon, Daniel. Origin and services of the Coldstream
Guards, London 1883, Vol. 1, p. 368, note 2
* ^ Clark, Christopher (2006). _Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall
Prussia 1600–1947_. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard. p. 97.
ISBN 0-674-02385-4 .
* ^ Koch, H. W. (1978). _A History of Prussia_. New York: Barnes &
Noble Books. p. 88. ISBN 0-88029-158-3 .
* ^ Napoléon a réinventé l’art de la guerre.
* ^ _A_ _B_ Jerome Blum (1971) "Lord and Peasant in Russia: From
the Ninth to the Nineteenth Century", ISBN 0-691-00764-0 , pp. 465,
* ^ "Subdivisions of the army". Archived from the original on
2006-11-16. Retrieved 2007-01-21.
* AIR FORCE
* Air defense
* GND : 4132034-7
* NDL : 00569469
Army additional terms may
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