Army
Overview
 
An army is the air force of the French Armed Forces. It was formed in 1909 as the Service Aéronautique, a service arm of the French Army, then was made an independent military arm in 1933...

. 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
People's Liberation Army
The People's Liberation Army is the unified military organization of all land, sea, strategic missile and air forces of the People's Republic of China. The PLA was established on August 1, 1927 — celebrated annually as "PLA Day" — as the military arm of the Communist Party of China...

 of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 with 2,250,000 active troops and 800,000 reserve personnel
Military reserve force
A military reserve force is a military organization composed of citizens of a country who combine a military role or career with a civilian career. They are not normally kept under arms and their main role is to be available to fight when a nation mobilizes for total war or to defend against invasion...

 followed by the Indian Army
Indian Army
The Indian Army is the land based branch and the largest component of the Indian Armed Forces. With about 1,100,000 soldiers in active service and about 1,150,000 reserve troops, the Indian Army is the world's largest standing volunteer army...

 with 1,325,000 active troops and 2,142,821 reserve personnel.

By definition, irregular military
Irregular military
Irregular military refers to any non-standard military. Being defined by exclusion, there is significant variance in what comes under the term. It can refer to the type of military organization, or to the type of tactics used....

 is understood in contrast to regular armies
Regular army
A regular army consists of the permanent force of a country's army that is maintained under arms during peacetime.Countries that use the term include:*Australian Army*British Army*Canadian Forces, specifically "Regular Force"*Egyptian army*Indian Army...

 which grew slowly from personal bodyguards or elite militia
Militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

.
The Spartan Army
Spartan Army
The Spartan army was the military force of Sparta, one of the leading city-states of ancient Greece. The army stood at the centre of the Spartan state, whose citizens' primary obligation was to be good soldiers. Subject to military drill from infancy, the Spartans were one of the most feared...

 was one of the earliest known professional armies.
Discussions
Encyclopedia
An army is the air force of the French Armed Forces. It was formed in 1909 as the Service Aéronautique, a service arm of the French Army, then was made an independent military arm in 1933...

. 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
People's Liberation Army
The People's Liberation Army is the unified military organization of all land, sea, strategic missile and air forces of the People's Republic of China. The PLA was established on August 1, 1927 — celebrated annually as "PLA Day" — as the military arm of the Communist Party of China...

 of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 with 2,250,000 active troops and 800,000 reserve personnel
Military reserve force
A military reserve force is a military organization composed of citizens of a country who combine a military role or career with a civilian career. They are not normally kept under arms and their main role is to be available to fight when a nation mobilizes for total war or to defend against invasion...

 followed by the Indian Army
Indian Army
The Indian Army is the land based branch and the largest component of the Indian Armed Forces. With about 1,100,000 soldiers in active service and about 1,150,000 reserve troops, the Indian Army is the world's largest standing volunteer army...

 with 1,325,000 active troops and 2,142,821 reserve personnel.

By definition, irregular military
Irregular military
Irregular military refers to any non-standard military. Being defined by exclusion, there is significant variance in what comes under the term. It can refer to the type of military organization, or to the type of tactics used....

 is understood in contrast to regular armies
Regular army
A regular army consists of the permanent force of a country's army that is maintained under arms during peacetime.Countries that use the term include:*Australian Army*British Army*Canadian Forces, specifically "Regular Force"*Egyptian army*Indian Army...

 which grew slowly from personal bodyguards or elite militia
Militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

.

Sparta

The Spartan Army
Spartan Army
The Spartan army was the military force of Sparta, one of the leading city-states of ancient Greece. The army stood at the centre of the Spartan state, whose citizens' primary obligation was to be good soldiers. Subject to military drill from infancy, the Spartans were one of the most feared...

 was one of the earliest known professional armies. Boys were sent to a barracks at the age of seven to train for being 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 hoplite
Hoplite
A hoplite was a citizen-soldier of the Ancient Greek city-states. Hoplites were primarily armed as spearmen and fought in a phalanx formation. The word "hoplite" derives from "hoplon" , the type of the shield used by the soldiers, although, as a word, "hopla" could also denote weapons held or even...

s, equipped with arms and armor nearly identical to each other. Each hoplite bore the Spartan emblem and a scarlet uniform. The main pieces of this armor were a round shield, a spear and a helmet.

Ancient Rome

The Roman Army
Roman army
The Roman army is the generic term for the terrestrial armed forces deployed by the kingdom of Rome , the Roman Republic , the Roman Empire and its successor, the Byzantine empire...

 had its origins in the citizen army of the Republic
Roman Republic
The Roman Republic was the period of the ancient Roman civilization where the government operated as a republic. It began with the overthrow of the Roman monarchy, traditionally dated around 508 BC, and its replacement by a government headed by two consuls, elected annually by the citizens and...

, which was staffed by citizens serving mandatory duty for Rome. Reforms around 115 BC turned the army into a professional organization which was still largely filled by citizens but citizens who 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 of the Late Roman Empire tribes such as the Visigoths were paid to serve as mercenaries.

Medieval Europe

In the earliest Middle Ages
Middle Ages
The Middle Ages is a periodization of European history from the 5th century to the 15th century. The Middle Ages follows the fall of the Western Roman Empire in 476 and precedes the Early Modern Era. It is the middle period of a three-period division of Western history: Classic, Medieval and Modern...

 it was the obligation of every noble 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 knight
Knight
A knight was a member of a class of lower nobility in the High Middle Ages.By the Late Middle Ages, the rank had become associated with the ideals of chivalry, a code of conduct for the perfect courtly Christian warrior....

s 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
Hundred Years' War
The Hundred Years' War was a series of separate wars waged from 1337 to 1453 by the House of Valois and the House of Plantagenet, also known as the House of Anjou, for the French throne, which had become vacant upon the extinction of the senior Capetian line of French kings...

 were, predominantly, composed of paid professionals.

In theory, every Englishman had an obligation to serve for forty days. Forty days was not long enough for a campaign, especially one on the continent.

Thus the scutage
Scutage
The form of taxation known as scutage, in the law of England under the feudal system, allowed a knight to "buy out" of the military service due to the Crown as a holder of a knight's fee held under the feudal land tenure of knight-service. Its name derived from shield...

 was introduced, whereby most Englishmen paid to escape their service and this money was used to create a permanent army. However, almost all high medieval armies in Europe were composed of a great deal of paid core troops, and there was a large mercenary market in Europe from at least the early 12th century.

As the Middle Ages progressed in Italy
Italy
Italy , officially the Italian Republic languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Italy's official name is as follows:;;;;;;;;), is a unitary parliamentary republic in South-Central Europe. To the north it borders France, Switzerland, Austria and...

, Italian cities began to rely mostly on mercenaries to do their fighting rather than the militias that had dominated the early and high medieval period in this region. These would be groups of career soldiers who would be paid a set rate. Mercenaries tended to be effective soldiers, especially in combination with standing forces, but in Italy they came to dominate the armies of the city states. This made them considerably less reliable than a standing army. Mercenary-on-mercenary warfare in Italy also led to relatively bloodless campaigns which relied as much on maneuver as on battles.

Early modern

First nation-states lacked the funds needed to maintain standing forces, so they tended to hire mercenaries to serve in their armies during wartime. Such mercenaries typically formed at the ends of periods of conflict, when men-at-arms were no longer needed by their respective governments.

The veteran
Veteran
A veteran is a person who has had long service or experience in a particular occupation or field; " A veteran of ..."...

 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
Fronde
The Fronde was a civil war in France, occurring in the midst of the Franco-Spanish War, which had begun in 1635. The word fronde means sling, which Parisian mobs used to smash the windows of supporters of Cardinal Mazarin....

 in France and the English Civil War
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

.

In many countries, the resolution of this conflict was the rise of absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy
Absolute monarchy is a monarchical form of government in which the monarch exercises ultimate governing authority as head of state and head of government, his or her power not being limited by a constitution or by the law. An absolute monarch thus wields unrestricted political power over the...

. 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
Dutch Republic
The Dutch Republic — officially known as the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands , the Republic of the United Netherlands, or the Republic of the Seven United Provinces — was a republic in Europe existing from 1581 to 1795, preceding the Batavian Republic and ultimately...

. 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.
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
French Revolutionary Wars
The French Revolutionary Wars were a series of major conflicts, from 1792 until 1802, fought between the French Revolutionary government and several European states...

. At this time, the levée en masse
Levée en masse
Levée en masse is a French term for mass conscription during the French Revolutionary Wars, particularly for the one from 16 August 1793.- Terminology :...

 and conscription
Conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

 would become the defining paradigm of modern warfare
Modern warfare
Modern warfare, although present in every historical period of military history, is generally used to refer to the concepts, methods and technologies that have come into use during and after the Second World War and the Korean War...

.

Before then, however, most national armies were in fact composed of many nationalities. In Spain, armies were recruited from all the Spanish European territories including Spain, Italy, Wallonia (Walloon Guards
Walloon Guards
The Walloon Guards were an infantry corps originally recruited in the region now known as Belgium, mainly in Catholic Wallonia, for the Spanish Army...

) and Germany. The French recruited some soldiers from Germany, Switzerland as well as from Piedmont
Piedmont
Piedmont is one of the 20 regions of Italy. It has an area of 25,402 square kilometres and a population of about 4.4 million. The capital of Piedmont is Turin. The main local language is Piedmontese. Occitan is also spoken by a minority in the Occitan Valleys situated in the Provinces of...

. Britain recruited Hessian
Hesse
Hesse or Hessia is both a cultural region of Germany and the name of an individual German state.* The cultural region of Hesse includes both the State of Hesse and the area known as Rhenish Hesse in the neighbouring Rhineland-Palatinate state...

 and Hanovrian
Electorate of Hanover
The Electorate of Brunswick-Lüneburg was the ninth Electorate of the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation...

 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
English Civil War
The English Civil War was a series of armed conflicts and political machinations between Parliamentarians and Royalists...

 in England, the monarch
Monarch
A monarch is the person who heads a monarchy. This is a form of government in which a state or polity is ruled or controlled by an individual who typically inherits the throne by birth and occasionally rules for life or until abdication...

 maintained a personal Bodyguard of Yeomen of the Guard
Yeomen of the Guard
The Queen's Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard are a bodyguard of the British Monarch. The oldest British military corps still in existence, it was created by Henry VII in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth Field. As a token of this venerability, the Yeomen still wear red and gold uniforms of Tudor...

 and the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen at Arms
Honourable Corps of Gentlemen at Arms
Her Majesty's Bodyguard of the Honourable Corps of Gentlemen at Arms is a bodyguard to the British Monarch. Until 17 March 1834 they were known as The Honourable Band of Gentlemen Pensioners.-Formation:...

 or 'gentlemen pensioners', and a few locally raised companies to garrison important places such as Berwick on Tweed or Portsmouth
Portsmouth
Portsmouth is the second largest city in the ceremonial county of Hampshire on the south coast of England. Portsmouth is notable for being the United Kingdom's only island city; it is located mainly on Portsea Island...

 (or Calais
Calais
Calais is a town in Northern France in the department of Pas-de-Calais, of which it is a sub-prefecture. Although Calais is by far the largest city in Pas-de-Calais, the department's capital is its third-largest city of Arras....

 before it was recaptured
Siege of Calais (1558)
The Siege of Calais was fought in early 1558 during the Habsburg-Valois Wars. A French force commanded by the Duke of Guise captured the city of Calais from the English, who had ruled it since 1347.-See also:*Siege of Calais...

 by France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 in 1558).

Troops for foreign expeditions were raised upon an ad-hoc basis. Noblemen and professional regular soldier
Soldier
A soldier is a member of the land component of national armed forces; whereas a soldier hired for service in a foreign army would be termed a mercenary...

s were commissioned by the monarch to supply troops, raising their quotas by indenture
Indenture
An indenture is a legal contract reflecting a debt or purchase obligation, specifically referring to two types of practices: in historical usage, an indentured servant status, and in modern usage, an instrument used for commercial debt or real estate transaction.-Historical usage:An indenture is a...

 from a variety of sources. On January 26, 1661 Charles II
Charles II of England
Charles II was monarch of the three kingdoms of England, Scotland, and Ireland.Charles II's father, King Charles I, was executed at Whitehall on 30 January 1649, at the climax of the English Civil War...

 issued the Royal Warrant that created the genesis of what would become the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

, although the Scottish and English Armies would remain two separate organizations until the unification of England and Scotland in 1707. The small force was represented by only a few regiments.

After the American Revolutionary War
American Revolutionary War
The American Revolutionary War , the American War of Independence, or simply the Revolutionary War, began as a war between the Kingdom of Great Britain and thirteen British colonies in North America, and ended in a global war between several European great powers.The war was the result of the...

 the Continental Army
Continental Army
The Continental Army was formed after the outbreak of the American Revolutionary War by the colonies that became the United States of America. Established by a resolution of the Continental Congress on June 14, 1775, it was created to coordinate the military efforts of the Thirteen Colonies in...

 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
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

, with the exception of one battery of artillery guarding West Point's arsenal. However, because of continuing conflict with Native Americans
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

, it was soon realized that it was necessary to field a trained standing army. The first of these, the Legion of the United States
Legion of the United States
The Legion of the United States was a reorganization and extension of the United States Army from 1792 to 1796 under the command of Major General Anthony Wayne.-Origins:The impetus for the Legion came from General Arthur St...

, was established in 1791.

Until 130 the common soldiers of Prussian Army
Prussian Army
The Royal Prussian Army was the army of the Kingdom of Prussia. It was vital to the development of Brandenburg-Prussia as a European power.The Prussian Army had its roots in the meager mercenary forces of Brandenburg during the Thirty Years' War...

 consisted largely of peasantry recruited or impressed from Brandenburg-Prussia, leading many to flee to neighboring countries. In order to halt this trend, Frederick William I
Frederick William I of Prussia
Frederick William I of the House of Hohenzollern, was the King in Prussia and Elector of Brandenburg from 1713 until his death...

 divided Prussia into regimental cantons
Cantonist (Prussia)
Cantonists were recruits in the Prussian Army from 1733-1813, liable for draft in one of the cantons. Each canton was responsible for creating its own regiment. The canton system was introduced by King Frederick William I of Prussia....

. 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.

Russian tsars before Peter I of Russia
Peter I of Russia
Peter the Great, Peter I or Pyotr Alexeyevich Romanov Dates indicated by the letters "O.S." are Old Style. All other dates in this article are New Style. ruled the Tsardom of Russia and later the Russian Empire from until his death, jointly ruling before 1696 with his half-brother, Ivan V...

 maintained professional hereditary musketeer corps (streltsy
Streltsy
Streltsy were the units of Russian guardsmen in the 16th - early 18th centuries, armed with firearms. They are also collectively known as Marksman Troops .- Origins and organization :...

 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
Imperial Russian Army
The Imperial Russian Army was the land armed force of the Russian Empire, active from around 1721 to the Russian Revolution of 1917. In the early 1850s, the Russian army consisted of around 938,731 regular soldiers and 245,850 irregulars . Until the time of military reform of Dmitry Milyutin in...

 built on German model, but with a new aspect: officers not necessarily from nobility
Nobility
Nobility is a social class which possesses more acknowledged privileges or eminence than members of most other classes in a society, membership therein typically being hereditary. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be...

, 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
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 standing army
Standing army
A standing army is a professional permanent army. It is composed of full-time career soldiers and is not disbanded during times of peace. It differs from army reserves, who are activated only during wars or natural disasters...

 were Janissaries. They replaced forces that mostly comprised tribal warriors (ghazi
Ghazw
Ghazi or ghazah is an Arabic term that means "to raid/foray." From it evolved the word "Ghazwa" which specifically refers to a battle led by the Islamic prophet Muhammad.In English language literature the word often appears as razzia, deriving from French, although it probably...

s
) 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 Mamelukes.

China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 organized the Manchu people into the Eight Banner system in the early 17th century. Defected Ming
Ming Dynasty
The Ming Dynasty, also Empire of the Great Ming, was the ruling dynasty of China from 1368 to 1644, following the collapse of the Mongol-led Yuan Dynasty. The Ming, "one of the greatest eras of orderly government and social stability in human history", was the last dynasty in China ruled by ethnic...

 armies formed the Green Standard Army
Green Standard Army
Green Standard Army is the name of a category of military units under the control of the Qing Dynasty in China. It was made up mostly of ethnic Han soldiers and operated concurrently with the Manchu-Mongol-Han Eight Banner armies...

. These troops enlisted voluntarily and for long terms of service.

Late Modern

Conscription
Conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

 allowed the French Republic to form the La Grande Armée
La Grande Armée
The Grande Armée first entered the annals of history when, in 1805, Napoleon I renamed the army that he had assembled on the French coast of the English Channel for the proposed invasion of Britain...

, what Napoleon Bonaparte
Napoleon I of France
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

 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
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Similarly, mass protests against conscription to fight the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 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
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, as well as many other nations, retains mainly a conscript army. There is also a very rare citizen army as used in Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

 (see Swiss army).
|

Armies as armed services

Western armies are usually subdivided as follows:
  • Corps
    Corps
    A corps is either a large formation, or an administrative grouping of troops within an armed force with a common function such as Artillery or Signals representing an arm of service...

    : A Corps usually consists of two or more Divisions and is commanded by a Lieutenant General
    Lieutenant General
    Lieutenant General is a military rank used in many countries. The rank traces its origins to the Middle Ages where the title of Lieutenant General was held by the second in command on the battlefield, who was normally subordinate to a Captain General....

    .
  • Division
    Division (military)
    A division is a large military unit or formation usually consisting of between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers. In most armies, a division is composed of several regiments or brigades, and in turn several divisions typically make up a corps...

    : Each division is commanded by a Major General
    Major General
    Major general or major-general is a military rank used in many countries. It is derived from the older rank of sergeant major general. A major general is a high-ranking officer, normally subordinate to the rank of lieutenant general and senior to the ranks of brigadier and brigadier general...

    , and usually holds three Brigades including infantry, artillery, engineers and communications units in addition to logistics
    Logistics
    Logistics is the management of the flow of goods between the point of origin and the point of destination in order to meet the requirements of customers or corporations. Logistics involves the integration of information, transportation, inventory, warehousing, material handling, and packaging, and...

     (supply and service) support to sustain independent action. Except for the Divisions operating in the mountains, all the Divisions have at least one armored unit, some have even more depending upon their functionality. The basic building block of all ground force combat formations is the infantry division. A typical division would hold three infantry brigades.
  • Brigade
    Brigade
    A brigade is a major tactical military formation that is typically composed of two to five battalions, plus supporting elements depending on the era and nationality of a given army and could be perceived as an enlarged/reinforced regiment...

    : A Brigade is under the command of a Brigadier General
    Brigadier General
    Brigadier general is a senior rank in the armed forces. It is the lowest ranking general officer in some countries, usually sitting between the ranks of colonel and major general. When appointed to a field command, a brigadier general is typically in command of a brigade consisting of around 4,000...

     or sometimes is commanded by a Colonel
    Colonel
    Colonel , abbreviated Col or COL, is a military rank of a senior commissioned officer. It or a corresponding rank exists in most armies and in many air forces; the naval equivalent rank is generally "Captain". It is also used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures...

     and 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
    Battalion
    A battalion is a military unit of around 300–1,200 soldiers usually consisting of between two and seven companies and typically commanded by either a Lieutenant Colonel or a Colonel...

    : Each battalion is commanded by a Colonel
    Colonel
    Colonel , abbreviated Col or COL, is a military rank of a senior commissioned officer. It or a corresponding rank exists in most armies and in many air forces; the naval equivalent rank is generally "Captain". It is also used in some police forces and other paramilitary rank structures...

     or sometimes by Lieutenant Colonel
    Lieutenant colonel
    Lieutenant colonel is a rank of commissioned officer in the armies and most marine forces and some air forces of the world, typically ranking above a major and below a colonel. The rank of lieutenant colonel is often shortened to simply "colonel" in conversation and in unofficial correspondence...

     who commands roughly 600 to 750 soldiers. This number varies depending on the functionality of the regiment. A regiment comprises either three batteries or four companies - and other arms excluding armoured units that are organized into squadrons each under the command of a major and comprising individual subunits called sections (which are further divisible into platoons and squads).

Field army

A field army
Field army
A Field Army, or Area Army, usually referred to simply as an Army, is a term used by many national military forces for a military formation superior to a corps and beneath an army group....

 is composed of a headquarters, army troops, a variable number of corps
Corps
A corps is either a large formation, or an administrative grouping of troops within an armed force with a common function such as Artillery or Signals representing an arm of service...

 typically between three to four, and a variable number of divisions
Division (military)
A division is a large military unit or formation usually consisting of between 10,000 and 20,000 soldiers. In most armies, a division is composed of several regiments or brigades, and in turn several divisions typically make up a corps...

, also between three to four. A battle is influenced at the Field Army level by transferring divisions and reinforcements from one corps to another to increase the pressure on the enemy at a critical point. Field armies are controlled by a General or Lieutenant General.

Formations

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
Army of Northern Virginia
The Army of Northern Virginia was the primary military force of the Confederate States of America in the Eastern Theater of the American Civil War, as well as the primary command structure of the Department of Northern Virginia. It was most often arrayed against the Union Army of the Potomac...

. In the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 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 group
Army group
An army group is a military organization consisting of several field armies, which is self-sufficient for indefinite periods. It is usually responsible for a particular geographic area...

s and theaters) are large formations which vary significantly between armed forces in size, composition, and scope of responsibility.

In the Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 and the Soviet Air Force
VVS
VVS is a three letter acronym which may refer to:* Very Very Slightly Included, a way of describing the clarity of a diamond* Vulvar vestibulitis syndrome, a syndrome of vulvodynia associated with chronic disease* V. V. S...

, "Armies" were actually corps
Corps
A corps is either a large formation, or an administrative grouping of troops within an armed force with a common function such as Artillery or Signals representing an arm of service...

-sized formations, subordinate to an Army Group
Army group
An army group is a military organization consisting of several field armies, which is self-sufficient for indefinite periods. It is usually responsible for a particular geographic area...

-sized "front
Front (Soviet Army)
A front was a major military organization in the Soviet Army during many wars. It was roughly equivalent to an army group in the militaries of most other countries except Germany...

" in wartime. In peacetime, a Soviet army
Army (Soviet Army)
An army, besides the generalized meanings of ‘a country's armed forces’ or its ‘land forces’, is a type of formation in militaries of various countries, including the Soviet Union. This article serves a central point of reference for Soviet armies without individual articles, and explains some of...

 was usually subordinate to a military district
Military district
Military districts are formations of a state's armed forces which are responsible for a certain area of territory. They are often more responsible for administrative than operational matters, and in countries with conscript forces, often handle parts of the conscription cycle.Navies have also used...

.

See also

  • Military organization
    Military organization
    Military organization is the structuring of the armed forces of a state so as to offer military capability required by the national defence policy. In some countries paramilitary forces are included in a nation's armed forces...

  • War
    War
    War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

  • Military history
    Military history
    Military history is a humanities discipline within the scope of general historical recording of armed conflict in the history of humanity, and its impact on the societies, their cultures, economies and changing intra and international relationships....

  • Paramilitary
    Paramilitary
    A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

  • Militia
    Militia
    The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

  • Mercenary
    Mercenary
    A mercenary, is a person who takes part in an armed conflict based on the promise of material compensation rather than having a direct interest in, or a legal obligation to, the conflict itself. A non-conscript professional member of a regular army is not considered to be a mercenary although he...

  • List of armies
  • List of armies by country
  • List of armies by number
  • List of countries by size of armed forces
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