Penal military unit
Penal 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...

, penal companies
Company (military unit)
A company is a military unit, typically consisting of 80–225 soldiers and usually commanded by a Captain, Major or Commandant. Most companies are formed of three to five platoons although the exact number may vary by country, unit type, and structure...

, etc., are military formations consisting of convicted persons
A convict is "a person found guilty of a crime and sentenced by a court" or "a person serving a sentence in prison", sometimes referred to in slang as simply a "con". Convicts are often called prisoners or inmates. Persons convicted and sentenced to non-custodial sentences often are not termed...

 for which military service
Military service
Military service, in its simplest sense, is service by an individual or group in an army or other militia, whether as a chosen job or as a result of an involuntary draft . Some nations require a specific amount of military service from every citizen...

 in such units was either the assigned punishment
Punishment is the authoritative imposition of something negative or unpleasant on a person or animal in response to behavior deemed wrong by an individual or group....

 or an alternative to imprisonment
Imprisonment is a legal term.The book Termes de la Ley contains the following definition:This passage was approved by Atkin and Duke LJJ in Meering v Grahame White Aviation Co....

 or the death penalty.

Nazi Germany

  • See Afrika-Brigade 999 (AKA Bewährungseinheiten 999, Strafbataillon 999, Bewährungstruppe 999, Division 999).

  • See Dirlewanger Brigade (AKA SS-Sturmbrigade Dirlewanger).

  • See Strafbattalion
    Strafbattalion were Wehrmacht penal units created from military prisoners during the final years of the Second World War. Soldiers sentenced to these units were poorly-armed and required to undertake dangerous high-casualty missions...

     (Wehrmacht Heer unit)

  • See Strafkompanie
    Strafkompanie is the German word for the penal work division in the Nazi concentration camps.SK was the abbreviation used in the concentration camps for the notorious Strafkompanies. These penal divisions were yet another hardship that could be forced on the already exhausted inmates of the camps...

    , which is not a military unit but a penal work division in the concentration camps.


On 6 July 1948 France created the Bataillon d'Infanterie Légère d'Outre Mer of volunteers serving prison sentences who would serve in the First Indochina War
First Indochina War
The First Indochina War was fought in French Indochina from December 19, 1946, until August 1, 1954, between the French Union's French Far East...


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