ETYM French armée, from Latin armata, fem. of armatus, p. p. of armare to arm. Related to Armada.
1. A large number of people united for some specific purpose.
2. An organization of military land forces; SYN. regular army.
Organized military force for fighting on the ground. A national army is used to further a political policy by force either within the state or on the territory of another state. Most countries have a national army, maintained by taxation, and raised either by conscription (compulsory military service) or voluntarily (paid professionals). Private armies may be employed by individuals and groups.
Ancient armies (to 1066).
Armies were common to all ancient civilizations. The Spartans trained from childhood for compulsory military service from age 21 to 26 in a full-time regular force as a heavily armed infantryman, or hoplite. Roman armies subjected all male citizens to military service in legions of 6,000 men divided into cohorts of 600 men. Cohorts were similarly divided into six centuries of 100 men. The concept of duty to military service continued following the collapse of the Roman Empire. For example, the Anglo-Saxon fyrd obliged all able-bodied men to serve in defense of Britain against Danish and then Norman invasion.
Armies of knights and mercenaries (1066–1648) Medieval monarchs relied upon mounted men-at-arms, or chevaliers, who in turn called on serfs from the land. Feudal armies were thus inherently limited in size and could only fight for limited periods. Free yeomen armed with longbows were required by law to practice at the butts and provided an early form of indirect fire as artillery. In Europe paid troops, or soldi, and mounted troops, or serviertes (sergeants), made themselves available as freelances. By the end of the 15th century, battles or battalions of pikemen provided defense against the mounted knight. The hard gun, or arquebus, heralded the coming of infantrymen as known today. Those who wished to avoid military service could do so by paying scutage. For the majority the conpane, or company, was their home; they were placed under royal command by ordonnances and led by crown office holders, or officiers. Increased costs led to the formation of the first mercenary armies. For example, the Great Company o.
F 10,000 men acted as an international force, employing contractors, or condottieri, to serve the highest bidder. By the 16th century the long musket, pikemen, and the use of fortifications combined against the knight. Sappers became increasingly important in the creation and breaking of obstacles such as at Metz, a forerunner of the Maginot Line.
Professional armies (1648–1792).
The emergence of the European nation-state saw the growth of more professional standing armies which trained in drills, used formations to maximize firepower, and introduced service discipline. The invention of the ring bayonet and the flintlock saw the demise of pikemen and the increased capability to fire from three ranks (today still the standard drill formation in the British Army). Artillery was now mobile and fully integrated into the army structure. The defects of raw levies, noble amateurs, and mercenaries led Oliver Cromwell to create the New Model Army for the larger campaigns of the English Civil War. After the Restoration, Charles II established a small standing army, which was expanded under James II and William III. In France, a model regiment was set up under de Martinet which set standards of uniformity for all to follow. State taxation provided for a formal system of army administration (uniforms, pay, ammunition). Nevertheless, recruits remained mainly society’s misfits and delinquents. Coll.
Ectively termed other ranks, they were divided from commissioned officers by a rigid hierarchical structure. The sheer cost of such armies forced wars to be fought by maneuver rather than by pitched battle, aiming to starve one’s opponent into defeat while protecting one’s own logistic chain.
Armies of the revolution (1792–1819).
Napoleon’s organization of his army into autonomous corps of two to three divisions, in turn comprising two brigades of two regiments of two battalions, was a major step forward in allowing a rapid and flexible deployment of forces. Small-scale skirmishing by light infantry, coupled with the increasing devastation created by artillery or densely packed formations, saw the beginnings of the dispersed battlefield. Victory in war was now synonymous with the complete destruction of the enemy in battle. Reservists were conscripted to allow the mass army to fight wars through to the bitter end. (Only Britain, by virtue of the English Channel and the Royal Navy, was able to avoid the need to provide such large land forces.) Officers were now required to be professionally trained; the Royal Military College was set up in Britain 1802, St Cyr in France 1808, the Kriegsakademie in Berlin 1810, and the Russian Imperial Military Academy 1832. Semaphore telegraph and observation balloons were first steps to increasing the.
Commander’s ability to observe enemy movements. The British army, under Wellington, was very strong, but afterwards decreased in numbers and efficiency.
National armies (1819–1914).
The defeat of Revolutionary France saw a return to the traditions of the 18th century and a reduction in conscription. Meanwhile the railroad revolutionized the deployment of forces, permitting quick mobilization, continuous resupply to the front, and rapid evacuation of casualties to the rear. The US Civil War has been called the Railroad War. By 1870, the limitation of supply inherent to the Napoleonic army had been overcome and once again armies of over 1 million could be deployed. By 1914, continental armies numbered as many as 3 million and were based on conscription. A general staff was now required to manage these. Breech-loading rifles and machine guns ensured a higher casualty rate.
The 19th century saw the great development of rapidly produced missile weapons and the use of railroads to move troops and materials.
Technological armies (1918–45).
The advent of the internal combustion engine allowed new advances in mobility to overcome the supremacy of the defensive over the offensive. The tank and the radio were vital to the evolution of armored warfare or Blitzkrieg. Armies were able to reorganize into highly mobile formations, such as the German Panzer Divisions, which utilized speed, firepower, and surprise to overwhelm static defenses and thereby dislocate the army’s rear.
The armies of World War II were very mobile, and were closely coordinated with the navy and air force. The requirement to fuel and maintain such huge fleets of vehicles again increased the need to maintain supplies. The complexity of the mechanized army demanded a wide range of skills not easily found through conscription.
Armies of the nuclear age (1945–).
The advent of tactical nuclear weapons severely compounded the problems of mass concentration and thus protected mobility assumed greater importance to allow rapid concentration and dispersal of forces in what could be a high chemical threat zone. From the 1960s there were sophisticated developments in tanks and antitank weapons, mortar-locating radar, and heat-seeking missiles.
As a result of the ending of the Cold War, the US and the former Soviet and European armies are to be substantially cut by the mid 1990s. The UK army will be cut from 155,000 to 119,000.
ETYM French, from Latin martialis of or belonging to Mars, the god of war. Related to March the month.
Or or relating to the armed forces.
ETYM Latin militaris, militarius, from miles, militis, soldier: cf. French militaire.
1. Associated with or performed by armed services as contrasted with civilians.
2. Characteristic of or associated with soldiers or the military.
3. Of or relating to the study of the principles of warfare.