An army (from Latin arma "arms, weapons" via Old French armée, "armed" [feminine]) or land 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 aviation assets by possessing an army aviation component. In certain states, the term army refers to the entire armed forces (e.g., People's Liberation Army). Within a national military force, the word army may also mean a field army.
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)
India's armies were among the first in the world. The first recorded battle, the Battle of the Ten Kings, happened when an Hindu Aryan king named Sudas defeated an alliance of ten kings and their supportive chieftains. During the Iron Age, the Maurya and Nanda Empires had the largest armies in the world, the peak being approximately over 600,000 Infantry, 30,000 Cavalry, 8,000 War-Chariots and 9,000 War Elephants not including tributary state allies. In the Gupta age, large armies of longbowmen were recruited to fight off invading horse archer armies. Elephants, pikemen and cavalry were other featured troops.
In Rajput times, the main piece of equipment was iron or chain-mail armour, a round shield, either a curved blade or a straight-sword, a chakra disc and a katar dagger.
The states of China raised armies for at least 1000 years before the Spring and Autumn Annals. By the 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 their organization. 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 emperor of 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.
The Spartan Army was one of the earliest known professional armies. Boys were sent to a barracks at the age of seven or eight 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.
The 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 of the Late Roman Empire tribes such as the Visigoths were paid to serve as mercenaries.
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.
Initially, the words "knight" and "noble" were used interchangeably as there was not generally a distinction between them. While the nobility did fight upon horseback, they were also supported by lower class citizens – and mercenaries and criminals – whose only purpose was participating in warfare because, most often than not, they held brief employment during their lord's engagement. As the Middle Ages progressed and feudalism developed in a legitimate social and economic system, knights started to develop into their own class with a minor caveat: they were still in debt to their lord. No longer primarily driven by economic need, the newly established vassal class were, instead, driven by fealty and chivalry.
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 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 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, 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.
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 ordonnance.
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 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 War.
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.
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, Wallonia (Walloon 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 Corps of Gentlemen at Arms, or "gentlemen pensioners", and a few locally raised companies to garrison important places such as Berwick on Tweed or Portsmouth (or 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 War the 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 Brandenburg–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.
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.
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 service.
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 Vietnam 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 (see Military of Switzerland).
Western armies are usually subdivided as follows:
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.
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).
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.
A battalion is a military unit. The use of the term "battalion" varies by nationality and branch of service. Typically a battalion consists of 300 to 800 soldiers and is divided into a number of companies. A battalion is typically commanded by a lieutenant colonel. In some countries, the word "battalion" is associated with the infantry.
The term was first used in Italian as battaglione no later than the 16th century. It derived from the Italian word for battle, battaglia. The first use of battalion in English was in the 1580s, and the first use to mean "part of a regiment" is from 1708.Battle of France
The Battle of France, also known as the Fall of France, was the German invasion of France and the Low Countries during the Second World War. In the six weeks from 10 May 1940, German forces defeated Allied forces by mobile operations and conquered France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, bringing land operations on the Western Front to an end until 6 June 1944. Italy entered the war on 10 June 1940 and invaded France over the Alps.
In Fall Gelb (Case Yellow), German armoured units pushed through the Ardennes and then along the Somme valley, cutting off and surrounding the Allied units that had advanced into Belgium, to meet the expected German invasion. When British, Belgian and French forces were pushed back to the sea by the mobile and well-organised German operation, the British evacuated the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) and French divisions from Dunkirk in Operation Dynamo.
German forces began Fall Rot (Case Red) on 5 June. The sixty remaining French divisions and two British divisions made a determined resistance but were unable to overcome the German air superiority and armoured mobility. German tanks outflanked the Maginot Line and pushed deep into France, occupying Paris unopposed on 14 June. After the flight of the French government and the collapse of the French army, German commanders met with French officials on 18 June to negotiate an end to hostilities.
On 22 June, the Second Armistice at Compiègne was signed by France and Germany. The neutral Vichy government led by Marshal Philippe Pétain superseded the Third Republic and Germany occupied the north and west coasts of France and their hinterlands. Italy took control of a small occupation zone in the south-east and the Vichy regime retained the unoccupied territory in the south, known as the zone libre. In November 1942, the Germans occupied the zone under Case Anton (Fall Anton), until the Allied liberation in 1944.Battle of Stalingrad
The Battle of Stalingrad (23 August 1942 – 2 February 1943) was the largest confrontation of World War II, in which Germany and its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Stalingrad (now Volgograd) in Southern Russia.
Marked by fierce close quarters combat and direct assaults on civilians in air raids, it was the largest (nearly 2.2 million personnel) and bloodiest (1.8–2 million killed, wounded or captured) battle in the history of warfare. After their defeat at Stalingrad, the German High Command had to withdraw vast military forces from the Western Front to replace their losses.The German offensive to capture Stalingrad began in August 1942, using the 6th Army and elements of the 4th Panzer Army. The attack was supported by intensive Luftwaffe bombing that reduced much of the city to rubble. The fighting degenerated into house-to-house fighting; both sides poured reinforcements into the city. By mid-November 1942, the Germans had pushed the Soviet defenders back at great cost into narrow zones along the west bank of the Volga River.
On 19 November 1942, the Red Army launched Operation Uranus, a two-pronged attack targeting the weaker Romanian and Hungarian armies protecting the German 6th Army's flanks. The Axis forces on the flanks were overrun and the 6th Army was cut off and surrounded in the Stalingrad area. Adolf Hitler ordered that the army stay in Stalingrad and make no attempt to break out; instead, attempts were made to supply the army by air and to break the encirclement from the outside. Heavy fighting continued for another two months. By the beginning of February 1943, the Axis forces in Stalingrad had exhausted their ammunition and food. The remaining units of the 6th Army surrendered. The battle lasted five months, one week and three days.Battle of the Somme
The Battle of the Somme (French: Bataille de la Somme; German: Schlacht an der Somme), also known as the Somme Offensive, was a battle of the First World War fought by the armies of the British Empire and French Third Republic against the German Empire. It took place between 1 July and 18 November 1916 on both sides of the upper reaches of the River Somme in France. The battle was intended to hasten a victory for the Allies and was the largest battle of the First World War on the Western Front. More than three million men fought in the battle and one million men were wounded or killed, making it one of the bloodiest battles in human history. The Battle of the Somme was fought in the traditional style of World War I battles on the Western Front: trench warfare. The trench warfare gave the Germans an advantage because they dug their trenches deeper than the allied forces which gave them a better line of sight for warfare. The Battle of the Somme also has the distinction of being the first battle fought with tanks. However, the tanks were still in the early stages of development, and as a result, many broke down after maxing out at their top speed of 4 miles per hour.
The French and British had committed themselves to an offensive on the Somme during Allied discussions at Chantilly, Oise, in December 1915. The Allies agreed upon a strategy of combined offensives against the Central Powers in 1916, by the French, Russian, British and Italian armies, with the Somme offensive as the Franco-British contribution. Initial plans called for the French army to undertake the main part of the Somme offensive, supported on the northern flank by the Fourth Army of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF). When the Imperial German Army began the Battle of Verdun on the Meuse on 21 February 1916, French commanders diverted many of the divisions intended for the Somme and the "supporting" attack by the British became the principal effort.
The first day on the Somme (1 July) saw a serious defeat for the German Second Army, which was forced out of its first position by the French Sixth Army, from Foucaucourt-en-Santerre south of the Somme to Maricourt on the north bank, and by the Fourth Army from Maricourt to the vicinity of the Albert–Bapaume road. The first day on the Somme was, in terms of casualties, also the worst day in the history of the British army, which suffered 57,470 casualties. These occurred mainly on the front between the Albert–Bapaume road and Gommecourt, where the attack was defeated and few British troops reached the German front line. The British troops on the Somme comprised a mixture of the remains of the pre-war regular army; the Territorial Force; and Kitchener's Army, a force of volunteer recruits including many Pals' Battalions, recruited from the same places and occupations.
The battle is notable for the importance of air power and the first use of the tank. At the end of the battle, British and French forces had penetrated 10 km (6 mi) into German-occupied territory, taking more ground than in any of their offensives since the Battle of the Marne in 1914. The Anglo-French armies failed to capture Péronne and halted 5 km (3 mi) from Bapaume, where the German armies maintained their positions over the winter. British attacks in the Ancre valley resumed in January 1917 and forced the Germans into local withdrawals to reserve lines in February, before the scheduled retirement to the Siegfriedstellung (Hindenburg Line) began in March. Debate continues over the necessity, significance and effect of the battle.British Army
The British Army is the principal land warfare force of the United Kingdom, a part of British Armed Forces. As of 2018, the British Army comprises just over 81,500 trained regular (full-time) personnel and just over 27,000 trained reserve (part-time) personnel.The modern British Army traces back to 1707, with an antecedent in the English Army that was created during the Restoration in 1660. The term British Army was adopted in 1707 after the Acts of Union between England and Scotland. Although all members of the British Army are expected to swear (or affirm) allegiance to Elizabeth II as their commander-in-chief, the Bill of Rights of 1689 requires parliamentary consent for the Crown to maintain a peacetime standing army. Therefore, Parliament approves the army by passing an Armed Forces Act at least once every five years. The army is administered by the Ministry of Defence and commanded by the Chief of the General Staff.The British Army has seen action in major wars between the world's great powers, including the Seven Years' War, the Napoleonic Wars, the Crimean War and the First and Second World Wars. Britain's victories in these decisive wars allowed it to influence world events and establish itself as one of the world's leading military and economic powers. Since the end of the Cold War, the British Army has been deployed to a number of conflict zones, often as part of an expeditionary force, a coalition force or part of a United Nations peacekeeping operation.Douglas MacArthur
Douglas MacArthur (26 January 1880 – 5 April 1964) was an American five-star general and Field Marshal of the Philippine Army. He was Chief of Staff of the United States Army during the 1930s and played a prominent role in the Pacific theater during World War II. He received the Medal of Honor for his service in the Philippines Campaign, which made him and his father Arthur MacArthur Jr. the first father and son to be awarded the medal. He was one of only five to rise to the rank of General of the Army in the US Army, and the only one conferred the rank of field marshal in the Philippine Army.
Raised in a military family in the American Old West, MacArthur was valedictorian at the West Texas Military Academy, and First Captain at the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he graduated top of the class of 1903. During the 1914 United States occupation of Veracruz, he conducted a reconnaissance mission, for which he was nominated for the Medal of Honor. In 1917, he was promoted from major to colonel and became chief of staff of the 42nd (Rainbow) Division. In the fighting on the Western Front during World War I, he rose to the rank of brigadier general, was again nominated for a Medal of Honor, and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross twice and the Silver Star seven times.
From 1919 to 1922, MacArthur served as Superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, where he attempted a series of reforms. His next assignment was in the Philippines, where in 1924 he was instrumental in quelling the Philippine Scout Mutiny. In 1925, he became the Army's youngest major general. He served on the court martial of Brigadier General Billy Mitchell and was president of the American Olympic Committee during the 1928 Summer Olympics in Amsterdam. In 1930, he became Chief of Staff of the United States Army. As such, he was involved in the expulsion of the Bonus Army protesters from Washington, D.C. in 1932, and the establishment and organization of the Civilian Conservation Corps. He retired from the US Army in 1937 to become Military Advisor to the Commonwealth Government of the Philippines.
MacArthur was recalled to active duty in 1941 as commander of United States Army Forces in the Far East. A series of disasters followed, starting with the destruction of his air forces on 8 December 1941, and the invasion of the Philippines by the Japanese. MacArthur's forces were soon compelled to withdraw to Bataan, where they held out until May 1942. In March 1942, MacArthur, his family and his staff left nearby Corregidor Island in PT boats and escaped to Australia, where MacArthur became Supreme Commander, Southwest Pacific Area. Upon his arrival, MacArthur gave a speech in which he famously promised "I shall return" to the Philippines. After more than two years of fighting in the Pacific, he fulfilled that promise. For his defense of the Philippines, MacArthur was awarded the Medal of Honor. He officially accepted Japan's surrender on 2 September 1945 aboard USS Missouri anchored in Tokyo Bay, and oversaw the occupation of Japan from 1945 to 1951. As the effective ruler of Japan, he oversaw sweeping economic, political and social changes. He led the United Nations Command in the Korean War with initial success; however, the controversial invasion of North Korea provoked Chinese intervention. Following a series of major defeats he was removed from command by President Harry S. Truman on 11 April 1951. He later became chairman of the board of Remington Rand.George S. Patton
George Smith Patton Jr. (November 11, 1885 – December 21, 1945) was a General of the United States Army who commanded the U.S. Seventh Army in the Mediterranean theater of World War II, and the U.S. Third Army in France and Germany following the Allied invasion of Normandy in June 1944.
Born in 1885 to a family with an extensive military background that spanned both the United States and Confederate States armies, Patton attended the Virginia Military Institute and the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. He studied fencing and designed the M1913 Cavalry Saber, more commonly known as the "Patton Saber", and was sufficiently skilled in the sport of modern pentathlon to compete in the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden.
Patton first saw combat during the Pancho Villa Expedition in 1916, taking part in America's first military action using motor vehicles. As part of the newly formed United States Tank Corps of the American Expeditionary Forces he saw action in World War I, commanding the U.S. tank school in France before being wounded while leading tanks into combat near the end of the war. In the interwar period, Patton remained a central figure in the development of the Army's armored warfare doctrine, serving in numerous staff positions throughout the country. Rising through the ranks, he commanded the 2nd Armored Division at the time of the American entry into World War II.
Patton led U.S. troops into the Mediterranean theater with an invasion of Casablanca during Operation Torch in 1942, and soon established himself as an effective commander through his rapid rehabilitation of the demoralized U.S. II Corps. He commanded the U.S. Seventh Army during the Allied invasion of Sicily, where he was the first Allied commander to reach Messina. There he was embroiled in controversy after he slapped two shell-shocked soldiers under his command, and was temporarily removed from battlefield command. He then was assigned a key role in Operation Fortitude, the Allies' disinformation campaign for Operation Overlord. Following the invasion of Normandy in June 1944, Patton was given command of the Third Army, which conducted a highly successful rapid armored drive across France. Under his decisive leadership the Third Army took the lead in relieving beleaguered American troops at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, after which his forces drove deep into Nazi Germany by the end of the war.
During the Allied occupation of Germany Patton was named military governor of Bavaria, but was relieved over his aggressive statements towards the Soviet Union and trivializing denazification. He commanded the United States Fifteenth Army for slightly more than two months. Severely injured in an auto accident, he died in Germany twelve days later, on December 21, 1945.
Patton's colorful image, hard-driving personality and success as a commander were at times overshadowed by his controversial public statements. His philosophy of leading from the front and ability to inspire troops with attention-getting, vulgarity-ridden speeches, such as a famous address to the Third Army, met with mixed receptions, favorably with his troops but much less so among a sharply divided Allied high command. His strong emphasis on rapid and aggressive offensive action proved effective, and he was regarded highly by his opponents in the German High Command. An award-winning biographical film released in 1970, Patton, helped solidify his image as an American folk hero.Indian Armed Forces
The Indian Armed Forces are the military forces of the Republic of India. It consists of three professional uniformed services: the Indian Army, Indian Navy, and Indian Air Force. Additionally, the Indian Armed Forces are supported by the Indian Coast Guard and paramilitary organisations (Assam Rifles, and Special Frontier Force) and various inter-service commands and institutions such as the Strategic Forces Command, the Andaman and Nicobar Command and the Integrated Defence Staff. The President of India is the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces. The Indian Armed Forces are under the management of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) of the Government of India. With strength of over 1.4 million active personnel, it is the world's 2nd largest military force and has the world's largest volunteer army. It is important to note that the Central Armed Police Forces, which are commonly and incorrectly referred to as 'Paramilitary Forces', are headed by officers from the Indian Police Service and are under the control of the Ministry of Home Affairs, not the Ministry of Defence.
The Indian armed forces have been engaged in a number of major military operations, including: the Indo-Pakistani wars of 1947, 1965 and 1971, the Portuguese-Indian War, the Sino-Indian War, the 1967 Chola incident, the 1987 Sino-Indian skirmish, the Kargil War, and the Siachen conflict among others. India honours its armed forces and military personnel annually on Armed Forces Flag Day, 7 December. Since 1962, the IAF has maintained close military relations with Russia, including cooperative development of programmes such as the Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA) and the Multirole Transport Aircraft (MTA). Armed with the nuclear triad, the Indian armed forces are steadily undergoing modernisation, with investments in areas such as futuristic soldier systems and missile defence systems.The Department of Defence Production of the Ministry of Defence is responsible for the indigenous production of equipment used by the Indian Armed Forces. It comprises the 41 Indian Ordnance Factories under the control of the Ordnance Factories Board, and eight Defence PSUs namely: HAL, BEL, BEML, BDL, MDL, GSL, GRSE and Midhani. India was the largest importer of defence equipment in 2014 with Russia, Israel, France and the United States being the top foreign suppliers of military equipment. The Government of India has launched a Make in India initiative to indigenise manufacturing and reduce dependence on imports, including defence imports and procurement.Indian Army
The Indian Army is the land-based branch and the largest component of Indian Armed Forces The President of India is the Supreme Commander of the Indian Army, and it is commanded by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), who is a four-star general. Two officers have been conferred with the rank of field marshal, a five-star rank, which is a ceremonial position of great honour. The Indian Army originated from the armies of the East India Company, which eventually became the British Indian Army, and the armies of the princely states, which finally became the national army after independence. The units and regiments of the Indian Army have diverse histories and have participated in a number of battles and campaigns across the world, earning a large number of battle and theatre honours before and after Independence.The primary mission of the Indian Army is to ensure national security and national unity, defending the nation from external aggression and internal threats, and maintaining peace and security within its borders. It conducts humanitarian rescue operations during natural calamities and other disturbances, like Operation Surya Hope, and can also be requisitioned by the government to cope with internal threats. It is a major component of national power alongside the Indian Navy and the Indian Air Force. The army has been involved in four wars with neighbouring Pakistan and one with China. Other major operations undertaken by the army include: Operation Vijay, Operation Meghdoot and Operation Cactus. Apart from conflicts, the army has conducted large peace time exercises like Operation Brasstacks and Exercise Shoorveer, and it has also been an active participant in numerous United Nations peacekeeping missions including those in: Cyprus, Lebanon, Congo, Angola, Cambodia, Vietnam, Namibia, El Salvador, Liberia, Mozambique, South Sudan and Somalia.
The Indian Army has a regimental system, but is operationally and geographically divided into seven commands, with the basic field formation being a division. It is an all-volunteer force and comprises more than 80% of the country's active defence personnel. It is the 2nd largest standing army in the world, with 1,237,117 active troops and 960,000 reserve troops. The army has embarked on an infantry modernisation program known as Futuristic Infantry Soldier As a System (F-INSAS), and is also upgrading and acquiring new assets for its armoured, artillery and aviation branches.Irish Republican Army
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) are paramilitary movements in Ireland in the 20th century dedicated to Irish republicanism, the belief that all of Ireland should be an independent republic from British rule and free to form their own government. The original Irish Republican Army formed in 1917 from those Irish Volunteers who did not enlist in the British Army during World War I, members of the Irish Citizen Army and others. Irishmen formerly in the British Army returned to Ireland and fought in the Irish War of Independence. During the Irish War of Independence it was the army of the Irish Republic, declared by Dáil Éireann in 1919. Some Irish people dispute the claims of more recently created organisations that insist that they are the only legitimate descendants of the original IRA, often referred to as the "Old IRA".
The playwright and former IRA member Brendan Behan once said that the first issue on any Irish organisation's agenda was "the split". For the IRA, that has often been the case. The first split came after the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921, with supporters of the Treaty forming the nucleus of the National Army of the newly created Irish Free State, while the anti-treaty forces continued to use the name Irish Republican Army. After the end of the Irish Civil War (1922–23), the IRA was around in one form or another for forty years, when it split into the Official IRA and the Provisional IRA in 1969. The latter then had its own breakaways, namely the Real IRA and the Continuity IRA, each claiming to be the true successor of the Army of the Irish Republic.
The Irish Republican Army (1919–1922) (in later years, known as the "Old" IRA), recognised by the First Dáil as the legitimate army of the Irish Republic in April 1921 and fought the Irish War of Independence. On ratification by the Dáil of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, it split into pro-Treaty forces (the National Army, also known as the Government forces or the Regulars) and anti-Treaty forces (the Republicans, Irregulars or Executive forces) after the Treaty. These two went on to fight the Irish Civil War.
The Irish Republican Army (1922–1969), the anti-treaty IRA which fought and lost the civil war and which thereafter refused to recognise either the Irish Free State or Northern Ireland, deeming them both to be creations of British imperialism. It existed in one form or another for over 40 years before splitting in 1969.
The Official IRA (OIRA), the remainder of the IRA after the 1969 split with the Provisionals; was primarily Marxist in its political orientation. It is now inactive in the military sense, while its political wing, Official Sinn Féin, became the Workers' Party of Ireland.
The Provisional IRA (PIRA) broke from the OIRA in 1969 over abstentionism and how to deal with the increasing violence in Northern Ireland. Although opposed to the OIRA's Marxism, it came to develop a left-wing orientation and increasing political activity.
The Continuity IRA (CIRA) broke from the PIRA in 1986, because the latter ended its policy on abstentionism (thus recognising the authority of the Republic of Ireland).
The Real IRA (RIRA), a 1997 breakaway from the PIRA consisting of members opposed to the Northern Ireland peace process.
In April 2011, former members of the Provisional IRA announced a resumption of hostilities, and that "they had now taken on the mantle of the mainstream IRA." They further claimed "We continue to do so under the name of the Irish Republican Army. We are the IRA." and insisted that they "were entirely separate from the Real IRA, Óglaigh na hÉireann (ONH), and the Continuity IRA." They claimed responsibility for the April assassination of PSNI constable Ronan Kerr as well as responsibility for other attacks that had previously been claimed by the Real IRA and ONH.
The New IRA, which was formed as a merger between the Real IRA and other republican groups in 2012. (see Real IRA)Kargil War
The Kargil War, also known as the Kargil conflict,[note (I)] was an armed conflict between India and Pakistan that took place between May and July 1999 in the Kargil district of Kashmir and elsewhere along the Line of Control (LOC). In India, the conflict is also referred to as Operation Vijay (Hindi: विजय, literally "Victory") which was the name of the Indian operation to clear the Kargil sector.The cause of the war was the infiltration of Pakistani soldiers disguised as Kashmiri militants into positions on the Indian side of the LOC, which serves as the de facto border between the two states. During the initial stages of the war, Pakistan blamed the fighting entirely on independent Kashmiri insurgents, but documents left behind by casualties and later statements by Pakistan's Prime Minister and Chief of Army Staff showed involvement of Pakistani paramilitary forces, led by General Ashraf Rashid. The Indian Army, later supported by the Indian Air Force, recaptured a majority of the positions on the Indian side of the LOC infiltrated by the Pakistani troops and militants. Facing international diplomatic opposition, the Pakistani forces withdrew from the remaining Indian positions along the LOC.
The war is one of the most recent examples of high-altitude warfare in mountainous terrain, which posed significant logistical problems for the combating sides. It is also one of the very few instances of direct, conventional warfare between nuclear states (i.e., those possessing nuclear weapons). India had conducted its first successful test in 1974; Pakistan, which had been developing its nuclear capability in secret since around the same time, conducted its first known tests in 1998, just two weeks after a second series of tests by India.Medal of Honor
The Medal of Honor is the United States of America's highest and most prestigious personal military decoration that may be awarded to recognize U.S. military service members who have distinguished themselves by acts of valor. The medal is normally awarded by the President of the United States in the name of the U.S. Congress. Because the medal is presented "in the name of Congress", it is often referred to informally as the "Congressional Medal of Honor". However, the official name of the current award is "Medal of Honor." Within the United States Code the medal is referred to as the "Medal of Honor", and less frequently as "Congressional Medal of Honor". U.S. awards, including the Medal of Honor, do not have post-nominal titles, and while there is no official abbreviation, the most common abbreviations are "MOH" and "MH".There are three versions of the medal, one each for the Army, Navy, and Air Force. Personnel of the Marine Corps and Coast Guard receive the Navy version. The Medal of Honor was introduced for the Navy in 1861, soon followed by an Army version in 1862. The Medal of Honor is the oldest continuously issued combat decoration of the United States armed forces.The President normally presents the Medal of Honor in Washington, D.C. at a formal ceremony that is intended to represent the gratitude of the U.S. people, with posthumous presentations made to the primary next of kin. According to the Medal of Honor Historical Society of the United States, there have been 3522 Medals of Honor awarded to the nation's soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen since the decoration's creation, with just less than half of them awarded for actions during the four years of the American Civil War.In 1990, Congress designated March 25 annually as "National Medal of Honor Day". Due to its prestige and status, the Medal of Honor is afforded special protection under U.S. law against any unauthorized adornment, sale, or manufacture, which includes any associated ribbon or badge.Operation Barbarossa
Operation Barbarossa (German: Unternehmen Barbarossa) was the code name for the Axis invasion of the Soviet Union, which started on Sunday, 22 June 1941, during World War II. The operation stemmed from Nazi Germany's ideological aims to conquer the western Soviet Union so that it could be repopulated by Germans, to use Slavs as a slave-labour force for the Axis war effort, and to seize the oil reserves of the Caucasus and the agricultural resources of Soviet territories.In the two years leading up to the invasion, Germany and the Soviet Union signed political and economic pacts for strategic purposes. Nevertheless, the German High Command began planning an invasion of the Soviet Union in July 1940 (under the codename Operation Otto), which Adolf Hitler authorized on 18 December 1940. Over the course of the operation, about three million personnel of the Axis powers - the largest invasion force in the history of warfare - invaded the western Soviet Union along a 2,900-kilometer (1,800 mi) front. In addition to troops, the Wehrmacht deployed some 600,000 motor vehicles, and between 600,000 and 700,000 horses for non-combat operations. The offensive marked an escalation of World War II, both geographically and in the formation of the Allied coalition.
Operationally, German forces achieved major victories and occupied some of the most important economic areas of the Soviet Union (mainly in Ukraine) and inflicted, as well as sustained, heavy casualties. Despite these Axis successes, the German offensive stalled in the Battle of Moscow at the end of 1941, and the subsequent Soviet winter counteroffensive pushed German troops back. The Red Army absorbed the Wehrmacht's strongest blows and forced the unprepared Germans into a war of attrition. The Wehrmacht never again mounted a simultaneous offensive along the entire Eastern front. The failure of the operation drove Hitler to demand further operations of increasingly limited scope inside the Soviet Union, such as Case Blue in 1942 and Operation Citadel in 1943 – all of which eventually failed.
The failure of Operation Barbarossa proved a turning point in the fortunes of the Third Reich. Most importantly, the operation opened up the Eastern Front, in which more forces were committed than in any other theater of war in world history. The Eastern Front became the site of some of the largest battles, most horrific atrocities, and highest casualties (for Soviet and Axis forces alike), all of which influenced the course of both World War II and the subsequent history of the 20th century. The German armies captured 5,000,000 Red Army troops, who were denied the protection guaranteed by the Hague Conventions and the 1929 Geneva Convention. A majority of Red Army POWs never returned alive. The Nazis deliberately starved to death, or otherwise killed, 3.3 million prisoners of war, as well as a huge number of civilians (through the "Hunger Plan" which aimed at largely replacing the Slavic population with German settlers). Einsatzgruppen death-squads and gassing operations murdered over a million Soviet Jews as part of the Holocaust.Pakistan Army
The Pakistan Army (Urdu: پاک فوج Pak Fauj; Reporting name: PA) is the principle land warfare uniformed service branch of the Pakistan Armed Forces. It came into its modern existence from the British Indian Army that ceased to exist following the partition of British India that resulted in the parliamentary act that established the independence of Pakistan from the United Kingdom on 14 August of 1947. According to the estimation provided by the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) in 2017, the Pakistan Army has approximately 500,000 active duty personnel, supported by the Army Reserve and the Army National Guard. In Pakistan, the age of military enlistment is 17–23 years of age for voluntary military service; soldiers cannot be deployed for combat until age 18 according to its nation's constitution.The primary objective and its constitutional mission is to ensure the national security and national unity of Pakistan by defending it against external aggression or threat of war, and internal threat by maintaining peace and security within its land borders by requisitioning it by the federal government to cope with internal threats. During the events of national calamities and emergency, it conducts humanitarian rescue operations at home as well as participating in the peacekeeping missions mandated by the United Nations, most notably playing a major role in rescuing the trapped U.S. soldiers in Somalia in 1993 and Bosnian War in 1992–95.The Pakistan Army, which is a major component of the national power alongside with the Pakistan's Navy, Air Force, and Marines, is a volunteer force which has been involved with four wars on its borders with neighboring India and several border skirmishes on its porous border with Afghanistan. Since 1960s, the elements of the army has been repeatedly deployed to act as military advisory in the Arab states during the events of Arab–Israeli wars, aided the UN-based coalition in the first Gulf War. Other notable military operations in the theater of War on Terror in the 21st century included: Zarb-e-Azb, Black Thunderstorm, and Rah-e-Nijat.In violation of its constitutional mandate, it has overthrown elected governments overreaching its constitutional mandate protected by the Constitution to "act in aid of civilian federal government when called upon to do so", the army has been involved in enforcing martial law against the elected governments in claiming to restore law and order in the country by dismissing the legislative branch, the Parliament, four times in past decades, and has wider commercial, foreign, and political interests in the country, facing allegations of acting as state within a state.The Pakistan Army has a regimental system but is operationally and geographically divided into command zones, with basic field of being the corps. The Constitution establishes the role of President of Pakistan to be the civilian Commander-in-Chief. The Pakistan Army is commanded by the Chief of Army Staff, by statute a four-star rank general, who is senior member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee is appointed by the Prime Minister and confirmed by the President of Pakistan. The Pakistan Army is currently under the command of General Qamar Javed Bajwa appointed on 29 November 2016.People's Liberation Army
The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) is the armed forces of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and its founding and ruling political party, the Communist Party of China (CPC). The PLA consists of five professional service branches: the Ground Force, Navy, Air Force, Rocket Force, and the Strategic Support Force. Units around the country are assigned to one of five Theater commands by geographical location. The PLA is the world's largest military force and constitutes the second largest defence budget in the world. It is one of the fastest modernising military power in the world and has been termed as a potential military superpower, with significant regional defense and rising global power projection capabilities. China is also the third largest arms exporter in the world.
The PLA is under the command of the Central Military Commission (CMC) of the CPC. It is legally obliged to follow the principle of civilian control of the military, although in practical terms this principle has been implemented in such a way as to ensure the PLA is under the absolute control of the Communist Party of China. Its commander in chief is the Chairman of the Central Military Commission (usually the General Secretary of the Communist Party of China). The Ministry of National Defense, which operates under the State Council, does not exercise any authority over the PLA and is far less powerful than the CMC.
Military service is compulsory by law; however, compulsory military service in China has never been enforced due to large numbers of military and paramilitary personnel. In times of national emergency, the People's Armed Police and the People's Liberation Army militia act as a reserve and support element for the PLAGF.Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army (Russian: Рабоче-крестьянская Красная армия (РККА), Raboče-krestjjanskaja Krasnaja armija (RKKA)), frequently shortened to Red Army (Красная армия (КА)code: rus promoted to code: ru , Krasnaja armija (KA); also in critical literature and folklore of that epoch – Red Horde, Army of Work) was the army and the air force of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, and, after 1922, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. The army was established immediately after the 1917 October Revolution (Red October or Bolshevik Revolution). The Bolsheviks raised an army to oppose the military confederations (especially the various groups collectively known as the White Army) of their adversaries during the Russian Civil War. Beginning in February 1946, the Red Army, along with the Soviet Navy, embodied the main component of the Soviet Armed Forces; taking the official name of "Soviet Army", until its dissolution in December 1991.
The Red Army provided the largest land force in the Allied victory in the European theatre of World War II, and its invasion of Manchuria assisted the unconditional surrender of Imperial Japan. During operations on the Eastern Front, it accounted for 75–80% of casualties the Wehrmacht and Waffen-SS suffered during the war and ultimately captured the Nazi German capital, Berlin.Special Forces (United States Army)
The United States Army Special Forces, colloquially known as the Green Berets due to their distinctive service headgear, are a special operations force tasked with five primary missions: unconventional warfare (the original and most important mission of Special Forces), foreign internal defense, special reconnaissance, direct action, and counter-terrorism. The first two emphasize language, cultural, and training skills in working with foreign troops. Other duties include combat search and rescue (CSAR), counter-narcotics, counter-proliferation, hostage rescue, humanitarian assistance, humanitarian demining, information operations, peacekeeping, psychological operations, security assistance, and manhunts; other components of the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) or other U.S. government activities may also specialize in these secondary areas. Many of their operational techniques are classified, but some nonfiction works and doctrinal manuals are available.As special operations units, Special Forces are not necessarily under the command authority of the ground commanders in those countries. Instead, while in theater, SF units may report directly to a geographic combatant command, USSOCOM, or other command authorities. The Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) highly secretive Special Activities Division (SAD) and more specifically its Special Operations Group (SOG) recruits from the Army's Special Forces. Joint CIA–Army Special Forces operations go back to the MACV-SOG branch during the Vietnam War. The cooperation still exists today and is seen in the War in Afghanistan.United States Army
The United States Army (USA) is the land warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the seven uniformed services of the United States, and is designated as the Army of the United States in the United States Constitution. As the oldest and most senior branch of the U.S. military in order of precedence, the modern U.S. Army has its roots in the Continental Army, which was formed (14 June 1775) to fight the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783)—before the United States of America was established as a country. After the Revolutionary War, the Congress of the Confederation created the United States Army on 3 June 1784 to replace the disbanded Continental Army. The United States Army considers itself descended from the Continental Army, and dates its institutional inception from the origin of that armed force in 1775.As a uniformed military service, the U.S. Army is part of the Department of the Army, which is one of the three military departments of the Department of Defense. The U.S. Army is headed by a civilian senior appointed civil servant, the Secretary of the Army (SECARMY) and by a chief military officer, the Chief of Staff of the Army (CSA) who is also a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. It is the largest military branch, and in the fiscal year 2017, the projected end strength for the Regular Army (USA) was 476,000 soldiers; the Army National Guard (ARNG) had 343,000 soldiers and the United States Army Reserve (USAR) had 199,000 soldiers; the combined-component strength of the U.S. Army was 1,018,000 soldiers. As a branch of the armed forces, the mission of the U.S. Army is "to fight and win our Nation's wars, by providing prompt, sustained, land dominance, across the full range of military operations and the spectrum of conflict, in support of combatant commanders". The branch participates in conflicts worldwide and is the major ground-based offensive and defensive force of the United States.United States Military Academy
The United States Military Academy (USMA), also known as West Point, Army, Army West Point, The Academy, or simply The Point, is a four-year federal service academy in West Point, New York. It was originally established as a fort that sits on strategic high ground overlooking the Hudson River with a scenic view, 50 miles (80 km) north of New York City. It is one of the four U.S. military service academies, and one of the five U.S. service academies.
The Academy traces its roots to 1801, when President Thomas Jefferson directed, shortly after his inauguration, that plans be set in motion to establish the United States Military Academy at West Point. The entire central campus is a national landmark and home to scores of historic sites, buildings, and monuments. The majority of the campus's Norman-style buildings are constructed from gray and black granite. The campus is a popular tourist destination, with a visitor center and the oldest museum in the United States Army.
Candidates for admission must both apply directly to the academy and receive a nomination, usually from a member of Congress or Delegate/Resident Commissioner in the case of Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, American Samoa, and the Virgin Islands. Other nomination sources include the President and Vice President of the United States. Students are officers-in-training and are referred to as "cadets" or collectively as the "United States Corps of Cadets" (USCC). Tuition for cadets is fully funded by the Army in exchange for an active duty service obligation upon graduation. Approximately 1,300 cadets enter the Academy each July, with about 1,000 cadets graduating.
The academic program grants a bachelor of science degree with a curriculum that grades cadets' performance upon a broad academic program, military leadership performance, and mandatory participation in competitive athletics. Cadets are required to adhere to the Cadet Honor Code, which states that "a cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do." The academy bases a cadet's leadership experience as a development of all three pillars of performance: academics, physical, and military.
Most graduates are commissioned as second lieutenants in the Army. Foreign cadets are commissioned into the armies of their home countries. Since 1959, cadets have also been eligible for an interservice commission, a commission in one of the other armed services, provided they meet that service's eligibility standards. Most years, a very small number of cadets do this.
The academy's traditions have influenced other institutions because of its age and unique mission. It was the first American college to have an accredited civil-engineering program and the first to have class rings, and its technical curriculum was a model for later engineering schools. West Point's student body has a unique rank structure and lexicon. All cadets reside on campus and dine together en masse on weekdays for breakfast and lunch. The academy fields fifteen men's and nine women's National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) sports teams. Cadets compete in one sport every fall, winter, and spring season at the intramural, club, or intercollegiate level. Its football team was a national power in the early and mid-20th century, winning three national championships. Its alumni and students are collectively referred to as "The Long Gray Line" and its ranks include two Presidents of the United States (as well as the President of the Confederate States of America), presidents of Costa Rica, Nicaragua, and the Philippines, numerous famous generals, and seventy-six Medal of Honor recipients.Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht (German pronunciation: [ˈveːɐ̯maxt] (listen), lit. defence force) was the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer (army), the Kriegsmarine (navy) and the Luftwaffe (air force). The designation "Wehrmacht" replaced the previously used term Reichswehr, and was the manifestation of the Nazi regime's efforts to rearm Germany to a greater extent than the Treaty of Versailles permitted.After the Nazi rise to power in 1933, one of Adolf Hitler's most overt and audacious moves was to establish the Wehrmacht, a modern offensively-capable armed force. Fulfilling the Nazi regime's long-term goals of regaining lost territory as well as gaining new territory and dominating its neighbors. This required the reinstatement of conscription, and massive investment and spending on the armaments industry.The Wehrmacht formed the heart of Germany's politico-military power. In the early part of the Second World War, the Wehrmacht employed combined arms tactics (close cover air-support, tanks, and infantry) to devastating effect in what became known as a Blitzkrieg (lightning war). It's campaigns in France (1940), the Soviet Union (1941), and North Africa (1941/42) are regarded as acts of boldness. At the same time, the far-flung advances strained the Wehrmacht's capacity to the breaking point, culminating in the first major defeat in the Battle of Moscow (1941); by late 1942, Germany was losing the initiative in all theatres. The operational art was no match to the war-making abilities of the Allied coalition, making the Wehrmacht's weaknesses in strategy, doctrine, and logistics readily apparent.Closely cooperating with the SS and the Einsatzgruppen, the German armed forces committed numerous war crimes and atrocities, despite later denials and promotion of the myth of the clean Wehrmacht. The majority of the war crimes were committed in the Soviet Union, Poland, Yugoslavia, Greece and Italy, as part the war of annihilation against the Soviet Union, the Holocaust and Nazi security warfare.
During the war about 18 million men served in the Wehrmacht. By the time the war ended in Europe in May 1945, German forces (consisting of the Wehrmacht, the Waffen-SS, the Volkssturm and foreign collaborateur units) had lost approximately 11,300,000 men, about half of whom were missing or killed during the war. Only a few of the Wehrmacht's upper leadership were tried for war crimes, despite evidence suggesting that more were involved in illegal actions. The majority of the three million Wehrmacht soldiers who invaded the USSR participated in committing war crimes.