A regiment is a military unit. Their role and size varies markedly, depending on the country and the arm of service.
In Medieval Europe, the term "regiment" denoted any large body of front-line soldiers, recruited or conscripted in one geographical area, by a leader who was often also the feudal lord of the soldiers.
By the end of the 17th century, regiments in most European armies were permanent units, numbering about 1,000 men and under the command of a colonel.
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|Fireteam||2–4||Lance Corporal /|
|15–45||Second Lieutenant /|
First Lieutenant /
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|2+ field armies||Field Marshal /|
|4+ army groups||Six-star rank /|
During the modern era, the word "regiment" – much like "corps" – may have two somewhat divergent meanings, which refer to two distinct roles:
In many armies, the first role has been assumed by independent battalions, battlegroups, task forces, brigades and other, similarly-sized operational units. However, these non-regimental units tend to be short-lived; and regiments have tended to retain their traditional responsibilities for ceremonial duties, the recruitment of volunteers, induction of new recruits, individual morale and esprit de corps, and administrative roles (such as pay).
A regiment may consequently be a variety of sizes:
The French term régiment is considered to have entered military usage in Europe at the end of the 16th century, when armies evolved from collections of retinues who followed knights, to formally organised, permanent military forces. At that time, regiments were usually named after their commanding colonels, and disbanded at the end of the campaign or war; the colonel and his regiment might recruit from and serve several monarchs or countries. Later, it was customary to name the regiment by its precedence in the line of battle, and to recruit from specific places, called cantons. The oldest regiments which still exist, and their dates of establishment, include the Spanish 9th Infantry Regiment “Soria” (originally the Tercio de Nápoles) (1505), Swedish Life Guards (1521), the British Honourable Artillery Company (1537) and the King's Own Immemorial Regiment of Spain, first established in 1248 during the conquest of Seville by King Ferdinand the Saint.
In the 17th century, brigades were formed as units combining infantry, cavalry, and artillery that were more effective than the older, single-arms regiments; in many armies, brigades replaced regiments.
By the beginning of the 18th century, regiments in most European continental armies had evolved into permanent units with distinctive titles and uniforms, each under the command of a colonel. When at full strength, an infantry regiment normally comprised two field battalions of about 800 men each or 8–10 companies. In some armies, an independent regiment with fewer companies was labelled a demi-regiment. A cavalry regiment numbered 600 to 900 troopers, making up a single entity. On campaign, these numbers were soon reduced by casualties and detachments and it was sometimes necessary to amalgamate regiments or to withdraw them to a depot while recruits were obtained and trained.
With the widespread adoption of conscription in European armies during the nineteenth century, the regimental system underwent modification. Prior to World War I, an infantry regiment in the French, German, Russian, and other smaller armies would comprise four battalions, each with a full strength on mobilization of about 1,000 men. As far as possible, the separate battalions would be garrisoned in the same military district, so that the regiment could be mobilized and campaign as a 4,000 strong linked group of sub-units. A cavalry regiment by contrast made up a single entity of up to 1,000 troopers. A notable exception to this practice was the British line infantry system where the two regular battalions constituting a regiment alternated between "home" and "foreign" service and seldom came together as a single unit.
In the regimental system, each regiment is responsible for recruiting, training, and administration; each regiment is permanently maintained and therefore the regiment will develop its unique esprit de corps because of its unitary history, traditions, recruitment, and function. Usually, the regiment is responsible for recruiting and administering all of a soldier's military career. Depending upon the country, regiments can be either combat units or administrative units or both.
This is often contrasted to the "continental system" adopted by many armies. In the continental system, the division is the functional army unit, and its commander is the administrator of every aspect of the formation: his staff train and administer the soldiers, officers, and commanders of the division's subordinate units. Generally, divisions are garrisoned together and share the same installations: thus, in divisional administration, a battalion commanding officer is just another officer in a chain of command. Soldiers and officers are transferred in and out of divisions as required.
Some regiments recruited from specific geographical areas, and usually incorporated the place name into the regimental name. In other cases, regiments would recruit from a given age group within a nation (e.g. Zulu Impis), an ethnic group (e.g. the Gurkhas), or foreigners (e.g. the French Foreign Legion). In other cases, new regiments were raised for new functions within an army; e.g. the Fusiliers, the Parachute Regiment (British Army), and the U.S. Army 75th Ranger Regiment.
Disadvantages of the regimental system are hazardous regimental competition, a lack of interchangeability between units of different regiments, and more pronounced "old boy networks" within the military that may hamper efficiency and fairness.
A key aspect of the regimental system is that the regiment or battalion is the fundamental tactical building block. This flows historically from the colonial period, when battalions were widely dispersed and virtually autonomous, but is easily adapted to a number of different purposes. For example, a regiment might include different types of battalions (e.g. infantry or artillery) of different origins (e.g. regular or reserve).
Within the regimental system, soldiers, and usually officers, are always posted to a tactical unit of their own regiment whenever posted to field duty. In addition to combat units, other organizations are very much part of the regimental family: regimental training schools, serving members on "extra-regimental employment", regimental associations (retirees), bands and associated cadet groups. The aspects that an administrative regiment might have in common include a symbolic colonel-in-chief (often a member of the royal family), a colonel of the regiment or "honorary colonel" who protects the traditions and interests of the regimental family and insists on the maintenance of high standards, battle honours (honours earned by one unit of an administrative regiment are credited to the regiment), ceremonial uniforms, cap badges, peculiarities of insignia, stable belts, and regimental marches and songs. The regiment usually has a traditional "home station" or Regimental depot, which is often a historic garrison that houses the regimental museum and regimental headquarters. The latter has a modest staff to support regimental committees and administer both the regular members and the association(s) of retired members.
The regimental system is generally admired for the esprit de corps it engenders in its units' members, but efforts to implement it in countries with a previously-existing continental system usually do not succeed. The system presents difficulties for military planners, who must deal with the problems of trying to keep soldiers of a regiment together throughout their careers and of administering separate garrisons, training and mess facilities. The regimental community of serving and retired members often makes it very difficult for planners to restructure forces by moving, merging or re-purposing units.
In those armies where the continental system exists, the regimental system is criticised as parochial and as creating unnecessary rivalry between different regiments. The question is also raised as to whether it is healthy to develop soldiers more loyal to their regiment than to the military in general. Regiments recruited from areas of political ferment (such as Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Quebec, India, etc.), tend to perform particularly well because of the loyalty their members exhibit to the regiments. Generally, the regimental system is found to function best in countries with small-to medium-sized military forces where the problems of administering vast numbers of personnel are not as prevalent. The regimental system works particularly well in an environment in which the prime role of the army consists of small-scale police actions and counterinsurgency operations, requiring prolonged deployment away from home. In such a situation, co-ordination between regiments is rarely necessary, and the esprit de corps of the regiment provides an emotional substitute for the sense of public approval that an army receives at home. This is particularly relevant to British experience during the days of the empire, where the army was virtually continuously engaged in low-intensity conflict with insurgents, and full-scale warfare was the exception rather than the rule.
A regimental system, since it is decentralized and the regiments are independent from each other, prevents the army from staging a coup d'état. This is best exemplified by the British Army: since the formation of the United Kingdom, there have been no military takeovers.
A regimental system can also foster close links between the regiment and the community from which it is recruited. This sense of community 'ownership' over local regiments can be seen in the public outcry over recent regimental amalgamations in the United Kingdom. On the other hand, recruitment from a single community can lead to a concentrated and potentially devastating local impact if the regiment takes heavy casualties.
Further, the regimental system offers the advantage of grouping like units together for centralized administrative, training, and logistical purposes, thereby creating an "economies of scale" effect and its ensuing increased efficiency.
An illustrative example of this is the modular integration employed by the United States Marine Corps, which can take elements from its regimentally grouped forces and specifically tailor combined arms task forces for a particular mission or the deployed Marine Expeditionary Units (MEU). This is achievable partially because of the Marines mission adaptability, flexibility, philosophy, shared culture, history and overall esprit de corps, which allows for near seamless interoperability.
In the British Army and armies modeled on it (such as the Australian, the New Zealand, the Canadian, the Indian and the Pakistani), the term regiment is used confusingly in two different ways: it can mean an administrative identity and grouping, or a tactical unit. In the former Dominion of Newfoundland, "Regiment" was used to describe the entirety of the fighting armed forces, such as the Royal Newfoundland Regiment.
In the Commonwealth countries listed above, the large administrative regiment has been the normal practice for many years. In the case of India, "large regiments" of four to five battalions date from 1923 and, since the 1950s, many of these have expanded even further. As an example, the Punjab Regiment has expanded from four battalions in 1956 to its present strength of 20, while, in Pakistan, several regiments have over 50 battalions.
In Canada, the regiment is a formation of one or more units; existing almost exclusively for reasons of heritage, the continuance of battle honors and esprit de corps. The three regular force infantry regiments each consist of three regular force battalions of approximately 600 soldiers, in addition to one or more reserve battalions. Canadian battalions are employed tactically and administratively within mechanized brigade groups for regular units, or light brigade groups for reserve units.
In Australia, there is but one administrative infantry regiment in the regular army: the Royal Australian Regiment, consisting of all seven regular infantry battalions in the Army. The Australian Army Reserve also has state-based infantry regiments which administer the reserve infantry battalions.
In Pakistan, the word regiment is an administrative grouping. While individual battalions may have different roles (for example different battalions of the Frontier Force Regiment may be mechanized infantry, paratroop infantry, or mountain troops), the regiment is considered to encompass all of them.
The modern British regimental system came about as a result of the 19th century Cardwell Reforms.
In the British Army, for most purposes, the regiment is the largest "permanent" organisational unit. Above regimental level, the organisation is changed to meet the tasks at hand. Because of their permanent nature, many regiments have long histories, often going back for centuries: the oldest British regiment still in existence is the Royal Jersey Militia, established in 1337 although historically the Jersey Militia are referred to as a regiment it is disputed that they are in fact a corps. The Buffs (Royal East Kent Regiment), formed in 1572, was the oldest infantry regiment. It now forms part of the Princess of Wales Royal Regiment.
In the United Kingdom, there existed until recently a number of administrative "divisions" in the infantry that encompassed several regiments, such as the Guards Division, the former Scottish Division (now a single regiment), or the Light Division (now also compressed into a multi-battalion single regiment). The reduction and consolidation of British infantry regiments that began in the late 1950s and concluded in 2006 has resulted in a system of administrative regiments each with several battalions, a band, a common badge and uniform etc.
In the British regimental system, the tactical regiment or battalion is the basic functional unit and its commanding officer more autonomous than in continental systems. Divisional and brigade commanders generally do not immerse themselves in the day-to-day functioning of a battalion – they can replace the commanding officer but will not micro-manage the unit. The regimental sergeant major is another key figure, responsible to the CO for unit discipline and the behaviour of the NCOs.
It should, however, be noted that amalgamations beginning in the late 1950s and ending in 2006 have diluted the British regimental system through the now almost universal adoption of "large regiments" for the infantry of the Army. As of 2014, only thirteen line infantry regiments survive, each comprising up to six of the former battalions that previously had separate regimental status. Only the five Guards regiments retain their historic separate identities. Similarly, as of 2015, only eight of the regiments of the Royal Armoured Corps (cavalry plus Royal Tank Regiments) survive.
Armoured regiments in Canada since the end of the Second World War have usually consisted of a single tactical regiment. During the 1960s, three Canadian regiments had both regular and militia components, which were disbanded shortly after unification in 1968. Currently, one regiment is organised with two tactical regiments, 12e Régiment blindé du Canada and 12e Régiment blindé du Canada (Milice) are both part of the administrative regiment 12e Régiment blindé du Canada.
One administrative armoured regiment of the British Army consisted of more than one tactical regiment. The Royal Tank Regiment until 2014 had two (1 and 2 RTR), and once had many more. They were all amalgamated into a single regiment.
All of a nation's artillery units are considered part of a single administrative regiment, but there are typically several tactical artillery regiments. They are designated by numbers, names or both. For example, the tactical regiments 1st Regiment, Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, 7th Toronto Regiment, RCA and many others are part of the single administrative regiment The Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery. In Britain, the Royal Regiment of Artillery works in the same way.
Administrative infantry regiments are composed of one or more battalions. When a regiment has only one battalion, the battalion may have exactly the same name as the regiment. For example, The North Saskatchewan Regiment is the only battalion in the administrative regiment of the same name. When there is more than one battalion, they are distinguished by numbers, subsidiary titles or both. In Britain, every infantry battalion bears a number, even if it is the only remaining battalion in the regiment (in that case it is the 1st Battalion, with the exception of The Irish Regiment of Canada, which has a 2nd Battalion only). Until after the Second World War, every regiment had at least two battalions. Traditionally, the regular battalions were the 1st and 2nd Battalions, the militia (later Special Reserve) battalion was the 3rd Battalion, and the Army Reserve battalions were the 4th Battalion, the 5th Battalion and up. A few regiments had up to four regular battalions and more than one militia battalion, which disrupted the numbering, but this was rare. For this reason, although the regular battalion today (if there is only one) will always be the 1st Battalion, the TA battalions may have non-consecutive numbers.
In practice, it is impossible to exercise all the administrative functions of a true regiment when the regiment consists of a single unit. Soldiers, and particularly officers, cannot spend a full career in one battalion. Thus in the Armoured Corps, the traditional administrative "regiment" tends to play more of a ceremonial role, while in practice, its members are administered by their corps or "branch" as in the Artillery. Thus soldiers and officers can serve in many different "regiments", changing hat badges without too much concern during their career. Indeed, in the artillery, all regiments wear the same badge.
Historically, the United States Army was organized into regiments, except from 1792 to 1796 during the existence of the Legion of the United States. During this period the Army, or "Legion", was organized into four "sub-legions", 18th century forerunners of the modern combined arms brigade. When combined with other regiments during wartime, for active field operations, regiments were further formed into brigades and divisions.
From colonial times, the regiment consisted of a small regimental headquarters (regimental headquarters companies not existing before 1915) and in 1775 ten "line" companies, based on the British Army model, without any permanent intermediate level of organization, viz., battalion headquarters organic to the regiment. From 1776 through 1783 American infantry regiments contained from as few as seven companies (e.g. South Carolina Rifles) to as many as twelve (Pennsylvania Rifles and Maryland State troops) with Continental Army infantry regiments having eight companies (increased to nine in 1781). (Briefly, from 1790 to 1792, regiments were organized into three battalions of four companies each.) Traditionally, the regiment and battalion were one and the same, with the "battalion" simply being the regiment organized for battle.
During the Civil War, there were nine new United States regular army infantry regiments (11th though the 19th) added to the ten already existing. The old regiments (1st through 10th) were single-battalion, ten-company regiments, but the new regiments were authorized three battalions of eight companies each. However, only three of these nine regiments ever reached full strength of three battalions, with four others only achieving a manning level of two full battalions. Regiments were usually commanded by a colonel, assisted by a lieutenant colonel and a major, as well as additional staff officers and enlisted men in the regimental headquarters. Occasionally, a regimental commander would organize several companies into one, or rarely two, temporary organizations, called battalions, under command of the regiment's lieutenant colonel, major, or a senior captain. (An historic example of this arrangement is the 7th Cavalry Regiment during the Battle of the Little Big Horn in 1876.)
Many more additional volunteer regiments were recruited from each state during the American Civil War according to General Orders No. 15., War Department, Adjutant General's Office, Washington, May 4, 1861:
The President of the United States having called for a Volunteer Force to aid in the enforcement of the laws and the suppression of insurrection, and to consist of thirty-nine regiments of infantry and one regiment of cavalry, making a minimum aggregate of (34,506) thirty-four thousand five hundred and six officers and enlisted men, and a maximum aggregate of (42,034) forty two thousand and thirty-four officers and enlisted men, the following plan of organization has been adopted, and is directed to be printed for general information.
In 1890, the number of companies in a regiment was reduced from the traditional ten to only eight, as the end of the Indian Wars became evident and troop reductions became in order. However, in 1898 as the war with Spain began, a three-battalion, 12-company structure was effected. This expanded regimental structure produced units, proportionally roughly the same approximate size as the single battalion, ten-company regiments of the Civil War. (For example: 101 officers and enlisted men per company, and a 36-member regimental headquarters, with 1,046 per typical Union Army infantry regiment in 1861, vs. 112 officers and enlisted men per company, and the same 36-member regimental headquarters, with 1,380 per regiment in a typical U.S. Army infantry regiment in 1898.) After the short war the Army reduced the size of companies, battalions, and regiments by about 30% under demobilization. However, the number of companies and battalions per regiment remained at 12 and three, respectively.
Until 1917, under its traditional triangular organizational plan, infantry regiments were organized into brigades of three regiments, with three infantry brigades (for a total of nine infantry regiments), along with one brigade each of cavalry and field artillery constituting a division. In 1917 the Army adopted the square division organizational plan, which massively increased the size of units from the company through corps, more than tripling, or nearly quadrupling, the number of troops per unit. (From 1915 to 1917, the authorized strength of rifle companies increased from 76 officers and enlisted men to 256, and infantry regiments grew from 959 to 3,720.)
The "square division" consisted of two infantry brigades of two infantry regiments each, with each regiment containing a regimental headquarters company, a machinegun company, a supply company, and 12 rifle companies organized into three battalions of four rifle companies each. (The single machine gun company reported directly to regimental headquarters.) The division also contained an artillery brigade of three regiments and three separate combat service support regiments: engineer, quartermaster, and medical.
The Army reorganized in preparation for World War II by effecting its triangular division organizational structure in 1939. Under this plan, divisional brigades were eliminated and the division consisted of three infantry regiments and one artillery regiment, styled as "Division Artillery" (DIVARTY), but usually consisting of battalions with the same regimental affiliation. The infantry regiments still contained three battalions; there were now "headquarters and headquarters" companies (HHCs) not only at the regimental-level but in each battalion as well. The battalions still contained four "line" companies, but instead of four rifle companies, now had three rifle companies and a heavy weapons company (containing machine guns and mortars). The regiment's machine gun company was now an anti-tank company, the supply company became the service company, and a cannon company and a medical detachment were added to the regiment. In 1942 the Army began organizing armored divisions into combat commands, which grouped armor, armored infantry, and armored field artillery battalions into three tactical groups within the division without regard to regimental affiliation. However, armored regiment designations were retained for lineage and heraldic purposes.
As the United States Army transformed after the Korean War for potential combat against a nuclear-armed Warsaw Pact, reorganization began in 1956 to transform infantry regiments into battle groups under its Pentomic organizational plan. Under this plan, battalions were eliminated and the infantry battle groups consisted of an HHC, five rifle companies, and a combat support company. Again, this scheme retained the regimental designation for lineage and heraldry purposes, but the regiment ceased to exist as an intact organization for both infantry and field artillery units. DIVARTY organizations were now composed of several unrelated artillery battalions.
By 1965, the Army had completely eliminated the regiment (replaced by the brigade) under the Reorganization Objective Army Divisions (ROAD) plan as a tactical and administrative organization in all combat arms, save for a few armored cavalry regiments. However the battalion was restored as a tactical echelon, now organized into an HHC, three rifle companies, and a combat support company. The ROAD structure sealed the fate of the regiment in the U.S. Army, confirming its elimination as a level of command that had begun in 1942 with the "combat command" organization of the armored divisions and furthered by the Pentomic experiment in the 1950s. By 2015, the only Army unit still organized as a traditional regiment was the 75th Ranger Regiment.
In the 20th century, by using modern industrial management techniques, the Army was able to draft, assemble, equip, train and then employ huge masses of conscripted civilians in very short order, starting with minimal resources. Beginning with the First World War, as units became increasingly larger, and weapon systems and equipment became more complex, the regiment, while still filling a role as the immediate headquarters for its organic battalions, began to be replaced by the brigade as the intermediate tactical and operational headquarters for battalions, with the division becoming the senior administrative and logistical headquarters for the battalions, regiments, and brigades under its command.
A new system, the Combat Arms Regimental System, or CARS, was adopted in 1957 to replace the old regimental system. CARS uses the Army's traditional regiments as parent organizations for historical purposes, but the primary building blocks are divisions, brigades, and battalions. Each battalion carries an association with a parent regiment, even though the regimental organization no longer exists. In some brigades several numbered battalions carrying the same regimental association may still serve together, and tend to consider themselves part of the traditional regiment when in fact they are independent battalions serving a brigade, rather than a regimental, headquarters.
The United States Army Regimental System (USARS) was established in 1981 to replace the Combat Arms Regimental System, to provide each soldier with continuous identification with a single regiment, and to support that concept with a personnel system that would increase a soldier’s probability of serving recurring assignments with his or her regiment. The USARS was developed with the intention that it would enhance combat effectiveness by providing the opportunity for a regimental affiliation, thus obtaining some of the benefits of the traditional regimental system.
There are exceptions to USARS regimental titles, including the armored cavalry regiments (now defunct) and the 75th Ranger Regiment created in 1986. On 1 October 2005, the word "regiment" was formally appended to the name of all active and inactive CARS and USARS regiments. So, for example, the 1st Cavalry officially became titled the 1st Cavalry Regiment.
The historical background of the use of regiments in the United States Marine Corps is contained within USMC: A Complete History (Hoffman, 2002) and a summary of that information follows:
Before 1913, indeed since the American Revolution, it was common practice for Marine detachments (both ship-based, and shore-based) to be combined to form provisional (viz., temporary) units. Most often these formations took the form of provisional battalions, but on occasion would become provisional regiments, provisional brigades, or rarely (especially when combined with Navy personnel) naval infantry brigades. These organizations were intentionally temporary as the Marine Corps did not usually maintain standing forces larger than company size, but rather created "task units" on an "as needed" basis.
While provisional regiments, designated variously as the 1st through 4th Regiments, had been formed for expeditionary operations in Panama (1895) and Philippines (1899), the lineage of modern USMC regiments began in 1913 with the creation of the 1st and 2nd Advanced Base Force Regiments. These two regiments, (currently the 2nd and 1st Marines, respectively), along with the numerical forbearers of the 3rd and 4th Marines, (formed in 1914 for the short-lived Tampico Affair with Mexico, involving the occupation of Veracruz, Mexico), are the pre-World War I antecedents to the several regiments of the modern U.S. Marine Corps.
Beginning in World War I, with the U.S. Marine Corps' participation with the U.S. Army in the American Expeditionary Force, in which the 5th and 6th Marines (along with the 6th Machine Gun Battalion) formed the 4th Marine Brigade of the U.S. Army 2nd Infantry Division (United States), the Corps began organizing larger standing forces. World War I era USMC units mirrored equivalent U.S. Army units by employing the "square division" organizational plan in forming its regiments and brigades.
In World War II, the Marine Corps organized its regiments and divisions under the "triangular division" model developed by the Army in 1939. Modern USMC regiments and divisions continue to be organized using a triangular model very similar to the WWII version, with slight variations to adapt to modern weapons, equipment, and enlisted rank structure.
Current Marine infantry, field artillery, and combat logistics battalions are organized into regiments, commanded by a colonel. Marine infantry and field artillery regiments are sequentially numbered and are referred to generically as "Marines" or "Marine Regiment," as in 1st Marines (an infantry regiment) or 12th Marine Regiment (a field artillery regiment). Marine infantry regiments consist of a regimental Headquarters and Service Company (H&S Co) and three identical infantry battalions. Marine field artillery regiments consist of a regimental Headquarters and Service Battery (H&S Bttry), a Target Acquisition Battery, and from two to four field artillery battalions.
Marine Logistics Groups (MLG) contain two types of regiments; one Headquarters (HQ) Regiment (except 4th MLG) and two Combat Logistics Regiments (CLR). Each of these two types of regiments contain a Headquarters Company and varying numbers and types of logistics battalions and separate logistics companies, depending upon whether the regiment's primary mission is to provide direct support to (1) a Regimental Combat Team (RCT) or a Marine Amphibious Unit (MEU), or (2) provide general support across the Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF), including intermediate ground logistics support to Marine aviation units. These varying types of battalions and separate companies include: Combat Logistics, Maintenance, and Supply battalions, and Combat Logistics, Communications, Food Service, and Service companies (the latter three types in 3rd MLG only).
The HQ Regiments (whose primary mission includes providing support to the MEUs) are not numbered; however, the CLRs are numbered according to their primary mission. CLRs that support RCT's have the same number as the parent Marine Division of its supported RCT. Therefore, CLR 2 supports the RCTs of the 2nd Marine Division. CLRs that provide general maintenance and supply support to the MEF are designated by a two-digit number, the first digit is the Hindu-Arabic numeral equivalent of the MEFs Roman numeral designation and the second digit is always an arbitrarily assigned numeral "5." Therefore, the CLR that provides general maintenance and supply support to III MEF is CLR 35.
The United States Marine Corps deploys battalions from its infantry regiments to form the nucleus of a Battalion landing Team (BLT) as the Ground Combat Element (GCE) of a Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). However, a USMC infantry regiment may deploy en masse to form the nucleus of a Regimental Combat Team (RCT) or Regimental Landing Team (RLT) as the GCE of a Marine Expeditionary Brigade (MEB). In both cases the infantry component is reinforced with ground combat support forces including field artillery, reconnaissance, assault amphibian vehicle, light armored reconnaissance vehicle, tank, and combat engineer units. The resulting GCE is then combined with an Aviation Combat Element (ACE), a Logistics Combat Element (LCE), and a Command Element (CE) to form a Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF).
The regiments (Russian: полк) of the Russian Army, and armed forces influenced by Russia consist of battalions (Russian: батальон), in the infantry or tank troops, divisions (Russian: дивизион) in the artillery troops, and squadrons (Russian: эскадрилья) in aviation troops. Land forces regiments also include support units – companies (Russian: рота) and/or platoons (Russian: взвод).
The Motorised Rifle Regiment was one of the basic tactical units within the Soviet Armed Forces, totaling around 2,500 officers and other ranks. While normally operating as part of a Motorised Rifle Division or Tank Division, it was capable of short-term independent operations. By the late 1980s, it consisted of a regimental headquarters in command of three Motorised Rifle Battalions, each numbering around five hundred personnel and equipped with either BMP infantry fighting vehicles or BTR armoured personnel carriers, and one Tank Battalion, typically consisting of thirty-one T-64, T-72 or T-80 tanks, although older models were present in units outside the European Theater of Operations. These were supported by a battalion of eighteen 122mm artillery pieces, either the self-propelled 2S1 Gvozdika in BMP regiments or towed D-30 howitzers in BTR regiments, though some BTR regiments also used the 2S1, with additional fire support from the organic mortar battery in each infantry battalion. Additional combat support came in the form of an air defence missile and artillery company with four SA-9 or SA-13s and four ZSU-23-4 or 2S6 Tunguskas, an antitank missile battery with nine BRDM-mounted AT-3 Sagger or AT-5 Spandrel launchers, a reconnaissance company mounted on BMPs, BRDMs and motorbikes and an engineer company. Other non-combat formations included a signals company, chemical protection platoon, material support company, maintenance company, and regimental medical point.
The Tank Regiment was found in both Motorised Rifle Divisions and Tank Divisions, with slight organisational differences depending between the two. By the late 1980s, Tank Regiments operating as part of Motorised Rifle Divisions contained slightly over 1,100 officers and other ranks while those operating within Tank Divisions contained over 1,600. A regimental headquarters oversaw command of three Tank Battalions of thirty-one tanks each, typically T-64, T-72, or T-80 tanks although some units used older models, and an artillery battalion of eighteen 2S1 Gvozdika self-propelled howitzers, with some using the older towed D-30 howitzer. Tank Regiments operating as part of a Tank Division included a fifth combat battalion of motorised infantry, identical to those in BMP-equipped Motorised Rifle Regiments. Combat support and combat service support subunits were the same as in Motorised Rifle Regiments with the exception of the antitank missile battery.
The Artillery Regiment was used to provide fire support, but differed depending on whether it was part of a Motorised Rifle Division or Tank Division. The artillery regiment of an MRD consisted of three battalions of eighteen 2S3 Akatsiyas each and a battalion of eighteen BM-21 Grads, numbering just under 1,300 personnel total, while a TD artillery regiment had one less battalion of 2S3s and a little over one thousand personnel total. This was the standard model by the late 1980s, however not all artillery regiments had yet to conformed to it and one or more of the battalions might have used older weapon systems like the D-30 howitzer. Each regiment was led by a command control battery and included an artillery reconnaissance battery, motor transport company, maintenance company, regimental medical point, chemical protection platoon and supply and service platoon.
The SAM regiment was an important part of a Motorised Rifle Division or Tank Division's effort to envelop the battlefield in an extensive air defence network. Numbering a little over five hundred personnel total, the SAM regiment consisted of a regimental headquarters in charge of twenty SA-6 Gainfuls organised into five missile firing batteries; most were SA-6a platforms although since 1979 a limited number of SA-6bs were also deployed and some regiments used the SA-8 Gecko as an alternative. Each missile battery, along with the regimental headquarter and missile technical battery, were also equipped with three MANPADs, either the SA-7 Grail, SA-14 Gremlin or SA-16 Gimlet. Besides the missile technical battery, other support subunits included an artillery reconnaissance battery, motor transport company, maintenance company and chemical protection platoon.
Antiaircraft artillery (AAA) regiments in the late 1980s took the place of SAM regiments in divisions which were assigned to rear areas. These were equipped with twenty-four S-60 57mm Anti Aircraft Guns organised into four firing batteries. Each firing battery along with the regimental headquarters were also equipped with three MANPADs, either the SA-7 Grail, SA-14 Gremlin or SA-16 Gimlet. Additional subunits include a command and control battery and service battery.
The Irish Army field artillery units are called regiments. They are divided into batteries and together the regiments form the Artillery Corps.
Air Defence units are organised as a single regiment with individual batteries stationed around the country.
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 Culloden
The Battle of Culloden (; Scottish Gaelic: Blàr Chùil Lodair) was the final confrontation of the Jacobite rising of 1745. On 16 April 1746, the Jacobite forces of Charles Edward Stuart were decisively defeated by Hanoverian forces commanded by William Augustus, Duke of Cumberland, near Inverness in the Scottish Highlands.
Queen Anne, the last monarch of the House of Stuart, died in 1714, with no living children. Under the terms of the Act of Settlement 1701, she was succeeded by her second cousin George I of the House of Hanover, who was a descendant of the Stuarts through his maternal grandmother, Elizabeth, a daughter of James VI and I.
Raising an army consisting mostly of Scottish clansmen along with smaller units of Irish and Englishmen from the Manchester Regiment, Charles' efforts initially met with success and at one point began to threaten London. However, a series of events forced the army's return to Scotland, where they were soon pursued by an army raised by the Duke of Cumberland. The two forces eventually met at Culloden, on terrain that made the highland charge difficult and gave the larger and well-armed British forces the advantage. The battle lasted only an hour, with the Jacobites suffering a bloody defeat. Between 1,500 and 2,000 Jacobites were killed or wounded in the brief battle. In contrast, only about 300 government soldiers were killed or wounded.The Hanoverian victory at Culloden halted the Jacobite intent to overthrow the House of Hanover and restore the House of Stuart to the British throne; Charles Stuart never again tried to challenge Hanoverian power in Great Britain. The conflict was the last pitched battle fought on British soil.The battle and its aftermath continue to arouse strong feelings: the University of Glasgow awarded the Duke of Cumberland an honorary doctorate, but many modern commentators allege that the aftermath of the battle and subsequent crackdown on Jacobitism were brutal, and earned Cumberland the sobriquet "Butcher". Efforts were subsequently made to further integrate the comparatively wild Scottish Highlands into the Kingdom of Great Britain; civil penalties were introduced to weaken Gaelic culture and undermine the Scottish clan system.Black Watch
The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion, Royal Regiment of Scotland (3 SCOTS) is an infantry battalion of the Royal Regiment of Scotland. The regiment was created as part of the Childers Reforms in 1881, when the 42nd (Royal Highland) Regiment of Foot (The Black Watch) was amalgamated with the 73rd (Perthshire) Regiment of Foot. It was known as The Black Watch (Royal Highlanders) from 1881 to 1931 and The Black Watch (Royal Highland Regiment) from 1931 to 2006. Part of the Scottish Division for administrative purposes from 1967, it was the senior Highland regiment. It has been part of the Scottish, Welsh and Irish Division for administrative purposes from 2017.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.Canadian Army
The Canadian Army (French: Armée canadienne) is the command responsible for the operational readiness of the conventional ground forces of the Canadian Armed Forces. As of 2018 the Army has 23,000 regular soldiers, about 17,000 reserve soldiers, including 5,000 rangers, for a total of 40,000 soldiers. The Army is supported by 3,000 civilian employees. It maintains regular forces units at bases across Canada, and is also responsible for the Army Reserve, the largest component of the Primary Reserve. The Commander of the Canadian Army and Chief of the Army Staff is Lieutenant-General Jean-Marc Lanthier.
The name "Canadian Army" came into official use beginning only in 1940; from before Confederation until the Second World War the official designation was "Canadian Militia". On 1 April 1966, as a precursor to the unification of Canada's armed services, all land forces were placed under a new entity called Mobile Command. In 1968 the "Canadian Army" ceased to exist as a legal entity as the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN), Canadian Army (CA), and Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) were merged to form a single service called the Canadian Armed Forces. Mobile Command was renamed Land Force Command in the 1993 reorganization of the Canadian Armed Forces. In August 2011, Land Force Command reverted to the pre-1968 title of the Canadian Army.Coldstream Guards
The Coldstream Guards (COLDM GDS) is a part of the Guards Division, Foot Guards regiments of the British Army.
It is the oldest regiment in the Regular Army in continuous active service, originating in Coldstream, Scotland in 1650 when General George Monck founded the regiment. It is one of two regiments of the Household Division that can trace its lineage to the New Model Army, the other being the Blues and Royals (Royal Horse Guards and 1st Dragoons).Colonel
Colonel ( "kernel", abbreviated Col., Col or COL) is a senior military officer rank below the brigadier and general officer ranks. However, in some small military forces, such as those of Monaco or the Vatican, colonel is the highest rank. It is also used in some police forces and paramilitary organizations.
Historically, in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a colonel was typically in charge of a regiment in an army. Modern usage varies greatly, and in some cases the term is used as an honorific title that may have no direct relationship to military service.
The rank of colonel is typically above the rank of lieutenant colonel. The rank above colonel is typically called brigadier, brigade general or brigadier general.
Equivalent naval ranks may be called captain or ship-of-the-line captain. In the Commonwealth air force rank system, the equivalent rank is group captain.French Foreign Legion
The French Foreign Legion (French: Légion étrangère) (FFL; French: Légion étrangère (French pronunciation: [leʒjɔ̃ etʁɑ̃ʒɛʁ]), L.É.) is a military service branch of the French Army established in 1831. Legionnaires are highly trained infantry soldiers and the Legion is unique in that it was, and continues to be, open to foreign recruits willing to serve in the French Armed Forces. When it was founded, the French Foreign Legion was not unique; other foreign formations existed at the time in France.
Commanded by French officers, it is open to French citizens, who amounted to 24% of the recruits in 2007. The Foreign Legion is today known as a unit whose training focuses on traditional military skills and on its strong esprit de corps, as its men come from different countries with different cultures. This is a way to strengthen them enough to work as a team. Consequently, training is often described as not only physically challenging, but also very stressful psychologically. French citizenship may be applied for after three years' service. The Legion is the only part of the French military that does not swear allegiance to France, but to the Foreign Legion itself. Any soldier who becomes injured during a battle for France can immediately apply to be a French citizen under a provision known as "Français par le sang versé" ("French by spilled blood"). As of 2008, members come from 140 countries.
Since 1831, the Legion has suffered the loss of nearly 40,000 men on active service in France, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Madagascar, West Africa, Mexico, Italy, the Crimea, Spain, Indo-China, Norway, Loyada, Syria, Chad, Zaïre, Lebanon, Central Africa, Gabon, Kuwait, Rwanda, Djibouti, former Yugoslavia, Somalia, Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Afghanistan, Mali, Sahel and others.
The French Foreign Legion was primarily used to protect and expand the French colonial empire during the 19th century. The Foreign Legion was initially stationed only in Algeria, where it took part in the pacification and development of the colony. Subsequently, the Foreign Legion was deployed in a number of conflicts, including the First Carlist War in 1835, the Crimean War in 1854, the Second Italian War of Independence in 1859, the French intervention in Mexico in 1863, the Franco-Prussian War in 1870, the Tonkin Campaign and Sino-French War in 1883, supporting growth of the French colonial empire in Sub-Saharan Africa and pacifying Algeria, the Second Franco-Dahomean War in 1892, the Second Madagascar expedition in 1895, and the Mandingo Wars in 1894.
In World War I, the Foreign Legion fought in many critical battles on the Western Front. It played a smaller role in World War II than in World War I, though having a part in the Norwegian, Syrian and North African campaigns. During the First Indochina War (1946–1954), the Foreign Legion saw its numbers swell. The FFL lost a large number of men in the catastrophic Battle of Dien Bien Phu. During the Algerian War of Independence (1954–1962), the Foreign Legion came close to being disbanded after some officers, men, and the highly decorated 1st Foreign Parachute Regiment (1er REP) took part in the Generals' putsch. Operations during this period included the Suez Crisis, the Battle of Algiers and various offensives launched by General Maurice Challe including Operations Oranie and Jumelles.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Legion regiments had additional roles in sending units as a rapid deployment force to preserve French interests – in its former African colonies and in other nations as well; it also returned to its roots of being a unit always ready to be sent to conflict zones around the world. Some notable operations include: the Chadian–Libyan conflict in 1969–1972 (the first time that the Legion was sent in operations after the Algerian War), 1978–1979, and 1983–1987; Kolwezi in what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo in May 1978. In 1981, the 1st Foreign Regiment and Foreign Legion regiments partook to the Multinational Force in Lebanon. In 1990, Foreign Legion regiments were sent to the Persian Gulf and took part in Opération Daguet, part of Division Daguet. Following the Gulf War in the 1990s, the Foreign Legion helped with the evacuation of French citizens and foreigners in Rwanda, Gabon and Zaire. The Foreign Legion was also deployed in Cambodia, Somalia, Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina. In the mid- to late-1990s, the Foreign Legion was deployed in the Central African Republic, Congo-Brazzaville and in Kosovo. The Foreign Legion also took part in operations in Rwanda in 1990–1994; and the Ivory Coast in 2002 to the present. In the 2000s, the Foreign Legion was deployed in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Operation Licorne in Ivory Coast, the EUFOR Tchad/RCA in Chad, and Operation Serval in the Northern Mali conflict.Other countries have tried to emulate the French Foreign Legion model. The contemporary French Foreign Legion relates the most to that of Spain, the Spanish Legion.Grenadier Guards
The Grenadier Guards (GREN GDS) is an infantry regiment of the British Army. It is the most senior regiment of the Guards Division and, as such, is the most senior regiment of infantry. It is not, however, the most senior regiment of the Army, this position being held by the Life Guards. Although the Coldstream Guards were formed before the Grenadier Guards, the regiment is ranked after the Grenadiers in seniority as, having been a regiment of the New Model Army, the Coldstream Guards served the Crown for four fewer years than the Grenadiers (the Grenadiers having formed as a Royalist regiment in exile in 1656 and the Coldstream Guards having sworn allegiance to the Crown upon the Restoration in 1660).
The grouping of buttons on the tunic is a common way to distinguish among the regiments of Foot Guards. Grenadier Guards' buttons are equally spaced and embossed with the Royal Cypher reversed and interlaced surrounded by the Royal Garter bearing the royal motto Honi soit qui mal y pense (May he be shamed who thinks badly of it). Their white belt ("Buff Belt") with brass clasps also carry the Royal Cypher. Modern Grenadier Guardsmen wear a cap badge of a "grenade fired proper" with seventeen flames. This cap badge has to be cleaned twice a day – once in the morning, and once in the afternoon. A tarnished grenade is severely frowned upon and can be punished by disciplinary action within the Regiment.Marine Raider Regiment
The Marine Raider Regiment, formerly known as the Marine Special Operations Regiment (MSOR), is a special operations force of the United States Marine Corps, part of Marine Corps Special Operations Command (MARSOC). Renamed for its predecessor, the elite World War II Marine Raiders, this unit is the principal combat component of MARSOC, which is the Marine Corps’ contribution to the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM).Parachute Regiment (United Kingdom)
The Parachute Regiment, colloquially known as the Paras, is an elite airborne infantry regiment of the British Army. The regiment is one of the most elite units in the world. The first battalion is permanently under the command of the Director Special Forces in the Special Forces Support Group. The other battalions are the parachute infantry component of the British Army's rapid response formation, 16 Air Assault Brigade. The Paras are the only line infantry regiment of the British Army that has not been amalgamated with another unit since the end of the Second World War.The Parachute Regiment was formed on 22 June 1940 during the Second World War and eventually raised 17 battalions. In Europe, these battalions formed part of the 1st Airborne Division, the 6th Airborne Division and the 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade Group. Another three battalions served with the British Indian Army in India and Burma. The regiment took part in six major parachute assault operations in North Africa, Italy, Greece, France, the Netherlands and Germany, often landing ahead of all other troops.
At the end of the Second World War, the regiment was reduced to three regular army battalions first assigned to the 16th Parachute Brigade and later the 5th Airborne Brigade. The reserve 16th Airborne Division was formed using the regiment reserve battalions in the Territorial Army. Defence cuts gradually reduced the TA formations to a parachute brigade and then a single reserve battalion. In the same time period, the regular army battalions have taken part in operations in Suez, Cyprus, Borneo, Aden, Northern Ireland, the Falklands, the Kosovo War, the Balkans, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan, at times being reinforced by men from the reserve battalion.RAF Regiment
The Royal Air Force Regiment (RAF Regiment) is part of the Royal Air Force and functions as a specialist corps founded by Royal Warrant in 1942. The Corps carries out soldiering tasks relating to the delivery of air power. Examples of such tasks are Non Combatant Evacuation Operations (NEO), recovery of downed pilots (Joint Personnel Recovery - JPR), and in depth defence of airfields by way of aggressively patrolling a large area of operations outside airfields in hostile environments. In addition the RAF Regiment provides Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTACs) to the British Army and Royal Marines, and provides a platoon size commitment to the Special Forces Support Group.
The RAF Regiment is trained in CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) defence, and equipped with advanced vehicles and detection measures. RAF Regiment instructors are responsible for training all Royal Air Force personnel in basic force protection such as first aid, weapon handling and CBRN skills.
The regiment and its members are known within the RAF as "The Regiment", "Rock Apes" or "Rocks". After a 32-week trainee gunner course, its members are trained and equipped to prevent a successful enemy attack in the first instance; minimise the damage caused by a successful attack; and ensure that air operations can continue without delay in the aftermath of an attack. RAF Regiment squadrons use aggressive defence tactics whereby they actively seek out infiltrators in a large area surrounding airfields.Royal Army Medical Corps
The Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) is a specialist corps in the British Army which provides medical services to all Army personnel and their families, in war and in peace. Together with the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, the Royal Army Dental Corps and Queen Alexandra's Royal Army Nursing Corps, the RAMC forms the Army Medical Services.Royal Artillery
The Royal Regiment of Artillery, commonly referred to as the Royal Artillery (RA) and colloquially known as "The Gunners", is the artillery arm of the British Army. The Royal Regiment of Artillery comprises thirteen Regular Army regiments, King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery and five Army Reserve regiments.Royal Corps of Signals
The Royal Corps of Signals (often simply known as the Royal Signals - abbreviated to R SIGNALS) is one of the combat support arms of the British Army. Signals units are among the first into action, providing the battlefield communications and information systems essential to all operations. Colloquially referred to by some as "Siggies", Royal Signals units provide the full telecommunications infrastructure for the Army wherever they operate in the world. The Corps has its own engineers, logistics experts and systems operators to run radio and area networks in the field. It is responsible for installing, maintaining and operating all types of telecommunications equipment and information systems, providing command support to commanders and their headquarters, and conducting electronic warfare against enemy communications.Royal Engineers
The Corps of Royal Engineers, usually just called the Royal Engineers (RE), and commonly known as the Sappers, is one of the corps of the British Army.
It provides military engineering and other technical support to the British Armed Forces and is headed by the Chief Royal Engineer. The Regimental Headquarters and the Royal School of Military Engineering are in Chatham in Kent, England. The corps is divided into several regiments, barracked at various places in the United Kingdom and around the world.Royal Fusiliers
The Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) was a line infantry regiment of the British Army in continuous existence for 283 years. It was known as the 7th Regiment of Foot until the Childers Reforms of 1881.The regiment served in many wars and conflicts throughout its long existence, including the Second Boer War, the First World War and the Second World War. In 1968, the regiment was amalgamated with the other regiments of the Fusilier Brigade – the Royal Northumberland Fusiliers, the Royal Warwickshire Fusiliers and the Lancashire Fusiliers – to form a new large regiment, the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers.
The Royal Fusiliers War Memorial, a monument dedicated to the almost 22,000 Royal Fusiliers who died during the First World War, stands on Holborn in the City of London.South African National Defence Force
The South African National Defence Force (SANDF) comprises the armed forces of South Africa. The commander of the SANDF is appointed by the President of South Africa from one of the armed services. They are in turn accountable to the Minister of Defence and Military Veterans of the Defence Department.
The military as it exists today was created in 1994, following South Africa's first post-apartheid national elections and the adoption of a new constitution. It replaced the South African Defence Force and also integrated uMkhonto we Sizwe guerilla forces.Special Air Service
The Special Air Service (SAS) is a special forces unit of the British Army. The SAS was founded in 1941 as a regiment, and later reconstituted as a corps in 1950. The unit undertakes a number of roles including covert reconnaissance, counter-terrorism, direct action and hostage rescue. Much of the information and actions regarding the SAS is highly classified, and is not commented on by the British government or the Ministry of Defence due to the sensitivity of their operations.The corps currently consists of the 22nd Special Air Service Regiment, the regular component under operational command of United Kingdom Special Forces, as well as the 21st (Artists) Special Air Service Regiment (Reserve) and the 23rd Special Air Service Regiment (Reserve), which are reserve units under operational command of the 1st Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Brigade.The Special Air Service traces its origins to 1941 and the Second World War. It was reformed as part of the Territorial Army in 1947, named the 21st Special Air Service Regiment (Artists Rifles). The 22nd Special Air Service Regiment, which is part of the regular army, gained fame and recognition worldwide after its televised rescue of all but one of the hostages held during the 1980 Iranian Embassy siege.