Military organization refers to the way a nation-state structures its armed forces.
Military organization refers to the way a nation-state structures its armed forces. Organization reflects the way a military perceives and develops its strategic mission and provides systematic command and control at the tactical level. An efficient organizational structure also includes administrative and logistical components, making the creation, maintenance, and application of effective military power possible. In order to understand organization, three major parts must be examined: the bureaucratic, usually centered in a nation’s department of defense or ministry of war; the armed forces, usually breaking down into branches of service (cavalry, artillery, infantry) as well as unit relationships such as the battalion and division; and the command hierarchy/rank structure.
Understanding a nation’s military organizational structure reveals a great deal about how a military perceives and seeks to accomplish its mission. The
Additionally, in many societies, the
The most famous of the Greek military formations was the
Military reforms by
The centuriate consisted of heavy infantry, whose main weapons were the pilum, or javelin; a short sword, or gladius; and a heavy shield, which could be used to form a tight defensive line. Light
Medieval European armies reflected the social organization of their day. The elites in the armies, the
The French defeat underscored another important development in the medieval period: the rise of
In the 1620’s, the
The modern system of military organization can be traced to the French defeats in the middle of the eighteenth century.
In 1772, the organizational ideas of Saxe and de Broglie were revived and developed by
Modern military organization varies from army to army, but all have a similar outline. The basic unit of maneuver in the U.S. Army is the
Two to five companies are a
Each brigade consists of infantry and armor elements. An infantry brigade consists of two infantry battalions and one armor battalion; an armor brigade consists of one infantry battalion and two armor battalions. There are usually two to three brigades in a division. The number of infantry to armor brigades determines if the division is infantry or armored. A colonel or brigadier general usually commands a brigade. A lieutenant general or major general commands a division.
In addition to the brigade structure, each division usually has an armored cavalry squadron, an aviation unit, and a divisional artillery battalion attached, in addition to transportation, logistical, and health/hospital services.
The company/battalion structure is for the infantry.
Modern armies are still organized into
Biddle, Stephen. Military Power: Explaining Victory and Defeat in Modern Battle. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2004. On the more theoretical side, Biddle examines the history of the modern system, the impact of technology in force employment, and the resulting changes in training and organization. Brown, Howard G. War, Revolution and the Bureaucratic State: Politics and Army Administration in France, 1791-1799. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press, 1995. Examines the political and bureaucratic genesis of French Revolutionary and Napoleonic military organization. Center of Military History. FM 100-2-3: The Soviet Army–Troops, Organization, and Equipment. Washington, D.C.: Department of the Army, 1991. The Center of Military History and the U.S. Department of the Army publish excellent studies and field manuals, which furnish detailed organizational structures on individual militaries. This volume remains a thorough reference to the organizational structure of the Red Army. Chaliand, Gérard. The Art of War in World History: From Antiquity to the Nuclear Age. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994. Because of the unique nature of national militaries, it is beyond the scope of this essay to survey all relevant works on the history, theory, and evolution of individual military organizations. As a beginning point for the student of military organization, however, Chaliand’s study addresses this problem using primary documentation and is especially valuable for its inclusion of both non-European and Enlightenment military thinkers. Dague, Everett. Napoleon and the First Empire’s Ministries of War and Military Administration. Lewiston, N.Y.: Edwin Mellen Press, 2006. Examines the political and bureaucratic genesis of French Revolutionary and Napoleonic military organization. Doughty, Robert, and Ira Gruber, eds. Warfare in the Western World. 2 vols. Lexington, Mass.: D. C. Heath, 1996. While primarily an operational survey, this work demonstrates the evolution of and relationship between modern organization and tactical employment. Elting, John. Swords Around a Throne. New York: Free Press, 1988. Another excellent resource on the armies of the French Revolution and Napoleon. Forrest, Alan. Soldiers of the French Revolution. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1990. Provides superb descriptions of the organization, composition, and employment of the armies of the French Revolution and Napoleon. Griffith, Paddy. The Art of War of Revolutionary France. London: Greenhill Books, 1998. Solid coverage of the French Revolution and Napoleon. Howard, Michael. War in European Society. New York: Oxford University Press, 1976. The study of organization is bound up in a fuller study of military history. Howard’s book provides an excellent overview of how military force developed from the Middle Ages to the present. Ralston, David B. Importing the European Army: The Introduction of European Military Techniques and Institutions into the Extra-European World, 1600-1914. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990. Examines the social and economic impact of European military organization on Russia, the Ottoman Empire, Egypt, China, and Japan. Stofft, William, ed. American Military History. Washington, D.C.: Center of Military History, 1989. For the student of modern military organization, this volume provides an excellent overview the Army as well as the Reserve and National Guard organizations.
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