10 Most Powerful Military Countries Of The World

10 - United Kingdom

The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England and Scotland and was administered by the War Office from London. It has been managed by the Ministry of Defence since 1964.

The full-time element of the British Army is referred to as the Regular Army since the creation of the reservist Territorial Force in 1908. The British Army is deployed in many of the world's war zones as part of both Expeditionary Forces and in United Nations Peacekeeping forces. The British Army is currently deployed in Kosovo, Cyprus, Germany, Afghanistan and many other places.

All members of the Army swear (or affirm) allegiance to the monarch as commander-in-chief. However the Bill of Rights of 1689 requires Parliamentary consent for the Crown to maintain a standing army in peacetime. Parliament therefore annually approves the continued existence of the Army.

In contrast to the Royal Navy, Royal Marines and Royal Air Force, the British Army does not include Royal in its title. Many of the Army's constituent Regiments and Corps have been granted the "Royal" prefix and have members of the Royal Family occupying senior positions within some regiments.

The professional head of the British Army is the Chief of the General Staff, currently General Sir Peter Wall KCB CBE ADC Gen.

9 - Brazil

The history of Brazil begins with the arrival of the first indigenous peoples, thousands of years ago by crossing the Bering land bridge into Alaska and then moving south.

The European first to explore Brazil was Pedro Álvares Cabral on April 22, 1500 under the sponsorship of Portugal. From the 16th to the 19th centuries, Brazil was a colony of Portugal. On September 7, 1822, the country declared its independence from Portugal and became a constitutional monarchy, the Empire of Brazil. A military coup in 1889 established a republican government. The country has seen a dictatorship (1930–1934 and 1937–1945) and a period of military rule (1964–1985).

8 - Turkey

The history of Brazil begins with the arrival of the first indigenous peoples, thousands of years ago by crossing the Bering land bridge into Alaska and then moving south.

The European first to explore Brazil was Pedro Álvares Cabral on April 22, 1500 under the sponsorship of Portugal. From the 16th to the 19th centuries, Brazil was a colony of Portugal. On September 7, 1822, the country declared its independence from Portugal and became a constitutional monarchy, the Empire of Brazil. A military coup in 1889 established a republican government. The country has seen a dictatorship (1930–1934 and 1937–1945) and a period of military rule (1964–1985).

7 - Japan

The Imperial Japanese Army (IJA) (Kyūjitai: 大日本帝國陸軍, Shinjitai: 大日本帝国陸軍, Romaji: Dai-Nippon Teikoku Rikugun), or literally Army of the Empire of Greater Japan was the official ground based armed force of Imperial Japan from 1871 to 1945.
It was controlled by the Imperial Army General Staff Office and the Ministry of War, both of which were nominally subordinate to the Emperor of Japan as supreme commander of the army and the navy. Later an Inspectorate General of Military (Army) Aviation, became the third agency with oversight over the army. During wartime or national emergencies, the nominal command functions of the emperor would be centralized in an Imperial General Headquarters (IGHQ), an ad-hoc body consisting of the chief and vice chief of the Army General Staff, the minister of war, the chief and vice chief of the Naval General Staff, the inspector general of military aviation, and the inspector general of military training.

6 -France
The first permanent army, paid with regular wages, was established under Charles VII of France. From 1792, the French Revolutionary Army fought the allies. Under Napoleon I, the French Army conquered most of Europe during the Napoleonic Wars. In August 1914, the French Armed Forces numbered 1,300,000 soldiers. During the First World War the French Armed Forces reached a size of 8,300,000 soldiers, of which about 300,000 came from the colonies. During the war around 1,400,000 soldiers were killed. It was the most deadly conflict in French history. The main generals were: Joseph Joffre, Foch, Mangin, Degoutte, Philippe Pétain, Nivelle, Franchet d'Esperey, Raspail and Maurice Sarrail (See French Army in World War I).

At the beginning of the war, the French Army was wearing the uniform of the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, but the uniform was maladopted to the trenches, and so in 1915 the Army replaced the uniform, with the Adrian helmet replacing the képi.[citation needed] A uniform with a capote, of bleu-horizon colour adopted to the trenches, was adopted, and the uniform for colonial soldiers coloured khaki.

At the beginning of the Second World War the Army deployed 2,240,000 combatants grouped into 94 divisions (of which 20 were active and 74 were reservists) from the Swiss border to the North Sea. These numbers were limited to 12% of the Wehrmacht forces, however, the Army of the Alps facing Italy and 600,000 men dispersed through the French colonial empire are not included in this figure.[citation needed] After 1945, despite enormous efforts in the First Indochina War of 1945–1954 and the Algerian War of 1954–62, both lands eventually left French control.

During the Cold War, the French Army, though not part of NATO's military command structure, planned for the defence of Western Europe.[1] In 1977 The French Army switched from multi-brigade divisions to smaller divisions of about four to five battalions/regiments each. After 1977, II Corps (France) was stationed in South Germany, and effectively formed a reserve for NATO's Central Army Group. In the 1980s, III Corps headquarters was moved to Lille and planning started for its use in support of NATO's Northern Army Group. The Rapid Action Force of five light divisions was also intended as a NATO reinforcement force. In the late 1970s an attempt was made to form 14 reserve light infantry divisions, but this plan, which included the recreation of the 109th Infantry Division, was too ambitious. From June 1984, the French Army reserve consisted of 22 military divisions, administering all reserve units in a certain area, seven brigades de zone de defence, 22 regiments interarmees divisionnaires, and the 152nd Infantry Division, defending the ICBM launch sites.[2] The plan was put into action from 1985, and brigades de zone, such as the 107th Brigade de Zone, were created. But with the putting-in-place of the "Réserves 2000" plan, the brigades de zone were finally disbanded by mid-1993.[3]

In February 1996 the President of the Republic decided on a transition to a professional service force, and as part of the resulting changes, ten regiments were dissolved in 1997.[4] The specialist brigades were transferred on 1 July 1997 to Lunéville for the engineers, Haguenau (the artillery brigade) and Strasbourg (engineers). The 2nd Armoured Division left Versailles on 1 September 1997 and was installed at Châlons-en-Champagne in place of the disbanding 10th Armoured Division. On 5 March 1998, in view of the ongoing structural adoptions of the French Army, the Minister of Defence decided to disband III Corps, and the dissolution became effective 1 July 1998. The headquarters transitioned to become Headquarters Commandement de la force d'action terrestre (CFAT) (the Land Forces Action Command).

During the late 1990s, during the professionalisation process, numbers dropped from the 1996 236,000 (132,000 conscripts) to around 140,000.[5] By June 1999, the Army's strength had dropped to 186,000, including around 70,000 conscripts. 38 of 129 regiments were planned to be stood down from 1997–99. The previous structure's nine 'small' divisions and sundry separate combat and combat support brigades were replaced by nine combat and four combat support brigades. The Rapid Action Force, a corps of five small rapid-intervention divisions formed in 1983, was also disbanded, though several of its divisions were re-subordinated.

5 - Germany

The German Army (German: Deutsches Heer, Heer pronounced [ˈheːɐ̯] ( listen)) is the land component of the armed forces of the Federal Republic of Germany. Following the disbanding of the Wehrmacht after World War II, it was re-established in 1955 as the Bundesheer, part of the newly formed West German Bundeswehr along with the Navy and the Air Force. In the aftermath of the German reunification of 1990, the National People's Army of the former German Democratic Republic was integrated into the (West) German Army.

A unified German Army dates from 1871, and the unification of Germany under the leadership of Prussia. From 1871 to 1919 the title Kaiserlich Deutsches Heer or Imperial German Army was the official name of the army. This was the title the army carried during the First World War. From 1921 to 1935 under the Weimar Republic the army's title was the Reichsheer or National Army. From 1935 to 1945 the title was Heer (Army), part of the Wehrmacht, the name of Germany's armed forces under the Third Reich. From 1938, the Heer was first involved in the occupation of Czechoslovakia and then the successor events that led to the Second World War. The Heer effectively ceased to exist in 1945. Germany was split into two regions from 1945 and in the East the East German Army was eventually created. In the West the reborn Deutsches Heer or German Army became part of the West German Bundeswehr. The two armies faced each other across the Inner German Border, respectively part of the Warsaw Pact and NATO. Since 1990 however the reunified army has been involved in peacekeeping operations in Somalia, and since 2002, fighting with the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

Traditions can be traced between the Imperial German Army, the Reichswehr and the Wehrmacht Heer. However after the Second World War the architects of the new Bundeswehr Heer deliberately denied all linkages between the Nazi-era army and the new army of the Federal Republic of Germany. The only permitted historical antecedants for today's Bundeswehr Heer are the Prussian military reformers and the servicemen who carried on an underground resistance against Adolf Hitler during the Second World War.

After the reform movement of the Prussian Army following a series of disastrous defeats at the hands of her enemies in the 18th century, internal analysis of the lessons learned had informed Prussian civilian and military leadership that, while individual soldiers were first rate, command structures, staff organisation and generalship was a hit-and-miss affair, more dependent on the martial skills of the King and the individual members of the German nobility who dominated the military profession. Too often, military talent was brought together only after the Nation faced a crisis. There was little effective organizational work in between wars. The rise of the German General Staff, an institution that sought to institutionalize military excellence, brought the German Army back from years of atrophy and the humiliation of Napoleon's capture of Berlin. With membership in the officer corps extended to all qualified German-speaking men via national examinations, the improved education of the military schools, and selection from the top 1% graduates of the Kriegsakademie, a new class of top-notch leaders arose, and the German Army was set on a course for near-total dominance in Europe.

Following the defeat of Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo the Prussian Kingdom had years of military successes in the 19th and 20th centuries. Every able bodied man between the ages of 17 and 45 was liable for military service. There were 4 classes of service - Active (Aktiv), Reserve, Landwehr and Landsturm. The Landwehr and Landsturm were only called up at times of war. The basic unit of the army at this time was the Regiment. Regiments were typically raised and supported by a specific city or region. Each regiment was then stationed near its home city. The Reserve regiment was often made up of past members of the local regiment. The Landwehr and Landsturm units were also organized the same way. An individual could spend all 22 years of military service surrounded by friends and family. While this system created close ties within regiments, it also meant that the entire population of young men from a city or region could be wiped out in one battle.
World War I 1914–1918
German infantry (wearing characteristic, early-war pickelhaube helmets with cloth covers) during the 1914 Battle of the Marne.

The German Army that fought in World War I was not a truly single, unified army. Before unification, each monarchy (for example, the Great Dukedoms of Hesse and Baden) had its own army. The unification of Germany in January 1871 and the formation of the German Empire brought most of them under the command of the Prussian army, which became the nucleus of the Armies of the German Empire (Deutsches Reichsheer), though each continued to wear its own uniforms and insignias. Furthermore, the four German kingdoms that existed after the Napoleonic era - Bavaria, Prussia, Saxony and Württemberg - kept their own armies until the end of WWI. The peacetime commander-in-chief of each army was its king. After the declaration of war, the emperor (Kaiser) became the commander-in-chief of all the armed forces.

In 1914 the German army fielded 50 active divisions and 48 in reserve. By 1918, the number of divisions had risen to a total of 251.

Reichswehr 1918–1935
Main article: Reichswehr

Following the end of World War I and the collapse of the German Empire, most of the German Army (Heer) was demobilized or simply dissolved. Many former soldiers drifted into small paramilitary groups known as Free Corps (Freikorps). The Free Corps were generally groups of 100 men or fewer that protected a neighbourhood or town.

On 6 March 1919 an army known as the Provisional German Defence Force (Vorläufige Reichswehr) was formed with about 400,000 men, many drawn from the Free Corps. On 30 September that same year, the Transitional Army (Übergangsheer) was created from the Defence Force and the Free Corps.

Finally, on 1 January 1921 the 100,000 man Army of the Weimar Republic (Reichswehr) was formed with seven Infantry Divisions and three Cavalry Divisions. It was troops from the Army of the Weimar Republic who crushed Adolf Hitler's Munich Beer Hall Putsch in November 1923.

Heer 1935–1945
Main article: Heer (1935–1945)
German volksgrenadiers in Luxembourg, December 1944

Under the Treaty of Versailles, the Reichswehr was only allowed 100,000 men split between the Army and the Navy. Following the 1932 German elections the Nazi Party came to power and began to abrogate the treaty. The Army was made part of the Wehrmacht in May 1935 with the passing of the "Law for the Reconstruction of the National Defence Forces". The Wehrmacht included not just the Army and Navy but also a third branch known as the Luftwaffe. Initially, the Army was expanded to 21 divisional-sized units and smaller formations. Between 1935 and 1945 this force grew to consist of hundreds of divisions and thousands of smaller supporting units. Between 1939 and 1945 close to 16 million served in the Army. Over 3 million were killed and over 4.1 million were wounded. Of the 7,361 men awarded the initial grade of the highest German combat honor of World War II, the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross, 4,777 were from the Army, making up 65% of the total awarded. The Allies dissolved the German Army on 20 August 1946.
4 - India

A Military Department was created in the Supreme Government of the East India Company at Kolkata in the year 1776, having the main function to sift and record orders relating to the Army issued by various Departments of the Government of the East India Company.

With the Charter Act of 1833, the Secretariat of the Government of the East India Company was reorganized into four Departments, including a Military Department. The army in the Presidencies of Bengal, Bombay & Madras functioned as respective Presidency Army until April 1895, when the Presidency Armies were unified into a single Indian Army. For administrative convenience, it was divided into four commands at that point of time, namely Punjab (including the North West Frontier), Bengal, Madras (including Burma) and Bombay (including Sind, Quetta and Aden).

The British Indian Army was a critical force in the primacy of the British Empire in both India, as well as across the world. Besides maintaining the internal security of the British Raj, the Army fought in theaters around the world - Anglo-Burmese Wars, First and Second Anglo-Sikh Wars, First, Second and Third Anglo-Afghan Wars, First and Second Opium Wars in China, Abyssinia, Boxer Rebellion in China.
First World War
Indian Army personnel during Operation Crusader in Egypt, 1941.
Main article: Indian Army during World War I

In the 20th century, the British Indian Army was a crucial adjunct to the British forces in both the World Wars.

1.3 million Indian soldiers served in World War I (1914–1918) for the Allies after the United Kingdom made vague promises of self-governance to the Indian National Congress for its support. Britain reneged on its promises after the war, following which the Indian Independence movement gained strength. 74,187 Indian troops were killed or missing in action in the war.

The "Indianisation" of the British Indian Army began with the formation of the Prince of Wales Royal Indian Military College at Dehradun in March 1912 with the purpose of providing education to the scions of aristocratic and well to do Indian families and to prepare selected Indian boys for admission into the Royal Military College, Sandhurst. Indian officers given a King's commission after passing out were posted to one of the eight units selected for Indianisation. Political pressure due to the slow pace of Indianisation, just 69 officers being commissioned between 1918 and 1932, led to the formation of the Indian Military Academy in 1932 and greater numbers of officers of Indian origin being commissioned.
Second World War
Main article: Indian Army during World War II

In World War II Indian soldiers fought for the Allies. In 1939, British officials had no plan for expansion and training of Indian forces, which comprised about 130,000 men. (In addition there were 44,000 men in British units in India in 1939.) Their mission was internal security and defense against a possible Russian threat through Afghanistan. As the war progressed, the size and role of the Indian Army expanded dramatically, and troops were sent to battle fronts as soon as possible. The most serious problem was lack of equipment.

Indian units served in Burma, where in 1944-45 five Indian divisions were engaged along with one British and three African divisions. Even larger numbers operated in the Middle East. Some 87,000 Indian soldiers died in the war. On the opposing side, an Indian National Army was formed under Japanese control, but had little effect on the war.

3 - China

The military history of China stretches from roughly 2200 BCE to the present day. Chinese armies were advanced and powerful, especially after the Warring States Period.[citation needed] These armies were tasked with the twofold goal of defending China and her subject peoples from foreign intruders, and with expanding China's territory and influence across Asia Pre-Warring States (2100–479 BCE)
A decorative bronze ax-head, dated 13th to 11th century BC, Shang Dynasty

Early Chinese armies were relatively small affairs. Composed of peasant levies, usually serfs dependent upon the king or the feudal lord of their home state, these armies were relatively ill equipped. While organized military forces had existed along with the state, few records remain of these early armies. These armies were centered around the chariot-riding nobility, who played a role akin to the European Knight as they were the main fighting force of the army. Bronze weapons such as spears and swords were the main equipment of the both the infantry and charioteers. These armies were ill-trained and haphazardly supplied, meaning that they could not campaign for more than a few months and often had to give up their gains due to lack of supplies.

During the Shang and Western Zhou times, warfare was seen as an aristocratic affair, complete with protocols that may be compared to the chivalry of the European knight. States would not attack other states while mourning its ruler. Ruling houses would not be completely exterminated so descendants would be left to honor their ancestors.

Nevertheless, under the Shang and Zhou, these armies were able to expand China's territory and influence from a narrow part of the Yellow river valley to all of the North China plain. Equipped with bronze weapons, bows, and armor, these armies won victories against the sedentary Donghu to the East and South, which were the main direction of expansion, as well as defending the western border against the nomadic incursions of the Xirong. However, after the collapse of the Zhou Dynasty in 771 BCE after the Xirong captured its capital Gaojing, China collapsed into a plethora of small states, who warred frequently with each other. The competition between these states would eventually produce the professional armies that marked the Imperial Era of China.

During the Spring and Autumn Period (771–479 BCE), Duke Xiang of Song, when being advised to attack enemy Chu forces while the enemy army was fording a river, refused and waited for the Chu army to form formation. After Xiang lost the battle and was being rebuked by his ministers of war, he responded: "The gentleman does not inflict a second wound, nor does he capture those with gray hair. On campaigns the ancients did not obstruct those in a narrow pass. Even though I am but the remnant of a destroyed state, I will not drum an attack when the other side has not yet drawn up its ranks." His minister retorted, "My lord does not know battle. If the mighty enemy is in a defile or with his ranks not drawn up, this is Heaven assisting us", signifying that by the Spring and Autumn period such attitudes on chivalric honor was dying out Warring States (479–221 BCE)
An iron sword and two bronze swords from the Warring States Period (403–221 BCE)
A bronze crossbow mechanism with a butt plate, from the late Warring States to early Han Dynasty (202 BC – 220 AD)

By the time of the Warring States, reforms began that abolished feudalism and created powerful, centralized states. the power of the aristocracy was curbed and for the first time, professional generals were appointed on merit, rather than birth. Technological advances such as iron weapons and crossbows put the chariot-riding nobility out of business and favored large, professional standing armies, who were well-supplied and could fight a sustained campaign. The size of armies increased; while before 500 BCE Chinese field armies was in the tens of thousands, by 300 BCE armies regularly include up to a couple of hundred thousand drafted infantry, accompanied by cavalry. For example, during the Battle of Changping the state of Qin drafted all males over 15 years of age. Although these conscripts with one to two years of training would be no match individually against aristocratic warriors with years of experience, they made up for it with superior standardization, discipline, organization, and size. Although most soldiers were conscripts, it was also common to select soldiers based on specific qualifications. The Confucian adviser Xun Zi claimed that foot soldiers from the Wei state were required to wear armor and helmets, shoulder a crossbow with fifty arrows, strap a spear and sword, carry three day's supply of rations, and all the while march 50 kilometers in a day. When a man meets this requirement, his household would be exempted from all corvée labor obligations. He would also be given special tax benefits on land and housing. However, this policy made soldiers in the Wei state difficult to replace.

In addition, cavalry was introduced. The first recorded use of cavalry took place in the Battle of Maling, in which general Pang Juan of Wei led his division of 5,000 cavalry into a trap by Qi forces. In 307 BCE, King Wuling of Zhao ordered the adoption of nomadic clothing in order to train his own division of cavalry archers.

In the field of military planning, the niceties of chivalrous warfare during the Spring&Autumn period was abandoned in favor of generals who would ideally be a master of maneuver, illusion, and deception. He had to be ruthless in searching for the advantage, and an organizer in integrating units under him.
Qin-Han (221 BCE-184 CE)
A kneeling crossbowman from the Terracotta Army assembled for the tomb complex of Qin Shi Huang (r. 221–210 BCE)
Ceramic statues of infantry and cavalry, from the Han Dynasty (202 BCE – 220 CE)

In 221 BCE, the Qin unified China and ushered in the Imperial Era of Chinese history. Although it only lasted 15 years, Qin established institutions that would last for millennia. King Cheng, titling himself as the "First Emperor", standardized writing systems, weights, coinage, and even the axle lengths of carts. To reduce the chance of rebellion, he made the private possession of weapons illegal. In order for increase the rapid deployment of troops, thousands of miles of roads were built, along with canals that allowed boats to travel long distances. For the rest of Chinese history, a centralized empire was the norm.

During the Qin Dynasty and its successor, the Han, the Chinese armies were faced with a new military threat, that of nomadic confederations such as the Xiongnu in the North. These nomads were fast horse archers who had a significant mobility advantage over the settled nations to the South. In order to counter this threat, the Chinese built the Great Wall as a barrier to these nomadic incursions, and also used diplomacy and bribes to preserve peace. Although the Qin general Meng Tian ousted the Xiong-nu from the Ordos region, they regained power under the rule of Maodun. Maodun conquered the Eastern Hu and drove the Yuezhi tribes west. He reclaimed the Ordos from the now crumbling Qin empire and defeated the first Han emperor Gao in battle. This led to a policy of appeasement until the reign of Wudi of Han, who decided to take a tougher stance. However, protecting the borders required a significant investment. Manning the stations of the Greal Wall took about ten thousand men. To support them, fifty to sixty thousand soldier-farmers were moved to the frontiers in order to reduce the cost of transporting supplies. These drafted farmers were not good cavalry troops, so a professional army emerged on the frontiers. These consisted of northern Han mercenaries, convicts working for their freedom, and subjected "Southern" Xiong-nu living within Han territory. By 31 BCE, the Han dynasty abolished universal military conscription that was passed down from the Warring States. In the South, China's territory was roughly doubled as the Chinese conquered much of what is now Southern China, and extended the frontier from the Yangtze to Vietnam.

Armies during the Qin and Han dynasties largely inherited their institutions from the earlier Warring States Period, with the major exception that cavalry forces were becoming more and more important, due to the threat of the Xiongnu. Under Emperor Wu of Han, the Chinese launched a series of massive cavalry expeditions against the Xiongnu, defeating them and conquering much of what is now Northern China, Western China, Mongolia, Central Asia, and Korea. After these victories, Chinese armies were tasked with the goal of holding the new territories against incursions and revolts by peoples such as the Qiang, Xianbei and Xiongnu who had come under Chinese rule.

The structure of the army also changed in this period. While the Qin had utilized a conscript army, by Eastern Han, the army was made up largely of volunteers and conscription could be avoided by paying a fee. Those who presented the government with supplies, horses, or slaves were also exempted from conscription.
Three Kingdoms–Jin (184–304 CE)

The end of the Han Dynasty saw a massive agrarian uprising that had to be quelled by local governors, who seized the opportunity to form their own armies. The central army disintegrated and was replaced by a series of local warlords, who fought for power until most of the North was unified by Cao Cao, who laid the foundation for the Wei Dynasty, which ruled most of China. However, much of Southern China was ruled by two rival Kingdoms, Shu Han and Wu. As a result, this era is known as the Three Kingdoms.

Under the Wei Dynasty, the military system changed from the centralized military system of the Han. Unlike the Han, whose forces were concentrated into a central army of volunteer soldiers, Wei's forces depended on the Buqu, a group for whom soldiering was a hereditary profession. These "military households" were given land to farm, but their children could only marry into the families of other "military households". In effect, the military career was inherited; when a soldier or commander died or became unable to fight, a male relative would inherit his position. These hereditary soldiers provided the bulk of the infantry. For the purpose of cavalry, the Wei was similar to the previous Han dynasty in recruiting large numbers of Xiongnu that were settled in southern Shanxi. In addition, provincial armies, which were very weak under the Han, became the bulk of the army under the Wei, for whom the central army was held mainly as a reserve. This military system was also adopted by the Jin Dynasty, who succeeded the Wei and unified China.

Advances such as the stirrup helped make cavalry forces more effective.
A Chinese terracotta figurine of a cataphract horse and rider, created during the Northern Wei Dynasty (386 to 534 CE).
Era of division (304–589 CE)

In 304 CE, a major event shook China. The Jin Dynasty, who had unified China 24 years earlier, was tottering in collapse due to a major civil war. Seizing this opportunity, Xiong-nu chieftain Liu Yuan and his forces revolted against their Han Chinese overlords. He was followed by many other barbarian leaders, and these rebels were called the "Wu Hu" or literally "Five barbarian tribes". By 316 CE, the Jin had lost all territory north of the Huai river. From this point on, much of North China was ruled by Sinicized barbarian tribes such as the Xianbei, while southern China remained under Han Chinese rule, a period known as the Era of Division. During this era, the military forces of both Northern and southern regimes diverged and developed very differently.


Northern China was devastated by the Wu Hu uprisings. After the initial uprising, the various tribes fought among themselves in a chaotic era known as the Sixteen Kingdoms. Although brief unifications of the North, such as Later Zhao and Former Qin, occurred, these were relatively short-lived. During this era, the Northern armies, were mainly based around nomadic cavalry, but also employed Chinese as foot soldiers and siege personnel. This military system was rather improvising and ineffective, and the states established by the Wu Hu were mostly destroyed by the Jin Dynasty or the Xianbei.[23]
Armed riders on horseback, a tomb mural from the Northern Qi (550–557 CE) period

A new military system did not come until the invasions of the Xianbei in the 5th century CE, by which time most of the Wu Hu had been destroyed and much of North China had been reconquered by the Chinese dynasties in the South. Nevertheless, the Xianbei won many successes against the Chinese, conquering all of North China by 468 CE The Xianbei state of Northern Wei created the earliest forms of the equal field (均田) land system and the Fubing system (府兵) military system, both of which became major institutions under Sui and Tang. Under the fubing system each headquarters (府) commanded about one thousand farmer-soldiers who could be mobilized for war. In peacetime they were self-sustaining on their land allotments, and were obliged to do tours of active duty in the capital.
Southern Chinese dynasties, being descended from the Han and Jin, prided themselves on being the successors of the Chinese civilization and disdained the Northern dynasties, who they viewed as barbarian usurpers. Southern armies continued the military system of Buqu or hereditary soldiers from the Jin Dynasty. However, the growing power of aristocratic landowners, who also provided many of the buqu, meant that the Southern dynasties were very unstable; after the fall of the Jin, four dynasties ruled in just two centuries.

This is not to say that the Southern armies did not work well. Southern armies won great victories in the late 4th century CE, such as the battle of Fei at which an 80,000-man Jin army crushed the 300,000-man army of Former Qin, an empire founded by one of the Wu Hu tribes that had briefly unified North China.[citation needed] In addition, under the brilliant general Liu Yu, Chinese armies briefly reconquered much of North China.
Sui-Tang (589–907 CE)
A stone tomb guardian holding a sword, from the Tang Dynasty tombs at the Qianling Mausoleum

In 581 CE, the Chinese Yang Jian forced the Xianbei ruler to abdicate, founding the Sui Dynasty and restoring Chinese rule in the North. By 589 CE, he had unified much of China.

The Sui's unification of China sparked a new golden age. During the Sui and Tang, Chinese armies, based on the Fubing system invented during the era of division, won military successes that restored the empire of the Han Dynasty and reasserted Chinese power. The Tang created large contingents of powerful heavy infantry. A key component of the success of Sui and Tang armies, just like the earlier Qin and Han armies, was the adoption of large elements of cavalry. These powerful horsemen, combined with the superior firepower of the Chinese infantry (powerful missile weapons such as recurve crossbows), made Chinese armies powerful.

However, during the Tang Dynasty the fubing (府兵) system began to break down. Based on state ownership of the land under the juntian system, the prosperity of the Tang Dynasty meant that the state's lands were being bought up in ever increasing quantities. Consequently, the state could no longer provide land to the farmers, and the juntian system broke down. By the 8th century, the Tang had reverted to the centralized military system of the Han. However, this also did not last and it broke down during the disorder of the An Lushan, which saw many fanzhen or local generals become extraordinarily powerful. These fanzhen were so powerful they collected taxes, raised armies, and made their positions hereditary. Because of this, the central army of the Tang was greatly weakened. Eventually, the Tang Dynasty collapsed and the various fanzhen were made into separate kingdoms, a situation that would last until the Song Dynasty.

During the Tang, professional military writing and schools began to be set up to train officers, an institution that would be expanded during the Song.

Tibetan tradition says that the Tang Dynasty seized the Tibetan capital at Lhasa in 650. In 763 the Tibetans captured the Tang capital at Chang'an, for fifteen days during the An Shi Rebellion.

In 756, over 4,000 Arab mercenaries joined the Chinese against An Lushan. They remained in China, and some of them were ancestors of the Hui people. During the Tang Dynasty, 3,000 Chinese soldiers, and 3,000 Muslim soldiers were traded to each other in an agreement.
Song (960–1279 CE)

During the Song Dynasty, the emperors were focused on curbing the power of the Fanzhen, local generals who they viewed as responsible for the collapse of the Tang Dynasty. Local power was curbed and most power was centralized in the government, along with the army. In addition, the Song adopted a system in which commands by generals were ad hoc and temporary; this was to prevent the troops from becoming attached to their generals, who could potentially rebel. Successful generals such as Yue Fei (岳飛)and Liu Zen were persecuted by the Song Court who feared they would rebel.

Although the system worked at quelling rebellions, it was a failure in defending China and asserting its power. The Song had to rely on new gunpowder weapons introduced during the late Tang and bribes to fend off attacks by its enemies, such as the Khitan, Tanguts, Jurchens, and Mongols, as well as an expanded army of over 1 million men.[39] In addition, the Song was greatly disadvantaged by the fact their enemies had taken advantage of the era of chaos following the collapse of the Tang to conquer the Great Wall region, allowing them to advance into Northern China unimpeded. Not only that, but the Song also lost the horse-producing regions which made their cavalry extremely inferior. Eventually the Song fell to the Mongol invasions in the 13th century.

The military technology of the Song was very advanced. Gunpowder weapons such as fire lances, cast-iron gunpowder bombs and rockets were employed in large numbers by the Song Dynasty, which also created China's first standing navy. This advanced technology, along with the resources from the Song's prosperous economy, was key for the Song army to fend off its barbarian opponents, such as the Khitans, Jur'chens and Mongols until the final fall of the Song to the Mongol Yuan Dynasty.
Yuan (1279–1368)
"Guan Yu Captures General Pang De", a Ming Dynasty painting by Shang Xi

Founded by the Mongols who conquered Song China, the Yuan had the same military system as most nomadic peoples to China's north, focused mainly on nomadic cavalry, who were organized based on households and who were led by leaders appointed by the khan.

The Mongol invasion started in earnest only when they acquired their first navy, mainly from Chinese Song defectors. Liu Cheng, a Chinese Song commander who defected to the Mongols, suggested a switch in tactics, and assisted the Mongols in building their own fleet. Many Chinese served in the Mongol navy and army and assisted them in their conquest of Song.

However, in the conquest of China, the Mongols also adopted gunpowder weapons such as the thundercrash bomb and thousands of Chinese infantry and naval forces into the Mongol army. Another weapon adopted by the Mongols were Saracen counterweight trebuchets designed by Muslim engineers; these proved decisive in the Siege of Xiangyang, whose capture by the Mongols precipitated the beginning of the end for the Song Dynasty. The Mongol military system began to collapse after the 14th century and by 1368 the Mongols was driven out by the Chinese Ming Dynasty.

The Mongols under Genghis Khan and Hulagu also brought Chinese artillery specialists withint their armies who specialized in mangonels, to Persia.

During the Mongol invasion of Iraq, 1,000 Chinese crossbowmen who utilized fire arrows participated in the invasion, along with the Mongol tribesmen. In 1258 the commnader of the Mongol Hulagu Khan's forces besieging Baghdad was a Chinese General Guo Kan. The Chinese General Guo Kan was then made Governor of Baghdad by Hulagu, who also brought Chinese technicians specializing in hydraulics to engineer the Tigris Euphrates basin irrigation systems. This resulted in the middle east being permeated by major Chinese influence during Hulagu's reign.
Ming (1368–1644)

The Ming focused on building up a powerful standing army that could drive off attacks by foreign barbarians. Beginning in the 14th century, the Ming armies drove out the Mongols and expanded China's territories to include Yunnan, Mongolia, Tibet, much of Xinjiang and Vietnam. The Ming also engaged in Overseas expeditions which included one violent conflict in Sri Lanka. Ming armies incorporated gunpowder weapons into their military force, speeding up a development that had been prevalent since the Song.

Ming military institutions were largely responsible for the success of Ming's armies. The early Ming's military was organized by the Wei-suo system, which split the army up into numerous "Wei" or commands throughout the Ming frontiers. Each wei was to be self-sufficient in agriculture, with the troops stationed there farming as well as training. This system also forced soldiers to serve hereditarily in the army; although effective in initially taking control of the empire, this military system proved unviable in the long run and collapsed in the 1430s, with Ming reverted to a professional volunteer army similar to Tang, Song and Later Han.

Throughout most of the Ming's history, the Ming armies were successful in defeating foreign powers such as the Mongols and Japanese and expanding China's influence. However, with the little Ice Age in the 17th century, the Ming Dynasty was faced with a disastrous famine and its military forces disintegrated as a result of the famines spurring from this event.

At the Second Battle of Tamao (1522) Chinese ships knocked out two Portuguese ships, who were armed with gunpowder weapons, and forced the Portuguese to retreat.

In 1662, Chinese and European arms clashed when a Ming-loyalist army of 25,000 led by Koxinga forced Dutch East India Company garrison of 2,000 on Taiwan into surrender, after a final assault during seven month long siege. The final blow to the Company's defense came when a Dutch defector, who would warn Koxinga of a life threatening bombardment, had pointed the inactive besieging army to the weak points of the Dutch star-shaped fort. While the mainstay of the Chinese forces were archers, the Chinese used cannons too during the siege, which however the European eye-witnesses did not judge as effective as the Dutch batteries. The Dutch lost five ships and 130 men in an attempt to relieve the siege of the fortress.
Qing (1644–1911)
Portrait of Wu Fu, Brigadier General of the Gansu Region. Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk; 1760 CE; inscribed, and with one seal of the Qianlong Emperor.

The Qing were another conquest dynasty, similar to the Yuan. The Qing military system depended on the "bannermen" who were Manchus that soldiered as a profession. However, the Qing also incorporated Chinese units into their army, known as the "green armies", and large number of Han Chinese and Koreans of Liao Dong(遼東) were enlisted into Three Banner Army (booi ilan gusa), which were under direct command of the Manchu Emperor. Unlike the Song and Ming, however, the Qing armies had a strange neglect for firearms, and did not develop them in any significant way. In addition, the Qing armies also contained a much higher proportion of cavalry than Chinese dynasties, due to the fact the Jurchens were nomads before their rise to rule all of China.

The Qing dynasty engaged a western power for the second time in Chinese history, during the Russian–Manchu border conflicts, again defeating them in battle. The Manchues extended their power to the west conquering modern Xinjiang and establishing a protectorate over Tibet. After the demise of the Zunghar Khanate, Manchu authority in Tibet only faced weak opposition. In 1792-1793 the Qing made one of their most remarkable military campaigns when they drove the Gurkhas out of Tibet and only stopped their chase near Kathmandu. In 1841 the Sino-Sikh war ended with the expulsion of a Sikh army.

The Qing won many military successes in the Northwest, and were successful in reincorporating much of Mongolia and Xinjiang into China after the fall of the Ming Dynasty, as well as strengthening control over Tibet. However, when faced with western armies in the 19th century, the Qing's military system began to collapse. The only one battle that Qing won with heavier casualties inflicted on the Western side during this era was the Battle of Taku Forts (1859), in which the Chinese used gunpowder weapons like Cannons and muskets to destroy three Anglo French ships and inflict heavy casualties.

To compensate for this, a series of "new armies" based on European standards, were formed by the Qing. These armies were mainly composed of Han Chinese, and under Han Chinese commanders such as Zeng Guofan, Zuo Zongtang, Li Hongzhang and Yuan Shikai and thus weakened the Manchus' hold on military power. Examples of these armies were the Xiang Army and the Huai Army. The Qing also absorbed bandit armies and Generals who defected to the Qing side during rebellions, like the Muslim Generals Ma Zhan'ao, Ma Qianling, Ma Haiyan, and Ma Julung. There were also armies composed of Chinese Muslims led by Muslim Generals like Dong Fuxiang, Ma Anliang, Ma Fuxiang, and Ma Fuxing who commanded the Kansu Braves. Local officials could also take command of military affairs, such as the father of Yang Zengxin during the Panthay Rebellion. In 1911 CE, the Chinese revolution overthrew the Manchu Qing Dynasty, and Yuan Shikai forced the Manchu monarch to resign peacefully on the promise that not a single Manchu royal be executed by revolutionaries, and thus began the modern era of Chinese history.
2 - Russia

The land forces of imperial Russia before 1917 and of the new state of Russia after 1992 were known as the Russian army; from 1918 to 1946 the land forces of Soviet Russia and (from January 1924) the USSR were officially the ‘Workers' and Peasants' Red Army’ (RKKA), usually abbreviated to the ‘Red Army’, and from 1946 until the dissolution of the Union in December 1991, the ‘Soviet army’. Because of the strong element of continuity throughout the period, this entry covers them all. Although always variable in quality and at times cursed by poor leadership, rigid tactics, lack of initiative, and occasionally indiscipline which led to atrocities, the Russian and Soviet armies often surprised their critics, and those who underestimated them—including Napoleon and Hitler—paid a terrible price. They have also made remarkable contributions to the development or adaptation of military technology, of tactics, operational concepts, and the military art throughout the last three centuries. As the German general and military theorist Hugo von Freytag-Loringhoven said of the imperial army on its exit from WW I, it remained, ‘to the end a redoubtable adversary’. Winston Churchill, no Russophile, paid his great ally the highest compliment: ‘The guts of the German army’, he said in 1944, ‘have been largely torn out by Russian valour and generalship’.

The Russian army was born under the ‘Tartar yoke’, the two-and-a-half centuries of Mongol suzerainty in Russia from 1240 to 1480. Under the command of Genghis Khan's grandson, Batu, with Subedei as COS, the Mongols seized the heart of what is now European Russia in two swift campaigns (1237-8 and 1240), deliberately choosing to attack in winter because the rivers and ground would be frozen. The Mongols exercised power through Russian princes, who were responsible for raising troops. Russian princes were therefore part of the Mongol military system and could hardly fail to be impressed by it. In 1380 Prince Dmitry of the Don defeated the Tartar Khan Mamay at Kulikovo field, with an army raised on the Mongol conscription system and using Mongol tactics. In 1382 the Mongols retaliated, capturing and burning Moscow which was defended, for the first time in Russia, by artillery. The Mongol influence persisted after the end of the Tartar yoke. Giles Fletcher, Elizabeth I's ambassador to Russia in 1588-9, wrote that the Russians were at war with ‘the Tartars’ nearly every year and that they were the neighbours ‘with whom they have greatest dealings and intercourse, both in peace and war’. The Mongol legacy can be traced to this century, for example, in the lava—a Cossack formation, an open-order cavalry attack. Lava is from the Mongol word lau, which expresses the idea of convergence. It was employed against the French in 1812 and in 1912 was adopted as the standard formation for Russian cavalry, and was widely used in the Russian civil war. So a Mongol formation with a Mongol name survived for 700 years, right into the Soviet period.

The Russians' great emphasis on artillery, in which the Russian army has always had a tradition of excellence, may also date back to fighting the Mongols. Russian writers commented that artillery was the one thing that really frightened the Mongols, and it was the only weapons system that gave the Russians the crucial advantage of range over their powerful composite bows.

The Asiatic component of the Russian army and its experience of campaigns in the Caucasus and central Asia, combined with its schizophrenic position on the edge of Europe, sometimes playing a European role, sometimes not, gave it many characteristics which it shares with the British army.

Under Ivan ‘the Terrible’ professional units of gunners (pushkary) and musketeers (streltsy) were formed, although the Russian army remained a predominantly cavalry force on the oriental model until the 17th century. Then Russia began to look to the west, a process which began in earnest under Tsar Aleksey Mikhailovich in 1645-76. After the Thirty Years War and the British civil wars there were plenty of mercenaries for whom Russia offered both safety from reprisals and opportunity, including Scotsmen like Gen Patrick Gordon, who entered Russian service in 1661.

Russia exerted a fascination on western intellectuals which has continued to this day. John Milton and Daniel Defoe both wrote about it. Milton noted that the Russians fought ‘without order, nor willingly give battail but by stealth or ambush; of cold and hard Diet marvellously patient’, an assessment with which the Wehrmacht in 1941-5 would probably have agreed. An early 18th-century assessment of the Russian fleet similarly stressed Russian cunning and their expertise at ‘a handsome defence, ever a Russian's masterpiece’.

The process of westernization accelerated under Peter ‘the Great’, who created a regular army on the western model, based on a system of conscription. The Russians learned by their mistakes, losing to the Swedes at Narva in 1700 but winning at Poltava in 1709. The army regulations (Ustav voinskiy) of 1716 established a regular army of 112, 000 men, comprising 70, 000 infantry, 38, 000 cavalry, and 4, 000 artillerymen.

By the mid-18th century the Russian army had expanded to 331, 000, ready for Russia's appearance as a major player in European politics in the Seven Years War. At the battle of Kunersdorf on 12 August 1759 a Russian-Austrian army under Russian Gen Saltykov defeated Frederick ‘the Great’, and the following year a Russian cavalry raid reached Berlin. The Russians introduced excellent new artillery including the ‘unicorn’ howitzer and at the battle of Paltsig (modern Pałcł in Poland) used a form of indirect fire. Russia was now a great European power, and would remain so. In 1763 the Russian general staff was formed. During this period the main European powers had moved towards characteristic uniform colours, though with many exceptions, and the Russians adopted a very practical dark green.

Russia's double-headed eagle continued to face east—or south—as well as west, however. There were a total of nine Russo-Turkish wars (1676-81, 1686-1700, 1710-13, 1735-9, 1768-74, 1787-91, 1806-12, 1828-9, and 1877-8), not counting the Crimean war and WW I, the first of which began against Turkey and the second of which included large-scale action against Turkey on the Caucasus front. The fifth and sixth Russo-Turkish wars provided a hard school for many 18th- and early 19th-century Russian commanders, including Rumyantsev, Suvorov, and Kutuzov.

A key figure in the development of the Russian army was Potemkin, who established a Russian trend for practical, comfortable, but stylish uniforms. Potemkin's easygoing uniforms were discarded under mad Tsar Paul, who ruled 1796-1801 and ordered a return to Prussian-style drill and uniforms and pigtails. The Russian army which goose-stepped into battle at Austerlitz in 1805 was still run on the lines laid down by Paul. After the defeat at Austerlitz the Russians discarded the Prussian system and began training their troops to conduct aimed fire and make use of natural cover. In 1809 a new 0.7 inch musket was introduced. The war ministry had also been founded in 1802 (from 1802-12 it was called the ‘Ministry of Land Forces’) and officers began undertaking field training and staff rides. As a result, the Russian army was much better schooled and equipped to take the field against Napoleon in 1812.

During the ‘long peace’ which followed the Napoleonic wars the European Russian army ossified, reflecting the backward state of the economy. However, in the Caucasus the Russians were fighting a vicious war against local tribes (1817-64) including the great guerrilla leader Shamyl, an experience similar to that of the British in India or the US army in the west at the same time. Furthermore the 1848 revolutions gave the Russian army an opportunity to deploy the first force ever sent on operations (as opposed to on exercises) by railway. The ‘Eastern war’, as the Crimean war was known in Russia, showed the backwardness of the Russian army, still equipped with smooth-bore muskets, compared with the French and British who had the new Minié rifle. Their inferiority was even more apparent at sea, where the Russian wooden fleet declined to give battle to the iron-framed, steam-powered vessels of Britain and France. However, for the Russians the Crimean peninsula (where Turks and Piedmontese were also employed) was a minor theatre: the main potential theatre was in central Europe and they also fought a war with the Turks in the Caucasus with Shamyl at their back.

It was obvious that what would later be called a ‘revolution in military affairs’ was taking place, and the Russians determined to do something about it. The liberal war minister Gen Dmitry Milyutin set in train a series of military reforms between 1860 and 1870. Most remarkable was the invention of the system of Military Districts (MDs), from 1863, which survived into the Soviet period. Russia was so vast—it stretched from Poland more than halfway round the world to Alaska, which was not sold to the USA until 1867—that the only way to defend it was to make each MD able to fight a war on its own. This happened twice in the Soviet period, though in both cases a single MD was not quite up to it. The Leningrad MD fought the war with Finland in 1939-40 and the Turkestan MD was responsible for the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979. Milyutin's reforms included examination of the movement of troops by rail and water (1864) and of Russia's strategic railways (1866). Both were chaired by Gen Mikhail Ivanin, a veteran of the central Asian expedition to Khiva in 1839-40 and an expert on the Mongols. In 1874 Russia also introduced a modern system of universal short service conscription, to replace the older system where certain peasants had been called up for long periods of service.

In 1877 Russia was drawn into war with Turkey in support of her Orthodox and Slavic kinsmen in Serbia and Bulgaria. Volunteers had been going to the Balkans for some years before. The Russian army, reformed by Milyutin, performed brilliantly. In the battle of Avliyar-Aladja, they used the telegraph to co-ordinate an attack on a wide front, and pushed Lt Gen Yuri Gurko's forward detachment through the little-used Khainkoi Pass through the Balkans to take the main Shipka Pass in the rear, and then to cut Turkish communications. It was the prototype of the Great Patriotic war ‘forward detachment’ and ‘mobile group’, and of the ‘operational manoeuvre group’ which caused NATO analysts such alarm in the 1980s. The Russian army stopped, in part to avoid clashing with the British who did not want them to seize Istanbul.

It was also in the 1870s that the Russian army began its extraordinarily rigorous and academic exploration of the likely character of future war. More than the other great European powers, they took the lessons of the American civil war seriously, particularly with regard to cavalry ‘raids’, known as Americanskiy reyd.

The Russian army which went to war in the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-5 was, in spite of the common impression, a good one. The Russians were well equipped, especially with artillery, and fought well. There were two problems: Gen Kuropatkin, the former war minister, tried to bring about a single decisive battle, in an era when battlefronts had extended to make this impossible, and the Russian army had to be supplied along an incomplete single-track railway over about 4, 000 miles (6, 436 km). In spite of that, Kuropatkin was optimistic that the Russians could win, until the 1905 revolution in European Russia forced the government to end the war.

The Russians were similarly unlucky in 1914. Between 1908 and 1915 the Russian army was reorganized under the CGS, then war minister, Vladimir Sukhomlinov. He responded correctly to the lessons of the Russo-Japanese war, but his reforms were not complete when war started. During this period a group of bright young officers, who would later join the Red Army, including Aleksandr Neznamov, began working on a unified military doctrine. The Russians mobilized faster than the Germans expected, and won their first battle, at Gumbinen. They had prepared for a short, sharp, mobile war—the wrong war. As in the west, they rapidly experienced a shell shortage. A number of western journalists were with the Russian army and their reports indicate they were generally impressed. Despite defeat at Tannenberg and the Masurian Lakes, the Russians held the Germans and regularly bested the Austrians. The Brusilov offensive in June 1916, timed to coincide with the British Somme offensive, was brilliantly planned and came close to achieving a breakthrough. The Russians attempted a final great offensive, the ‘Kerensky offensive’ of summer 1917, but it failed. Contrary to Lenin's statement that the Russian army ‘voted for peace with its feet’, the evidence indicates that many Russian units stood their ground until the November revolution (see Russian Revolutions). Freytag-Loringhoven was right. The imperial Russian army remained, to the end, a redoubtable adversary.

Some officers, including the brilliant Gen Mikhail Alekseyev, joined the ‘White’ forces, opposed to the revolution, in the Russian civil war that followed. But some 50, 000 imperial officers—often those from Moscow or Petrograd—joined the new Red Army, founded by a decree of 28 January 1918 since it became obvious that the revolution would have to defend itself. By the end of April 1918 the Red Army was 196, 000 strong. By autumn 1920, at the end of the main phase of the civil war, it was 5.5 million. Although led at the highest level by Trotsky, the mechanics of fighting were left to ex-imperial Russian army officers under political supervision—the origin of the commissar system—while imperial army NCOs formed the next generation of senior officers. Very senior officers like Brusilov, the CGS during WW I, Nikolay Mikhnevich, and Maj Gen Aleksandr Svechin moved into teaching positions; more junior officers like Tukhachevskiy and Boris Shaposhnikov rapidly assumed senior command and staff positions. It was the latter officers who were mainly killed in the great purge of 1937, allowing the tsarist NCOs like Zhukov and Konstantin Rokossovskiy to take command and become marshals during the ‘Great Patriotic War’ of 1941-5. Shaposhnikov, a tsarist cavalry officer who had completed the General Staff Academy in 1910, survived, uniquely, to be CGS at the beginning of the 1941-5 war and a Deputy People's Commissar of Defence. Stalin said it was because Shaposhnikov did everything he was told.

The continuity between the imperial army and the Red Army was underplayed, though acknowledged, in the Soviet period. Neznamov, who had worked on military doctrine before WW I, now began publishing and during the 1920s the Red Army developed its understanding of the operational level of war. An enormous effort went into military education, to provide new working-class commanders with the knowledge and education needed to handle large military formations, and to enlist them into the communist party.

During 1924-5 the Frunze military reforms took place, leading to the creation of a ‘mixed’ system with a small professional army at the core of a territorial militia which could be called up in war. During the late 1920s and early 1930s, the Red Army was responsible for some of the most original and far-reaching developments in military theory on the conduct of total war and the development of deep battle, especially the work of Aleksandr Svechin, Triandafillov, and Tukhachevskiy. By 1935 it was clear that technological advances made it essential to have a ‘high quality mass army’—an ambition the USSR struggled to achieve, probably bankrupting itself in the process.

In 1937 the Soviet armed forces, including the army, were devastated by Stalin's great purge. The army lost 3 out of 5 marshals, 3 out of 5 ‘army commanders first class’ (generals), all ten second class, 50 out of 57 corps commanders, 154 out of 186 divisional commanders, and 401 out of 456 colonels. Although these figures were not published until 1987, foreign observers at the time knew enough of what had happened to believe the Red Army had been decapitated and would prove easy meat in a future war. The way the Red Army looked in the invasions of eastern Poland in 1939, the Baltic States in 1940, and its performance in the 1939-40 Russo-Finnish war suggested they might be right. By this time the Red Army was receiving some remarkable new equipment but appeared unable to use it.

BARBAROSSA, the invasion of the USSR on 22 June 1941 that began the war on the eastern front, was the most devastating attack in the entire history of war. The Red Army, supported and sometimes disciplined by the troops of the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD), fought stubbornly, and inflicted the first great defeats on the German armies at Moscow and Stalingrad. The conceptual studies of the inter-war years bore fruit in vast operations of staggering scale and scope. The old tsarist badges and insignia were reintroduced, and victory over Nazi Germany and imperial Japan brought glory to Russian arms. Although it was very variable in quality, sometimes guilty of atrocities, and maintained in battle by a combination of patriotism, courage, and coercion, the Red Army's reputation soared. In 1946 it was renamed the Soviet Army.

The ‘revolution in military affairs’ brought about by the nuclear weapon and the ballistic missile to carry it led to the creation of a new armed service in 1959—the Strategic Missile Forces (RVSN), avoiding the awkward problem which faced western governments in deciding whether to give the new weapons to the army, navy, air force, or all three. A strategic air defence force (PVO) had been created in 1941, operating both aircraft and anti-aircraft guns and missiles, creating a structure with five armed services rather than the traditional three. The army was last in the queue for recruits—the best went to the high-tech services. We will never know how it would have performed against NATO but it would have been formidable. The Soviets made mistakes in Afghanistan in 1979-89, but learned from experience. The lack of a tradition of doctrine for operations short of major war—it had focused totally on large-scale armoured and nuclear warfare—proved a major disadvantage.

On 8 December 1991 the USSR broke up and shortly afterwards the new Russian army was formed. Its uniforms, badges, and insignia were little changed apart from the reintroduction of the double-headed eagle, facing east and west. The financial crisis of the 1990s meant that soldiers and officers went unpaid, and it was difficult to attract recruits. In 1996 President Yeltsin announced to intention to end conscription by 2000—this was hastily pushed back to 2005 and then 2015. At the time of publication, Russia cannot afford professional armed forces, though it would like them. The army's performance in Chechnya was variable, but it was ultimately successful. Its most professional troops—the airborne forces—have performed very creditably in Bosnia. The Russian army will no doubt rise from its present crisis as it has before. It will always be a ‘redoubtable adversary’. Or, preferably, as it was to America and Britain in much of two world wars, a mighty ally and friend.

1 - United States Of America

In the closing year of the American independence war, Washington wrote his views of a proper military (land forces) policy for the new United States of America. Washington's ‘Sentiments on a Peace Establishment’, completed in May 1783, not only reflected the experiences of the colonial period and the war for independence, but also identified the enduring factors that would shape American armies well into the 20th century. From his experience in two North American wars, Washington did not believe that Americans would ever tolerate the cost or political threat of a large regular army raised and commanded by a strong central government. ‘Altho' a large standing Army in time of Peace hath ever been considered dangerous to the liberties of the Country, yet a few Troops, under certain circumstances, are not only safe, but indispensably necessary. Fortunately for us our relative situation requires but few.’ Washington knew that the state governors and assemblies jealously guarded their control of the militia, the citizen-armies of white male homeowners-voters-taxpayers that had defended their villages and farms since the early 17th century. He also knew that the state forces and his own Continental Army had great difficulty using any sort of conscription system. Such drafts usually meant opening service to ‘the lower sort’ and offering them rewards of land, money, and political rights.

Washington also recognized that militia-based land forces had one military function: the defence of localities and states from direct attack, whether from the sea by Europeans or from Native American warriors, often abetted by Europeans. With a vast new nation to defend, thinly populated away from the Atlantic seaboard, no conceivable national army could protect the western settlers by itself. Even if Congress provided some sort of army to police and protect the national domain, most conspicuously the Northwest Territory beyond the Appalachians and north of the Ohio river, this army would be too small to replace the militia. The difficulty with any militia force was that it included the males who formed the backbone of America's agricultural population, the largest and most important part of its free labour force. Thus, state authorities—let alone a national officer—were unlikely to call out the militia for greater than a 30-60-day period of compulsory service; expeditions that left a state and/or remained in the field for a longer time would have to be raised as volunteers under either national or state authority. These volunteers would insist, like the militia, in selecting their officers (meaning gubernatorial appointment) and establishing their own regulations. They also presented the same problems as the militia in terms of discipline and effectiveness.

Like Washington, the other military experts and political leaders of the post-independence period agreed in principle that the USA still faced threats of internal unrest and foreign invasion and the nation's economic health and political liberties demanded a mixed force of long-service volunteer ‘regulars’ called the US army and state-controlled militia organized for emergency ‘calling forth’ by national and state authorities. Like many other aspects of the American federal system, embodied in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, the power over the use of military force and the creation of military institutions rested in the hands of many levels of political sovereignty and (in one interpretation of the Second Amendment) in the hands of citizens themselves, who retained the ‘right to bear arms’. This ‘right’ in Great Britain had rapidly disappeared in the face of laws designed to disarm Celtic rebels and disgruntled rural mobs. While the national government had the power to form armies (granted to the Congress in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution) and command these armies through the President as C-in-C (Article 2, Section 2), the states bore the principal responsibility for maintaining their own defence forces as they saw fit.

As the land forces developed in the Federalist and Jeffersonian periods (1789-1816), the US army and the militia forces of the states and federal territories exhibited the very strengths and weaknesses that Washington and other nationalists predicted in the 1780s. The US army performed four major functions: expanded the western frontier; manned coastal fortifications with heavy artillery around major harbours or estuaries; developed and produced military ordnance like cannon and muskets; and provided officer-experts in exploration, cartography, and civil engineering, all essential to westward settlement. The territorial and state militias had the duty of mounting an immediate response to invasion, whether by a British army or a Shawnee war party, and of suppressing rebellion, whether it came from slaves, a new immigrant urban working class, or unhappy farmers. Any major conflict, dignified by Congress as a ‘war’, would probably force an expansion of the US army, the formation of volunteer units under national and state authority, and the compulsory call-up of the militia for federal (limited to 90 days a year) or state service. The Militia Act of 1792 expressed this concept, amplified by further legislation in 1808 that promised that the states could share an annual appropriation of $200, 000 for the purchase of muskets if the states could prove they had an organized militia.

The War of 1812 demonstrated the best and worst of the characteristics of America's armies. The regular US army was too small and too dispersed to deter Great Britain; it was too ill-equipped and poorly commanded to either wage offensive operations or even hold its own posts along the Canadian border in 1812. It could, however, expand from 6, 000 to 33, 000 by 1815, and it performed on a few occasions up to European standards against British regulars along the Canadian frontier in 1813 and 1814. Yet the regular army alone could not meet all the military challenges. State governments, usually those most directly threatened, could and did form volunteer units to take the field. Some of these units of infantry, cavalry, mounted infantry, and artillery reached ‘professional’ standards, but they seldom served for longer than six to twelve months. Their effectiveness almost always depended on the charismatic leadership of a local warrior-hero like Andrew Jackson of Tennessee, Richard H. Johnson of Kentucky, or Samuel Smith of Maryland. At one time or another almost 500, 000 citizen-soldiers served in the 1812-15 war, and they contributed to some notable successes like the Creek campaign of 1813 and the defences of Plattsburg, Baltimore, and New Orleans in 1814-15. They also suffered their share of defeats, the sack of Washington (1814) being the most dramatic.

For the rest of the 19th century, American land-force policy endured despite fundamental changes in the conduct of war like the development of breech-loading ordnance and steam-powered transportation as well as the institutional growth in Europe of professionalized officer corps and general staffs. The regular army and the state forces continued to perform their traditional missions with relative effectiveness; their only major failure in maintaining the authority of the national government occurred in 1860-1, and became the American civil war.

The Mexican war had shown how flexible the system might be, especially adaptive to the political realities of a war that divided citizens on party and regional lines. The regiments and batteries of the US army increased in strength through bounty-driven volunteering from 7, 400 to 42, 400; this wartime expansion included the formation of ten brand-new regiments, rich in officer commissions. Nineteen out of 29 state governments provided 61, 000 men in 27 volunteer regiments, enlisted for one year's service or more. The War Department later concluded that 12, 600 militia had also served under involuntary call-up, but these Texas and Louisiana units were probably volunteers in state service and served for very short periods. Some entered federal service to cross state or national boundaries as the Texas Rangers did under Taylor in the army in northern Mexico or the Mormon battalion and New Mexico militia who participated in Gen Alexander W. Doniphan's expedition into north-central Mexico. In retrospect, the regular regiments fought and won the war's major battles, three in Texas and northern Mexico under Taylor in 1846 and six under Scott in the campaign that eventually captured Mexico City. In only one battle (Buena Vista, February 1847) did state volunteers bear the brunt of battle. The regular army also endured the preponderance of combat casualties, 1, 100 of 1, 700 dead and 2, 745 of 4, 102 wounded in action. The war demonstrated—as the War of 1812 had not—that the USA could bring most of its wartime army to bear upon the enemy, even in an overseas expedition.

In terms of land-force policy, the civil war proved little except that mass American armies could kill and maim each other by the hundreds of thousands over a four-year period. Despite some creative myth-making during and after the war about the superior generalship of regular officers (West Point graduates like Lee, Grant, and Sherman) and the staunch service of small contingents of US army ‘regulars’—really wartime enlistees—the war from start to finish was a bloodletting inflicted by citizen-armies upon each other. Of the four million officers and men who served in either the Union or Confederate armies, fewer than 100, 000 had seen service in the regular US army, fought in the war with Mexico as volunteers, or participated in pre-1860 military training as volunteer militia, a category of citizen-soldier that had grown after the 1812-15 war. These units protected or attacked urban ethnic groups, provided ceremonial units in state capitols, satisfied the martial urges of upper middle-class gentlemen, and trained expatriate revolutionaries who wanted to free Ireland, Hungary, and various states in Germany. If one counts every man who had a uniform and took part in military training on a regular basis in 1860 (the US army and the volunteer militia), the total land forces of the USA on the eve of its bloodiest war (both in absolute and population-proportional terms) might have been 56, 000.

A handful of Union army officers, incorporated back into the post-war US army, saw two major lessons in the American civil war: the wartime army like the peacetime army must be run by professional officers, embodied into a general staff and devoted to wartime contingency planning; efficient and timely wartime mobilization required a federal reserve force untainted by state politics that would enlarge the regular US army quickly and provide new units if necessary. After 1871 the German model attracted great interest, but the Swiss system of universal military training also had its attractions. In the meantime, the post-war army went back to its coast defence and frontier forts, numbering only 37, 200 by 1870 and 27, 300 in 1890.

After a decade of war-weariness and sectional strife, the states rebuilt their volunteer state militias (although compulsory service remained a legal option) in the 1870s, in part as a response to racial and labour unrest. In 1890 the volunteer militia, which had largely adopted the title National Guard, may have numbered 100, 000 in units that drilled once a week for a few hours and sometimes went to the field for a week in the summer, both training periods without pay. (States paid Guardsmen only when called to state duty, usually for riot control and disaster relief.) The national government did little to support the Guard other than transfer and sell arms and military equipment under existing federal law.

Some army and Guard officers thought that greater federal subsidies would improve the Guard as a first-line reserve for wartime mobilization, and some states successfully lobbied to have regular officers assigned as Guard advisers and to get federal funds to build armouries. More wartime soldiers, particularly junior officers, might come from the ‘Land Grant’ universities and colleges, established by the Morrill Act of 1862, which required that any state receiving Morrill Act land sales profits had to offer military training for student-volunteers at its new Land Grant university. By the 1890s the students who had received such training might have numbered as many as 100, 000.

Before various military reforms could be established, the USA fought the Spanish-American war, which led to the Philippines insurrection. Waged well beyond the continental USA, the two wars revealed the limitations of the mixed land-force system. Although the War Department wanted to fight Spain with a 64, 000-man all-regular army, supplemented if necessary with federal volunteers, Congress responded to National Guard champions and dictated that state volunteers (under their own officers) be allowed to enter federal service first. The only exceptions were three federal volunteer cavalry regiments, an engineer brigade, some specialist troops, and ten regiments of white and black troops that were supposed to be proof against yellow fever and malaria (‘the Immunes’). The 130 state volunteer regiments (200, 000 officers and men) usually included no more than one-quarter of its soldiers with any sort of prior service, but it was the state governors who commissioned the officers, about 40 for every 1, 000-man regiment. Fewer than half of the state volunteers deployed to the Caribbean or the Philippines; their disease deaths in poorly organized camps in the USA (around 4, 000, compared with fewer than 300 combat deaths) dramatized the fact that the war department had not prepared its support departments and services for wartime expansion.

In the less than twenty years before the USA entered WW I, the military policy of the nation underwent dramatic, but unfinished reform. One factor was the growing appreciation of the impact of new military technology on warfare; in this short period the US army and the National Guard converted to modern magazine rifles, experimented with machine guns, began to use automobiles and trucks, formed aviation units, modernized their artillery, adopted field telephones and primitive radios, and developed motor-powered field engineering. Another development was the awareness that the management of a modern army required extensive pre-war planning and officer education; by 1917 the US army had an officer education system in place to provide European-style commanders and staff officers for large field forces. The greatest challenge was to create a politically legitimate system for raising a wartime army. Just defending the new overseas possessions (Puerto Rico, the Panama Canal Zone, Hawaii, and the Philippines) required far larger regular forces, and the active army reached a peacetime strength of over 100, 000 by 1905, supplemented by Filipino regulars (the Philippine Scouts) and National Guard units in Puerto Rico and Hawaii. To back up this force the War Department and Congress again turned to the National Guard.

In collaboration with the War Department, Congress attempted to reform the National Guard with two major laws, the Militia Acts of 1903 and 1908, and began the ‘nationalization’ of the National Guard as an unlimited federal reserve force, completed by the end of the century. The lever of reform would be federal appropriations for armouries, weapons and equipment, advisers, access to special education and training courses for officers and men, and pay for annual summer field training. The only omitted subsidy was drill pay, and this became a federal responsibility in 1916. The difficulty was some legal uncertainty over whether the federal government could call the National Guard to compulsory service for expeditions abroad for unlimited (‘duration of the emergency’) periods of service. When the War Department examined the issue in 1912, it received an advisory opinion from the US Attorney-General that the federalized National Guard could not be sent abroad unless its members volunteered for such service as individuals. This problem forced the War Department to examine again the feasibility of establishing a federal reserve force, and in 1912 Congress approved a provision that regular enlisted men might volunteer for a reserve corps. The number of soldiers who chose this option would not have formed a company in 1916.

Concerned about the possibility of a war with Mexico after the outbreak of revolution in 1910 and anxious about its security in a world now disordered by WW I, Congress in 1916 passed a National Defence Act. This legislation reflected conflicting sentiments: a generalized interest in ‘preparedness’, the Wilsonian pledge to maintain neutrality yet pressure the Allies and the Central Powers into a compromise peace, and a fear that the USA would soon intervene in the European war. The National Defence Act represented the first peacetime effort to deal with organizing wartime armies and to link those forces to the management of military procurement through a Council of National Defence or ‘war cabinet’ whose authority might extend to economic regulation. The legislation recognized the importance of a ready US army, expanding it to 175, 000 in 111 regiments of infantry, cavalry, and artillery. The National Guard (planned at 400, 000) would become the first source of trained reserve manpower in tactical units, unleashed from potential legal problems by the requirement that any Guardsman receiving federal money would have to take a federal oath that obligated him to overseas service for such a period as the Congress might determine. The mobilization of the Guard for service on the Mexican border proved that Guardsmen would accept this obligation.

Although the Guard lobby and Congress could block any move to create a federal reserve force of units, they conceded that a wartime army would be likely to require the formation of other citizen-soldiers (volunteers and conscripts) into wartime divisions (roughly calculated at around 20, 000 officers and men) and much-enlarged army service and support units. The National Defence Act of 1916 focused on identifying and training officers in peacetime for wartime service either as combat leaders or staff specialists; the legislation created an Officer Reserve Corps (subdivided by combat arms and staff departments) that would come from graduates of university-based university cadet programmes, the summer training camps organized and run by the army since 1912, and from already-licensed professionals like doctors, lawyers, dentists, and engineers. Another unstated assumption was that the War Department would for the first time create officer-training courses in wartime that would supply combat arms leaders to the expanded army. This concept, which assumed the possibility of forming an army of two million, did not reflect any plan to intervene in the European war, but the possibility of a later war with Japan or some future European enemy.

American entry in WW I in April 1917 tested every aspect of the nation's land-forces policy and found it barely satisfactory. Upon entry into the war, the Wilson administration and Congress accepted with great reluctance the reality that the war would be won or lost on the western front. To influence that outcome the USA would have to form a massive American Expeditionary Force (AEF), which eventually numbered over two million. The only way to conserve on shipping and speed up the American reinforcement was to arm the AEF with French and British weapons and equipment. Such adjustments cut almost a year (from both German and American estimates) from the time required to form an American army in France. In the crisis the US government turned to wartime conscription and Congress passed a ‘Selective Service’ Act in May 1918. This law first stirred volunteering for the regular US army and federalized National Guard in 1917 and later in the same year provided a foundation for the creation of a ‘National Army’ of draftees. The legitimacy of the system rested in the decentralization and civilization of the induction process; the locus of deciding who served and who received exemptions and deferments rested in 4, 648 local boards staffed by civilians, not the despised military officers used by the Union and Confederacy in the civil war. Voluntary enrolment for the draft produced more than 24 million names and fewer than 1 million avoiders. By war's end two-thirds of America's soldiers (2.8 million) had entered the army through the draft.

The performance of the AEF left a set of ambiguous lessons for the post-war review of land-force policy. The AEF had found plenty of brave junior officers and enlisted men in its ranks; both regulars and temporary officers (Guardsmen, reserves, and graduates of the officer-candidate schools) had performed with unexpected expertise, a credit to their own intelligence and the AEF school system. Most of the AEF's problems on the battlefield stemmed from poor staff work, primitive transportation logistics, and the inadequate use of supporting arms. No doubt some of these problems might have been eased had the AEF not existed but had been treated like British Commonwealth and French colonial divisions; that is, amalgamated into a larger national army. Such a solution was not congruent with Wilson's diplomacy nor Pershing's national and institutional pride. The AEF, which suffered most of its 55, 000 dead in a span of only fifteen weeks in 1918, had struggled until the war's last week. If less traumatized than their civil-war forebears, army officers returned from France full of ideas on how to modernize and organize American land forces.

Land-force policy and army politics felt the impact of new forms of warfare: the employment of military aircraft of various types for a wide range of missions. The Air Service AEF, an organizational stepchild of the Signal Corps, performed almost every modern airwar mission except strategic bombardment. Army aviators, flying French and British aircraft, protected their own forces, raided German airbases and installations, bombed transportation systems, took photographs, spotted artillery targets, carried messages, and strafed and bombed front-line positions. At the war's end the Air Service numbered 200, 000 officers and men, one-quarter of them in Europe. One group of army aviators, rallying around the charismatic AEF air combat leader Mitchell, argued that the army's aviation force should be an independent service with strategic bombing its primary mission; other air and ground officers believed that army aviation should be integrated with the ground forces in order to insure rapid, decisive battlefield victory. Although they did not use the term ‘air-land battle’, that is exactly what these moderate reformers envisioned. After 1918 any attempt at military reform invariably had to cope with the contentious issue of the future of army aviation.

Reflecting its understanding of the lessons of WW I, Congress passed the National Defence Act of 1920 on the assumption that the mixed armies it created in 1916 and 1917 needed little change. The regular army and National Guard still would provide infantry-artillery divisions (each about 25, 000 soldiers in 1920) while the Officers Reserve Corps would train peacetime officers for an expanded wartime army. One new concept in the 1920 Act was the creation of army Reserve divisions manned in only cadre status (1, 000 or fewer officers and NCOs) ; these federal reservists would prepare for their wartime role of training divisions of draftees for combat. The continental USA was divided into nine corps areas whose commanding generals would train one US army division, two National Guard Divisions, and three army Reserve cadre divisions. All of the divisions would be organized and equipped the same (at least on paper), which allowed National Guard divisions to form tank companies and aviation squadrons, the latter units eventually becoming the Air National Guard in 1947. The Congress intended that the regular army and the National Guard would number about 715, 000 officers and men in peacetime while all elements of the new ‘Army of the United States’ would be used as the foundation for a wartime army of 5-7 million. Congressional economizing, deepened by the economic depression of the 1930s, reduced the actual strength of both armies by 1939 to only 380, 000.

The failure to man and train the Army of the United States (AUS) in the 1930s reflected two major problems. The first was the lack of equipment modernization, which the war department and combat arms commanders recognized; equipment shortages (and the growing obsolescence of the WW I weapons) meant that much of the army could not be combat-ready for at least two years. One option was to limit investment in new weapons like tanks; another was to develop prototypes of new weapons (like the 105 mm howitzer and the M-1 semi-automatic rifle) but not field them. The army pursued better mobility, especially for its service and supply units, through comprehensive motorization, but the willy-nilly purchase of trucks and cars made automotive maintenance difficult and costly, which made Congress unhappy.

The other problem was the new popularity of the Army Air Corps, established as an equal arm in 1920 and then as a super-arm with special allowances to develop aircraft, train pilots, build airbases, and manage its own affairs, all assured in the Air Corps Act of 1926. The Air Corps may have dominated one-quarter of all army spending in the 1930s, and it enjoyed close and co-operative relations with American commercial aviation. In 1931 the army and navy agreed that the Air Corps had an important role in coast defence, which justified the highest priority development of the XB-17, a long-range bomber. In 1935 the emerging bomber force had its squadrons unified under the commanding general, GHQ Air Force. This change meant that much of the Air Corps no longer supported the ground army (the armies and corps), but prepared to wage war by strategic bombardment, smashing the will and industrial might of any future enemy by direct attack on his cities and economic assets.

Concerned with the lack of readiness of all elements of the AUS, Gen Malin Craig, the COS, decided to focus his scarce resources on portions of the US army and the National Guard; after 1935 the army would train and equip a 400, 000-man field army named the Initial Protective Force. Equipment shortages restricted the training of this grouping of ‘minuteman’ divisions; Craig estimated that he needed an additional $4 billion to arm and equip the force. This sum was eight times the army's entire budget in 1935.

The Japanese invasion of China in 1937 and the Nazi-Soviet conquest of Poland in 1939 did not change the army except to accelerate some procurement and modernization plans. When the War Department tried to put its plan for more urgent procurement into effect, the Industrial Mobilisation Plan, the Congress rejected the plea for army modernization. The fall of France in 1940 created a new sense of crisis, and the Congress approved the federalization of the National Guard and the enactment of a new Selective Service Act to draft men for peacetime military training. The fundamental concern was to deter Japan from using German successes to seize the European colonial empires in South-east Asia and the Philippines.

The War Department general staff drafted the ‘Victory Program’ of 1941, a blueprint for the creation of a wartime army of 8.8 million officers and men, a force (as planned) that would produce a ground force of 213 divisions, about half of them mechanized or motorized, and an air force of 195 groups, half of them bombers. In the same summer the Air Corps became the Army Air Forces (USAAF), whose operational forces would be assigned to a theatre commander, not a ground forces general. The Commanding General, USAAF, would be the DCOS of the army, answerable only to the COS, US army. Two years later the army's authoritative doctrinal manual on the conduct of operations stated that army aviation had a co-equal role with the ground forces in winning wars. The USAAF planners in 1941 also drafted their version of an air campaign against Germany; this war of strategic bombardment would ensure air superiority and crush the industry that supplied the Axis ground forces. None of these hopes would materialize completely or in quite the way the planners imagined, but the plans represented a dramatic shift away from massing resources in a large ground army to focusing on an élite, technologically advanced, and capital-intensive air force in order to spare lives in conventional ground battles.

The AUS met its greatest test in the two-front struggle with the Axis in WW II. The AUS split into three functional groupings: Army Ground Forces, Army Air Forces (USAAF), and Army Service Forces (ASF). In terms of numbers and training quality of personnel, the Army Ground Forces took second place to the USAAF Air Forces and ASF; of the 11 million soldiers who served in WW II, only one-third served in the ground forces, principally the 89 divisions formed and deployed abroad. The USAAF absorbed 2.5 million army airmen, and the ASF, faced with global transportation and base-building challenges, grew to three million officers and men. Early in the war army COS George Marshall pledged that the army would produce the best soldiers, armed with the best weapons, in the world. This goal proved to be beyond the army's means. The massive investment of money and quality manpower in the USAAF remains controversial, but it is hard to imagine the army fighting the Wehrmacht in Europe without the benefits of its strategic bombing campaign and the direct support of tactical aviation. In quantitative terms the army directed two-thirds of its combat power against Germany and Italy and one-third against Japan.

The demobilization after WW II and the subsequent development of Cold War military challenges posed by the USSR in central Europe brought more changes to the army. First, it lost almost all its pilots and aircraft (and the guarantee of close air support) to the US Air Force (USAF) in the National Security Act of 1947. By 1949 its principal civilian official, the Secretary of War, had become the Secretary of the Army, subordinated to the Secretary of Defence and stripped of cabinet membership. The army COS became a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, eventually (1986) subordinated to a powerful Chairman invested with special access to the Secretary of Defence and the President. Fundamentally organized and equipped for a mechanized war with the USSR as part of the NATO collective defence alliance, the army, nevertheless, fought two extended ground wars in Asia, neither of which brought it much public acclaim. Instead the wars in Korea and Vietnam used up lives, morale, money for continued modernization, and a good deal of the public sympathy given the army in WW II. The most positive benefit of the two wars was the re-emergence of army aviation as a helicopter force for airmobile warfare.

The Cold War army retained much of its WW II organizational character with an active force that varied between 500, 000 and 1.6 million officers and men formed into between ten and twenty divisions, reinforced with corps troops and separate brigades. The army Reserve and the army National Guard shared the role of providing deployable units with the Reserve stressing service and support units and the Guard combat units, most of which shrank from divisions to brigades by the 1990s. Both reserve components provided units and individuals for the expanded wartime armies of the Korean and Vietnam eras, although the compulsory mobilization of the Vietnam war did not occur until 1968, too late to influence the course of the war. The Korean war mobilization, on the other hand, rebuilt a strategic reserve in the USA, provided veterans for combat service in Korea, in Germany in 1951-2, and allowed the creation of the Seventh Army. The Gulf war also required the army to mobilize Reserves and Guardsmen to strengthen the US Third Army, principally with artillery and support units. Of the 381, 000 soldiers who fought Iraq, 134, 300 male and female soldiers came to the war from federalized reserve units. The subsequent reduction of the active army in the 1990s had one happy benefit, the release of experienced soldiers to reserve units and the equipping of these units with first-line weapons and equipment.

The army also grappled with several manning changes that changed its character. None of the changes came without organizational stress. One fact of life was that the Cold War ground forces could not be manned in sufficient strength without peacetime conscription, enacted in 1948 and continued until 1973. This army of true volunteers, coerced volunteers, and conscripts meant a high turnover, heavy training load, and an irreducible minority of ‘summer soldiers’. The army also tried to balance its emphasis on ready forces, especially in Germany and Korea, with the maintenance of a vast training establishment designed for wartime expansion. By its own admission it retained too many bases, stored too much equipment, supported officer commissioning programmes that could not be justified on cost grounds, and created an active duty officer corps that lacked cohesion and common values. Many army ‘warriors’ sought refuge in élite units: rangers, special forces, attack helicopter squadrons, parts of the armoured forces, and technically advanced artillery and air defence units. The creation of an all-volunteer force in the 1980s and 1990s helped build ‘one army’ in the functional sense, but other factors brought stress from other directions.

One way the army had always justified its existence was to argue that it served as an employer of the American underclass and an agency of assimilation for immigrants, dispossessed farmers, and unemployed, unskilled workers. After WW II this social function, which was real if difficult, received a stern test. First, conscription and (later) the high wages of the volunteer army brought young men into the army with few skills, unfinished education, and no taste for authority and discipline. The drug use of the 1960s and 1970s (pandemic in the army) reflected a rootless youth culture that made training difficult.

This problem was further exacerbated by a presidential decision (long overdue) in 1948 to give African-American soldiers wider opportunities as officers and senior enlisted men, including the command of whites, and to provide meaningful training to black enlistees to the best of their abilities, not just assign them to segregated units with minimal combat and logistical missions. This policy paid real dividends until the 1970s when unemployed black youths flooded the army and went into direct battle with their officers and NCOs and their white comrades. Only by reducing the army and applying higher enlistment standards to all recruits could racial violence be reduced, essential in an army that is now one-third black. Just as this problem subsided, the army found itself accepting the fact that almost 12 per cent of its force would be female, a trend started in 1948. It accelerated in the 1970s when male recruits came in short supply and the Congress accepted the argument that ‘equal opportunity’ had gender as well as racial meaning. The American army of men, women, soldiers of many races and ethnic origins, and even soldiers with unconventional sexual tastes, is a wonder of the world at the end of the 20th century. Optimists believe it will eventually produce the élite androgynous ‘starship troopers’ of the future, adept with wizard weapons and full of traditional warrior virtues detached from old notions of masculinity. Pessimists believe that the army will mirror the experience of the Roman legions, weakened by too-long service abroad, divided by nationalities and deviant subcultures, and devoted to its own comfort and perpetuation, not defence. The past of the American army suggests that it will endure, but that the process will be difficult and test the devotion of those men and women who will try to sustain its honour.

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