Partisan (military)

Partisan (military)

A partisan is a member of an irregular military force formed to oppose control of an area by a foreign power or by an army of occupation. The term can apply to the field element of resistance movements that opposed German rule in several countries during World War II, or those who after the war fought the Soviet Union's Communist rule in Eastern Europe.

The term "partisan" was used in the 17th century to describe the leader of a war party. In 12th century Europe, war parties, or detachments, were frequently used on raids to gather or destroy supplies. Techniques of partisan warfare were described in detail in Johann von Ewald's "Abhandlung über den kleinen Krieg" (1789) [Ewald J. (ed. & trans. Selig, R. and Skaggs, D) "Treatise on Partisan Warfare" Greenwood Press (1991) ISBN 0313273502] .

The initial concept of partisan warfare was the use of troops raised from the local population in a war zone, or in some cases regular forces, that would operate behind enemy lines to disrupt communications, seize posts or villages as forward operating bases, ambush convoys, impose war taxes or contributions, raid logistical stockpiles, and compel enemy forces to disperse and protect their base of operations. It was this concept of partisan warfare that would later form the basis of the "partisan rangers" of the American Civil War. In that conflict, Confederate partisan leaders, such as John S. Mosby, operated along the lines described by Von Ewald (and later by both Jomini and Clausewitz). In essence, 19th century American partisans were closer to Commando or Ranger forces raised during World War II than the "partisan" forces operating in occupied Europe. Such fighters would have been legally considered uniformed members of their country's armed forces.

Partisans in the mid-19th century were substantially different from raiding cavalry, or from unorganized/semi-organized guerrilla forces. The Russian partisans played a crucial part in the downfall of Napoleon. Their fierce resistance and persistent inroads helped compel the French emperor to flee Russia in 1812.

It was during World War II that the current definition of "partisan" became the dominant one—focusing on irregular forces in opposition to an attacking or occupying power. Soviet partisans, especially those active in Belarus, were able to effectively harass German troops and significantly hamper their operations in the region. As a result, Soviet authority was re-established deep inside the German held territories. There were even partisan kolkhozes that were raising crops and livestock to produce food for the partisans. The communist Yugoslav partisans were a leading force in the liberation of their country during the People's Liberation War of Yugoslavia.

ee also

* Armenian irregular units
* Armia Krajowa
* Armia Ludowa {(Polish) People's Army}
* Bataliony Chłopskie(Peasants' Battalions)
* Asymmetric warfare
* Yugoslav Partisans
* Fifth column
* Forest Brothers
* Greek Resistance
* Guerilla warfare
* Irregular military
* Italian resistance movement
* Jewish partisans
* Jewish Combat Organization
* Kuperjanov Battalion
* Albanian Partisans
* Partisan Ranger Act - (American Civil War - Confederates)
* Polish resistance movement in World War II
* Resistance movement
* Slovak National Uprising
* Ukrainian Insurgent Army
* Unconventional warfare
* Werwolf


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Partisan — may refer to:Political mattersIn politics, partisan literally means organized into political parties. The expression Partisan politics usually refers to fervent, sometimes militant support of a party, cause, faction, person, or idea. Although… …   Wikipedia

  • Military history of Belarus during World War II — Military history of Belarus during World War II. Contents 1 September 1939 – June 1941 2 June 1941 – September 1941 3 Occupation and Collaboration 1941 – June 1944 …   Wikipedia

  • Military awards of World War II — were presented by most of the combatants. The following is from the article World War II, removed from that article for clarity, and represents an incomplete list of some of the awards. Contents 1 Allied Powers 1.1 Soviet Union 1.2 United States …   Wikipedia

  • partisan — partisan1 [pärt′ə zən, pärt′əsən] n. [MFr < It partigiano < parte < L pars,PART1] 1. a person who takes the part of or strongly supports one side, party, or person; often, specif., an unreasoning, emotional adherent 2. any of a group of… …   English World dictionary

  • Military Units to Aid Production — or UMAP’s (Unidades Militares para la Ayuda de Producción) were allegedly established by the Cuban government in 1965 as a way to eliminate bourgeois and counter revolutionary values in the Cuban population,[1] in particular, among those who… …   Wikipedia

  • partisan warfare — Not to be used. See guerrilla warfare …   Military dictionary

  • Partisan Warfare, Soviet —    In the 1930s, the Soviet Union made preparations to conduct partisan warfare, but Joseph Stalin, who had promised the Soviet people that war would be fought on the enemy’s territory, cancelled plans in 1937–1938 and had a number of experts… …   Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence

  • MILITARY SERVICE — Jews served in the national armies of most countries in which they settled. However, in many states they were denied the right to bear arms before the 20th century since they were considered to be second class citizens, not fit to fight for their …   Encyclopedia of Judaism

  • Military history of the Soviet Union — Joseph Stalin and Kliment Voroshilov depicted saluting a military parade in Red Square above the message Long Live the Worker Peasant Red Army a Dependable Sentinel of the Soviet Borders! The military history of the Soviet Union began in the days …   Wikipedia

  • Military history of Slovakia — History of Slovakia This article is part of a series Roman era …   Wikipedia