- Irregular military
Irregular military refers to any non-standard military. Being defined by exclusion, there is a lot of variance in what comes under the term. It can refer to the type of military organization, or to the type of tactics used.
An irregular military organization is a military organization which is not part of the regular army organization of a party to a military conflict. Without standard military unit organization, various more general names are used; such organizations may also be called a "troop", "group", "unit", "column", "band", or "force".
Irregulars are soldiers or warriors that are members of these organizations, or are members of special military units that employ irregular military tactics. This also applies to irregular troops, irregular infantry and irregular cavalry.
Irregular warfare is warfare employing the tactics commonly used by irregular military organizations. This involves avoiding large-scale combats, and focusing on small, stealthy, hit and run engagements.
Other names for irregular military formations
The term "irregular military" describes the "how" and "what", but it is more common to focus on the "why". Bypassing the legitimate military and taking up arms is an extreme measure. The motivation for doing so is often used as the basis of the primary label for any irregular military. Different terms come in and out of fashion, based on
politicaland emotional associations that develop. Here is a list of such terms, organized more-or-less oldest to latest.
False flagor pseudo-operations where troops of one side dress like another to eliminate or discredit them and their support, such as the Selous Scoutsof the Rhodesian bush war
Freedom fighter— irregular military motivated by higher goals — very subjective
Franc-tireur— French irregular forces during the Franco-Prussian War. But is also used in international legal cases as a synonym for unprivileged combatant, (see for example the Hostages Trial(1947—1948).
* Guerrilla — someone who uses unconventional military tactics, tends to refer to groups engaged in open conflict rather than
underground organizations. Term coined during the Peninsula Warin Spain against France.
Insurgent— an alternate term for a member of an irregular military. Tends to refer to members of underground groups such as the Iraqi Insurgencyrather than larger rebel organizations such as the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.
* Partisan — In the 20th century, someone part of a
resistance movement. In the 18th and 19th century, a local conventional military force using irregular tactics. Often used to refer to resistance movements against the Axis Powersduring the Second World War.
Paramilitary— non-regular Armed Force with a claim to official status
Revolutionary— someone part of a revolution, whether military or not
* Terrorist — irregular military who target civilians in order to gain political leverage; this term is almost always used pejoratively, and is, like the term freedom fighter, very subjective.
* More recently, private military companies, in particular the armed
private securityForces that some operate could be considered an example of Irregular Military formations. In conflict zones such as Iraq such forces, whose members tend to be referred to as "Security Contractors", are often heavily armed and engage in supporting activities for the regular Military forces such as supply convoy escortand force protection. These forces are sometimes referred to as Mercenaries.
Intense debates can build up over which of these terms to use when referring to a specific group. Using one term over another can imply either strong support or opposition for the cause being fought over.
It is possible for a military to cross the line between regular and irregular. Isolated regular army units forced to operate without regular support for long periods of time can degrade into irregulars. As an irregular military becomes more successful, they may transition away from irregular, even to the point of becoming the new regular army if they win.
Regular military units which use irregular military tactics
Although they are part of a regular army,
Special forcesare trained in and implement irregular military tactics. See List of special forces units.
While the morale, training and equipment of the individual irregular soldier can vary from very poor to excellent, irregulars are usually lacking the higher-level organizational training and equipment that is part of regular army. This usually makes irregulars ineffective in direct, main-line combat, the typical focus of more standard armed forces. Other things being equal, major battles between regulars and irregulars heavily favor the regulars. However, irregulars can excel at many other combat duties besides main-line combat, such as scouting,
skirmishing, harassing, pursuing, rear-guard actions, cutting supply, sabotage, raids, ambushes and underground resistance. Experienced irregulars often surpass the regular army in these functions. By avoiding formal battles, irregulars have sometimes harassed high quality armies to destruction.
The total effect of irregulars is often underestimated. Since the military actions of irregulars are often small and unofficial, they are underreported or even overlooked. Even when engaged by regular armies, some military histories exclude all irregulars when counting friendly troops, but include irregulars in the count of enemy troops, making the odds seem much worse than they were. This may be accidental; counts of friendly troops often came from official regular army rolls that exclude unofficial forces, while enemy strength often came from visual estimates, where the distinction between regular and irregular were lost. If irregular forces overwhelm regulars, records of the defeat are often lost in the resulting chaos.
Use of large irregular forces featured heavily in wars such as the
American Revolution, the Irish War of Independence, the Franco-Prussian War, the Russian Civil War, the Second Boer War, Vietnam War, and especially the Eastern Front of World War IIwhere hundreds of thousands of partisans fought on both sides.
The ongoing conflicts of post-invasion Iraq, the renewed Taliban insurgency in the 2001 war in Afghanistan, the
Darfur conflict, the rebellion in the North of Ugandaby the Lord's Resistance Army, and the Second Chechen Warare fought almost entirely by irregular forces on one or both sides.
Historical reliance on irregulars
By definition, "irregular" is understood in contrast to "regular armies," which grew slowly from personal bodyguards or elite militia. In
Ancient warfare, most civilized nations relied heavily on irregulars to augment their small regular army. Even in advanced civilizations, the irregulars commonly outnumbered the regular army. Sometimes entire tribal armies of irregulars were brought in from internal native or neighboring cultures, especially ones that still had an active hunting tradition to provide the basic training of irregulars. The regulars would only provide the core military in the major battles; irregulars would provide all other combat duties. Notable examples of regulars relying on irregulars include Bashi-bozoukunits in the Ottoman Empire, auxiliary legions of Germanic tribesin the Roman Empire, Cossackregiments in Imperial Russia, and Native American forces in the far west of the Confederate States of America.
One could attribute the disastrous defeat of the Romans at the
Battle of the Teutoburg Forestto the lack of supporting irregular forces; only a few squadrons of irregular light cavalry accompanied the invasion of Germany when normally the number of " foederati" legions would equal the regular legions; however, since irregulars won that battle, there are few surviving details. During the decline of the Roman Empire, irregulars made up an ever increasing proportion of the Roman military. At the end, there was little difference between the Roman military and the barbarians across the borders. Throughout history, most civilizations eventually fell to " barbarians", that is, irregular military forces, with minimal historical details.Fact|date=February 2007*
Napoleon's modernisation of warfare with the invention of conscription, the Peninsular Warled by Spaniards against the French invaders in 1808 provided the first modern example of guerrilla warfare. Indeed, the term of "guerrilla" itself was coined during this time.
As the spread of
industrialismdried up the traditional source of irregulars, nations were forced take over the duties of the irregulars using specially trained regular army units. Examples are the light infantryin the British Army. By the modern age, all regular military are trained to also perform the actions previously left to irregulars.
Asymmetric warfare— Military theory that also includes regulars vs. irregulars
Bashi-bazouk— Irregular mounted mercenary in the Ottoman Empire
Camisards Huguenotinsurgency in the beginning of the 17th century in the Cevennesmountains
Legion of FrontiersmenAn irregular quasi-military organization that proliferated throughout the British Empireprior to World War I
List of guerrillas
* Minutemen — American irregular troops during the American Revolution
Pindari— 18th century irregular horsemen in India
Private Military Contractors
* Prussian "
Landsturm", created by a 21 April 1813 edict of the King of Prussia
Rough Ridersin the Spanish-American War
Flavius Vegetius Renatus, [http://www.pvv.ntnu.no/~madsb/home/war/vegetius "Epitoma rei militaris"]
* Dr. Thomas M. Huber, [http://www-cgsc.army.mil/CSI/research/ComWar/comwarcontents.asp "Compound Warfare: An Anthology"]
* Clifford J. Rogers, [http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/airchronicles/bookrev/rogers.html Military Technical Revolution debate among historians]
* John M. Gates, [http://www.wooster.edu/history/jgates/book-contents.html "US Army & Irregular Warfare"]
* Harold P. Ford, [https://www.cia.gov/csi/books/vietnam/index.html "CIA and the Vietnam Policymakers: Three Episodes 1962-1968"]
* Robert R. Mackey, "The UnCivil War: Irregular Warfare in the Upper South, 1861-1865," University of Oklahoma Press, 2004, ISBN 0-8061-3624-3
Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.
Look at other dictionaries:
irregular — [i reg′yə lər] adj. [ME < OFr irregulier < ML irregularis: see IN 2 & REGULAR] 1. not conforming to established rule, method, usage, standard, etc.; out of the ordinary; anomalous 2. not conforming to legal or moral requirements; lawless;… … English World dictionary
irregular outer edge — In land mine warfare, short mine rows or strips laid in an irregular manner in front of a minefield facing the enemy to deceive the enemy as to the type or extent of the minefield. Generally, the irregular outer edge will only be used in… … Military dictionary
irregular — ► ADJECTIVE 1) not regular in shape, arrangement, or occurrence. 2) contrary to a rule, standard, or convention. 3) not belonging to regular army units. 4) Grammar (of a word) having inflections that do not conform to the usual rules. ► NOUN ▪ a… … English terms dictionary
Irregular — Something that is irregular does not follow the expected pattern. The term is used in many different fields, with quite different meanings.* In astronomy, an astronomical object whose shape or behavior varies considerably from the archetype is… … Wikipedia
irregular — adjective 1》 not regular in shape, arrangement, or occurrence. 2》 contrary to a rule, standard, or convention. ↘not belonging to regular army units. 3》 Grammar (of a word) having inflections that do not conform to the usual rules. noun 1》 a… … English new terms dictionary
Military of the Ottoman Empire — Army: Sipahi · Akıncı · Timariot … Wikipedia
irregular — irregular, anomalous, unnatural mean outside the sphere of what conforms to or is explainable by law, rule, custom, or principle. Irregular implies failure to conform to a rule, a law, or a pattern, especially to one imposed for the sake of… … New Dictionary of Synonyms
Military doctrine — is the concise expression of how military forces contribute to campaigns, major operations, battles, and engagements. It is a guide to action, not hard and fast rules. Doctrine provides a common frame of reference across the military. It helps… … Wikipedia
Military of Afghanistan — Emblem of the Afghan National Army Founded 1709 Current form … Wikipedia
Military Frontier — Militärgrenze Vojna granica / Vojna krajina Војна граница / Војна крајина Graniţă militară Határőrvidék military province of the Habsburg Monarchy … Wikipedia