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The New International Encyclopædia/Army Organization

ARMY ORGANIZA′TION. The power of an army rests on two elements: Its material strength and its moral strength; the former depending on the character of its commanders and soldiers and its organization, the latter being determined by its discipline, the system of military education, and the national spirit. Organization, in a military sense, comprises, in general, all the measures taken to insure to the army a regular and normal working of all its parts, to provide it with all the necessary machinery, to obtain for it regularly all that it requires, to insure its proper instruction, to protect the rights and prescribe the duties of each individual by suitable regulations, to supply the personnel and material which it needs, and, finally, to provide all the means whereby nothing may be wanting to enable it to fight under the most favorable conditions. In a limited sense the word organization is also used to designate the composition or formation of any body of troops; but this is only a particular application of the general meaning of the word.

The entire theory of organization rests upon the principle of individual responsibility and subordination, so that, no matter how small or how great the number of individuals gathered together, some one is responsible, to whom the others must be subordinate. This responsibility and subordination are the great factors in the control of an army, and tactical organization may be defined as the arrangement of an army in such wise as to enable it, in whole or part, to respond at all times to the will of the commander, promptly and efficiently. One of the first elements of strength in an army is the skillful organization of its command, and in this all nations are agreed as to the necessity for unity—that is, for a commander-in-chief of the forces. Next in importance are the assistants to the commander-in-chief, viz. the staff and the entire corps of officers. Finally, arises the question of the number of men to be assembled under one leader, into bodies of various strength, their most advantageous subdivision, and the proportion of accessories of all kinds to be joined to the combatant forces. The army, then, is made up of a collection of units, differing according to the purpose of the organization. Thus, tactical units are the basis of organization for the tactical handling of troops in the field, while administrative units are the basis for administration and supply. A tactical unit is the largest body of men which can be directly commanded by the voice of a single commander. An administrative unit is the smallest organized subdivision having a complete administration of its own.

Infantry. The tactical unit of infantry in the great armies of the world is the battalion, composed of about 1000 men, and divided into four companies of about 250 men each. In the United States Army the battalion is of very variable strength in time of war, but is usually considerably smaller than the European battalion. The company, in this service, is divided into two platoons, and each platoon into two sections, each section is composed of two or three squads, each squad comprising a corporal and seven privates. In the great European armies there are slight differences, but in the main the subdivision is similar. In Germany, however, the company has three platoons, each divided into half-platoons, and these again into sections; while France has four platoons, subdivided into sections and squads. The administrative unit of infantry is the regiment of three battalions, normally, sometimes four. A brigade is composed of two regiments in Europe, of three in the United States. It is the largest unit composed exclusively of infantry.

Mounted Infantry. Great Britain is the only nation that has organized and developed mounted infantry, an arm which proved so effective on both sides in the Boer War (1899-1902) that it will probably form a part of all future war armies. This body of troops does not exist in an organized form in England in time of peace, but a certain number of men, selected and detailed from the forces, are trained for this service. In time of war each battalion receives one of the four sections of a company, and a cavalry division receives a battalion of 8 companies. Each company is composed of 5 officers and 123 men; each battalion of 48 officers and 1094 men.

Machine-Gun Batteries. Several nations have organized machine-gun batteries, not as artillery, but as a special kind of infantry or cavalry. In Great Britain, each infantry and cavalry brigade receives, in time of war, a section composed of 2 Maxim guns. In Switzerland each brigade of cavalry has a machine-gun company with 8 Maxims attached to it, which practically gives it the fire power of two companies of infantry, and at the same time an escort of great mobility.

Cavalry. The tactical unit of cavalry is the squadron of 150 sabres. In the United States service the squadron is composed of 4 troops, each of 100, war strength. The administrative unit is the regiment, composed of 4 field squadrons and 1 depot squadron in Germany; of 3 squadrons in the United States. The brigade, in Europe, consists normally of 2 regiments; in the United States service, of 3.

Artillery. The tactical unit of field-artillery is the battery, composed in the United States of 6 guns, 9 caissons, 1 forge and battery-wagon, 1 store-wagon. The field-battery has 175 men and 150 horses, the horse-battery 165 men and 235 horses. The tendency in Europe is to reduce the battery to 4 guns, and with the adoption of a rapid-fire field piece (now undergoing trial) this will probably be the strength of the future field battery in the United States Army. A battalion (Abtheilung, group, brigade, division), composed of from 2 to 4 batteries, now constitutes an important organization on the battle-field. The tactical unit of coast artillery is also the battery, composed in this case, however, of a variable number of guns, usually from 1 to 4. The administrative unit of artillery in the principal armies of the world is the regiment, composed of from 2 to 5 battalions. It is the largest purely artillery organization. In the United States, since the recent reorganization of the artillery into a corps (see Artillery Corps), without regiments, the battalion is the administrative unit of the field-artillery, the district (the entire defense of harbor or post) of the coast artillery.

Mountain Artillery. The nations possessing mountainous regions generally have batteries of mountain artillery differing in organization and tactical use from the ordinary field-batteries. Thus, the Alpine batteries of France have a strength of 5 officers, 156 men, with 96 animals; those of Italy, of officers, 280 men, with 148 animals and 18 wagons; those of Switzerland of 7 officers, 162 men, and 83 animals.

Combined Arms. If we define the strategical unit as the smallest body composed permanently of two or more arms, and capable of acting independently, then the division of the European armies (the army corps of the United States Army) must be regarded as that unit. The smallest unit in which any two of the arms are combined is the cavalry brigade, which often has a horse-artillery battery attached to it, but this is only done to make it temporarily independent, and is not the rule. Ordinarily the brigade (cavalry or infantry) is the largest unmixed unit. The cavalry division is composed essentially of 2 brigades and 2 or 3 horse-batteries, although in the United States it has 3 brigades and a battalion of horse-artillery. The infantry division (the smallest unit in which the three arms are combined) consists in general of 2 infantry brigades, 1 cavalry regiment, 1 field-artillery regiment, and other special troops differing in the different countries. In France, however, there is no cavalry attached to the infantry division, and in the United States there are 3 brigades, 4 batteries, and no cavalry.

The highest definite unit of organization is the army corps, and its strength is determined by the fact that in its most unfavorable formation it must be capable of being assembled or any portion of itself in a single day. It is composed normally of 2 infantry divisions, 1 regiment of field-artillery, train and other services. In France, as there is no cavalry with the infantry divisions, a brigade of cavalry is attached to the army corps, and in the United States this unit is composed of three divisions, one or more regiments of cavalry, and the corps artillery. Since the artillery reserve was given up by Germany in 1899 the principal nations have followed this example, although a few still retain it. The total strength of an army corps is about 30,000 in all armies, forming a column about 15 miles long, its rear, therefore, one day's march from its head. Armies are simply aggregations of army corps and cavalry divisions, the artillery reserve being practically a thing of the past. The proportion of the three arms of the line is now considered to be best when the infantry and cavalry are in the ratio of 12 to 1, and there are 4 guns to every 1000 men of the other arms. The proportion of cavalry has been gradually made smaller since the days of Frederick, while that of the artillery has been gradually increased. In difficult mountainous country the cavalry is usually made less, but not if it can be used in raids at a distance. The proportion of artillery in flat, heavily wooded country, or in difficult mountainous country, or in country where the roads are bad, is usually decreased, because the full proportion cannot be used advantageously, and a smaller proportion would diminish the length of the column, which is always desirable.

Thus far only the line of the army, in its most restricted sense, has been considered, but the efficient working of an army also requires a number of special troops, such as the engineers, pioneers, railroad engineers, pontoniers, sappers and miners, signalers, telegraphers, balloonists, and the medical corps. In foreign armies all the special troops, excepting the medical corps, are designated by the general term technical troops. Of course, these do not all exist in any one army, and, although the corresponding classes in the different armies have similar duties, there is still considerable difference.

Engineers. The engineer troops of all armies are usually organized like infantry. In the German Army they comprise the pioneers and the railroad engineers the former organized into battalions of four companies each, the latter into regiments of two battalions each, including a balloon section. The latter is composed of six officers and about 150 men. The pioneers are charged with the construction of field fortifications and intrenched camps, bridge-building, the construction and destruction of communications and obstacles, and siege operations. The bridge train of a division has material for a bridge 38 yards long, and that of a corps 135 yards long, hence the entire bridge material of a corps and its divisions is sufficient for a bridge 211 yards long. The railroad engineers have charge of the construction of the narrow-gauge field railroad; each company can construct in one day about 7 miles of railroad complete, the track in working order ready for locomotives and cars. In the French army the engineer troops are organized into regiments, one of which is composed entirely of railroad engineers, the others being designated as sappers and miners; there is also a corps of telegraphers under the engineers. In the United States the engineers are organized into battalions of four companies each.

Signalers. The Signal Corps of the United States Army has charge of the field-telegraph, the military balloons, wireless telegraphy, and ordinary signaling by flag, torch, or heliograph (see Signaling and Telegraphing, Military). In the field an army corps will have attached to it one company of about 175 men, with material for at least 50 miles of telegraph-line. Military telegraphers are organized in a different way in almost every existing army. In the United States and Great Britain, the Signal Corps will, in time of war, be augmented by telegraphers from civil life. In Germany one of the companies of a pioneer battalion is a telegraph company, while France has a field-telegraph battalion, as the fortification telegraph is in the hands of the engineers; Russia and Italy have a field-telegraph company for each army corps, and Austria-Hungary has a field formation of about 50 officers and 2000 men for this service.

Military Balloonists are also variously organized in the different armies, but most of the more important nations either already possess or are organizing balloon sections, which are either under the engineers or under the telegraphers, though in a few cases they are independent units. Germany has a balloon section, one company in strength, attached to the railroad engineer brigade; France has one company of balloonists attached to each of the engineer regiments, and in time of war these will be augmented to 8 field sections, 4 fortification sections, and one depot section; and several other nations have balloon companies and parks—namely, Denmark, Great Britain, Italy, Russia, and Switzerland.

Military Cyclists are formed into detachments and are used by all the great nations for orderly service, outpost, and reconnaissance duty and in fortifications for messenger duty. The troops are generally taken from the ranks, and have as yet no definite organization, although many forms have been tested in the autumn manœuvres. In France, the 2 companies organized in 1899 consisted each of 5 officers, 9 sergeants, 8 corporals, 2 trumpeters, 4 mechanics, and 100 privates.

Carrier Pigeons have also been used on a large scale, especially in Italy and France, not only in permanent stations, but also with cavalry on the march.

Medical Department. In the principal European armies every battalion has its own medical officer, and most of them have attendants as a permanent part of the regimental cadre, in addition to the company bearers. In Germany a hospital corps detachment, for discovering and removing the wounded on the battlefield, establishing dressing stations and giving first aid, comprises 7 surgeons, 1 apothecary, 8 hospital stewards, 8 attendants, 191 bearers, and 12 ambulance wagons. A field hospital, for about 200 patients, has 5 surgeons, 1 apothecary, 9 hospital stewards, and 12 attendants with 6 wagons. In the United States the sanitary organization of a corps proper comprises one medical director and a reserve of hospital corps men and material for about 2000 patients; a division has a bearer company, an ambulance company, and a field hospital for 500 patients; to each division, brisade, battalion, squadron, and battery is assigned a medical officer and a certain number of non-commissioned officers and privates of the Hospital Corps. In the field, the bearer company establishes a dressing station, and hunts up and carries the wounded to it, while the ambulance company conveys the wounded, after the first bandaging and attendance, to the field hospitals. General hospitals (not, as a rule, under the general commanding in the field) are established farther to the rear.

Police. The police of an army in the field usually receives a military organization. In most armies the police is a separate body of troops, but in the United States, troops are detailed from the army to act as provost guard—for a division about one company, and for an army corps about one battalion. In Germany the Landgendarmerie is organized into brigades. In France the gendarmerie is an integral part of the army, and is organized into legions (one to each army corps), commanded by a field officer, and subdivided into companies (one to each department), commanded by a captain, and these into circuits, commanded by a lieutenant.

Train. The term train is applied not only to the wagons of an army, but also to the troops who drive them. In all countries except the United States these troops are specially organized and trained for the purpose, but in the United States Army the train (except the ammunition column) has always been under the quartermaster's department, and the men have been detailed from the nearest organizations. In France the train is composed of train squadrons (one to each army corps), composed each of 3 companies, with a strength per squadron, in time of war, of 2300 men and 3500 horses. In Germany it comprises troops organized into battalions (one for each army corps), composed each of 3 companies, the battalion having a strength, in time of peace, of 14 officers, 70 non-commissioned officers, 252 privates, and 190 horses. The ammunition column, in the United States, is attached to the corps artillery, and is under an artillery officer; it is divided into four sections (one for each division, and one for the corps artillery). The men of the ammunition column are the reserves for the batteries, and number about two batteries in strength. The supply train (carrying five days' rations and forage) is part of the corps train, as is also the baggage train and a horse depot, containing a reserve of 100 horses and 100 mules. The number of wagons required for the train varies much, and in Europe the number allowed for each unit is prescribed. During the Civil War the proportion of wagons in the Army of the Potomac was gradually reduced from 49 to 22 per 1000 men. One of these army corps required about 1086 wagons, while to the German army corps is allowed in all 2150. An important feature of the organization of the army is the Staff (q.v.), which may be either military or administrative. This branch, together with the subjects of Rank and Command, Recruitment, and Discipline, will be found discussed under the appropriate heads; while the actual use and operation of an army and its component parts are treated under Tactics, Military; and Coast Defense. See Artillery; Cavalry; Infantry; and Mounted Infantry for the historical development of these arms in which the changes in organization are discussed. Ancient and modern armies will be found treated under Armies, where the statistics of the leading armies of the world are given. Under each of these articles will be found a bibliography. The works of reference mentioned in the article on Tactics, Military, will be found, in most cases, to deal with the closely related subject of organization. Among these may be mentioned Wagner, Organization and Tactics (Kansas City, 1896), and Jerram, Armies of the World (London and New York, 1900).