military organization n.
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MILITARY ORGANIZATION. The armed forces of a state are its government-sponsored defense and fighting forces and organizations used to further the objectives of the state. They exist to further the foreign and domestic policies of their governing body.

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The armed forces of a state are its government-sponsored defense and fighting forces and organizations used to further the objectives of the state.
They exist to further the foreign and domestic policies of their governing body.

In some countries paramilitary forces are included in a nation's armed forces.

In democracies and most other government types, the armed forces are typically linked to the government through a civilian government department.

The military is divided into several services (also called branches).

The three most common are armies, navies, and air forces.

Some nations also organize their marines and their special forces as independent services.

A nation's coast guard may also be an independent branch of its military (though in many nations the coast guard is actually more of a law enforcement or civil agency).
The French military structure, which is copied in other nations, includes the three traditional services and a fourth service which is the Gendarmerie.
The former Soviet Union organized the Strategic Rocket Forces as a separate branch (Raketnye Vojska Strategicheskogo Naznachneiya) and the Russian government has continued that organization.
It is worthwhile to make mention of the term joint.

In western militaries, a joint force is defined as a unit or formation comprising representation of combat power from two or more branches of the military.

units formations and commands
Units, formations,and commands

It is common, at least in US and Commonwealth militaries, to refer to the building blocks of a military as units and formations.

A typical unit is a homogeneous military organization, either combat, combat support or non-combat in capability, that includes service personnel predominantly from a single Arm of Service, or a Branch of Service, and its administrative and command functions are integrated (self-contained).

Anything smaller than a unit is considered a "sub-unit" or "minor unit".

A formation is a composite military organization that includes a mixture of integrated and operationally attached sub-units, and is usually combat-capable.

Formations include brigades, divisions, wings, etc.

Different armed forces, and even different branches of service of the armed forces may use the same name to denote different types of organizations.
An example is the "squadron".

In most navies a squadron is a formation of several ships; in most air forces it is a unit; in the U.S. Army it is a battalion-sized cavalry unit; and in Commonwealth armies a squadron is a company-sized sub-unit.

In a military context, a command is a collection of units and formations under the control of a single officer.
Although during the Second World War a Command was also a name given to a battle group in the US Army, in general it is an administrative and executive strategic headquarters which is responsible to the national government or the national military headquarters.
It is not uncommon for a nation's services to each consist of their own command (such as Land Force Command, Air Command, and Maritime Command in the Canadian Forces), but this does not preclude the existence of commands which are not service-based.
hierarchy of modern armies
Hierarchy of Modern Armies

This gives an overview of some of the terms used to describe army hierarchy in armed forces across the world.

While it is recognized that there are differences between armies of different nations, many are modeled on the British or American models, or both.
However, many military units and formations go back in history for a long time, and were devised by various military thinkers throughout European history.
For example, Corps were first introduced in France in the 18th Century, but have become integrated into the organization of most armies around the world.
APP-6A, Military Symbols for Land Based Systems is the NATO standard for military map marking symbols.

The following tables define the Symbol, Unit Name, number of personnel, number of subordinate units and the unit leader.

hierarchy of modern navies
Hierarchy of modern navies

Naval organization at the flotilla level and higher is less-commonly abided by, as ships operate in smaller or larger groups in various situations that may change at a moment's notice.

However there is some common terminology used throughout navies to communicate the general concept of how many vessels might be in a unit.
Navies are generally organized into groups for a specific purpose, usually strategic, and these organizational groupings appear and disappear frequently based on the conditions and demands placed upon a navy.
This contrasts with army organization where units remain static, with the same men and equipment, over long periods of time.
Auxiliary ships are usually commanded by officers below the rank of captain.

These vessels include corvettes, gunboats, minesweepers, patrol boats, military riverine craft, tenders and torpedo boats.

Some destroyers, particularly smaller destroyers such as frigates (formerly known as destroyer escorts) are commanded by officers below the rank of captain as well.

Usually, the smaller the vessel, the lower the rank of the ship's commander.

For example, patrol boats are often commanded by ensigns, while frigates are rarely commanded by an officer below the rank of commander.
Historical navies were far more rigid in structure.

Ships were collected in divisions, which in turn were collected in numbered squadrons, which comprised a numbered fleet.

Permission for a vessel to leave one unit and join another would have to be approved on paper.

hierarchy of air forces
Hierarchy of air forces

The organizational structures of air forces vary between nations: some air forces (such as the United States Air Force and the Royal Air Force) are divided into commands, groups and squadrons; others (such as the Soviet Air Force) have an Army-style organizational structure.


Military rank is a system of hierarchical relationships in armed forces or civil institutions organized along military lines.

Usually, uniforms denote the bearer's rank by particular insignia affixed to the uniforms.

Ranking systems have been known for most of military history to be advantageous for military operations, in particular with regards to logistics, command, and coordination; as time continued and military operations became larger and more complex, military ranks increased and ranking systems themselves became more complex.