Introduction – the Military as Organization
The military as the supposedly perfect embodiment of formal hierarchy is viewed as the "paradigmatic model" of organization.1 This refers to the aspects of "order", "institutional structure" and "social community".2 In addition to the "organizational structure" (the units and formations of the military), the "processive organization" (the procedures of military command) is also part of the "institutionalization".3 This trinity4 can be encapsulated by the paradoxical statement: The organization (institution) organizes (processive organization) the organization (structural organization).
"Military organization [is] a socio-technological subsystem that enables an associated social system to conduct armed confrontations with other social systems".5 It is the "organized application of force between parties that are at war".6 It has been stated that a "concept of organization" cannot be "unambiguously defined",7 a fact demonstrated by the many concepts. In line with the organizational understanding of military planners, this article places the focus on the "organizational structure" of military units, in contrast to economic literature, which comprehends also the command and control process as being part of "organization". Social sciences literature on organization, by contrast, focuses on general processes of institutionalization. However, and literally presented for muster by the military, there has always been interplay between the formal and informal aspects of organization.8 This explains the time-dependent and perspective-dependent "temporality" of the organization.9 From its own perspective, the military's "organizedness" has rarely been thematized, but rather taken for granted. This illustrates the extent to which socially (re)produced modes of thinking (re)produce social systems.10
In refer to the "civilian" and the "military" as opposing concepts.11 The introduction of uniforms from the late-17th century onward and the increasing accommodation of soldiers in barracks in the 19th century illustrate the functional differentiation between the troops and their surroundings. The "bureaucratization of the army" highlighted by Max Weber (1864–1920) as an "ideal type" points to organizational processes aimed at creating an "impersonal order" as the "continuous, rule-bound conduct of official business" with the unambiguous assignment of hierarchical and functional responsibilities.12 The structural formations and rank structures emerged during the early modern period in a Europe-wide process. As militarily organized armed actors of the European kind actively propagated their own organizational standards, it is scarcely possible to discuss this topic from a "non-hegemonic" perspective. What is recognized worldwide under International Law as being military is ultimately based on western organizational concepts. For the purposes of illustration, this article will focus on and examples. However, this perspective must acknowledge that the modeling effect of these examples played out in the context of Europe-wide transfer processes., it only became common from the 18th century to
Organization, Nationalization and Institutionalization
The differentiation between the late Middle Ages and the Early Modern period is an "arbitrary differentiation that emerged out of the history of historical studies".13 It is possible that the processes of military organization were so conspicuous in the formation of the coercive instruments of territorial states that this prefigurated historiographical periodization. Additionally, pre-formed notional organizational norms may have had a combined effect with descriptive actual norms. The demands that territorial rulers and military commanders made regarding financial resources, military equipment and manpower were often automatically accepted as reflecting reality in older historiography. This assumption has been revised in more recent military historiography.14 At the same time, military historiography has largely ignored organizational history, and has thus failed to utilize the results of organization research in economics and the social sciences. After all, the coexistence of formalized and non-formalized rule15 as emphasized in organizational sociology is also characteristic of the regular military.
In his organizational concept, Carl von Clausewitz (1780–1831) referred to both elementary tactics ("Elementartaktik") and the "organization and administration of the fighting forces" for the "creation, training and maintenance of all armed forces". Additionally, when he referred to the "annihilation" of the enemy, he meant the destruction of the enemy's military organization. This occurred in almost exemplary fashion as the Grande Armée, which had been reorganized by Napoleon I (1769–1821) in 1805, defeated the Prussian army in the twin battles of and on 14 October 1806, thereby plunging Prussia into its "great catastrophe". This collapse was followed by a thorough military reform in Prussia, literally a striking example of the transformation and transfer processes between European armies. According to Clausewitz, the armies were "so similar to each other in weaponry, equipment and drilling that there is no longer a noticeable difference between the best and the worst."16 He discussed the organizational design of military formations as a balancing act between the coordination of the whole and the autonomy of the component parts:
1. If a whole has too few limbs, it becomes ungainly. 2. If the limbs of the whole are too big, this weakens the power of the supreme command. 3. Each new transfer from one level to a lower one weakens the power of an order […], firstly through the loss inherent in this transfer, and secondly through the longer period that the order requires."17
Clausewitz already criticised the trend whereby "a commander believes to have a kind of proprietorial right to all parts of his corps".18 However, the military bureaucracy that counteracted this tendency towards independence seemed over-organized and inflexible to its critics. The polarity of "cold" and "hot organization" describes the two different "aggregate conditions" of the cold "basic formation" of the structural organization and the hot "battle formation". The military thus has a double character: as an ideal type of hierarchical organization, it is carried by functionaries who often refer back to a pre-bureaucratic heritage19.
The History of Military Organizational Forms: An Overview
Early Modern Period
The statement by Max Weber that premodern army formations were originally based on "clan formations"20 must be expanded with reference to the blurred transitions between kinship bands, conscripts and hired mercenaries.21 These forms of recruitment formed the basis for the impersonal military organization in Europe since the beginning of the modern period. Non-European military organizational structures such as those in , the Empire, in , in the pre-Columbian empires of the Americas and in the African empires have not been investigated in detail in a comparative perspective even in works that have adopted an avowedly global perspective.22 There have only been occasional references, for example to the influence of Chinese organizational forms on the Mongol army under Genghis Khan (ca. 1160–1227). In the empire of Genghis Khan, the re-ordering of military forces organized on the basis of patrimonial ethnicity into large formations with different branches formed the basis for military expansion.23 The organization of this army on the basis of groups of ten up to the level of the Tumen, which consisted of 10,000 men, is an organizational heritage which continued in the successor polities which ended up forming the rising .
In Europe, large mercenary forces consisting of thousands of combatants had formed from the High Middle Ages. These were referred to as "companies" (compagnie di ventura, grandes compagnies), which were themselves divided into bands that were very varied in size.24 The basis for these armed communities was the hiring contract (Condotta), from which the term Condottiere is derived, referring to the military entrepreneur.25 In most cases, military formations remained largely undifferentiated until the early modern period.26 However, around 1340 the French royal authorities divided their armed retainers into twelve large formations (batailles), which were replaced in the late-14th century by more permanently established formations (grosses routes), which were each divided into ten units (chambres). The mere mention of these formations demonstrates the intention of the monarch to mobilize and remunerate his forces in a more verifiable way.27
The ordinance companies of the French king Charles V (1338–1380) are often viewed as the beginning of standing armies. Similar formations were also established in and , and standing forces thus existed from the Hundred Years' War at the latest.28 Parallel to this, the institutionalization of military offices occurred, as well as the legal and financial definition of rights and duties, and the formation of a logistical infrastructure. A prime example of this was the "military camp society" ("Feldlagergesellschaft") of the European Mercenaries (e.g. the German "Landsknechte") and subsequently of the Thirty Years' War.29 Around the beginning of the 16th century, geschlossene Gewalthaufen (close-packed armed hosts) similar to the Swiss Reisläufer (mercenaries) were supplemented by the addition of marksmen with hand-firing weapons. In this way, differentiation based on different weapon types began. The term "bataglione" referred at this time to troops in battle formation, similar to the "square" (squadrone) of the cavalry. Based on the model of the legions, each regiment of the imperial and Habsburg armies nominally consisted of ten companies. In reality, the number varied considerably, though the size of regiments became fixed at between 2,000 and 3,000 men in the case of the infantry, and about 1,000 men in the case of the cavalry. This was how it remained until the 20th century.30 The "interplay between authoritarian power" and the self-organized "willingness to follow" of the soldiers was increasingly replaced by "organization" in accordance with the wishes of warlord.
The Tercio ("a third") battle formations that emerged in the Spanish army during the Eighty Years' War against the , musketeers and arquebusiers, while the so-called Dutch ordinance and subsequently the ordinance had broader but thinner formations. The increased firepower made a greater level of command necessary. The cavalry divided into heavy, partly-armoured cuirassiers and light cavalry, often of origin. The dragoons mainly fought on foot, though they moved between their sites of engagement on horseback.31 In spite of the large demobilizations at the end of the Thirty Years' War, it is nonetheless possible to speak from an "institutional" perspective of "armies that remained standing", albeit with a wide range of developments.32(1568–1648) contained up to 3,000 men, including pikemen
The war-dependent, and risky business of the war entrepreneur created space for a shifting advantage between the warlord, the commander, the officer and soldiers. This "agency problem" discussed in economics literature is at the start of the early-modern military economy.33 To overcome this problem, a long-term process of "insourcing" combatants, their logistics and their administration occurred. The work of the French intendants and subsequently the "commissars" in Electoral Brandenburg-Prussia were a prime example of this.34
In the Ottoman Empire, standing troop bodies emerged from the 14th century onward. In the first classical period under Mehmed II (1432–1481), there was a graded division of the army that was based on proximity to the ruler and level of peacetime or wartime strength. The standing bodies of troops (Kapıkulu, "slaves of the High Portal") included the elite infantry of the Janissaries as well as the cavalry, artillery and technical troops. In the provinces, there were armies based on feudal vassalage. In the frontier zones of the empire, there were border troops, which could be strengthened with semi-mercenaries or provincial contingents when necessary.35 These border forces were mirrored by the protection of the military border of the Habsburg Empire by South Slav militias.36
The organization of the French army was consolidated into regiments around 1600. In the late-17th century, the prestige of the French army of Louis XIV (1638–1715) meant that other European armies sought to copy it. Consequently, the officer ranks of the French army, which have been retained up to the present, became universal. The colonel had the lieutenant-colonel as his second in command, and the captain had the lieutenant as his. Originally, at regiment level and in garrison towns the major served as the officer responsible for issues of daily service. Around 1700, the battalion became a permanent formation level, which was led by a major until the 20th century. Increasingly, the officer posts were awarded by the king instead of by the subordinate military entrepreneurs.37 In spite of the absolutist rhetoric of Louis XIV, however, the French army continued to depend on subcontractors. In the purchasing of posts and in the context of regiment and company economics, elements of military entrepreneurship endured until the end of the ancien régime.38 Staff networks continued to play a role.39
In the battle formation of the Prussian army, the infantry battalion was divided into multiple firing units, which were referred to as "divisions" (i.e. sections). However, they did not correspond to elements of the branch structure, i.e., the companies. Additionally, every infantry regiment had grenadier companies, which formed into grenadier battalions with their counterparts from other regiments during battle.40 Similar processes of institutionalization occurred in the cavalry in the 18th century, while the guns of the artillery were only brought together into batteries in due time.
From the End of the Ancien Régime to the Era of Revolutions
In the late-18th century, there was a systematization of the concepts of "tactics" and "strategy".41 After the Seven Years' War, the Prussian experiences of the war were systematized into a form of linear tactics that exerted a Europe-wide influence, particularly as French military theoreticians discussed the advantages and disadvantages of a "deep" battle formation as opposed to a "thin" one. During the European Enlightenment and under the influence of scientific and technological progress, the systematization of the military accelerated. This was true of both the art of fortification and ballistics, as well as for aspects of tactics, training and (war) history. Thus, the concepts of the French marshal Maurice de Saxe (1696–1750) and subsequently of Jacques-Antoine Hippolyte Comte de Guibert (1743–1790) pointed in the direction of a permanent integration of the three main arms of the army and thus inspired changes towards combined arms tactics that occurred in the armies of the French Revolution and of Napoleon.42 A concept of "combined arms" was also advocated by Count Wilhelm von Schaumburg-Lippe (1724–1777), who combined regular infantry, militia, artillery and technical troops both in his small German state and as supreme commander of the Portuguese army. This subsequently influenced the Prussian reformers.43 Re-evaluations of tactics, mobilization and organization were also influenced by the War of Independence.
Up to the end of the ancien régime, in most cases there were no permanent structural forms on the command level above the regiment. As a result, the drawing up into battle formation and the formation of "corps" required case by case assignment. For tasks of the so-called "small wars" in particular, troop units from different branches were formed into "detachments".44 Similarly, military writers such as Guibert and the subsequent reformer of the Prussian army Gerhard von Scharnhorst (1755–1813) pointed out that "divisions" had already been deployed as mixed formations in the Seven Years' War in both the French army and the pro-Prussian coalition army of Duke Ferdinand von Braunschweig (1721–1792).45 Already in the army of pre-revolutionary France, there had already been detachments, called "divisions", formed from different branches, including artillery, infantry and cavalry.
The Ottoman reforms of Nizam-ı-Cedid (Nizâm-ı Cedîd Ordusu, "new regiment", "new order"), which occurred in parallel to the innovations in the army of revolutionary France, were an example of attempted institutionalization processes based on the European model. Tellingly, the creation of a formation based on the European model in the Ottoman army under Sultan Selim III (1762–1808) in the 1790s was initially carried out in secret for fear of the resistance of conservative elements, particularly the Janissaries. In May 1807, Selim III was deposed and killed, as was his successor in the following year. Consequently, the reform project was continued in a very cautious manner under Mahmud II (1785–1839). Meanwhile, in the autonomous Ottoman province of the officer Mehmet (Muhamad Ali, 1769–1849) became the local ruler through a bloody struggle against the ruling military elite of the Mamluks, and from 1811 onward he initiated military reforms based on the European example.
During the French Revolution, a modern concept of organization developed.46 Initially, however, the revolutionaries propagated the concept of the "nation in arms". Their "citizen soldier" seemed the antithesis of the "mercenary" who had supposedly become detached from the "people" through the preceding process of professionalization. The French volunteer battalions immortalized in the Marseillaise in early 1792, which were viewed as patriotic rather than professional formations, were placed next to the formations of the line army. In the summer of 1793, the revolutionaries proclaimed the total mobilization of the population. In early 1798, a law made all Frenchmen between 20 and 25 subject to military service. The short satirical Wörterbuch der Revolutions-Sprache from 1799 – obviously a piece of counter-revolutionary propaganda – defined "organizing" ("organiser") as all of the methods of the revolutionary armies aimed at "arranging a country in the French way", including "Conscription": "driving men to the army for slaughter like cattle".47 As a result of compulsory military service, the French army expanded from around 100,000 men (1789) to 750,000 (1794), and remained over half a million strong from 1807 onward. Between 1800 and 1814, two million conscripts were mobilized in France and an additional million in the new départements of the annexed territories. Due to the lack of professionalism of the volunteer formations, who enjoyed political favour, the revolutionary government ordered their "amalgamation" with the formations of the old army. A line battalion and two volunteer battalions together constituted a half brigade (demi-brigade). This term was employed in order to avoid the term "regiment", which was felt to be reactionary.
Around 1808, the battalions each consisted of four (or even more) fusilier companies and one "heavy" grenadier company. From 1805 onward, a "light" voltigeur company was added. From 1803 onward, the regiments, which were now referred to by this term again, consisted of two or three battalions.48 From 1797 onward, infantry divisions consisted of multiple (between six and eleven) infantry battalions, which were organically combined with artillery and in some cases also with cavalry. The French concept of the "ordre mixte" combined linear tactics with deep columns and dispersed "tirailleurs", e.g. skirmishers.49 The organic mixture of different arms occurred in the corps created in 1803 under Napoleon I. This large formation of around 25,000 to 30,000 men consisted of two to four infantry divisions, three or four cavalry regiments and two artillery batteries, and additionally sappers, technical troops and a train battalion. Each division could be divided into two or more brigades.50 From 1800 onward, the civilian wagon drivers and those in the ambulance service also received the status of soldiers. The states of the Confederation of the Rhine adopted this organizational model.51
Military reforms based (indirectly) on the French example were particularly effective in recently-subdued Prussia. Even though the military reorganization commission, which had been set up in 1807 under Scharnhorst's leadership, took pragmatic steps to increase military effectiveness, the members of the commission were aware that the military reform went to the foundations of the social and political order. The reorganization involved changes regarding personnel, the legal system, and the appointment and training of officers.52 The basic principles of the regimental structure specified in the Prussian military regulations of 1812 remained in force until 1888. Each infantry regiment consisted of two musketeer battalions and a light fusilier battalion. Each battalion consisted of four companies. At regiment level, there were two grenadier companies. The Prussian Truppenbrigade of 1812 consisted of two infantry regiments. After the outbreak of war in March 1813, a line regiment, a reserve regiment and a militia (Landwehr) infantry regiment were combined to make up each brigade, which in turn was combined with a cavalry brigade consisting of two cavalry regiments to form a Prussian army corps. From 1818 onward, these large formations were referred to as divisions, as was usual in France. However, the brigade level, each with two regiments of the arm, was retained. The infantry regiments each had three battalions: two line battalions and a light fusilier battalion, the latter consisting of four companies, each with 125 men.53
From the 18th century onward, organizational concepts based on the European model were exported to non-European theatres of war. As in Europe, these developed out of the existing "markets of violence", with European armed actors also initially entering the service of established powers – for example, the British East India Company entered the service of the Mughal Empire. French and British mercenaries appeared on the markets of violence of southern Asia up to the end of the 18th century. From the late-17th century onward, these mercenaries contributed to the spread of European models of training and organization for soldiers (sepoys). This process intensified during the Seven Years' War, and in the 1780s there were 100,000 men in the service of the British East India Company. Thus, the sepoys were gathered into "hybrid fighting formations" with European tactics, discipline and organization.54 Concepts of military institutionalization were the backdrop against which the rebellion against the British East India Company occurred in 1857. The rebelling soldiers were ultimately driven by the fear that the loss of organizational autonomy might also mean a loss of privileges,55 just as had occurred with the European military entrepreneurs and soldiers in the preceding two centuries. With the definitive end of the Mughal Empire and the takeover of the British Raj from 1858 onward, a hybrid Indian-British army emerged divided into regiments on the European model.56
Conscript Armies from the 19th Century to the World Wars
The implementation of universal military service was a core challenge in the organization of European land forces until the late-20th century. In spite of the unchanged army formations, the controversy regarding the organization of the Prussian militia (Landwehr) escalated into the constitutional conflict of 1862 to 1866. The ostensible question of army organization, which revolved around the allocation of the personnel reserves created by compulsory military service and the professionalism of their officer corps, not only brought about the beginning of Otto von Bismarck's (1815–1898) career as Prussian minister president (and later on, Reichskanzler), but also became bound up with the myth of the Prussian-German empire and of its army as a model for organizational concepts in Germany and abroad.57 From that point on, the mobilization, transfer and deployment of mass armies by an effective general staff was the primary focus. In the Prussian-German general staff particularly, an operational mode of thought emerged that defined the image of war well into the 20th century.58
The structures that had taken shape in the era of Napoleon continued to define the appearance of the armed forces in Europe and worldwide at the beginning of the 20th century. An overview from 1914 shows that almost identical formation structures existed from 59 The German peacetime army in 1914 had 25 army corps with 800,000 men, which grew to 3.8 million men at the outbreak of the First World War. During the further course of the war, its average strength in the field was 6.4 million soldiers.60 Above the corps, the level of the "field army" became established.to the United States, from to the German Empire.
In the Ottoman Empire also, military reforms were linked to serious confrontations over the re-allocation of political-social power resources. After the reform project of Sultan Mahmud II led to another Janissaries revolt in May 1826, this former elite force was forcibly dissolved. The Tanzimat process (Tanzimat-ı Hayriye, "auspicious re-ordering") decreed by the Sultan in 1839 announced military reforms based on the European model. The resumption of the reform project was initiated by the grand admiral and grand vizier Hüsrev Mehmed Pascha (1769–1855), who implemented a structuring of the Ottoman army in regiments, battalions and companies based on the European example. To this end, French and British officers – and subsequently also Prussian officers – were hired as military advisors. The Prussian model of the Ottoman army in the late-19th century was supported by Germany military attachés up to the First World War.61 In a similar way, the French and subsequently the Prussian military model influenced the Meiji Restoration that occurred from 1868 onward in .62
The global dominance of European military organization and tactics in the 19th century was particularly apparent in the colonial wars. The capture of from 1855) and the Zouaves, which were subsequently supplemented with European soldiers. These troops, which had been regularized and "Europeanized" to varying degrees, demonstrate military cultural transfer in both directions.63by French troops in the summer of 1830 and the subsequent decades-long fighting resulted in the adaptation of the French Army of Africa. In addition to the Foreign Legion, which had existed since 1831, the disciplinary units and the regular infantry regiments, auxiliary troops organized on tribal lines were also employed, such as the "tirailleurs africains" (referred to as "Turcos"
The mass mobilization of the European armies during the era of the world wars gave rise to concepts of an "organization society", which envisaged the civilian sphere being organized on military lines. Thus, in 1917 the German philosopher Otto von der Pfordten (1861–1918) saw in "our glorious German army" the model of "an exemplary organization" and viewed "organizing" as "a central concept of this world war".64 At the same time, the Russian revolutionaries placed the economy under the paradigm of the war, for example when Leon D. Trotsky (1879–1940) equated the "militarization of work" with the "industrialization of the army" in 1920.65 The "technocratic utopia"66 described in a publication by the American Frederick W. Taylor (1856–1915) in 1913 envisaged "industry run on the basis of scientific management"67. It quickly attracted attention in Germany, but also in the young Soviet Union.68 In reaction to these concepts, which impinged on the military, the state and the economy, Götz Briefs (1889–1974), who was influenced by Catholic social teaching, warned in 1917 against the individual being taken over by "die herrschende Organisationspsychose".69
In view of this thematization of organization from various directions, there have been references to an "organization society" or an "organized society" in the mid-20th century.70 Thus, the authoritarian state governments of the interwar years employed militarizing terminology for non-military institutions also.71 In her work on the Elemente und Ursprünge totaler Herrschaft ("The Origins of Totalitarianism"), which was published shortly after the Second World War, Hannah Arendt (1906–1975) highlighted the aspect of "organizational forms of totalitarian movements" that enable them "organize people in a way that they act in accordance with the rules of this [ideologically formed] fictitious reality".72 The militaristic transfer of the military realm to society culminated in the appropriation of a military appearance by the National Socialist party and terror apparatus. This ultimately resulted in the softening of the previously defining organizational boundary between the military (Wehrmacht), the police, the party army (general SS, Totenkopf units and Waffen-SS), and the numerous other uniformed entities. The erosion of boundaries in the understanding of war corresponded with the erosion of boundaries in military organizational thinking, including in the murder and terror measures of the National Socialist regime.73
The unprecedented military build-up of the National Socialist regime meant that the Wehrmacht had a peacetime strength in 1939 of one million men, which increased to a strength of 5.7 million men by the middle of 1940. Of these, 4.4 million were in the army.74 In contrast to their French opponents, who had in some respects superior equipment, German operational planning for the French campaign of May/June 1940 concentrated the spearhead of their attack into a "super tank army" ("Super-Panzerarmee") of four corps with seven tank divisions and three motorized infantry divisions. The National Socialist leadership attached its propagandistic image to the campaign, which survives up to the present in the form of the "Blitzkrieg legend" ("Blitzkrieglegende").75 In reality, however, 80 percent of the army consisted of non-motorized infantry. Up to the end of 1941, there were 216 divisions and only 24 of them were tank divisions.76 The "side army" ("Nebenheer" of the Waffen-SS expanded rapidly from 1943 onward to ultimately reach a strength of 36 divisions with very varied usefulness in battle. From 1942 onward, the Luftwaffe also had a total of 20 air force field divisions. After the failure of this experiment, the Luftwaffe established parachute divisions for the ground war.77 Thus, all parts of the Wehrmacht – and ultimately even the navy – competed with the SS for the "Führer's" favour by actions at the front that brought them prestige but also very high casualty rates. Even at the level of the spearheads, the relationships between the supreme command of the Wehrmacht and the general staffs of the army, air force and navy remained problematic throughout the war. Additionally, from 21 July 1944 the reserve army of the Wehrmacht was also under the "Reichsführer-SS". Adolf Hitler (1889–1945) himself was the veritable embodiment of chaotic polycratic rule. As head of government (1933), head of state (1934), supreme commander of the armed forces (1938) and, from December 1941 onward, supreme commander of the army, he undermined from the centre traditional principles of hierarchical and specialist information flow.
In spite of the changing face of war, the basic formational structures of the infantry in the Second World War remained relatively constant internationally. In the case of almost all of the powers, this structure consisted in its core of one artillery and three infantry regiments. By contrast, the motorization and specialization of the armoured formations made tactical independence necessary, as well as the mixing of troop types at an increasingly lower level. In September 1943, a type of US tank division was designed that dispensed with the regiment level. The division now led its battalions directly disciplinarily, while the intermediate level of "combat command" only had tactical control. Also in the German case, the Kampfgruppen, which were initially formed on an ad hoc basis from the tank force and motorized infantry, were combined organically in the structure type Panzerbrigade 44, though this hardly saw any active service before the end of the war.78
View from 1945
The formation structures of the European army, which was planned between 1951 and 1955 but ultimately never realized, were based on the US formations. They were realized in slightly modified form in the formations of the Germany army established from 1956 onward in the form of Heeresstruktur 1. However, as early as 1957/58 the concept of an independent army brigade was discussed and implemented, which two years later became the standard for the NATO formations stationed in central Europe. In addition to an artillery battalion, each armoured brigade consisted of one motorized infantry battalion and two tank battalions; in the motorized infantry brigades the ratio was reversed.79 In spite of numerous changes in army structures, the basic elements of these structures survived into the 21st century.80
In the era of the Cold War, the direction of flow of transfer processes was reversed – at least in the "western world". While previously military organizational models were considered to be a model for civilian society, the management concepts of civilian society now increasingly entered into the armies. In spite of this trend, numerous organizational and management concepts that were either directly military in origin81 or were defined by the confrontation of the Cold War influenced economic and societal organizational concepts.82 The trend towards increasing technologization and differentiation was most pronounced in the air forces. While the German air force had already been an independent branch of the armed forces in 1935, the U.S. Air (Army) Force only became its own branch of the armed forces in September 1947. In view of the importance of nuclear weapons, western air forces were closely integrated into the process of (nuclear) strike planning at NATO level, while in parallel the "national" military service formations remained in existence in wings (at regiment level) and divisions. The technological development of weapons systems, communications and command technology, and the possibility of a more flexible allocation of forces in task forces also played a considerably greater role in naval forces than in land forces. In NATO as in the forces of the Warsaw Pact, land forces remained nationally homogeneous up to the level of the corps (which was referred to as an "army" in the eastern alliance).
Boundaries of the Military Sphere? Irregularity and Interconnection
The recognition of the forms and norms of the military organization as "regular" or "irregular" ultimately refers to the European, state model. Interestingly, historical research with a focus on "interconnection"83 has thus far paid little attention to military history.84 Reciprocal transfer processes between "regular" and "irregular" military forces occurred for example at the military borders of the Ottoman and Habsburg empires and in the "wild field" (dikoie polie in Russian) in present-day Ukraine, from where the tactics of the so-called "little war" (or "small wars", French: "petite guerre", German: "kleiner Krieg") were effectively imported into central Europe in the 18th century. The question of how to define this type of conflict, which was already discussed by contemporaries, revolved on the one hand around cultural stereotypes, and on the other hand around the difficulty of encapsulating this tactic with reference to "western European" standards.85
From the winter of 1808/1809 onward, the Spanish guerrilla was the archetypal example of irregular combatants. The term "little war" ("guerrilla" in Spanish) – borrowed from military language – was adopted by irregular fighters in the Spanish struggle for independence against Napoleon in order to depict themselves as legitimate combatants.86 After the regular prosecution of the war by the Spanish "patriots" had failed in an early phase of the war, and after the violence in a subsequent phase had often escalated into anarchical guerrilla activities, in 1811/12 an organizational "militarization" of this tactic occurred.87 Half a century later, Karl Marx (1818–1883) bemoaned this interaction between irregularity and regularization. From his perspective, the guerrilla formations resulted "in loose corps that were always on the brink of becoming bandits or of descending to the level of standing regiments."88 While factually accurate, this statement also contains the myth of the people's war, which was critical of the trend of European military organization.89
Transfer processes of military organizational thought also occurred in the other direction – in some cases with catastrophic consequences. While "annihilation" referred to the destruction of the organized fighting capacity of the enemy, in the 20th century this military term – notwithstanding the already bloody logic of war – was modified into the political concept of the prosecution of war without limits, which played a role in particular in the colonial conflicts and decolonization conflicts, as well as in the struggle between partisan movements and the armed forces of National Socialist Germany.90 The fact that the topic of "irregular" war was for a long time outside of the purview of military history also explains why it was possible for a long time to repress and not talk about the scale of the violence in the war of racial-ideological annihilation initiated by Germany. The full extent of organized violence against actors who were denied the right to fight has only been demonstrated in the many relevant publications from the turn of the 21st century. The German forces in particular intentionally – to an extent at least – conducted their so-called "fight against bandits" as an extension of genocide.91 By contrast, the myth of the people's war that surrounded the resistance movements during the world wars and the decolonisation conflicts emphasized the supposed spontaneity and the ideological dimension, thereby pushing the forms of (para-)military organization into the background.92
Historical parallels suggest that novel forms of the organizational arrangement of personnel, equipment, and the communications control that these required have often been developed on an ad hoc basis and particularly in response to an "irregular" opponent. These "irregular" organizational forms were often transferred to military formations in peacetime and "regularized". Such regular cycles of regularity, irregularity and subsequent "re-regularization" demonstrate the interplay between the structural and processive organizations as the continuous newly-organized institutionalization of combatants.
The organizational problem has arisen anew with the military deployments of the international community in the so-called "new wars". Critical observers speak of an "institutional crisis" of the military.93 The processes of military reorganization referred to around the turn of the millennium as a "transformation" emphasized the importance of modular "forces" capable of "networked" deployment. They are often deployed at the verges between war, counterinsurgency and police missions. These "deployment contingents", which are constituted depending on the specific situation and task, are often deployed outside of the military formations above company level during foreign missions, usually with units and formations of different branches and arms – often multinational in composition – mixed at ever lower levels. Thus, it would appear that the formation level of the division has largely lost its role as the primary military-political unit, which it had held since the Napoleonic period.94