The soldiers operating on foot of the land armed forces are called infantry. These divide themselves further according to weapon type, e. g. , to archers, sword fighters or musket protection. With the motorisation at the beginning of the second world war and then units the addition got the infantry like infantry (mot). , armoured infantrymen or Mot shooters.

The term "infantry" was created in modern times but retroactively used for all foot soldiers to the ancient world. Origin of the name probably comes from the Romance language, where the knight of a knight was called "Infante" in Italian.



The genesis:

The term "infantry" is used in the military sense of disciplined, orderly and coordinated behavior acting units. These characteristics could be created only with the beginnings of standing armies, so that the Persians and Greeks brought forth the pioneers of this branch of service.

In ancient Greece, the first military units that could be called infantry were the phalanx. This was a closed battle formation consisting of hoplites equipped with lances. This formation required a high level of discipline, and in return was an obstacle that was difficult to overcome for almost 300 years.

The Roman Empire also relied on a professional army, which at the time was very modern equipped, motivated and trained. Unlike the phalanx, however, the Romans used smaller, more mobile units called the manipel.
The basis of the Roman army here were the legionaries, who were well advanced at that time and who were similar to today's known infantry.



Roman army


Roman legionary


Roman legionary




The infantry in the Middle Ages:

The structure of the infantry, which originated in ancient times from the Greeks and Romans, partly disintegrated in the Middle Ages. Especially in the early Middle Ages were no longer well-trained professional or temporary soldiers the basis of the land army, but farmers who were summarily armed in case of war and then sent into battle. In addition, the then rulers put their military focus clearly on the upcoming cavalry in the form of the Frankish armored riders and / or the knights. Only with the introduction of the English longbow and the associated long-term training formed in this type of weapons again a certain approach of the infantry.

From the end of the 14th century was the Swiss again the first real infantry units. These Landsknecht units were armed with spears and battle axes, well trained and able to fight in a coordinated manner. Later, the infantrymen were equipped with the new firearms.

One of the most important and crucial military reforms to flatten the current structure of the infantry was carried out in the Thirty Years' War by the Swedish King Gustav II Adolf. Due to a lack of funds, the king could afford no mercenary army like other European countries. So he introduced compulsory military service, had the soldiers trained well and equipped them with modern muskets. In addition, he created a groundbreaking hierarchy, as companies, battalions and regiments were introduced. For the first time, uniforms and rank insignia were also introduced, with the result that unification was promoted and the morale and corps spirit increased considerably.




The revolutionary age:

In the 18th century, the foot soldiers were almost exclusively equipped with firearms. This meant that the so-called "line tactics" entered the battles. Thus rows of soldiers faced each other with muskets and opened the fire on the enemy. Crucial here were actually only the accuracy of the individual soldier and the number of weapons fired at the enemy. Fast maneuvers were only carried out by the cavalry, otherwise the battlefield remained largely rigid.


Preussische Infanterie

Prussian infantry


This rigidity changed again only with the American Revolutionary War and was later improved by Napoleon. Due to the fact that American soldiers trained in the American Revolutionary War together with untrained volunteers fought against the British professional army, formed on the American side, a new kind of tactics. This "scattered order" tactic allowed the Americans to wage a nonlinear and predictable fight against the rigid English army and ultimately win. This tactic was later used by Napoleon in a conquest and developed so far that other European countries also adopted this tactic.

By the beginning of the twentieth century, in the next great wars, technology was advancing in terms of infantry weaponry and their use in combat. Thus, the British army in the Crimea war because of their much better weapons victory over the Russian troops. This first "modern" war was also the first of its kind in which trenching and positional combat were waged.




The World War One:

During World War I, it was cruelly demonstrated that infantry has long been at the brunt of war. The European armies counted on the millions of mass of their soldiers who should attack the enemy with artillery support. This assault tactic used to this day relies on the artillery to hold down the enemy, attack the infantry, and make a breach in the enemy's defenses, causing advancing soldiers to destroy the enemy.

Especially in the First World War, the equipment of the infantry ever faster developed. Besides weapons like the machine gun and hand grenades, new ones like the flamethrower were added.



German infantry during the 1st world war


Infantry in the trench position


Millions of victims during the assaults




The World War Two:

Even in the Second World War, the main burden of fighting was with the infantry. But with the development and deployment of the new armored weapon and aircraft, it lost some of its importance and had to be adapted to the new conditions of the rapid attacks. Thus, in the Wehrmacht, the armorial type Panzergrenadiere was introduced. This infantry was partly equipped with armored infantry fighting vehicle (in the Wehrmacht with the armored infantry vehicle Sd.Kfz. 250 or the armored infantry vehicle Sd.Kfz. 251) to follow the rapid associations of the tanks can.



German infantry in World War 2


Infantry on the way to the next battle


Motorised infantry




The modern infantry:

During the Cold War, the infantry continued to lose its importance as the mainstay of the land forces. The armed forces now increasingly rely on tanks, airplanes, helicopters, and especially on deterrence with nuclear weapons. The tasks of the infantry were accordingly adapted to the circumstances and equipped them. The interaction of the individual units from the Luftwaffe to the tank units to the equipped with armored infantry infantrymen was now a main component of the military tactics. After the Cold War, the classic wars between two armies of different states were eliminated. The only exceptions to this are the two Gulf wars, which due to the technical and tactical superiority of the US-led troops can be regarded more as a war of the Luftwaffe, guided missiles and tanks. The infantry played no role in the fighting but served only to secure conquered territories. Due to the appearance of asymmetric warfare by emerging terrorist organizations that are not bound to any countries and rather use the guerrilla tactics, the task of today's infantry mainly refers to security and reconnaissance tasks. Battles are also usually conducted in cities and / or in rough terrain.



Russian armoured personnel carrier BMP-3


US armoured personnel carrier M2 Bradley


German armoured personnel carrier Puma


Modern infantry






You can find the right literature here:


Civil War Infantry Tactics: Training, Combat, and Small-Unit Effectiveness

Civil War Infantry Tactics: Training, Combat, and Small-Unit Effectiveness Hardcover – April 13, 2015

For decades, military historians have argued that the introduction of the rifle musket-with a range five times longer than that of the smoothbore musket-made the shoulder-to-shoulder formations of linear tactics obsolete. Author Earl J. Hess challenges this deeply entrenched assumption. He contends that long-range rifle fire did not dominate Civil War battlefields or dramatically alter the course of the conflict because soldiers had neither the training nor the desire to take advantage of the musket rifle's increased range. Drawing on the drill manuals available to officers and a close reading of battle reports, Civil War Infantry Tactics demonstrates that linear tactics provided the best formations and maneuvers to use with the single-shot musket, whether rifle or smoothbore.

The linear system was far from an outdated relic that led to higher casualties and prolonged the war. Indeed, regimental officers on both sides of the conflict found the formations and maneuvers in use since the era of the French Revolution to be indispensable to the survival of their units on the battlefield. The training soldiers received in this system, combined with their extensive experience in combat, allowed small units a high level of articulation and effectiveness.

Unlike much military history that focuses on grand strategies, Hess zeroes in on formations and maneuvers (or primary tactics), describing their purpose and usefulness in regimental case studies, and pinpointing which of them were favorites of unit commanders in the field. The Civil War was the last conflict in North America to see widespread use of the linear tactical system, and Hess convincingly argues that the war also saw the most effective tactical performance yet in America's short history.

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Grunts: Inside the American Infantry Combat Experience, World War II Through Iraq

Grunts: Inside the American Infantry Combat Experience, World War II Through Iraq Paperback – August 2, 2011

From the acclaimed author of The Dead and Those About to Die comes a sweeping narrative of six decades of combat, and an eye-opening account of the evolution of the American infantry.

From the beaches of Normandy and the South Pacific Islands to the deserts of the Middle East, the American soldier has been the most indispensable—and most overlooked—factor in wartime victory. In Grunts, renowned historian John C. McManus examines ten critical battles—from Hitler’s massive assault on U.S. soldiers at the Battle of the Bulge to counterinsurgency combat in Iraq—where the skills and courage of American troops proved the crucial difference between victory and defeat.

Based on years of research and interviews with veterans, this powerful history reveals the ugly face of war in a way few books have, and demonstrates the fundamental, and too often forgotten, importance of the human element in serving and protecting the nation.

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Vietnam Infantry Tactics

Vietnam Infantry Tactics (Elite) Paperback – June 21, 2011

Osprey's study of the evolving US, Viet Cong and NVA tactics at battalion level and below throughout the Vietnam War (1955-1975). Beginning with a description of the terrain, climate and the unique nature of operations in this theater of war, author Gordon Rottman, a Vietnam veteran himself, goes on to explain how unit organization was broken down by combatant forces and the impact this had on the kind of tactics they employed. In particular, Rottman highlights how units were organized in reality on the battlefield as opposed to their theoretical tables of organization.

US tactics included the standard US tactical doctrine as prescribed by several field manuals and in which leaders and troops were rigorously trained. But it also reveals how many American units developed innovative small unit tactics specifically tailored to the terrain and enemy practices. Key Free World Forces' tactics that will be discussed in detail include Command and Control, Combat Patrols and Ambushes, Counter-Ambushes, Defensive Perimeters, and Offensive Operations (sweeps, search and destroy, clear and secure). In contrast, this book reveals the tactics employed by Viet Cong and NVA units including their own Offensive Operations (attacking bases and installations, attacking moving forces), Reconnaissance, Movement Formations and Security, and Ambushes.

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Second World War Infantry Tactics: The European Theatre

Second World War Infantry Tactics: The European Theatre Hardcover – January 15, 2020

The ‘poor bloody infantry’ do the dirty front-line work of war. It bears the brunt of the fighting and often suffers disproportionately in combat in comparison with the other armed forces. Yet the history of infantry tactics is too rarely studied and often misunderstood. Stephen Bull, in this in-depth account, concentrates on the fighting methods of the infantry of the Second World War. He focuses on the infantry theory and the combat experience of the British, German, American and Soviet armies. His close analysis of the rules of engagement, the tactical manuals, the training and equipment is balanced by vivid descriptions of the tactics as they were tested in action. These operational examples show how infantry tactics on all sides developed as the war progressed, and they give a telling insight into the realities of infantry warfare. This accessible and wide-ranging survey is a fascinating introduction to the fighting methods of the opposing ground forces as they confronted each other on the European battlefields of 70 years ago.

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The German Infantry Handbook 1939-1945

The German Infantry Handbook 1939-1945: Hardcover – April 1, 1991

Covers formations, strength, armament, equipment, rank insignia, rifle groups, rifle columns, the company, light infantry weapons, recon, panzerjäger units, pioneer, veterinary units, support services and operational histories of the German infantry.

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