At what point do armies tend to break?

At what point do armies tend to break?


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I remember hearing something about where it was discerned that after a certain percent of losses armies tend to break (ie retreat). Does research on this exist? If so, at what point do armies tend to break?


There was an old, if rough rule of thumb (that I read in the Encyclopedia Britannica years ago) that an army could sustain only 30% casualties without breaking. At this point, the survivors would all feel a real fear of getting killed or wounded "next," instead of "that's what happened to the other guy."

That's all other things being equal of course. An army that saw an enemy break first, then suffered its 30th per cent casualty, would nevertheless receive a morale boost that would nullify this effect. Untrained troops tended to break at much lower casualty rates than trained troops, which was a major mark of "experience" levels. And fighting on home ground counted for a lot. At the battle of Stalingrad for instance, the "30% rule" applied only to the German army. Russian units could sustain 90%+ casualties and have the survivors fight; in one case 6 men out of 1,000 escaped a trap.


From what I have read, the level and intensity of training influences this massively. More green troops will break easily whereas veterans will tend to fight longer and harder.

Panic is another factor: the more there is, the greater the chance of an army breaking. Mercenaries when not well paid, had a tendency to break or change side -- see the Thirty Years war for numerous example of that.

Finally, a decisive key event: death of a general/leader, taking a position, or threatening the camp (with followers and your possessions) would do wonder to break the moral and route an enemy.


Green units might break, retreat or even desert without any deaths. For example, mass surrender of Germans in the west at the end of WWII, or Iraqi army at the end of the Gulf War.

While other units fight to death, specially if their culture does not allow surrender or retreat. For example Spartans on Thermopylae or Japanese on Tarawa, where survival rate was below 1%.

Hence, the answer is so vast than one should not expect to reach a number, even if that number exists, it just a mean number.


Battle of Tours

The Battle of Tours, [6] also called the Battle of Poitiers and, by Arab sources, the Battle of the Highway of the Martyrs (Arabic: معركة بلاط الشهداء ‎, romanized: Maʿrakat Balāṭ ash-Shuhadā'), [7] was fought on 10 October 732, and was an important battle during the Umayyad invasion of Gaul. It resulted in a victory by the Frankish and Aquitainian [8] [9] forces under Charles Martel over the Umayyad Caliphate led by Abdul Rahman Al Ghafiqi, governor of al-Andalus.

Details of the battle, including the number of combatants and its exact location, are unclear from the surviving sources. Most sources agree that the Umayyads had a larger force and suffered heavier casualties. Notably, the Frankish troops apparently fought without heavy cavalry. [10] The battlefield was located somewhere between the cities of Poitiers and Tours, in Aquitaine in western France, near the border of the Frankish realm and the then-independent Duchy of Aquitaine under Odo the Great.

Al Ghafiqi was killed in combat, and the Umayyad army withdrew after the battle. The battle helped lay the foundations of the Carolingian Empire and Frankish domination of western Europe for the next century. Most historians agree that "the establishment of Frankish power in western Europe shaped that continent's destiny and the Battle of Tours confirmed that power." [11]


13b. The War Experience: Soldiers, Officers, and Civilians


Before they could fight for independence, harsh winters during the Revolutionary War forced the Continental Army to fight for their very survival.

Americans remember the famous battles of the American Revolution such as Bunker Hill , Saratoga , and Yorktown, in part, because they were Patriot victories. But this apparent string of successes is misleading.

The Patriots lost more battles than they won and, like any war, the Revolution was filled with hard times, loss of life, and suffering. In fact, the Revolution had one of the highest casualty rates of any U.S. war only the Civil War was bloodier.


A battle flag carried by Revolutionary War soldiers. The banner reads "Resistance to Tyrants is Obedience to God."

In the early days of 1776, most Americans were naïve when assessing just how difficult the war would be. Great initial enthusiasm led many men to join local militias where they often served under officers of their own choosing. Yet, these volunteer forces were not strong enough to defeat the British Army , which was the most highly trained and best equipped in the world. Furthermore, because most men preferred serving in the militia, the Continental Congress had trouble getting volunteers for General George Washington's Continental Army . This was in part because, the Continental Army demanded longer terms and harsher discipline.

Washington correctly insisted on having a regular army as essential to any chance for victory. After a number of bad militia losses in battle, the Congress gradually developed a stricter military policy. It required each state to provide a larger quota of men, who would serve for longer terms, but who would be compensated by a signing bonus and the promise of free land after the war. This policy aimed to fill the ranks of the Continental Army, but was never fully successful. While the Congress authorized an army of 75,000, at its peak Washington's main force never had more than 18,000 men. The terms of service were such that only men with relatively few other options chose to join the Continental Army.

Part of the difficulty in raising a large and permanent fighting force was that many Americans feared the army as a threat to the liberty of the new republic. The ideals of the Revolution suggested that the militia , made up of local Patriotic volunteers, should be enough to win in a good cause against a corrupt enemy. Beyond this idealistic opposition to the army, there were also more pragmatic difficulties. If a wartime army camped near private homes, they often seized food and personal property. Exacerbating the situation was Congress inability to pay, feed, and equip the army.


When British General John Burgoyne surrendered to the Patriots at Saratoga on October 7, 1777 (illustrated above), colonists believed it would be proof enough to the French that American independence could be won. Benjamin Franklin immediately spread word to Louis XVI in hopes the king would offer support for the cause.

As a result, soldiers often resented civilians whom they saw as not sharing equally in the sacrifices of the Revolution. Several mutinies occurred toward the end of the war, with ordinary soldiers protesting their lack of pay and poor conditions. Not only were soldiers angry, but officers also felt that the country did not treat them well. Patriotic civilians and the Congress expected officers, who were mostly elite gentlemen, to be honorably self-sacrificing in their wartime service. When officers were denied a lifetime pension at the end of the war, some of them threatened to conspire against the Congress. General Washington, however, acted swiftly to halt this threat before it was put into action.

The Continental Army defeated the British, with the crucial help of French financial and military support, but the war ended with very mixed feelings about the usefulness of the army. Not only were civilians and those serving in the military mutually suspicious, but also even within the army soldiers and officers could harbor deep grudges against one another. The war against the British ended with the Patriot military victory at Yorktown in 1781. However, the meaning and consequences of the Revolution had not yet been decided.


After the British scored victories in South Carolina at Charleston (May 1780) and Camden (August 1780), Major General Nathanael Greene (1742-86), commander of the Continental army’s Southern campaign, decided to divide Patriot troops in the Carolinas in order to force the larger British contingent under General Charles Cornwallis (1738-1805) to fight them on multiple fronts𠅊nd because smaller groups of men were easier for the beleaguered Patriots to feed. Brigadier General Daniel Morgan took 300 Continental riflemen and some 700 militiamen with the intention of attacking the British backcountry fort, Ninety-Six.

Did you know? Two U.S. military ships were named in memory of the Battle of Cowpens. The first USS Cowpens, an aircraft carrier, served in World War II. The second USS Cowpens, a guided missile cruiser, was commissioned in 1991 and served in the Persian Gulf. Both vessels were nicknamed The Mighty Moo.

In response, Cornwallis dispatched Banastre Tarleton with 1,100 Redcoats and Loyalists to catch Morgan, whom he feared might instigate a broad-based backcountry Patriot uprising. Morgan, nicknamed Old Waggoner because he served as a wagon driver during the French and Indian War (1754-63), prepared for the encounter with Tarleton by backing his men up to a river at Cowpens, a pastureland in present-day Spartanburg County and north of Ninety-Six.


Irish Republican Army

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Irish Republican Army (IRA), also called Provisional Irish Republican Army, republican paramilitary organization seeking the establishment of a republic, the end of British rule in Northern Ireland, and the reunification of Ireland.

The IRA was created in 1919 as a successor to the Irish Volunteers, a militant nationalist organization founded in 1913. The IRA’s purpose was to use armed force to render British rule in Ireland ineffective and thus to assist in achieving the broader objective of an independent republic, which was pursued at the political level by Sinn Féin, the Irish nationalist party. From its inception, however, the IRA operated independently of political control and in some periods actually took the upper hand in the independence movement. Its membership overlaps with that of Sinn Féin.

During the Anglo-Irish War ( Irish War of Independence, 1919–21) the IRA, under the leadership of Michael Collins, employed guerrilla tactics—including ambushes, raids, and sabotage—to force the British government to negotiate. The resulting settlement established two new political entities: the Irish Free State, which comprised 26 counties and was granted dominion status within the British Empire and Northern Ireland, made up of six counties and sometimes called the province of Ulster, which remained part of the United Kingdom. These terms, however, proved unacceptable to a substantial number of IRA members. The organization consequently split into two factions, one (under Collins’s leadership) supporting the treaty and the other (under Eamon de Valera) opposing it. The former group became the core of the official Irish Free State Army, and the latter group, known as “ Irregulars,” began to organize armed resistance against the new independent government.

The ensuing Irish civil war (1922–23) ended with the capitulation of the Irregulars however, they neither surrendered their arms nor disbanded. While de Valera led a portion of the Irregulars into parliamentary politics with the creation of Fianna Fáil in the Irish Free State, some members remained in the background as a constant reminder to successive governments that the aspiration for a united republican Ireland—achieved by force if necessary—was still alive. Recruiting and illegal drilling by the IRA continued, as did intermittent acts of violence. The organization was declared illegal in 1931 and again in 1936. After a series of IRA bombings in England in 1939, Dáil Éireann (the lower house of the Oireachtas, the Irish parliament) took stringent measures against the IRA, including provision for internment without trial. The IRA’s activities against the British during World War II severely embarrassed the Irish government, which remained neutral. At one point the IRA sought assistance from Adolf Hitler to help remove the British from Ireland. Five IRA leaders were executed, and many more were interned.

After the withdrawal of Ireland from the British Commonwealth in 1949, the IRA turned its attention to agitating for the unification of the predominantly Roman Catholic Irish republic with predominantly Protestant Northern Ireland. Sporadic incidents occurred during the 1950s and early ’60s, but lack of active support by Catholics in Northern Ireland rendered such efforts futile. The situation changed dramatically in the late 1960s, when Catholics in Northern Ireland began a civil rights campaign against discrimination in voting, housing, and employment by the dominant Protestant government and population. Violence by extremists against the demonstrators—unhindered by the mostly Protestant police force (the Royal Ulster Constabulary)—set in motion a series of escalating attacks by both sides. Units of the IRA were organized to defend besieged Catholic communities in the province and were sustained by support from units in Ireland. In 1970 two members of the Fianna Fáil government in Ireland, including future prime minister Charles Haughey, were tried for importing arms for the IRA they subsequently were acquitted.

Conflict over the widespread use of violence quickly led to another split in the IRA. Following a Sinn Féin conference in Dublin in December 1969, the IRA divided into “Official” and “Provisional” wings. Although both factions were committed to a united socialist Irish republic, the Officials preferred parliamentary tactics and eschewed violence after 1972, whereas the Provisionals, or “ Provos,” believed that violence— particularly terrorism—was a necessary part of the struggle to rid Ireland of the British.

Beginning in 1970, the Provos carried out bombings, assassinations, and ambushes in a campaign they called the “Long War.” In 1973 they expanded their attacks to create terror in mainland Britain and eventually even in continental Europe. It was estimated that, between 1969 and 1994, the IRA killed about 1,800 people, including approximately 600 civilians.

The fortunes of the IRA waxed and waned after 1970. The British policy of interning persons suspected of involvement in the IRA and the killing of 13 Catholic protesters on “ Bloody Sunday” (January 30, 1972) strengthened Catholic sympathy for the organization and swelled its ranks. In light of declining support in the late 1970s, the IRA reorganized in 1977 into detached cells to protect against infiltration. Assisted by extensive funding from some Irish Americans, the IRA procured weapons from international arms dealers and foreign countries, including Libya. It was estimated in the late 1990s that the IRA had enough weapons in its arsenal to continue its campaign for at least another decade. The IRA became adept at raising money in Northern Ireland through extortion, racketeering, and other illegal activities, and it policed its own community through punishment beatings and mock trials.

In 1981, after hunger strikes in which 10 republican prisoners died (7 were IRA members), the political aspect of the struggle grew to rival the military one, and Sinn Féin began to play a more prominent role. Sinn Féin leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness, together with John Hume, head of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP), sought ways to end the armed struggle and bring republicans into democratic politics. Convinced by the Irish and British governments that a cease-fire would be rewarded with participation in multiparty talks, in August 1994 the IRA declared a “complete cessation of all military activities,” and in October a similar cease-fire was declared by loyalist paramilitary groups fighting to preserve Northern Ireland’s union with Britain. However, Sinn Féin continued to be excluded from the talks because of unionist demands for IRA decommissioning (disarmament) as a condition of Sinn Féin’s participation. The IRA’s cease-fire ended in February 1996, when a bomb in the Docklands area of London killed two people, though it was reinstated in July of the following year. Having agreed that decommissioning would occur as part of the resolution of Northern Ireland’s sectarian conflict, the IRA’s political representatives swore to uphold principles of nonviolence and were included in the multiparty talks beginning in September 1997.

In April 1998 the participants in the talks approved the Good Friday Agreement (Belfast Agreement), which linked a new power-sharing government in Northern Ireland with IRA decommissioning and other steps aimed at normalizing cross-community relations. Significantly, republicans agreed that the province would remain a part of Britain for as long as a majority of the population so desired, thus undermining the logic of continued military action by the IRA. Although the IRA subsequently destroyed some of its weapons, it resisted decommissioning its entire armoury, hampering implementation of key parts of the peace agreement. On July 28, 2005, however, the IRA announced that it had ended its armed campaign and instead would pursue only peaceful means to achieve its objectives. The IRA was back in the headlines in 2015 when an investigation into the murder of a former IRA leader revealed that at least some of the organizational structure of the Provisional IRA was still in place.


Posted On April 29, 2020 15:50:46

It was a program designed by the State Department to help the former Warsaw Pact countries break away from dependence on the Russian economy – the United States would straight up pay the newly liberated former Soviet Union allies to buy American-made weapons instead of buying them from their former patron.

That program is back, and the United States is expanding it.

A Russian-built Hind helicopter in the Macedonian Air Force

It’s called the European Recapitalization Incentive Program and Eastern Europe is signing on for arms made in the good ol’ US of A. But the U.S. isn’t stopping at limiting Russian influence through arms sales, the American government is using the program to limit arms sales from China too. It’s a function of the State Department working hand-in-hand with the Pentagon in an effort to project American economic power and military goodwill.

“The goal is to help our partners break away from the Russian supply chain [and] logistics chain that allows Russian contractors and service personnel, and Russian-manufactured spare parts onto either NATO allied bases or partner military bases,” a State Department official told Defense One.

A Russian-built T-72 tank in the Slovakian Army.

The countries signing on to the revitalized program can’t just promise not to buy Russian or Chinese weapons from now on. They will also need to get rid of their old ones as well as purchase new American replacements. So instead of gifting these countries a hodgepodge of military arms or vehicles, the countries can invest in American military power while getting rid of old systems and updating their military capabilities. Some of the partner countries are still using Soviet-built weapons.

In the past year, the U.S. State Department has signed on six former Soviet Bloc countries to the program to the tune of 0 million, including Albania, Bosnia, Croatia, Greece, North Macedonia, and Slovakia. The program will even bring these countries up to NATO standards in many areas. If successful, the U.S. will expand the program beyond Eastern Europe to help other countries break free of Chinese and Russian dependence.

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MIGHTY HISTORY

Primary Sources

(1) Julius Caesar, speech to the Senate (c. 60 BC)

Our ancestors, gentleman, never lacked wisdom or courage, and they were never too proud to take over a good idea from another country. They borrowed most of their armour and weapons from Samnites. In short, if they thought anything that an ally or an enemy had was likely to suit them, they enthusiastically adopted it for they would rather copy a good thing than be consumed with envy because they had not got it.

(2) Josephus, The Jewish War (c. AD 75)

Those who perished in the long siege totalled 1,000,000. Some killed by their own hand. but most by starvation. So foul a stench of human flesh greeted those who charged in that many turned back at once. Others were so greedy that they pushed on, climbing over the piles of corpses for many valuables were found in the passages. Every man who showed himself was either killed or captured by the Romans, and then those in the sewers were ferreted out. Simon (the leader of the Jewish army) was kept for the triumphal procession and ultimate execution. The Romans now fired the outlying districts of the town and demolished the walls. So fell Jerusalem. captured five times before and now for the second time laid utterly waste.

1. Select a passage from one of the sources that shows that the armour and weapons of the Romans changed over a period of time.

2. Explain why the Romans changed the tactics they used in battle.

3. Study source 2 and then read about Josephus. Describe the strengths and weaknesses of Josephus' account of the destruction of Jerusalem.


Why Study this Key Theme?

  • No matter what country we live in, social and economic inequalities among individuals and groups are part of our daily experience. At the same time, many people deplore extreme or unjust inequalities and work to lessen or eliminate them. Study of human history over the long run shows a clear connection between social inequality and the increasing size, density, and complexity of human societies. History also shows that in the past few hundred years humans have made progress in reducing some forms of inequality, notably slavery, political power based on birth, and denial of political rights to women. Even so, other forms of inequality have grown in modern times. Are severe inequalities still inevitable in today's complicated world? Or are governments, interest groups, charities, and international agencies capable of seriously diminishing them? Is it right that so many people continue to live in poverty when the modern world produces so much wealth? Future citizens should have knowledge and understanding of the origins and development of inequality in the world in order to address these vital questions.


Pacific Militarization


Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) Score Chart

In late September 2019, the Army released updated Army Combat Fitness Test (ACFT) standards. The standards are shown on the ACFT score chart below. You can also download the chart from the Army.

The chart demonstrates the standards required for each movement, as well as minimum score required for different categories of soldiers. A score of "70" is the minimum for soldiers in "heavy" physically demanding units or jobs a score of "65" is for soldiers in "significant" physically demanding units or jobs and a score of "60" is for soldiers in "moderate" physically demanding units or jobs.

A "60" is also the overall Army minimum standard for passing the ACFT.

The test is scheduled to become the Army's official test of record in October, 2020.

The table is broken into points, deadlift (MDL), standing power throw (SPT), hand-release push-up (HRP), sprint, drag and carry (SDC), leg tuck (LTK) and two-mile run (2MR).

Minimum for "heavy" jobs.

Minimum for "moderate" jobs.


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