Regiment - Commonwealth Armies

Commonwealth Armies

In the British Army and armies modelled on it (such as the Australian, the New Zealand, the Canadian, the Indian and the Pakistani), the term regiment is used confusingly in two different ways: it can mean an administrative identity and grouping or a tactical unit. The modern British regimental system came about as a result of the 19th century Cardwell Reforms.

In Commonwealth countries such as India, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand and Canada the large administrative regiment has been the normal practice for many years. In the case of India "large regiments" of four to five battalions date from 1923 and since the 1950s many of these have expanded even further. As an example the Punjab Regiment has expanded from four battalions in 1956 to its present strength of 20, while in Pakistan several regiments have over 50 battalions.

In Canada, the regiment is a formation of one or more like units employed almost exclusively for reasons of heritage, the continuance of battle honors and espit de corps. Most Canadian infantry regiments are reserve units composed entirely of one under-strength battalion of between 100-250 soldiers. The three regular force infantry regiments each consist of three regular force battalions of approximately 600 soldiers, in addition to one or more reserve battalions. Canadian battalions are employed tactically and administratively within mechanized brigade groups for regular units, or light brigade groups for reserve units.

In Australia there is but one administrative infantry regiment in the regular army, the Royal Australian Regiment, consisting of all seven regular infantry battalions in the Army, including mechanised, motorised, light, commando and parachute infantry. The Australian Army Reserve also has state-based infantry regiments which administer the reserve infantry battalions.

In Pakistan the word regiment is an administrative grouping. While different battalions may have different roles (for example different battalions of the Frontier Force Regiment may be mechanized infantry, para infantry or mountain troops) the regiment is considered to encompass all of them.

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