Regiment - Regimental System

Regimental System

In the regimental system, each regiment is responsible for recruiting, training, and administration; each regiment is permanently maintained and therefore the regiment will develop its unique esprit de corps because of its unitary history, traditions, recruitment, and function. Usually, the regiment is responsible for recruiting and administrating all of a soldier's military career. Depending upon the country, regiments can be either combat units or administrative units or both.

This is often contrasted to the "continental system" adopted by many other armies. In the continental system, the division is the functional army unit, and its commander the administrator of every aspect of the formation: his staff train and administer the soldiers, officers, and commanders of the division's subordinate units. Generally, divisions are garrisoned together and share the same installations: thus, in divisional administration, a battalion commanding officer is just another officer in a chain of command. Soldiers and officers are transferred in and out of divisions as required.

Some regiments recruited from specific geographical areas, and usually incorporated the place name into the regimental name. In other cases, regiments would recruit from a given age group within a nation (e.g. Zulu Impis), an ethnic group (e.g. the Gurkhas), or foreigners (e.g. the French Foreign Legion). In other cases, new regiments were raised for new functions within an army; e.g. the Fusiliers, the Parachute Regiment (British Army), and the U.S. Army 75th Ranger Regiment.

Disadvantages of the regimental system are hazardous regimental competition, a lack of interchangeability between units of different regiments, and more pronounced "old boy networks" within the military that may hamper efficiency and fairness.

A key aspect of the regimental system is that the regiment or battalion is the fundamental tactical building block. This flows historically from the colonial period, when battalions were widely dispersed and virtually autonomous, but is easily adapted to a number of different purposes. For example, a regiment might include different types of battalions (e.g. infantry or artillery) of different origins (e.g. regular or reserve).

Within the regimental system, soldiers, and usually officers, are always posted to a tactical unit of their own regiment whenever posted to field duty. In addition to combat units, other organizations are very much part of the regimental family: regimental training schools, serving members on "extra-regimental employment", regimental associations (retirees), bands and associated cadet groups. The aspects that an administrative regiment might have in common include a symbolic colonel-in-chief (often a member of the royal family), a colonel of the regiment or "honorary colonel" who protects the traditions and interests of the regimental family and insists on the maintenance of high standards, battle honours (honours earned by one unit of an administrative regiment are credited to the regiment), ceremonial uniforms, cap badges, peculiarities of insignia, stable belts, and regimental marches and songs. The regiment usually has a traditional "home station", which is often a historic garrison that houses the regimental museum and regimental headquarters. The latter has a modest staff to support regimental committees and administer both the regular members and the association(s) of retired members.

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