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Battalion Nato.svg

Military symbol in NATO code for a battalion of infantry (here in blue as "friendly infantry")
Subordinate troops

battalion units

Strength 300-1200
Insinuation Regiment , large unit
Rank Major (rarely), mostly lieutenant colonel
Group photo of Australian infantry battalion from the First World War
Military symbol of the Austrian tank battalion 14 according to NATO standard. The two vertical lines on the rectangular frame indicate that it is a battalion.

A battalion [ bataljo: n ] is a military unit in which several companies or batteries of one type of service are grouped together to form an organically composed force of 300 to 1200 soldiers. These can be equipped with partly different, complementary equipment. A battalion may contain soldiers for other uses such as a staff and supply company with paramedics , repair technicians and / or staff soldiers .

A battalion is led by a battalion commander , usually with the rank of lieutenant colonel , more rarely a major . In contrast to the next lower organizational form, the company , the battalion has its own staff and usually a staff and, if necessary, support companies . The next largest military unit is the regiment ; today, however, the battalion is usually directly subordinate to a brigade as the next higher major unit .

Historical development

Battalion of an imperial regiment to Montecuccoli

The word "battalion" comes from the French word bataille ( battle , order of battle ); Battalion is therefore the name of a troop deployed for battle. In the 15th and 16th centuries, this word was used to describe every independent slaughterhouses of the infantry, regardless of their strength, which appeared in the form of a square and was therefore also called Gevierthaufen or violence heap in German-speaking armed forces, armies or armies . A single infantry company set up in battle was called a “battalion” as was a regiment ordered for battle. The term was only used to designate a line-up for combat.

With the Huguenots , the term came to Germany in the 17th century. In the course of the stronger subdivision of the battle order to smaller formations of the foot troops with fixed sizes (cf. Ordonnanz (battle order) ), the new term was introduced instead of the older slaughterhouse for them. The final uniform introduction of the term for fixed subdivisions of the infantry regiments, each comprising several companies, took place in France in 1635, in Prussia in 1686 and in Austria in 1695.

The introduction of the flintlock rifle with bayonet was the importance of the battalion to grow, making it the early 18th century to the basic tactical body of following the linear tactics fighting infantry. In the 18th century, so-called free battalions were set up in Prussia , which were not assigned to any regiment , but instead represented independent administrative units (mainly hunter battalions ).

In the 17th century the battalion consisted of 4 to 17 companies with 500 to 1000 men in the various countries. The Prussian battalion with 1000 men in 4 to 5 companies became a model for other armies in the 18th century. It was a tactical formation that was divided into two wings with two divisions of two pelotons each. Light artillery (battalion guns) could be added. Inspired by Napoleon's success with the column tactics , the battalion column prevailed throughout Europe from 1815. The military successes of Prussia in the second half of the 19th century made the Prussian battalion of this time, with 4 companies of three platoons each and a military strength of 26 officers and 1,054 non-commissioned officers and men (1914), a trend-setting model.

During the First World War , the strength of the infantry battalions of the German army fell to 650 men due to the higher firepower and lack of personnel, who were divided into four companies plus a machine gun department . The infantry battalion in the Reichswehr and Wehrmacht was not significantly restructured and until the first years of World War II comprised a little over 800 men including 23 officers in three companies and an MG company (plus battalion staff and news squadron) (as of May 1941).

Independent battalion

In the second half of the 19th century, more and more independent battalions of special troops were set up that were not assigned to any regiment but were directly subordinate to divisions or corps . To be mentioned here are primarily the pioneers , the train , airshipmen , telegraphs and the like. For these, as with the artillery , the term department was sometimes used.

The National People's Army designated the independent battalion ( B for short ) as a general tactical unit .


In the Austro-Hungarian army , the battalions were referred to as divisions , while the large unit, known internationally as a division , operated as a troop division .

Reichswehr and Wehrmacht

An infantry battalion of the Reichswehr and the Wehrmacht was divided into the battalion staff and a supply column and three rifle companies and a heavy machine gun - Company (now heavy infantry company ) with HMG-trains and infantry guns . The bulk of the utility services were combined in the division . The abbreviation for battalion was uniformly Batl.

armed forces

In Germany, battalions originally only existed among the "infantry" troops, such as infantry and pioneers. Corresponding troop units of the artillery, the army aviators or the tank troops were or are usually called departments .

In the Bundeswehr , the designation battalion (short: Btl ) was introduced for the first time for all branches of service. This basically consists of 1st / staff and supply company , 2nd / 3rd / 3rd / 4th / 4th / or 5th / combat company or, depending on the type of service and army structure, 5th / or 6th / heavy fire support company with mortar pulling, machine gun platoon , Anti-tank / anti-tank platoon and new reconnaissance platoon as well as a field replacement and basic training company , today a training and support company. The individual battalions of the combat troops, supported by other forces from the higher-level brigade or mixed with other companies of other combat troops, lead the battle as a battle group.

The flying squadrons of the Air Force and the Navy are - according to the battalion in the Army - in " groups ", e.g. B. Technical group or flying group.

In the Bundeswehr schools, the corresponding units are grouped together as teaching groups.

The guard battalion at the Federal Ministry of Defense with over 1,800 soldiers (roughly equivalent to the size of a regiment ) got its name for reasons of tradition.

Austrian Armed Forces

In the federal army , the four brigades of the army are divided into 5 to 7 battalions each (short: B ). The military command in the federal states is also assigned a hunter battalion (2 hunter battalions and the guard battalion to the Vienna military command ).

Swiss Army

In the Swiss Army , the artillery, EKF and Swiss Air Force also use the term department instead of battalion (short: bat ). Infantry, tank troops, transmission troops, etc. are divided into battalions, which are subordinate to either a brigade (combat troops) or a territorial region (transmission troops, rescue troops, logistics, etc.).

British Army and others

In the British Army , the combat companies of a battalion (2nd / - mostly 5th /) are also referred to as A-Coy, B-Coy, C-Coy and D-Coy. Most of the time, the D-Company is the heavy weapons company providing fire support with heavy infantry weapons.

Web links

Commons : Battalions  - Collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Bataillon  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Walter Transfeldt: Word and Custom in the German Army. All sorts of military things that some don't know. 7th edition thoroughly revised and expanded by Otto Quenstedt. Schulz, Hamburg 1976, p. 116.
  2. Military Lexicon, 2nd ed. 1973, L-No .: 5, ES-No .: 6C1, BstNr: 745.303.1, page 370 Definition: "Troop unit"
  3. Bundesheer: Outline - Land Forces , accessed on August 20, 2016.