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Brigade Nato.png

Military symbol of a NATO infantry brigade
Subordinate troops

3–5 battalions or
2–4 regiments

Strength 1500-5000
Insinuation division
Rank Brigadier General or Colonel

A brigade is the smallest large unit of the army , which due to its organization, personnel strength and equipment is able to solve operational tasks independently (without substantial reinforcements). Subordinate to the brigade are battalions of combat troops, rarely combat troop regiments , and independent brigades - companies of combat support troops and logistics troops . Several brigades are subordinate to a division .

Combat support troops such as engineers and army aviators , but also logistics associations can also be permanently grouped into brigades for the higher-level management of special tasks, in order to subordinate larger or smaller proportions of the subordinate troops to the combat force brigades or divisions, depending on the situation.


The introduction of the brigades was prompted by the need for a new order of battle when the rifle began to become the exclusive weapon of the infantry . Sweden King Gustav Adolf II established one without initially aiming to permanently divide his troops. When he had tried out his new brigade line-up at the Battle of Demmin (1630), he considered it advisable, from an administrative and disciplinary point of view, to keep a similar line-up in addition to the battle, as the direct overview of 12 to 16 regiments was too difficult .

Carl von Clausewitz defined the brigade as the largest unit that a man could lead directly, namely through the range of his voice . Up to the middle of the 20th century, brigades were mostly military units, each consisting of at least two regiments of the same type of service. The French half-brigade , which was used in the military between 1793 and 1803, was a special form . The combined arms battle was only fought at division level. In Germany this principle of structure existed until the end of the Wehrmacht , whereby the divisions were increasingly no longer made up of brigades, but directly from the subordinate units since the beginning of the First World War .



armed forces

A brigade consists of 1,500 to 5,000 soldiers and is the smallest large organization composed of several branches of service .

The military symbol (order of magnitude) is a cross ( × ). The commander of an independent brigade is a brigadier general ; brigades that are subordinate to a division can also be led by a colonel . The superior management level of a brigade is the division, the subordinate management level is the regiment or battalion. In the German army , three to five battalions and independent companies are subordinate to a combat troop brigade.

In the basic structure, a mechanized tank or tank grenadier brigade was subordinated to two tank and two tank battalions, one tank artillery battalion and one staff company, telecommunications company, tank engineer company, tank reconnaissance company, repair company, supply company and medical company. At times also a tank destroyer company, in the early phase also a supply battalion, which was however reduced in later army structures to the supply company and the repair company, and whose tasks were partially shifted to the higher-level repair and supply regiments. The infantry brigades were very different.

The first brigades of the Bundeswehr emerged from the combat groups initially set up in Army Structure I through reorganization and renaming . The division into brigades corresponded to the NATO concept. Each of the planned twelve divisions was to lead three combat troop brigades, so that a total of 36 combat troop brigades were set up in the old Federal Republic. The actual line-up dragged on until 1975 ( Army Structure III ).

After the integration of the NVA into the Bundeswehr in 1990, the army initially grew to 42 combat brigades, but was soon reduced again significantly.

The army still has eleven combat brigades, which are structured quite differently. The former tank , tank grenadier , parachute and airborne , homeland security and fighter brigades were each structured much more homogeneously. With the Franco-German Brigade , a multinational brigade is also present. In addition, however the were after the end of the Cold War and combat support brigades as pioneer brigades , artillery , air defense brigades , or logistics brigades set up.

Until 1992 (formation of Airborne Brigade 31 ), the designation of the brigades followed a stringent logic. The brigade number was calculated by multiplying the division number by 3, from which 1, 2 or 0 was subtracted: For the 1st Airborne Division (9th Army Division), the brigade numbers 25-27 resulted. The 25 was the so-called 1st brigade of the division, the 26th the second, etc. This numbering system no longer exists in this stringent form today, as the old designation is usually retained for reasons of tradition when changing positions. The association badges of the brigades were also derived from this system: the division and brigade badges were identical except for the border. The division badge had a silver and black cord border. The association badge of the first brigade was outlined in white (no cord), that of the second red, that of the third yellow.

The Emergency Medical Service Command emerged from Medical Brigade 1 in Leer (East Friesland) in 2003 .

The following army brigades are planned in the target structure of the Bundeswehr:

Swiss Army

Since the Army Reform XXI , the Swiss Army has been divided into brigades and battalions. After the army corps and divisions were abolished, the brigade is now the largest unit of the unit. A brigade consists of up to 10,000 members of the army. It is led by a brigadier .


The Austrian Armed Forces have the following four brigades:

These brigades consist of either five (4th Panzer Grenadier Brigade, 6th Jäger Brigade) or six (3rd Panzergrenadierbrigade, 7th Jäger Brigade) battalions of different branches of service. The brigade commander usually has the rank of brigadier.


In France a subdivision of the company is also referred to as a brigade, but only in the mounted regiments ( cavalry , tanks ) and in the national gendarmerie . This brigade consists of five to ten soldiers and is led by a brigadier .

United States

As part of the transformation of the United States Army , the army was restructured into modular Brigade Combat Teams .

Web links

Wiktionary: Brigade  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Carl von Clausewitz: From the war
  2. ^ The brigades of the stabilization forces and forces for situation reconnaissance