Expeditionary forces

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As Expeditionary Forces or expeditionary military are units referred to in areas outside their home country are used.

Expeditionary forces are mostly reaction troops that are deployed where normal armies cannot be deployed. This is the case, for example, when B. between the home country of the army and the place of action there is a large body of water and the war zone can only be reached by ship or plane.

Before the First World War

Before the First World War , many states, especially the great colonial powers Great Britain and France, but also the USA , Germany , Russia , Spain and Japan used such expeditionary forces in various conflicts. It was mostly against insurgents in colonies , but also against other states. At that time, soldiers and material were usually brought to the site in conventional warships or passenger ships .

It was only with the rise of Wilhelm II and his colonial and naval policy that Germany began to set up such armed forces. German troops fought overseas between 1880 and 1918 , for example in China (e.g. during the suppression of the Boxer rebellion ) and Africa ( uprising of the Herero and Nama ).

Some conflicts in which expeditionary forces were used:

First World War

Even before the First World War, Great Britain was forced to make plans in the event that Germany violated Belgian neutrality. At the beginning of the world war the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was set up. The units were assembled in Britain to be shipped to France. A large landing operation took place in Gallipoli , for which the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force was increased with armed forces from the British Empire . The Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZAC) was one of their units. When the USA joined the war, the American Expeditionary Forces were formed, under whose command the American armed forces in Europe were.

After the fighting ended, these units were quickly reduced and eventually disbanded entirely.

Second World War

At the beginning of the Second World War , Great Britain set up the BEF again in 1939 and sent it with 400,000 men to France. It was not until early 1940 that it had reached its full strength. Due to the quick and successful action of the Wehrmacht , the BEF could not intervene in the fighting as planned and had to be evacuated again in Operation Dynamo .

With Operation Husky , the British returned to mainland Europe as the Allied Expeditionary Force together with their new ally, the USA . Under the command of Dwight D. Eisenhower , among other things, Operation Overlord was carried out and the German Battle of the Bulge repulsed.

The Second World War also brought about the greatest change in the field of expeditionary forces. The units were not brought directly to the crisis area by passenger ships, as was previously the case, but landed from the staging area through amphibious operations .

During and after the Cold War

The French Indochina War is considered the last major colonial war and was fought between French expeditionary forces and paramilitary forces from Việt Minh .

After the end of the British superiority at sea, the USA became the largest display of expeditionary forces, albeit under a different name. In the Korean War, for example, the United States led the UN troops.

As a result, there were repeated armed conflicts in which armed forces were used that fall under the category of expeditionary forces, but were often not named as a whole. These are u. A. The Vietnam War , the Falklands War , the Second Gulf War, and the Iraq War .

Armed forces with the official designation "Expeditionary Force"


  • Hermann von Giehrl : The American Expeditionary Corps in Europe 1917/18. Mittler, Berlin 1922.
  • Navy Admiralty Staff: The Marine Expeditionary Force in South West Africa during the Herero Uprising. Mittler, Berlin 1905.
  • Eugen Binder von Krieglstein : The battles of the German expeditionary corps in China and their military lessons. Mittler, Berlin 1902.

Web links

Wiktionary: Expeditionary Army  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: Expeditionary Corps  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations