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An army (from Latin armata "armed (things)" via Old French armée, "armed" (feminine)), in the broadest sense, is the land-based Military of a nation or state. It may also include other branches of the military such as the air force via means of aviation corps. Within a national military force, the word Army may also mean a field army an army composed of full-time career soldiers who 'stand over', in other words, who do not disband during times of peace. They differ from army reserves who are activated only during such times as war or natural disasters.

In several countries the army is officially called the land army to differentiate it from an air force called the air army, notably France. In such countries, the word "army" on its own retains its connotation of a land force in common usage. The current largest army in the world, by number of active troops, is the People's Liberation Army of China with 2,250,000 active troops and 800,000 reserve personnel.

By definition, irregular military is understood in contrast to regular armies which grew slowly from personal bodyguards or elite militia.




The Spartan Army was one of the earliest professional armies, the men were sent to a barracks at the age of 7 to train for being a soldier. At the age of thirty they were released from the barracks and allowed to marry and have a family. After that, men devoted their lives to war until their retirement at the age of 60. Unlike other civilizations, whose armies had to disband during the planting and harvest seasons, the Spartan serfs or helots, did the manual labour.

This allowed the Spartans to field a full-time army with a campaign season that lasted all year. The Spartan Army was largely composed of hoplites, equipped with arms and armor nearly identical to each other, each hoplite bore the Spartan emblem and a scarlet uniform. Main pieces of this armor were a round shield, a spear and a helmet.

Ancient Rome

The Roman Army had its origins in the citizen army of the Republic, which was staffed by citizens serving mandatory duty for Rome. Reforms around 115 BC turned the army into a professional organization which was still largely filled by citizens but citizens who served continuously for 25 years before being discharged.

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