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A battalion is a military unit of around 300–1,300 soldiers usually consisting of between two and seven companies and typically commanded by either a Lieutenant Colonel or a Colonel. Several battalions are grouped to form a regiment or a brigade.

The nomenclature varies by nationality and by branch of arms, for instance, some armies organize their infantry into battalions, but call battalion-sized cavalry, reconnaissance, or tank units a squadron or a regiment instead. There may even be subtle distinctions within a nation's branches of arms, such as a distinction between a tank battalion and an armored squadron, depending on how the unit's operational role is perceived to fit into the army's historical organization.

A battalion is generally the smallest military unit capable of independent operations (i.e., not attached to a higher command), although many armies have smaller units that are self-sustaining. The battalion is usually part of a regiment, group or a brigade, depending on the organizational model used by that service. The bulk of a battalion will ordinarily be homogeneous with respect to type (e.g., an infantry battalion or a tank battalion), although there are many exceptions. Every battalion will also include some sort of combat service support, typically organized within a combat support company.

The term is Italian in origin, appearing as battaglione. The French changed the spelling to bataillon, whereupon it directly entered into German.


British Army

The term battalion is used in the infantry, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, (MSSM) and Intelligence Corps only. It was formerly used for a few units in the Royal Engineers (before they switched to regiments), and was also used in the now defunct Royal Army Ordnance Corps and Royal Pioneer Corps. Other corps usually use the term regiment instead.

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