Squadron (army)

Last updated
Polish squadron in 1830-31 Charge of Poznan Cavalery during November Uprising.JPG
Polish squadron in 1830–31

A squadron was historically a cavalry subunit, a company or battalion-sized military formation. The term is still used to refer to modern cavalry units but can also be used as a designation for other arms and services. In some countries, like Italy, the battalion-level cavalry unit is called "Squadron Group".


United States

In the modern United States Army, a squadron is an armored cavalry, air cavalry, or other reconnaissance unit whose organizational role parallels that of a battalion and is commanded by a lieutenant colonel.

Prior to the revisions in the US Army structure in the 1880s, US Cavalry regiments were divided into companies, and the battalion was an administrative designation used only in garrison. The reorganizations converted companies to troops and battalions to squadrons, and made squadrons tactical formations as well as administrative ones.


In the British Army and many other Commonwealth armies, a squadron is the Royal Armoured Corps counterpart of an infantry company or artillery battery. A squadron is a sub-unit of a battalion-sized formation (usually a regiment), and is usually made up of two or more troops. [1] [2]

The designation is also used for company-sized units in the Special Air Service, Special Reconnaissance Regiment, Honourable Artillery Company, Royal Engineers, Royal Corps of Signals, Royal Army Medical Corps, the Royal Air Force Regiment and Royal Logistic Corps and in the defunct Royal Corps of Transport.

Squadrons are commonly designated using letters or numbers (e.g. No. 1 Squadron or A Squadron). In some British Army units it is a tradition for squadrons to also be named after an important historical battle in which the regiment has taken part. For example, the Royal Armoured Corps Training Regiment assigns trainees to "Waterloo" Squadron, named in honour of the significance the cavalry played in the Allied forces' victory over Napoleon. In some special cases, squadrons can also be named after a unique honour which has been bestowed on the unit.[ citation needed ]


The modern French Army is composed of troupes à pied (foot soldiers including infantry and combat engineers) and troupes à cheval (mounted soldiers such as armored cavalry units, and transportation units). Nowadays, the term escadron (squadron) is used to describe a company (compagnie) of mounted soldiers but, for a long time, a cavalry escadron corresponded to an infantry battalion, both units grouping several companies (battalion and escadrons were tactical units while the companies were administrative units). [3] The term compagnie has been discontinued and replaced by escadron in cavalry units since 1815 and in transportation units since 1968.

In the "mounted arms" a captain (three galons, or braids) in charge of an escadron is thus called a chef d'escadron (which is a title, not a rank). However, his superior in the hierarchy (four galons) has the rank of chef d'escadrons (the equivalent rank in infantry units being chef de bataillon). After 1815 (in fact around 1826), the army began to write chef d'escadrons with an s in cavalry units to reflect the fact that this officer who used to be in charge of one squadron [4] (several companies before 1815) was now in charge of several squadrons (i.e., companies). In other mounted branches (such as gendarmerie and artillerie), chef d'escadron is still spelled without s.


Badge of the Assault Squadron 4 of the Armoured Battalion. It is used on vehicles, uniforms and barracks. Stormeskadron 4.png
Badge of the Assault Squadron 4 of the Armoured Battalion. It is used on vehicles, uniforms and barracks.

The Norwegian army operates with units called eskadroner (pl.), typically a company-equivalent unit, generally in armoured cavalry units although not always.

The 2nd Battalion, Brigade Nord, has a company-equivalent unit called kavalerieskadronen, or "the cavalry squadron". It serves as the main reconnaissance unit in the battalion. Like the mechanized infantry units, it wears the distinct khaki-coloured beret of the battalion instead of the normal black for cavalry units.

The Armoured Battalion (Panserbataljonen) has the majority of its constituents labeled eskadroner. Including the Cavalry Squadron, the Armoured Squadron and the Assault Squadrons. It also includes the battalion's Support element, the Combat Support Squadron. Its members are also referred to as dragoons, reflecting the nature of the unit.

The Telemark Battalion also has a number of units labelled eskadroner. This includes the Armoured Squadron, the Cavalry Squadron and the Combat Support Squadron.

Kampeskadronen (Kampeskadronen) (roughly translated to "The Battle Squadron"), a Squadron consisting of two Mechanized Infantry Platoons, mounted on CV90's, one Armoured Platoon with Leopard 2's and a Combat Service Support Unit. Its soldiers were referred to as dragoons and consisted mostly of conscripted troops. Used as OPFOR in exercise operations with other parts of the Norwegian Army.


Squadron (szwadron) was used exclusively for companies of cavalry and armoured cavalry before 1948. After 1948, the name has been used for the armored formations of varying sizes.


In Russian cavalry a squadron was named eskadron (эскадрон) and was a company-size unit, with 120-150 horses.


In the Swedish cavalry a skvadron means a unit with the same size as a kompani in the rest of the army (about a hundred men). Also Jägar and military police units may have squadrons.

Notes and references

  1. "Squadron". Oxford Dictionaries.com. Archived from the original on September 1, 2012. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  2. Jobson, Christopher (2009). Looking Forward, Looking Back: Customs and Traditions of the Australian Army. Wavell Heights, Queensland: Big Sky Publishing. pp. 92–93. ISBN   9780980325164.
  3. Before 1776, depending on the period, a cavalry squadron was made up of two to four compagnies. From 1776 to 1788, a squadron was composed of a single – larger – company but the French Army then reverted to a two-company squadron that – although deemed not optimal by many officers – lasted until 1815 when King Louis XVIII merged the two organizations and abolished the term "company" in the cavalry.
  4. Prior to 1776, a two-company squadron was led by the most senior of its two captains. The single-company squadron of 1766 was led by a captain assisted by a "captain in second". Then, when the cavalry went back to two-company squadrons in 1788, the rank of "Chef d'escadron" was created but discontinued after a few years and, when reinstated, the chef d'escadron (without s) became a superior officer, typically in charge of two or more squadrons during the napoleonic wars while individual squadrons were again led by their senior captain. Then, when the company was abolished in 1815, squadrons were led (as in 1776) by a captain assisted by a second-captain while a chef d'escadron (without s) was in charge of several squadrons. A few years later (around 1826), the cavalry got into the habit of spelling chef d'escadrons with an s.

Related Research Articles

Dragoon Two types of mounted soldiers

Dragoons were originally a class of mounted infantry, who used horses for mobility, but dismounted to fight on foot. From the early 17th century onward, dragoons were increasingly also employed as conventional cavalry and trained for combat with swords and firearms from horseback. While their use goes back to the late 16th century, dragoon regiments were established in most European armies during the 17th and early 18th centuries; they provided greater mobility than regular infantry but were far less expensive than cavalry.

Royal Armoured Corps Armour arm of the British Army

The Royal Armoured Corps is the component of the British Army, that together with the Household Cavalry provides its armour capability, with vehicles such as the Challenger 2 Tank and the Scimitar Reconnaissance Vehicle. It includes most of the Army's armoured regiments, both the Royal Tank Regiment and those converted from old horse cavalry regiments. Today it comprises twelve regiments, eight regular and four reserve. Although the Household Cavalry Regiment provide an armoured regiment, they are not part of the RAC.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battalion</span> Military unit size designation

A battalion is a military unit, typically consisting of 300 to 1,000 soldiers commanded by a lieutenant colonel, and subdivided into a number of companies. In some countries, battalions are exclusively infantry, while in others battalions are unit-level organizations.

A company is a military unit, typically consisting of 80–250 soldiers and usually commanded by a major or a captain. Most companies are formed of three to seven platoons, although the exact number may vary by country, unit type, and structure.

Regiment Military unit

A regiment is a military unit. Its role and size varies markedly, depending on the country, service and/or a specialisation.

Brigade Large military formation (3-6 battalions / 3-10 thousand troops

A brigade is a major tactical military formation that typically comprises three to six battalions plus supporting elements. It is roughly equivalent to an enlarged or reinforced regiment. Two or more brigades may constitute a division.

Troop Military formation size

A troop is a military sub-subunit, originally a small formation of cavalry, subordinate to a squadron. In many armies a troop is the equivalent element to the infantry section or platoon. Exceptions are the US Cavalry and the King's Troop Royal Horse Artillery where a troop is a subunit comparable to an infantry company or artillery battery. Historically the remainder of the Royal Horse Artillery used the term Troop in the same manner however they are now aligned with the rest of the Royal Regiment of Artillery in referring to Troops as subordinate to artillery batteries.

South Alberta Light Horse Military unit

The South Alberta Light Horse (SALH) is a Canadian Army armoured reconnaissance regiment of the Canadian Army Reserve. It traces its complicated lineage to the Rocky Mountain Rangers, and claims its direct ancestry to the 15th Light Horse, along with various other Alberta based cavalry units. The "Light Horse" designation comes from its light cavalry and mounted infantry origins.

Guard Hussar Regiment (Denmark) Military unit

The Guard Hussar Regiment is a cavalry unit of the Royal Danish Army, whose primary task is to train the Guard Hussars for various functions in the mobilisation force. The Guard Hussar Regiment is one of two active cavalry regiments of the Danish Army, and was formed in 2001 through the amalgamation of the original Guard Hussars regiment, Zealand Life Regiment and Danish Life Regiment.

The Royal Canadian Dragoons Senior armoured regiment of the Canadian Army

The Royal Canadian Dragoons (RCD) is the senior armoured regiment of the Canadian Army by precedence. It is one of three armoured regiments in the Regular Force and forms part of the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps.

Royal Australian Armoured Corps Military unit

The Royal Australian Armoured Corps (RAAC) is a corps of the Australian Army which provides the Australian Defence Force's armour capability. Armour combines firepower, mobility, protection and networked situational awareness to generate shock action and overmatch in close combat. Armour is an essential element of the combined arms approach that is employed by the Australian Army.

Royal Canadian Armoured Corps Military unit

The Royal Canadian Armoured Corps is the armoured corps within the Canadian Army, including 3 Regular and 18 Reserve Force regiments as well as the Royal Canadian Armoured Corps School.

United States Cavalry Former U.S. Army division (1775–1950)

The United States Cavalry, or U.S. Cavalry, was the designation of the mounted force of the United States Army by an act of Congress on 3 August 1861. This act converted the U.S. Army's two regiments of dragoons, one regiment of mounted riflemen, and two regiments of cavalry into one branch of service. The cavalry branch transitioned to the Armored Forces with tanks in 1940, but the term "cavalry", e.g. "armored cavalry", remains in use in the U.S. Army for mounted reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition (RSTA) units based on their parent Combat Arms Regimental System (CARS) regiment. Cavalry is also used in the name of the 1st Cavalry Division for heraldic/lineage/historical purposes. Some combined arms battalions are designated as armor formations, while others are designated as infantry organizations. These "branch" designations are again, heraldic/lineage/historical titles derived from the CARS regiments to which the battalions are assigned.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Royal New Zealand Armoured Corps</span> Military unit

The Royal New Zealand Armoured Corps (RNZAC) is the overall umbrella grouping of Regular Force and Territorial Force units equipped with armoured vehicles in the New Zealand Army. The corps was formed in 1942 as the New Zealand Armoured Corps, before being given the Royal prefix in 1947. The RNZAC is second in seniority of corps within the New Zealand Army.

Armoured cavalry Military with vehicles replacing horses

Armoured cavalry are combat units using armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) instead of horses. They began to replace horse cavalry in the heavy shock and the light reconnaissance, skirmishing and exploitation/pursuit roles in most armies commencing after the First World War.

There are 13 Cavalry Regiments of the British Army each with its own unique cap badge, regimental traditions, and history. Of the currently 9 regular cavalry regiments, 2 serve as armoured regiments, 3 as armoured cavalry regiments, 3 as light cavalry, and 1 as a mounted ceremonial regiment. There are also four yeomanry regiments of the Army Reserve, of these, 3 serve as light cavalry and 1 as an armoured regiment. Each yeomanry light cavalry unit has been paired with a regular unit of the same role, the armoured yeomanry unit is paired with the 2 regular armoured units. All except the Household Cavalry are part of the British Army's Royal Armoured Corps.

Northumberland Hussars Military unit

The Northumberland Hussars was a Yeomanry regiment of the British Army, transferred to the Royal Artillery for the duration of the Second World War. It was disbanded as an independent Territorial Army unit in 1967, a time when the strength of the Territorial Army was greatly reduced. The regiment's name lives on in the title of the command and support squadron of the Queen's Own Yeomanry (QOY), a Formation Reconnaissance Regiment based in Newcastle upon Tyne.

East Riding of Yorkshire Yeomanry British Army military unit

The East Riding of Yorkshire Yeomanry was a unit of the British Army formed in 1902. Units of Yeomanry Cavalry were raised in the East Riding of Yorkshire in the 18th and early 19th centuries at times of national emergency: the Jacobite Rising of 1745, the French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. These were stood down once each emergency was over. The East Riding of Yorkshire Yeomanry, was established in 1902, and this saw action during the First World War both in the mounted role and as machine gunners.

Armoured reconnaissance Terrestrial reconnaissance using tanks and armoured reconnaissance vehicles

Armoured reconnaissance is the combination of terrestrial reconnaissance with armoured warfare by soldiers using tanks and wheeled or tracked armoured reconnaissance vehicles. While the mission of reconnaissance is to gather intelligence about the enemy with the use of reconnaissance vehicles, armoured reconnaissance adds the ability to fight for information, and to have an effect on and to shape the enemy through the performance of traditional armoured tasks.