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Summary Article: army from Philip's Encyclopedia
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Image from: Army in Black Firsts

Body of men organized to fight on land. Armies are probably as old as urban civilisation, and the first written evidence of an army comes from third millennium bc Sumer. Early armies were rarely composed of professional soldiers, instead being recruited primarily by short-term conscription, and warfare between ancient states was often formally structured by unspoken social conventions. From the Bronze Age onwards armies began to need different types of soldier, with different arms and training, to be effective. In the Iron Age this specialisation continued as technology advanced, and armies became increasingly professional. The campaigns of Alexander the Great and of the Roman Empire relied on full-time professional soldiers and broke with earlier social structures of war, but earlier conventions returned after each fell. At the start of the Middle Ages the feudal system provided effective but inflexible armies, but as Europe became richer these were supplemented and eventually replaced by hired professional mercenaries. By the Renaissance paid mercenaries predominated, but began to acquire a reputation for unreliability. The rise of gunpowder weapons, particularly the musket, allowed 17th century states to replace mercenary forces with permanent standing armies - the ancestors of all modern European forces. The imperialism of European powers overwhelmed other military cultures and spread European military technology and organisation to the entire world. The industrial revolution changed the nature of war, as mass production allowed ever larger armies to be equipped, and from the 19th century mass conscription was needed to supplement professional armies. Armies were slow to adjust to the impact of changed technology, leading to terrible casualties in the Crimean War, American Civil War and ultimately World War 1. The deadlock of industrial warfare was only broken at the end of that war by the invention of the tank and air power. World War 2 saw highly mechanized and mobile armies whose logistics of supply and support demanded an integration of the land, sea and air forces.

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