Military branch

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Military branch (also service branch or armed service) is according to common standard the subdivision of the national armed forces of a sovereign nation or state.


Classical branches[edit]

In classical NATO terminology, the three basic environmental commands military branches are the Army, Air Force, and Navy.[1]

Specialized branches[edit]

Countries which do not have access to any of the brown water, green water, blue water or any oceans generally do not have a national navy.

In some countries there might be other military branches. In addition to the above-mentioned military branches, examples are:

Emblems of some countries[edit]

Historical development[edit]

The military branches came into being in line with military technical progress and have been developed permanently. With that background, the air force was established early in the 20th century as one of the latest armed service.

The army is traditionally the oldest – and in many countries the biggest armed service.

Unified forces[edit]

The Canadian Armed Forces is the unified armed forces of Canada. While it has three environmental commands - namely Royal Canadian Navy, Canadian Army and Royal Canadian Air Force - it remains a single military service.

NATO definition[edit]

Branch of service (also branch of military service or branch of armed service) refers, according to NATO standards, to a branch, employment of combined forces or parts of a service, below the level of service, military serviced or armed service.[2]


  1. ^ STANAG 2116: NATO Codes for Grades of Military Personnel. NATO. 13 March 1996.
  2. ^ MILITÄRISCHES STUDIENGLOSAR ENGLISCH Teil I, A – K, Bundessprachenamt (Stand Januar 2001), page 226, definition: branch of service.