Combat (French for fight) is a purposeful violent conflict between multiple combatants with the intent to harm the opposition. Combat may be armed (using weapons) or unarmed (not using weapons). Combat is resorted to either as a method of self-defense or to impose one's will upon others. An instance of combat can be a standalone confrontation or part of a wider conflict, and its scale can range from a fight between individuals to a war between organized groups. Combat may also be benign and recreational, as in the cases of combat sports and mock combat.
Combat may comply with, or be in violation of, local or international laws regarding conflict. Examples of rules include the Geneva Conventions (covering the treatment of people in war), medieval chivalry, the Marquess of Queensberry Rules (covering boxing), and the individual rulesets of various combat sports.
Hand-to-hand combat (melee) is combat at very close range, attacking the opponent with the body (striking, kicking, strangling, etc.) and/or with a melee weapon (knives, swords, batons, etc.), as opposed to a ranged weapon.
Hand-to-hand combat can be further divided into three sections depending on the distance and positioning of the combatants:
Military combat can involve multiple groups, including guerilla groups, insurgencies, and domestic and/or foreign governments. A military combat situation is known either as a battle or a war, depending on the size of the fighting and which geographical areas in which it occurs. Combat effectiveness has always demanded that the personnel maintain strategic preparedness by being sufficiently trained, armed, equipped, and funded to carry out combat operations in the unit to which they are assigned. Warfare falls under the law of war, which govern its purposes and conduct, and protect the rights of combatants and non-combatants.
- North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO Standardization Agency AAP-6 – Glossary of terms and definitions, p. 80
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