Talk:Irregular military

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My original sources focused on regulars and irregulars fighting alongside each other in times gone by. Notes on more modern uses have been added to this article. This is needed, but the article is a little disjointed now. If I have time, I’ll reorder it. --A D Monroe III 08:44, 20 Dec 2004 (UTC)

I've moved the historical use of irregulars into a separate section, and changed the tense of the rest to be current. I've also added some additional links.

I've also hinted that irregulars are more important than most historians recognize, for reasons stated in the article. This isn't based on any direct evidence, but more the lack of them. I've found battles with regulars on the winning side are well reported, while others are not. The size of enemy irregular forces often seems to be ridiculously high, while friendly irregular forces are usually only indirectly referenced. Only by taking all these ancient battle figures together have I seen this pattern of bias against irregulars.

Will others find this opinionated? I believe I've kept the tone open for interpretation, so hopefully not.

Anyway, I'm done for now. --A D Monroe III 21:34, 20 Dec 2004 (UTC)

There's a possibility that what you've doing is sharing your own interpretation, which is contrary to the intent of Wikipedia; see: Wikipedia: No original research. Our job as Wikipedians is not to disagree with or build upon the work of experts; our job is to accurately characterize expert opinion. The best way to do this is to cite your sources, which is something this article needs. Just something to keep in mind -- it's something I have to frequently remind myself as well. --Kevin Myers 01:42, Jan 10, 2005 (UTC)
That's why I noted my hint on the importance of irregulars in this discussion; I wondered if it this crosses the line as original research. I've found that people writing an article on "X" tend to be biased toward "X is important", and a little of that typically comes through in the article. However, I understand, and even expect, that bias. Based on that, I thought it was okay, but I understand if others feel this should be removed.
I'll try and find sources that agree with this. However, I've found only indirect refrences for this so far, hence the discussion. As a last resort, I guess I have to get my findings published, though I have no idea on how to do that.
Doing Wikipedia right is a lot more work than I was led to believe. But I guess if newbies were warned of this, there wouldn't be any newbies.
A D Monroe III 16:08, 10 Jan 2005 (UTC)

The term- uninformative?[edit]

This article seems well-written and NPOV, but the term "irregular military" just seems like an attempt to be overly politically correct. It just seems kind of bland and uninformative, and people rarely use it (and probably wont in the future either). Bonus Onus July 5, 2005 19:27 (UTC)

"Irregular" is a military term, not a political one. It dates back to the 19th century, before political correctness. People used to use it, and it's still used in military science, so that's why it's here; not because people "should" use it now.
The political incorrect terms for "irregulars" are more colorful, so, yeah, this article is more bland than them. So be it. Wikipedia's goal is not to entertain.
But, "uninformative"? That's the most serious criticism in Wikipedia. Could you be more specific? Is it missing some information you expected, or doesn't have enough background, or pictures, or just needs to be expanded? Or do you mean that the whole subject isn't worthy of an article?
--A D Monroe III 02:39, 14 July 2005 (UTC)
Irregulars had a specific legal defintion in the mid-19th century that defined them as legal combatants. When I wrote The UnCivil War, I based my definitions on several key ideas--legal defnitions, common military usage, and how the combatants defined themselves. R. Mackey

I think the "other names" section was pretty good myself. Carefully written, good for them. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:04, 21 December 2007 (UTC)

Guerrilla does not equal asymmetric warfare[edit]

In both the Guerrilla article and here, it's been said that guerrillas use asymmetric warfare. This isn't quite right. Asymmetric warfare applies to both sides of a war, not just the one with irregular forces. For example, what the US is doing in Iraq follows the doctrine of asymmetric warfare. Unless someone makes a counter-claim, I'm going to fix both articles. --A D Monroe III 02:16, 14 July 2005 (UTC)

18th century partisans[edit]

I've made a change to the definition of PARTISAN, adding in the fact that the term meant something substantially different in the 18th and 19th centuries than it did in the 20th century. Johann von Ewald's Treatise on Partisan Warfare (1789?) describes the use of 'partisan' forces in the American Revolution as adjuncts to the British forces. In the 19th century, 'partisan ranger' forces were organized as part of the Confederate States Army (the most famous of which was Mosby's Rangers).--Robert Mackey

You need to change Partisan (military) first, then reflect that change here. Subordinate articles can't overrule main ones. --A D Monroe III 22:44, 23 January 2006 (UTC)
Changes made in Partisan (military) to reflect proper use of term on this page. The partisan entry was only a stub that I have expanded.


What are the commonly cited features of a "standard" military that makes irregulars "non-standard"? Affiliation with a state? Assignment of rank? Marching in neat rows? -- Beland 03:18, 11 October 2005 (UTC)

It's the affiliation with a state. I've now included that point in the introduction. Thanks. --A D Monroe III 01:28, 12 October 2005 (UTC)
The Royal Navy is not affilliated to the government of the UK, but directly to the The Crown and the Crown is not a state. Philip Baird Shearer 00:08, 31 October 2005 (UTC)
I think a better definition of a "standard" military would be to use those of the Wikisource:Third Geneva Convention#Article 4 and the Hague Conventions[1].
I am sure with a little work a better more precise definition can be found. Philip Baird Shearer 00:54, 31 October 2005 (UTC)
If I may inject, there are distinct legal definations as noted above that define regular and irregular military forces. There are references to 'irregular' war in the works of several 18th and 19th century military writers (von Ewald, Clausewitz, Jomini to name a few). When I wrote 'The UnCivil War' I dedicated a substantial part of the introductory chapter to addressing the definitions of partisan/guerrilla/irregular warfare. Robert R. Mackey.

Don't remove regular army entries[edit]

Although they overlap, this article covers two main subjects: irregular military units and irregular military tactics. That means that some regular military units will be part of this article. Just because some unit uses irregular military tactics doesn't mean they are inferior to regular military. In fact, in the 18th century, regular military units trained in irregular military tactics were considered elite units, much like rangers or commandos today. --A D Monroe III 14:27, 6 February 2006 (UTC)

MILHIST assessment[edit]

Assessed as start. Needs attention to citation - all the current citations are in one paragraph. Although it wikilinks to articles on topics like asymetrical warfare and irregular warfare it doesn't really engage with the theories there. Monstrelet (talk) 08:15, 9 May 2010 (UTC)

Serious rewrites?[edit]

I'm wondering whether the "Other names for irregular military formations" section is needed at all. Many of those aren't really irregular military formations, but some of them merit a list (like guerrillas, franc-tireurs and paramilitaries). If it's kept though, it needs a serious rewrite... Speculating about why someone might become a military irregular is certainly interesting, but it's not wikipedia's job to do so.

A few of them, however, simply have to go:

Revolutionary: Not every revolution is military and not all military revolutions are irregular. Essentially, yes, some revolutions employ irregular military tactics/strategies and units, but many don't.

Terrorist: Terrorism as a military action is a relatively recent (think: war on terrorism) concept. Also the description is off. Terrorists don't 'target civilians', they simply don't refrain from targeting civilians. Car-bombing a military base without endangering any civilians is still (often) an act of terrorism. Any way, Terrorism can also be performed by individuals or non-organised groups and can be performed for non-military objectives (in fact, it often is). Ecoterrorism, bombing abortion clinics and bombing places of worship are all acts of terrorism, but they're not irregular military actions. They may use irregular military tactics/strategies and unit, or they may not.

Insurgency: Insurgency is a sub-division of Revolution, specifically an armed one performed by a group not recognised as a belligerent by outside groups. Once again they may irregular military tactics/strategies and units, or they may not.

In essence as near as I can tell, these are on the list because of the Dog/Animal fallacy (All dogs are animals, but not all animals are dogs). As in: They're mentioned because these groups sometimes use irregular military tactics, but are mentioned in a way that suggest they use them as a matter of course. Mentioning they do is ok, but not in a list alongside Guerillas, Franc-Tireurs and Paramilitaries who are, by definition, irregular military structures. (Insurgents can be Guerillas, for instance).

Freedom Fighter and Unlawful Combatant do not deserve to be anywhere NEAR this page let alone on it. They're terms on the list simply because they're sometimes used for the three groups above. If we ARE going the route of adding everything an Irregular has ever been called I propose the following: Those Assholes: Irregulars are often called this by their opponents. Honey: This and other regional variations or similar terms are primarily used to describe Irregulars by their spouses. Oh my god, oh my god, they're coming!: Informal term for irregulars, referring specifically to situations where they outnumber Regular forces significantly.

More significantly, later sections of this page make such claims as:

Barbarians were irregular forces. No. First off Barbarian's a pejorative term for people outside one's civilization one considers uncivilized. You might as well say that many historical civilizations fell to 'those foreign assholes' (those assholes, as we know, being a term much more often used for irregulars). Secondly, while they might not have been Regulars by Roman standards, they were Regulars by their own nation's standards.

Napoleon invented conscription... Whut? (More charitably: Conscription was invented around Napoleon's time. Still... Whut?) While the modern -standard- for Conscription (that is: age of service, time of service, that sort of thing), the very first peace-time Conscription structure is Roman and the idea of Conscription in times of war dates back to around 4 Millenia ago.

All in all this page suffers from trying to be two completely seperate pages at once: A page detailing what an Irregular Military is and a page detailing what (people believe) an Irregular Military does.

In part, presumably, because a page detailing on what an Irregular Military is would a stub (containing one line: An Irregular Military is any military force not part of a Regular Military). Robrecht (talk) 03:00, 24 June 2011 (UTC)

American Civil War[edit]

Here is something that should not be over looked: Hiram Berdan started what became known as Berdan's sharpshooters that included the 1st and 2nd United States Sharpshooters. Not only was this considered Irregular military, they used special equipment, wore special uniforms, didn't carry bayonets so they couldn't be used as line infantry, and performed a special service. The 66th Illinois Volunteer Infantry Regiment (Western Sharpshooters) would also certainly have to be considered "irregular", also having special uniforms, and these actually being more "specialized" than the 22nd Regiment Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry that was often assigned picket duty or even the 1st Regiment Michigan Volunteer Sharpshooters.
We would be remiss if the Whitworth Sharpshooters were not included and I am sure there are more. Otr500 (talk) 10:58, 29 April 2016 (UTC)