96 images Created 11 Oct 2009
Infantrymen are distinguished from soldiers trained to fight on horseback (cavalry), in tanks, or in technical roles such as armourers or signallers, but basic infantry skills are fundamental to the training of any soldier, and soldiers of any branch of an army are expected to serve as auxiliary infantry (e.g., patrolling and security) when necessary. Infantry can access and maneuver in terrain inaccessible to vehicles and tanks, and employ infantry support weapons that can provide firepower in the absence of artillery.
Since the end of the Second World War the infantry has become a smaller part of armies of the Western world, constituting typically between 10% and 30% of an army's personnel. Despite still often representing the largest individual arm, with the exception of logistics, this is vastly reduced from pre-war levels. In the United States Army, for instance, there are only approximately 49,000 infantrymen out of about 450,000 active duty enlisted personnel.
This reflects the greatly increased requirement for technical and logistical specialists in Western armies, resulting from the increasing complexity of military technology and equipment and an increased recognition of the importance of logistics in warfare. In armies of developing world nations, infantry still accounts for a majority of soldiers, but they are often lacking adequate training in infantry tactics and resources to be as effective as other infantry.