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Partisan (military)

Partisan (military)

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A partisan is a member of an irregular military
Irregular military
Irregular military refers to any non-standard military. Being defined by exclusion, there is significant variance in what comes under the term. It can refer to the type of military organization, or to the type of tactics used....

 force formed to oppose control of an area by a foreign power or by an army of occupation by some kind of insurgent
Insurgent
Insurgent, insurgents or insurgency can refer to:* The act of insurgency-Specific insurgencies:* Iraqi insurgency, uprising in Iraq* Insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir, uprising in India* Insurgency in North-East India...

 activity. The term can apply to the field element of resistance movement
Resistance movement
A resistance movement is a group or collection of individual groups, dedicated to opposing an invader in an occupied country or the government of a sovereign state. It may seek to achieve its objects through either the use of nonviolent resistance or the use of armed force...

s, an example of which are the civilians that opposed Nazi German
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 rule in several countries during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

.

History


As early as the 12th century in Europe, war parties or detachments from the main body were frequently used on raids to gather or destroy supplies. The French adopted term "partisan" from its Latin form was used in the 17th century to describe the leader of a war-party. Techniques of partisan warfare were described in detail in Johann von Ewald's Abhandlung über den kleinen Krieg (1789).

The initial concept of partisan warfare involved the use of troops raised from the local population in a war zone (or in some cases regular forces) who would operate behind enemy lines to disrupt communications, seize posts or villages as forward-operating bases, ambush convoys, impose war taxes or contributions, raid logistical
Logistics
Logistics is the management of the flow of goods between the point of origin and the point of destination in order to meet the requirements of customers or corporations. Logistics involves the integration of information, transportation, inventory, warehousing, material handling, and packaging, and...

 stockpiles, and compel enemy forces to disperse and protect their base of operations. This concept of partisan warfare would later form the basis of the "Partisan Rangers" of the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

. In that war, Confederate States Army
Confederate States Army
The Confederate States Army was the army of the Confederate States of America while the Confederacy existed during the American Civil War. On February 8, 1861, delegates from the seven Deep South states which had already declared their secession from the United States of America adopted the...

 Partisan leaders, such as John S. Mosby
John S. Mosby
John Singleton Mosby , nicknamed the "Gray Ghost", was a Confederate cavalry battalion commander in the American Civil War...

, operated along the lines described by von Ewald (and later by both Jomini
Antoine-Henri Jomini
Antoine-Henri, baron Jomini was a general in the French and later in the Russian service, and one of the most celebrated writers on the Napoleonic art of war...

 and Clausewitz
Carl von Clausewitz
Carl Philipp Gottfried von Clausewitz was a Prussian soldier and German military theorist who stressed the moral and political aspects of war...

). In essence, 19th-century American partisans were closer to commando
Commando
In English, the term commando means a specific kind of individual soldier or military unit. In contemporary usage, commando usually means elite light infantry and/or special operations forces units, specializing in amphibious landings, parachuting, rappelling and similar techniques, to conduct and...

 or Ranger
United States Army Rangers
United States Army Rangers are elite members of the United States Army. Rangers have served in recognized U.S. Army Ranger units or have graduated from the U.S. Army's Ranger School...

 forces raised during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 than to the "partisan" forces operating in occupied Europe. Such fighters would have been legally considered uniformed members of their state's armed forces
Armed forces
The armed forces of a country are its government-sponsored defense, fighting forces, and organizations. They exist to further the foreign and domestic policies of their governing body, and to defend that body and the nation it represents from external aggressors. In some countries paramilitary...

.

One of the first manuals of partisans' tactics
Military tactics
Military tactics, the science and art of organizing an army or an air force, are the techniques for using weapons or military units in combination for engaging and defeating an enemy in battle. Changes in philosophy and technology over time have been reflected in changes to military tactics. In...

 in the 18th century was The Partisan, or the Art of Making War in Detachment...
by de Jeney
Mihály Lajos Jeney
Mihály Lajos Jeney – Hungarian military officer and general of Austro-Hungarian Army, mapmaker...

, a Hungarian
Hungary
Hungary , officially the Republic of Hungary , is a landlocked country in Central Europe. It is situated in the Carpathian Basin and is bordered by Slovakia to the north, Ukraine and Romania to the east, Serbia and Croatia to the south, Slovenia to the southwest and Austria to the west. The...

 military officer who served in the Prussian Army
Prussian Army
The Royal Prussian Army was the army of the Kingdom of Prussia. It was vital to the development of Brandenburg-Prussia as a European power.The Prussian Army had its roots in the meager mercenary forces of Brandenburg during the Thirty Years' War...

 as captain of military engineer
Military engineer
In military science, engineering refers to the practice of designing, building, maintaining and dismantling military works, including offensive, defensive and logistical structures, to shape the physical operating environment in war...

s during the Seven Years' War
Seven Years' War
The Seven Years' War was a global military war between 1756 and 1763, involving most of the great powers of the time and affecting Europe, North America, Central America, the West African coast, India, and the Philippines...

 - published in London in 1760.
Partisans in the mid-19th century were substantially different from raiding cavalry
Cavalry
Cavalry or horsemen were soldiers or warriors who fought mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the third oldest and the most mobile of the combat arms...

, or from unorganized/semi-organized guerrilla forces
Guerrilla warfare
Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare and refers to conflicts in which a small group of combatants including, but not limited to, armed civilians use military tactics, such as ambushes, sabotage, raids, the element of surprise, and extraordinary mobility to harass a larger and...

. Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

n partisans played a crucial part in the downfall of Napoleon
Napoleon I of France
Napoleon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader during the latter stages of the French Revolution.As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 to 1815...

. Their fierce resistance and persistent inroads helped compel the French emperor to flee Russia in 1812.

During World War II the current definition of "partisan" became the dominant one — focusing on irregular forces in opposition to an attacking or occupying power. Soviet partisans
Soviet partisans
The Soviet partisans were members of a resistance movement which fought a guerrilla war against the Axis occupation of the Soviet Union during World War II....

, especially those active in Belarus
Belarusian resistance movement
Belarusian resistance during World War II was focused towards Nazi Germany from 1941 until 1944. Belarus was one of the Soviet republics occupied during Operation Barbarossa...

, effectively harassed German troops
Wehrmacht
The Wehrmacht – from , to defend and , the might/power) were the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It consisted of the Heer , the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe .-Origin and use of the term:...

 and significantly hampered their operations in the region. As a result, Soviet authority was re-established deep inside the German-held territories. There were even partisan kolkhoz
Kolkhoz
A kolkhoz , plural kolkhozy, was a form of collective farming in the Soviet Union that existed along with state farms . The word is a contraction of коллекти́вное хозя́йство, or "collective farm", while sovkhoz is a contraction of советское хозяйство...

es that raised crops and livestock to produce food for the partisans. The communist Yugoslav partisans were a leading force in the liberation of their country during the People's Liberation War of Yugoslavia.

Examples

  • Albanian Partisans
  • Armenian irregular units
    Armenian irregular units
    Armenian irregular units, also known as Fedayees were Armenian civilians who left their families to form armed brigades. Armenian fedayees were volunteers and, literally, "one who is ready to sacrifice his life" for his people)...

  • Armia Krajowa
    Armia Krajowa
    The Armia Krajowa , or Home Army, was the dominant Polish resistance movement in World War II German-occupied Poland. It was formed in February 1942 from the Związek Walki Zbrojnej . Over the next two years, it absorbed most other Polish underground forces...

  • Armia Ludowa
    Armia Ludowa
    Armia Ludowa was a communist partisan force set up by the Polish Workers' Party during World War II. Its aims were to support the military of the Soviet Union against German forces and aid the creation of a pro-Soviet communist government in Poland...

  • Bataliony Chłopskie
  • Bulgarian resistance movement during World War II
    Bulgarian resistance movement during World War II
    The Bulgarian resistance movement was part of the anti-Axis resistance during World War II. It consisted of armed and unarmed actions of resistance groups against the Wehrmacht forces in Bulgaria and the Kingdom of Bulgaria authorities. It was mainly communist and pro-Soviet Union...

  • Dutch Resistance
    Dutch resistance
    Dutch resistance to the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands during World War II can be mainly characterized by its prominent non-violence, summitting in over 300,000 people in hiding in the autumn of 1944, tended to by some 60,000 to 200,000 illegal landlords and caretakers and tolerated knowingly...

  • Forest Brothers
    Forest Brothers
    The Forest Brothers were Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian partisans who waged a guerrilla war against Soviet rule during the Soviet invasion and occupation of the three Baltic states during, and after, World War II...

  • Franc Tireurs Partisans
  • Greek Resistance
    Greek Resistance
    The Greek Resistance is the blanket term for a number of armed and unarmed groups from across the political spectrum that resisted the Axis Occupation of Greece in the period 1941–1944, during World War II.-Origins:...

  • Italian resistance movement
    Italian resistance movement
    The Italian resistance is the umbrella term for the various partisan forces formed by pro-Allied Italians during World War II...

  • Jewish partisans
    Jewish partisans
    Jewish partisans were fighters in irregular military groups participating in the Jewish resistance movement against Nazi Germany and its collaborators during World War II....

  • Jewish Combat Organization
  • Kuperjanov Battalion
    Kuperjanov Battalion
    The Kuperjanov Battalion is an Estonian Army infantry battalion of the Estonian Defence Forces...

  • Lithuanian partisans
    Lithuanian partisans
    The Lithuanian partisans can refer to various irregular military units in different historical periods active in Lithuania against foreign invaders and occupiers:...

  • Partisan Ranger Act
    Partisan Ranger Act
    On April 21, 1862, the Confederate Congress passed the Partisan Ranger Act. The law was intended as a stimulus for recruitment of irregulars for service into the Confederate States Army during the American Civil War. The Act reads as follows:Section 1...

  • Polish resistance movement in World War II
    Polish resistance movement in World War II
    The Polish resistance movement in World War II, with the Home Army at its forefront, was the largest underground resistance in all of Nazi-occupied Europe, covering both German and Soviet zones of occupation. The Polish defence against the Nazi occupation was an important part of the European...

  • Slovak National Uprising
    Slovak National Uprising
    The Slovak National Uprising or 1944 Uprising was an armed insurrection organized by the Slovak resistance movement during World War II. It was launched on August 29 1944 from Banská Bystrica in an attempt to overthrow the collaborationist Slovak State of Jozef Tiso...

  • Soviet partisans
    Soviet partisans
    The Soviet partisans were members of a resistance movement which fought a guerrilla war against the Axis occupation of the Soviet Union during World War II....

  • Ukrainian Insurgent Army
  • Yugoslav Partisans
  • Werwolf
    Werwolf
    Werwolf was the name given to a Nazi plan, which began development in 1944, to create a commando force which would operate behind enemy lines as the Allies advanced through Germany itself. Werwolf remained entirely ineffectual as a combat force, however, and in practical terms, its value as...

  • 43rd Battalion Virginia Cavalry
    43rd Battalion Virginia Cavalry
    The 43rd Battalion, Virginia Cavalry, also known as Mosby's Rangers, Mosby's Raiders or Mosby's Men, was a battalion of partisan cavalry in the Confederate army during the American Civil War...

     (Mosby's Rangers)
  • Operation Anthropoid
    Operation Anthropoid
    Operation Anthropoid was the code name for the targeted killing of top German SS leader Reinhard Heydrich. He was the chief of the Reich Main Security Office , the acting Protector of Bohemia and Moravia, and a chief planner of the Final Solution, the Nazi German programme for the genocide of the...

  • Free French

See also

  • Fifth column
    Fifth column
    A fifth column is a group of people who clandestinely undermine a larger group such as a nation from within.-Origin:The term originated with a 1936 radio address by Emilio Mola, a Nationalist General during the 1936–39 Spanish Civil War...

  • Asymmetric warfare
    Asymmetric warfare
    Asymmetric warfare is war between belligerents whose relative military power differs significantly, or whose strategy or tactics differ significantly....

  • Guerilla warfare
  • Irregular military
    Irregular military
    Irregular military refers to any non-standard military. Being defined by exclusion, there is significant variance in what comes under the term. It can refer to the type of military organization, or to the type of tactics used....

  • Resistance movement
    Resistance movement
    A resistance movement is a group or collection of individual groups, dedicated to opposing an invader in an occupied country or the government of a sovereign state. It may seek to achieve its objects through either the use of nonviolent resistance or the use of armed force...

  • Unconventional warfare
    Unconventional warfare
    Unconventional warfare is the opposite of conventional warfare. Where conventional warfare is used to reduce an opponent's military capability, unconventional warfare is an attempt to achieve military victory through acquiescence, capitulation, or clandestine support for one side of an existing...

  • Minutemen