Armed forces are the military forces of a state. They exist to further the foreign policy program of their governing body. They consist of both military and paramilitary forces. Armed Force is the use of armed forces to achieve political objectives.
The study of the use of Armed Forces is called military science. Broadly speaking, this involves considering offense and defense at three "levels": strategy, operational art, and tactics. All of these areas study the application of the use of force in order to achieve a desired objective.
Armed forces may be organized as standing forces (or a regular army), which describes a professional army that is engaged in no other profession than preparing for and engaging in warfare. In contrast, there is the citizen army. A citizen army (also known as a militia or reserve army ) is only mobilised as needed. Its advantage lies in the fact that it is dramatically less expensive (in terms of wealth, manpower, and opportunity cost) for the organizing society to support. The disadvantage is that such a "citizen's army" is less well trained and organized. Historically, professional armies often triumph over much larger citizen armies when engaged in combat.
A compromise between the two has a small cadre of professional NCOs (non-commissioned officers) and officers who act as a skeleton for a much larger force. When war comes, this skeleton is filled out with conscripts or reservists (former soldiers who volunteer for a small stipend to occasionally train with the cadre to keep their military skills intact), who form the wartime unit. This balances the pros and cons of each basic organization, and allows the formation of huge armies (in terms of millions of combatants), necessary in modern large scale warfare.
Militaries in many larger countries are divided into an army, an air force, and a navy (if necessary). These divisions may be solely for the purposes of training and support, or may be completely independent branches responsible for conducting operations independently of other services. Most smaller countries have a single military that encompasses all armed forces employed by the country in question.
Benefits and costs
The obvious benefit of any military is in providing protection from foreign armed forces, and from internal conflict. In recent decades standing armies have also been used as emergency civil support roles in post-disaster situations. On the other hand they may also harm a society by engaging in counter-productive (or merely unsuccessful) warfare, by domestic repression, or simply by supporting the idea that violence (or the threat thereof) is the way to get what one wants.
Military investment in science and technology sometimes produces side benefits, although some claim that greater benefits could come from targeting the money directly towards things that would improve life instead of ending it.
Over-investment in military forces can drain a society of needed manpower and material, significantly impacting civilian living standards. If continued over a significant period of time, this results in reduced civilian research and development, degrading the society's ability to improve its infrastructure. This lack of development in turn affects the military in a vicious cycle. See the Soviet Union for a typical modern example of this problem.
Armed forces of the world
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