Training and recruitment

Training and recruitment

Early Warfare Prior to the Middle Ages (c500-1065)

  • Warrior culture predominated. Young men were expected to become proficient in weapons use and physical combat.
  • Individual prowess was highly prized. The most successful warriors earned respect and status in their communities.
  • There were usually no formal training academies; instruction was often passed down from father to son, or between members of a community.

The Middle Ages (1066-1485)

  • Feudal levies provided many of a lord or king’s soldiers. These were farmers and workers who were expected to serve in battle when required.
  • Knights received professional training often from a young age, mastering weapons like swords and lances, and learning to fight in heavy armour on horseback.
  • Large battles were relatively rare. Many ‘wars’ were actually composed of sieges, skirmishes and raids.

The Gunpowder Era (1485-1750)

  • Militaries began employing professional soldiers. These troops were trained in the use of firearms like muskets.
  • Drill and discipline became more important as firearm tactics required tight formations and well-executed manoeuvres.
  • Mercenaries could be hired for specific campaigns. Recruitment focused on finding experienced soldiers.

The Industrial Revolution (1750-1914)

  • Conscription became a common practice in many countries during periods of war, rapidly increasing army numbers.
  • Training focused on instilling discipline and training soldiers to operate and maintain increasingly complex weapons.
  • The increasing scale of war required whole societies to mobilise for war. This led to creation of organisations like war offices to manage recruitment and training.

The Modern Era (1914-Present)

  • Massive conscription continued through the world wars, leading to the need for rapid training of large numbers of recruits.
  • The professionalisation of armies increased post-WWII. This involved a longer, more intensive period of training for recruits.
  • The development of complex systems and technologies led to a need for specialised training. Soldiers might be trained as tank operators, pilots, communications specialists, etc.
  • Recent decades have seen the rise of asymmetric warfare. Training often involves preparing for situations with non-uniformed combatants, urban combat and peacekeeping duties.