The military is an arm of government authorised to use lethal force, and weapons, to support the interests of the state and some or all of its citizens. The task of the military is usually defined as defence of the state and its citizens, and the prosecution of war against another state. The military may also have additional sanctioned and non-sanctioned functions within a society, including, the promotion of a political agenda, protecting corporate economic interests, internal population control, construction, emergency services, social ceremonies, and guarding important areas. The military can also function as a discrete sub-culture within a larger civil society, through the development of separate infrastructures, which may include housing, schools, utilities, food production and banking.
The profession of soldiering as part of a military is older than recorded history itself. Some of the most enduring images of the classical antiquity portray the power and feats of its military leaders. The Battle of Kadesh in 1274 BC was one of the defining points of Pharaoh Ramesses II's reign and is celebrated in bas-relief on his monuments. A thousand years later the first emperor of unified China, Qin Shi Huang, was so determined to impress the gods with his military might that he was buried with an army of terracotta soldiers. The Romans were dedicated to military matters, leaving to posterity many treatises and writings as well as a large number of lavishly carved triumphal arches and victory columns.
Etymology and definitions
The first recorded use of the word military in English, spelled militarie, was in 1585. It comes from the Latin militaris (from Latin miles meaning "soldier") but is of uncertain etymology, one suggestion being derived from *mil-it- - going in a body or mass. The word is now identified as denoting someone that is skilled in use of weapons, or engaged in military service or in warfare.
As a noun the military usually refers generally to a country's armed forces or sometimes, more specifically, to the senior officers who command them. In general it refers to the physicality of armed forces, their personnel, equipment, and physical area which they occupy.
As an adjective military originally referred only to soldiers and soldiering, but it soon broadened to apply to land forces in general and anything to do with their profession. The names of both the Royal Military Academy (1741) and United States Military Academy (1802) reflect this. However, at about the time of the Napoleonic Wars, "military" began to be used in reference to armed forces as a whole and in the 21st century expressions like "military service", "military intelligence" and "military history" encompass naval, marine and air force aspects. As such, it now connotes any activity performed by military personnel.
Military history is often considered to be the history of all conflicts, not just the history of the state militaries. It differs somewhat from the history of war with military history focusing on the people and institutions of war-making while the history of war focuses on the evolution of war itself in the face of changing technology, governments, and geography.
Military history has a number of purposes. One main purpose is to learn from past accomplishments and mistakes so as to more effectively wage war in the future. Another is to create a sense of military tradition which is used to create cohesive military forces. Still another may be to learn to prevent wars more effectively. Human knowledge about the military is largely based on both recorded and oral history of military conflicts (war), their participating armies and navies and, more recently, air forces.
There are two types of military history, although almost all texts have elements of both: descriptive history that serves to chronicle conflicts without offering any statements about the causes, nature of conduct, the ending and effects of a conflict; and analytical history that seeks to offer statements about the causes, nature, ending and aftermath of conflicts as a means of deriving knowledge and understanding of conflicts as a whole, and prevent repetition of mistakes in future, to suggest better concepts or methods in employing forces, or to advocate the need for new technology.
In the whole history of humanity, every nation had different needs for military forces. How these needs are determined forms the basis of their composition, equipment and use of facilities. It also determines what military does in terms of peacetime and wartime activities.
All militaries, whether large or small, are military organizations that have official state and world recognition as such. Organizations with similar features are paramilitary, civil defense, militia or other which are not military.