Since the War of the Hundred Years, when most military science was lost, armed forces have lapsed into very casual arrangements.
The armies that do exist are in large part levied only when needed. Each levy is usually made up of a group of partially trained men who owe personal allegiance to the noble who gathers and finances them, rather than to any particular nation.
The nearest thing to a standing army in most nations, is a formation owing allegiance to that nation's throne. These formations can run as large as five or six thousand men, which pales beside the standing armies of tens of thousands which were common during Hawkwing's time.
The main military groupings of the last centuries include;
There has never been such a formation in Cairhien, because of the way the Game of Houses is played there, the Monarch would want the power to remain with the house rather than with the throne.
- Amadicia's Guardians of the Gate
- The Queen's Guard in Andor
- The Legion of the Wall ( now dispersed ) in Ghealdan
- The Companions in Illian
- Mayene's Winged Guards
- The King's Life Guard and the Panarch's Legion ( both now dispersed ) in Tarabon
- The Defenders of the Stone in Tear
- The Tower Guard in Tar Valon
- The Children of the Light.
Attara's and Murandy's rulers aren't powerful enough to form them. Arad Doman has never had one, because such a formation would shift the balance between the King and the Council of Merchants.
The Borderlands are organised for war as a whole, and therefore have no separate military formations.
Weapons and Armour.
Most infantry are armed with pikes, spears, bills, or occasionally axes, with the pikemen the most usual.
Spear, bill and axe troops are all considered more mobile than pikemen, yet pikes are preferred, since they stand the best chance against a mounted attack, and most in the present day think of battles primarily in terms of mounted conflict.
Most footmen carry knives and sometimes even a short sword. Longer swords are practically unknown among infantry as they are considered too unwieldy for close combat.
The average footman usually wears a jerkin of padded or studded leather, and some sort of helmet.
Jerkins covered with metal discs or plates are not uncommon, and mail shirts are sometimes used but actual plate armour is very rare.
Cavalry armament and armour vary widely from nation to nation and within nations from one noble's retinue to the next. The armour ranges from full plate-and-mail for both horse and rider in the heavy cavalry, to a steel helmet, back and breast plates, and gauntlets in the light cavalry. Some mounted units have far less armour, relying on skill for their protection. Mounted units use various combinations of lance, sword, axe, mace and horsebow.
Chain of Command.
The generic term for a unit of infantry of any size is a company and of cavalry either a company or a squadron and in any case it is usually given the name of the lord or officer commanding.
Among Cavalry, NCO ranks are squadman and bannerman. The bannerman for a unit usually acts as the recruiting officer as well. Senior bannerman and senior squadman are floating ranks, indicating that the individual is just that within his unit, whatever its size.Thus one could be the senior bannerman of Captain Selwin's company or the senior bannerman of the Queen's Guards or possibly both.
In any case the Senior designation is more than honorary, it conveys authority over others of that rank.
Among Infantry the NCO ranks are file leader and bannerman.
This rather simple organisation has been sufficient for some centuries because most battles were between armies with five thousand to ten thousand men on either side. There have been battles with as many as twenty to thirty thousand on either side, but these have been rare.
In these larger battles, higher command has almost always gone to the nobility and has depended in large part on how the nobles ranked themselves and their Houses.
Heron Mark Blades.
Some, made for soldiers, bore no special mark. The sword of the Malkieri Kings was one of these.Because the number of blademasters exceeds the number of swords that survived the war, many of the current heron-marked swords are not Aes Sedai work.
The Band of the Red Hand.
The huge battles of Hawkwing's rise, with armies of two hundred thousand men or more on either side, and of the Trolloc Wars, where reportedly as many as three hundred thousand men often engaged even larger numbers of Trollocs and Myrddraal required a more detailed structure.
In those times a Banner was commanded by a Banner-General, a Legion by a Lieutenant-General and a Great Legion by a Captain-General. The army itself was commanded by a Marshal-General which was a temporary title given to the Captain-General chosen for overall command.
Cauthon seems to be attempting to re-create the standardisation of size, designation, and composition of units that has not been seen since before the War of the Hundred Years.
At Maerone the Band's strength was approximately six thousand men, roughly divided into one half mounted and one half foot. The mounted units were divided into two equal groups of about fifteen hundred each, approximately the size of a banner ( roughly fifteen hundred horse or three thousand infantry ), which was the basic military unit used at the highest point in military science of this age.
The mounted units, commanded by Lord Talmanes Delovinde and Lord Nalesean Aldiaya were further divided into six squadrons, each consisting of ten troops. It was the first troop of cavalry that led the unit and had the bannerman bearing the unit's colours, the banner with the Red Hand.
The infantry, commanded by Captain Daerid Ondin, was divided into twelve companies, each consisting of five squads. Each squad mixed pikemen, billmen, and crossbowmen, with approximately one archer or crossbowman to four pike or billmen.
Those close to the Band suggest that Cauthon wants to increase the ratio of archers and crossbowmen. If this is indeed his plan, it would bring the ratio more into line with the numbers during the Trolloc Wars, when there was a preponderance of crossbowmen and archers.
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