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Army corps

Definition An Army corps, in military operations, refers to a large unit consisting of two or more divisions, which are smaller formations, along with support elements such as logistics, artillery, and engineering units. The primary role of an Army corps is to conduct large-scale ground operations, maintain tactical command over divisions, and coordinate communication and […]


An Army corps, in military operations, refers to a large unit consisting of two or more divisions, which are smaller formations, along with support elements such as logistics, artillery, and engineering units. The primary role of an Army corps is to conduct large-scale ground operations, maintain tactical command over divisions, and coordinate communication and resources. The composition and size of the corps can vary significantly based on the nation and the nature of the mission but generally include thousands of personnel.

Key Takeaways

  1. An Army corps is a significant formation in modern militaries that typically consists of two or more divisions, including combat, combat support, and service support units, and is led by a corps commander who holds the rank of a major general or higher.
  2. Army corps are versatile formations that can perform different tasks ranging from executing offensive and defensive operations to providing humanitarian assistance, and their primary function is to coordinate and synchronize the activities of their subordinate units to achieve operational and strategic objectives.
  3. Due to their size, flexibility, and ability to integrate components from other military branches, Army corps can operate independently or in conjunction with other friendly forces, depending on the mission and circumstances, and they can be rapidly deployed to respond to various contingencies worldwide.


The term “Army corps” is crucial in military operations as it represents a large, highly adaptable formation in an army, which comprises of thousands of personnel and varied combat/ support units.

It serves as a key level of command and organization, enabling multiple divisions to coordinate capabilities, resources, and assets effectively while maintaining flexibility, rapid response, and a high degree of operational efficiency.

As a vital structural component in military hierarchy, the Army corps allows for strategic planning, execution of complex military campaigns, and adaptation to diverse battle scenarios, ultimately contributing to a nation’s overall defense and security objectives.


The purpose of an Army corps is to fulfill a crucial role in the organization, operation, and effectiveness of a nation’s military forces. It serves as an intermediary level between smaller formations, such as divisions or brigades, and the broader army group or field army.

Be it land engagements, logistics operations, or deft defense execution, an Army corps efficiently establishes an integrated approach to fulfilling diverse strategic missions by pooling together resources, manpower and command systems. Specifically, commanders of an Army corps have the responsibility of coordinating military maneuvers while managing a massive number of specialized combat units, allowing for better orchestration and higher efficiency during military operations.

Furthermore, the Army corps is utilized for large-scale military engagements, where the synergy of various components like infantry, artillery, cavalry, and support units along with intelligence and engineering factions is pivotal to achieving operational superiority. Notably, Army corps facilitate flexibility, enabling the military to adjust rapidly to new threats and swiftly adapt to varying battlefield environments.

As such, a well-structured and versatile Army corps proves invaluable in terms of consolidating strategic national security interests, and thereby, safeguarding peace and stability throughout the world.

Examples of Army corps

The Union Army during the American Civil War: The Union Army created the Army Corps structure to better manage large groups of troops. The Army of the Potomac, the main Union fighting force, was divided into several Army Corps, with each corps consisting of two to four divisions containing multiple brigades. Major generals commanded these corps, while Lieutenant generals commanded the entire Army. One famous corps in the Union Army was the II Corps, commanded by Major General Winfield Scott Hancock, which played a significant role in the Battle of Gettysburg.

The German Army during World War II: In World War II, the German Army (Wehrmacht) utilized the corps structure to organize its forces. One notable corps was the Afrika Korps, led by General Erwin Rommel, which fought in North Africa against British and American forces. The Afrika Korps consisted of several divisions, including the 15th Panzer Division and the 21st Panzer Division, and played a crucial role during battles such as the Battle of El Alamein.

The US Army during the Vietnam War: The US Army employed numerous corps during the Vietnam War to better coordinate and manage its forces. One example was the I Field Force, Vietnam (IFFV), commanded by Lieutenant General Stanley R. Larsen and later Major General Charles A. Corcoran. IFFV managed US and allied forces in the highlands of South Vietnam, consisting of several divisions and brigades, including the 4th Infantry Division, the 173rd Airborne Brigade, and the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division. The corps was responsible for both regionally-focused counter-insurgency missions and major search and destroy operations.

FAQ: Army Corps

What is an Army Corps?

An Army Corps is a large military formation that typically consists of two or more divisions and their support units. An Army Corps can have tens of thousands of soldiers, and the unit is usually commanded by a corps-commanding general, often a lieutenant general or a three-star general.

What is the role of an Army Corps in military operations?

An Army Corps plays a significant role in military operations by conducting large-scale offensives, defensive operations, and maneuvers. An Army Corps has the command and control capabilities to plan, coordinate, and execute complex operations that involve multiple divisions, as well as the ability to integrate air and ground assets effectively.

How is an Army Corps organized?

An Army Corps is typically organized into divisions, which are further divided into brigades or regiments. Each division usually consists of three to five brigades, which can include infantry, armor, artillery, and other support units. The Army Corps headquarters is responsible for coordinating the activities of all its subordinate units and providing them with logistical, intelligence, and communication support.

What is the history of Army Corps?

The concept of an Army Corps dates back to the Napoleonic Wars when the French army was organized into corps to improve its mobility, responsiveness, and flexibility on the battlefield. The United States adopted the Army Corps structure during the American Civil War, and other countries subsequently adopted similar formations. Today, Army Corps are a common organizational structure in many modern militaries.

How do Army Corps cooperate with other military branches?

Army Corps often work closely with other military branches like the Air Force and Navy during joint operations. They coordinate with other services to integrate their capabilities and ensure a seamless execution of the mission. Cooperation may include sharing intelligence, providing logistical support, coordinating air and artillery support, and conducting joint maneuvers, among other activities.

Related Military Operation Terms

  • GI Bill
  • Veterans Health Administration
  • Army Reserve Forces
  • Disability Compensation
  • Post-9/11 Educational Assistance

Sources for More Information

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