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A standing army is an army composed of full-time career soldiers who 'stand over', in other words, who do not disband during times of peace. They differ from army reserves who are activated only during such times as war or natural disasters. Standing armies tend to be better equipped, better trained, and better prepared for emergencies, defensive deterrence and particularly wars. [1]

The army of ancient Rome is considered to have been a standing army during some of the republic period and especially towards the end of the republic following the Marian Reforms in 107BC. Here Marius abolished the old system of raising a citizen army based on property and replaced it with a professional army based on a period of service. This continued into the Roman Empire.

The Hungarian king Matthias Corvinus had a standing army from the 1460's called the Fekete Sereg, which was an unusually big army in its age, accomplishing a series of victories and capturing parts of Austria, Vienna (1485) and parts of Bohemia. The first 'modern' standing armies in Europe were the Janissaries of the Ottoman Empire, formed in the fourteenth century AD.[2][3] In western Europe the first standing army was established by Charles VII of France in the fifteenth century.[citation needed] The establishment of a standing army in Britain in 1685 by King James II and the later assumption of control over the British Colonies in America by the British Army were controversial, leading to distrust of peacetime armies too much under the power of the head of state, versus civilian control of the military, resulting in tyranny.

In his influential work The Wealth of Nations (1776), economist Adam Smith comments that standing armies are a sign of modernizing society as modern warfare requires increased skill and discipline of regularly trained standing armies.[4] Since the eighteenth century standing armies have been an integral part of the defense of the majority of more economically developed countries.

In Great Britain, and the British Colonies in America, there was a sentiment of distrust of a standing army not in civilian control. In Great Britain, this led to the Bill of Rights 1689 which reserves authority over a standing army to Parliament, not the King, and more nuanced in the United States, led to the U.S. Constitution (Article 1, Section 8) which reserves by virtue of "power of the purse" similar authority to Congress, instead of to the President. The President, however, retains command of the armed forces when they are raised, as commander-in-chief. [1]

See also


  1. ^ a b Wills, Garry (1999). A Necessary Evil, A History of American Distrust of Government New York, NY; Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0684844893
  2. ^ # ^ Lord Kinross (1977). Ottoman Centuries: The Rise and Fall of the Turkish Empire. New York: Morrow Quill Paperbacks, 52. ISBN 0-688-08093-6.
  3. ^ Goodwin, Jason (1998). Lords of the Horizons: A History of the Ottoman Empire. New York: H. Holt, 59,179-181. ISBN 0-8050-4081-1.
  4. ^ Smith, Adam. (1776) An Inquiry into the Nature And Causes of the Wealth of Nations Book 5. Chapter 1. Part 1.[1]

Simple English

A standing army is an army that is made up of full time soldiers. It is still kept ready even in times of peace. It is always ready to attack, invade, or defend.


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