The light infantry (or skirmishes) is a specialized type of infantry, to foray into fast and deep within enemy territory. Soldiers are equipped with lighter equipment to allow maneuvers to be performed with speed.
AntiquityEditThe concept of light infantry was already present in the civilizations of antiquity. Troops as the Greek Peltast or Roman Velites fit perfectly in the designation of light infantry, not so much by the lightness of their equipment (which was becoming heavier over time in the case of peltasts), as its way of fighting and its missions.
Modern AgeEditArmies used to resort to irregular troops for the tasks of light infantry. Later in the seventeenth century, Dragoon assumed the role of light infantry. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, most infantry battalions had a light company. It was composed of soldiers generally smaller and more agile and initiative - as it used to have to fight in small groups. Also used to be chosen for their aim to act as snipers. A few of these units were provided rifles instead of muskets and wearing green uniforms. They were called the rifle regiments in the British Army, or Jäger the German troops. In Napoleonic France the light infantry was named "Voltigeurs". Armies such as the British or French used entire regiments light infantry, sometimes considered elite units due to increased discipline and training required. As the nineteenth century progressed, the differences between light infantry and heavy infantry were become less marked.
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