Brigade

The term Brigade was used defined in three different ways by the Canadian Army.

Tactical Unit

Up to the Second World War, batteries of the Royal Canadian Artillery would be assembled into brigades tactically, generally four batteries of guns per brigade. The designation was changed early in the Second World War to Regiment.

Operational Formation

A Brigade was been the smallest operational formation throughout the 20th Century, consisting generally of two or more battalions of infantry or two or more cavalry/armoured regiments. An operational brigade generally contained around 5,000 soldiers and was commanded by a brigadier or brigadier general.

In the First World War, the four Canadian Divisions that eventually came to comprise the Canadian Expeditionary Force were composed of four infantry battalions per brigade.

In the Second World War, infantry brigades of the two infantry divisions mobilized in 1939 consisted of three rifle battalions and a machine gun battalion. This organization was altered to just three infantry battalions by the time the infantry divisions saw action. An armoured brigade consisted of three armoured regiments.

Organizational Formation

Brigades were also used as peacetime organizational formations into which units, either active or reserve, were grouped. Reserve brigades in the 1990s, for example, were commanded by colonels rather than brigadier generals.

During the First World War, Canada fielded a brigade of cavalry and twelve infantry brigades in the Canadian Corps, with more brigades serving in the Fifth Division in England.

In the Second World War, Canada fielded both infantry brigades and armoured brigades, generally as part of the five overseas divisions but also including two independent armoured brigades.

In the post-1945 period, Canada again fielded active brigades, both in West Germany as part of Canadian commitments to NATOs defensive units there, and the 25th Canadian Brigade as part of the 1st Commonwealth Division in the Korean War.

The Canadian Armed Forces maintained several Canadian Mechanized Brigade Groups (CMBG) in Canada and Europe after Unification.


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