The word cavalry is derived from the French word cavalerie which means horse. Historically the term cavalry has been used to represent troops mounted on horseback. After the invention of battle tanks and the decline of usage of horses in army the term started representing tanks regiments. Which army first stated to call its tanks regiments as Cavalry? And when did this happen? Why are tank regiments called cavalry but not other mechanized regiments (e.g. mechanized infantry or artillery)?

  • Question needs improvement. Its assumption that tank regiments are called cavalry is to a significant extent wrong in relation to UK's 1 & 2 Royal Tank Regiments which lack "cavalry tradition." Australia makes a similar distinction army.gov.au/Who-we-are/Corps/… with "cavalry" being used for armoured scouting units, and "armour" used to describe tanks, and "light horse" describing motorised and mechanised infantry. "Its complicated." Apr 23, 2014 at 22:50

1 Answer 1


Several reasons. First and foremost, they perform the same role on the battlefield, providing a fast moving spearhead.
Second, and related, many of the units were cavalry units before getting tanks, they just exchanged their horses for tanks.
Artillery exchanged guns pulled by horses (and trucks) with self propelled guns (at least part of them, most armies still have pulled guns).
Same with infantry, where horse drawn carts and trucks were replaced in part with armoured fighting vehicles.
And those latter two are in part to "blame" on the tank. Their deployment was needed for those units to keep up with the tanks.

  • 3
    Don't forget the air cavalry, which also fill the role of mounted infantry.
    – Comintern
    Apr 23, 2014 at 13:01
  • @Comintern depends on the unit. Traditionally they're the armed helicopters, the gunships. Of course some of those could and can carry troops (thing the Mi-24 and armed UH-1 and UH-60 variants).
    – jwenting
    Apr 23, 2014 at 13:03
  • Also, many Armoured Cavalry units today are Recon units. This and the first reason listed above combined leave us with the primary roles of horse mounted Cavalry.
    – Kobunite
    Apr 23, 2014 at 22:48
  • Simplistic and lacking in sources. Apr 23, 2014 at 22:50
  • 4
    @SamuelRussell but if it is simple…
    – o0'.
    Dec 5, 2014 at 10:39

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.