The term army could indicate a wide range of military formations, ranging from the war-bands of a few hundred soldiers used by the clans and tribes of stone-technology-level worlds like Endor and Dathomir, to a galaxy-spanning war-machine with billions of troops. But within the Imperial Army of the Galactic Empire, the term Army, when used on its own, indicated a distinct level of formation, commanded by a full General, and consisting of a nominal total of 193,644 front-line soldiers in an establishment strength of 293,686 personnel. An average Sector apparently contained four such surface armies, which served as the main, planetary-assault, and surface-warfare force for the Moff's regime; along with a number of garrisons built around Corps HQs, that made up the Systems Army.

Until the last years of the Empire, an Army was rarely deployed as a single formation on a single planet, but it was designed to operate in concert with a standard Troop Squadron of the Imperial Navy, and deployment of the entire formation together began to be considered as the Rebellion grew in force after the Battle of Yavin. More usually, an Army would deploy subordinate units to specific battlefields or theaters: its primary subdivisions were four Corps, any one of which was considered sufficient to retake a rebellious world.
An army (from Latin arma “arms, weapons” via Old French armée, “armed” (feminine)), in the broadest sense, is the land-based military branch, service branch or armed service of a nation or state. It may also include other branches of the military such as the air force via means of aviation corps. Within a national military force, the word army may also mean a field army 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.

In several countries, the army is officially called the Land Army to differentiate it from an air force called the Air Army, notably France. In such countries, the word "army" on its own retains its connotation of a land force in common usage. The current largest army in the world, by number of active troops, is the People's Liberation Army of China with 2,250,000 active troops and 800,000 reserve personnel followed by the Indian Army with 1,129,000 active troops and 960,000 reserve personnel.

By convention, irregular military is understood in contrast to regular armies which grew slowly from personal bodyguards or elite militia. Regular in this case refers to standardized doctrines, uniforms, organizations, etc. Regular military can also refer to full-time status (standing army), versus reserve or part-time personnel. Other distinctions may separate statutory forces (established under laws such as the National Defence Act), from de facto "non-statutory" forces such as some guerrilla and revolutionary armies. Armies may also be expeditionary (designed for overseas or international deployment) or fencible (designed for – or restricted to – homeland defence).

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