This article needs additional citations for verification. (September 2014) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
An artillery brigade is a specialised form of military brigade dedicated to providing artillery support. Other brigades might have an artillery component, but an artillery brigade is a brigade dedicated to artillery and relying on other units for infantry support, especially when attacking.
Initially, a brigade was normally formed for either offence or defence, but in the 20th century, as warfare became generally more mobile and fixed fortifications became less useful, artillery brigades were formed for either purpose, the main exception being coastal defence. During the Second World War, the use and formation of artillery brigades (normally having between 3,000 and 4,000 personnel, with between 24 and 70 guns) gained prominence, as they could be attached to divisions that needed them, then detached and re-attached elsewhere as the need arose.
A specialised type of artillery brigade is the anti-aircraft brigade. During the Second World War, many anti-aircraft brigades served both to defend from air attack and as offensive units against armoured vehicles - this was especially true with the effective German artillery.
Modern artillery brigades tend to be smaller and even more specialised than in the past, often specifically trained to handle just one or two types of artillery. In tactical terms, the use of helicopters has taken over much of the historic advantage of the artillery brigade.
From 1859 to 1938, "brigade" ("brigade-division" 1885–1903) was also the term used for a battalion-sized unit of the British Army's Royal Artillery. This was because, unlike infantry battalions and cavalry regiments, which were organic, artillery units consisted of individually numbered batteries which were "brigaded" together. The commanding officer of such a brigade was a lieutenant colonel. In 1938 the Royal Artillery adopted the term "regiment" for this size of unit, and "brigade" became used in its normal sense, particularly for groups of anti-aircraft artillery regiments commanded by a brigadier.
Specialised artillery divisions came in vogue in the Soviet Army during the later stages of the Second World War, and it is mostly used by large armies with large territories to defend and with a large manpower base. Examples include 34th Artillery Division and 51st Guards Artillery Division. Artillery Divisions are usually tasked with providing concentrated firepower support to higher combined arms formations such as Corps, Combatant Commands or Theaters. Artillery divisions have later been taken up by the Indian Army since 1988 (two Artillery Divisions), the Iraqi Army for a short time between 1985 and 1998, and by the PAVN between 1971 and 2006. The concept of the Artillery Division is deeply rooted in Soviet military doctrine relies on treating artillery as a unique combat arm in its own right capable of achieving large-scale mission-based targets using just its own resources and assets. It is a means to concentrate overwhelmingly large massed firepower in a small geographical area to achieve a strategic and overwhelming breaching in the enemy defences.
- Maj-Gen Sir John Headlam, The History of the Royal Artillery, Vol II (1899–1914), Woolwich: Royal Artillery Institution, 1937.