List of oldest military units and formations in continuous operation

This is a list of oldest military units and formations in continuous operation. In continuous operation here means not units that no longer exist, or recent creations sharing only the name with an older unit.

Please note: Whereas modern standing armies first developed in the 15th century, the defining terminology for contemporary military units and formations, such as company, battalion, regiment etc. mostly arose in the early modern period, during the 16th and 17th centuries.[citation needed]

Oldest active military units still in operationEdit

Year Heraldry Name Founder Founding
Notes Ref.
1139 Portuguese Army (Exército Português) Afonso I of Portugal Condado Portucalense Lisbon, Portugal Portuguese Army (Portuguese: Exército Português) is the land component of the Armed Forces of Portugal and is also its largest branch. It is charged with the defence of Portugal, in co-operation with other branches of the Armed Forces. With its origins going back to the 12th century, were present in the struggle of the Portuguese for their independence against Leoneans and Muslims in the 12th century, against the Castilian invaders in the 14th century, against the Spanish occupiers in the 17th century and against the French invaders in the 19th century. They also participated in Portuguese campaigns overseas and abroad, since the 15th century. In the 20th century, the participation of the Portuguese Army in the First World War, in France and Africa, and in the Ultramar War, from 1961 to 1975, in Angola, India, Mozambique, Guinea and Timor stands out. More recently, the presence of the Portuguese Army in the different peace support missions in which Portugal has participated is highlighted: Angola, Mozambique, Bosnia, Timor-Leste, Kosovo, Macedonia, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iraq, Mali, Somalia, Central Republic -African.[1]
1248   King's Own Immemorial 1st Infantry Regiment Ferdinand III of Castile   Crown of Castile  Madrid, Spain It was one of the first standing units in Europe since the fall of the Roman Empire, remaining in the order of battle of the Castilian and Spanish armies since its creation. At present the Regiment is the Unit responsible for providing the central seat of Spanish Army Headquarters security, services, and support needed for its functioning.[third-party source needed] [2]
1479   1st Infantry Regiment King Louis XI of France   Kingdom of France   Sarrebourg, France Founded in 1479-1480 by King Louis XI as Bandes de Picardie. It became the Légion de Picardie in 1558 during the Italian War of 1551–1559 and then Régiment de Picardie on May 29, 1569. It was ultimately renamed 1er régiment d'infanterie de ligne in 1791 after the military reforms of Louis Le Bègue Duportail. It is now part of the Franco-German Brigade (French units of the brigade are part of 1st Division) and was recently deployed in Afghanistan, Mali and the Central African Republic.[third-party source needed] [3]
1485   Yeomen of the Guard King Henry VII   Kingdom of England  
St. James's Palace, London, England
The Queen's Body Guard of the Yeomen of the Guard is a bodyguard of the British Monarch. The oldest British military corps still in existence, it was created by King Henry VII in 1485 after the Battle of Bosworth Field. The Yeomen today are purely ceremonial, and perform ceremonial and royal duties at State Opening of Parliament, The Most Noble Order of the Garter, Maundy Service, Royal Garden Parties, Investitures, Coronations, plus other events such as Royal Weddings and Royal Funerals, Epiphany, State Visits and Diplomatic Receptions. They are all based and administered from St James's Palace. [4]
1506   Papal Swiss Guard Pope Julius II   Papal States    Vatican City The Pontifical Swiss Guard is one of the oldest active military units presently in existence. They are famous for their last stand which allowed Pope Clement VII to flee from Rome during War of the League of Cognac. [5]
1509   9th Infantry Regiment “Soria” Ferdinand II of Aragon   Kingdom of Naples, Crown of Aragon  Fuerteventura, Canary Islands, Spain Founded in 1509 as "Tercio of Napoli" or "Tercio de Zamudio". It is the second oldest regiment still used for overseas military operations. [6][7]
1521   Life Guards (Sweden) Gustav Vasa  Stockholm, Sweden  Kungsängen Founded in 1521 as the Royal bodyguards to Gustav Vasa [8]
1537   Spanish Navy Marines Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor  San Fernando, Cádiz, Spain Founded on 27 February 1537 when Old Sea Companies of Naples were permanently assigned to Mediterranean Galley Squadrons.[citation needed]
1537   Honourable Artillery Company King Henry VIII   England   City of London Incorporated by Royal Charter in 1537 by King Henry VIII as the Fraternity or Guild of Artillery of Longbows, Crossbows and Handguns. Fought with distinction in both World Wars. The oldest surviving regiment in the British Army (now part of the Army Reserve)[third-party source needed]. [9]
1556   2nd Dragoon Regiment Louis, Prince of Condé   Kingdom of France   France Despite the recent formation of the regiment in its current configuration, it is the oldest French cavalry regiment, dating back to 1556. The French Revolution gave it the designation of the second regiment of dragoons in the French Army, and with brief interruptions it has served under this name in successive French armies ever since. It is the French Army NBC Defense Unit. Still in Service. [10]
1614   Guard Hussar Regiment (Denmark) King Christian IV of Denmark   Denmark   Denmark Unit amalgamated with and perpetuates Zealand Life Regiment, which was disbanded on 1 January 2001 [11]
1618   Portuguese Marine Corps   Portugal
1636   181st Infantry Regiment (United States)   Massachusetts Bay Colony   Massachusetts United States Part of the Massachusetts National Guard [12]
1636   182nd Infantry Regiment (United States)   Massachusetts Bay Colony   Massachusetts United States Part of the Massachusetts National Guard [12]
1642   Scots Guards (third regiment of foot guards) King Charles the First   Scotland   United Kingdom Raised in 1642 to form a personal body guard to King Charles I when he campaigned in Ireland; became part of English Army in 1661 [13]
1648   Danish Artillery Regiment   Denmark   Denmark Current formation from 2019; traces origins back to 1648 [14]
1650   Coldstream Guards George Monck, 1st Duke of Albemarle   Commonwealth of England   United Kingdom Raised in 1650; became part of the English Army in 1661 [15]
1656   Grenadier Guards Thomas Wentworth, 5th Baron Wentworth, John Russell   England   United Kingdom Senior Regiment of the Guards Division [16]
1658   Royal Life Guards (Denmark) King Frederick III of Denmark   Denmark   Denmark Both a Guard/Ceremonial unit of the Danish Monarch and Infantry Regiment of the Danish Army [17]
1659   1st Regiment "Granatieri di Sardegna" Duke Carlo Emanuele II di Savoia   Savoy   Italy Formed April 18, 1659 as the "Reggimento delle Guardie" [18]
1664   Royal Marines King James II   England   United Kingdom Now roughly small brigade size. [19]
1670   Jutland Dragoon Regiment Field marshal Ernst Albrecht von Eberstein   Denmark   Denmark [20]
1670   South Carolina State Guard   Province of South Carolina   South Carolina United States Founded in 1670 as the Charleston Militia. Served in Revolutionary War, War with Mexico, Spanish-American War. Later "South Carolina State Defense Force" (c. 1941), renamed "South Carolina State Guard" (1944). [21]
1684   Engineer Regiment Christian V   Denmark   Denmark Current formation from 1997; traces origins back to 1684 [22]
1744 Nepal Army Prithvi Narayan Shah Nepal Nepal Nepal Army, known as Royal Nepal Army before 2008 until the abolition of monarchy was established in 1744 by King Prithvi Narayan Shah of Nepal. There are seven independent units that operates with in the various sector in defense. [23]
1747   111th Infantry Regiment Benjamin Franklin   Colony of Pennsylvania   Commonwealth of Pennsylvania The 111th is the oldest unit in the Pennsylvania National Guard. Today, 1st Battalion, 111th Infantry is part of the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 28th Infantry Division [24]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Portuguese Army Website (2021). "History of Portuguese Army". (in Portuguese). Retrieved 2021-04-09. Check |archive-url= value (help)
  2. ^ "REGIMIENTO DE INFANTERIA INMEMORIAL DEL REY Nº 1 DEL CGE". (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 18 September 2008. Retrieved 10 February 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)[better source needed]
  3. ^ "Régiments de Picardie et du Colonel Général" (PDF).
  4. ^
  5. ^ "Spotlight on the Swiss Guard". Retrieved 8 February 2015. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  6. ^ VILLATORO, MANUEL P. (8 June 2014). "El regimiento más antiguo de Europa empezó siendo un tercio español y combatió contra Napoleón". Retrieved 2016-01-28.
  7. ^ Tierra, JEME - Ejercito de. ".:Ejército de tierra:". Retrieved 2016-01-28.
  8. ^ "Livgardet i Stockholm". Retrieved 7 September 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  9. ^ "Where We Come From". Retrieved 10 May 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  10. ^ Bruyère, Paul (1885). Historique de 2e Régiment de Dragons, 1635–1885 (in French). Chartres: Imprimerie Garnier. pp. 7–8.
  11. ^ Brøndum, Christian (17 November 2014). "Dronningen fejrer tvivlsomt jubilæum". (in Danish). Berlingske Media. Retrieved 28 September 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  12. ^ a b "Organizational History". U.S. Army Center of Military History. U.S. Army Center of Military History. 1999. p. 29. Retrieved 24 October 2018. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  13. ^ Dalton, Charles (1896). English Army Lists and Commission Registers, 1661-1714, Vol. IV (2018 ed.). London: Forgotten Books. p. 3. ISBN 978-1333543266.
  14. ^ Maach, Maja Lærke (8 February 2019). "Oprustning af Forsvaret fejret: Dronningen gav fanen tilbage til danske soldater". (in Danish). DR. Retrieved 15 November 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  15. ^ "History of the Coldstream Guards". Archived from the original on 6 September 2013. Retrieved 26 April 2014. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  16. ^ "History - British Army Website: Grenadier Guards". 2010-09-29. Archived from the original on 2010-09-29. Retrieved 2019-10-19.
  17. ^ "Livgardens historie" (in Danish). Forsvarskommandoen. 18 December 2016. Retrieved 10 February 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  18. ^ "1° Reggimento "Granatieri di Sardegna" - La Storia". Italian Army. Retrieved 17 November 2019. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  19. ^ "Royal Marines History and Traditional Facts" (PDF). Marine Society & Sea Cadet. Archived (PDF) from the original on 5 July 2016. Retrieved 22 May 2016. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  20. ^ Jydske Dragonregiment. "Historien bag Jydske Dragonregiment". (in Danish). Retrieved 10 February 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  21. ^ "History of the S.C. State Guard". Retrieved 10 February 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  22. ^ "Historie". (in Danish). Forsvarskommandoen. 13 June 2017. Retrieved 28 February 2020. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link)
  23. ^ Nepali Army | नेपाली सेना (
  24. ^ "111th Infantry Regiment (The Associators)". Department of the Army Lineage and Honors. U.S. Army Center of Military History.