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A tactical formation (or order) is the arrangement or deployment of moving military forces such as infantry, cavalry, AFVs, military aircraft, or naval vessels. Formations were found in tribal societies such as the "pua rere" of the Māori,[1] and ancient or medieval formations which include shield walls (skjaldborg in Old Norse), phalanxes (lines of battle in close order), Testudo formation and skirmishers. Tactical formations include:

A vanguard is the forward element of a column formation, and the rear-guard is the rear-most element of the column formation. In naval use only "van" and "rear" are applied to a formation of ships sailing in column.

Examples of military aircraft tactical formations are the kabalion formation, echelon, the combat box, and the finger-four (also known as the "fluid four.")

A tactical formation is not to be confused with military organization or the table of organization and equipment (TOE).

See also


  1. 20:32; 27:57, Journal of the Polynesian Society


  • Journal of the Polynesian Society, Vols. 1-19, 1892–1910

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