Difference between light and regular infantry?


Active member
Just been reading Sharpes Prey recently and i am wondering what is the main difference between light and regular infantry today. In the napoleonic wars the light troops were the riflemen and skirmishers, but today the lines seem to be a bit blurred. I believe the american mountain division has light troops, but how are they different?
Well this is what I think.
Light infantry tends to be more lightly equipped with the focus of their equipment concentrating on deployability. So you won't find many heavy weapons attached to them.
Regular Infantry is what you'd find in Korea or in Europe especially during the Cold War where they were designed to help hold a line and suddenly being packed away in a C-5 and being sent half way around the world for deployment wasn't a priority at all.
So nowadays I think the difference between regular infantry and light infantry would be their role... either as static forces or as mobile, rapid deployment forces. No doubt light infantry will have less equipment.
Light infantry are normally more hardcore units like paratrooper type troops. I think light infantry mainly means they dont have any heavy equipment like tanks and so on.
Light Infantry is the "Straight Legs" of yesteryear, The 196th Infantry Brigade - Light is the most well known as they were organized in 1921 as an element of the Army Reserve's 98th Division. Its mission then was to train soldiers. During World War II, the 98th Division arrived in Hawaii in April 1944, and was given the mission of defending Kauai and Maui initially; later it was made responsible for the defense of Oahu.

in September 1965 and originally scheduled to be sent to the Dominican Republic in mid-1966, but was rushed to Vietnam instead and posted in the western portion of the III Corps Tactical Zone. It initiated Operation Attleboro into War Zone C of Tay Ninh Province, which developed into a major action after a large enemy base camp was uncovered, 19 October 1966.

In April 1967 the brigade was selected, along with the 1st Brigade, 101st Airborne Division and the 3rd Brigade, 25th Infantry Division, to form a provisional division-sized unit called Task Force OREGON and moved to the I Corps Tactical Zone. The brigade stayed with this command, which was converted into the 23d Infantry Division (AMERICAL) 25 September 1967. The 196th Light Infantry Brigade officially joined this division, 15 February 1969. It operated throughout northern Vietnam, and after the division closed out of Vietnam, 29 November 1971, the 196th Light Infantry Brigade was reconstituted as a separate (provisional) brigade-sized element to safeguard the same area of operations.

In April 1971 the brigade was relocated to Da Nang for major port security duties. It finally departed Vietnam as the last U.S. Army combat brigade to leave in Increment XII of the U.S. Army withdrawal.

Reactivated 26 May 1998 during a ceremony at Ft. Shafter, Hawaii. The new 196th works with Reserve Component units in Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, American Samoa, and Japan, to assist these units in staying trained and ready at all times.

They were not Mechanized Infantry
Well it's changing. There are no traditional light straight legs anymore I think. The straight legs are all made heavy.
Yes, but that's because their focus has always been on rapid deployment. We're talking about the traditional light infantry of a "static" unit.

03USMC said:
Not the Marine Corps. They have always been "light".