An auxiliary force is an organized group supplementing but not directly incorporated in a regular military or police entity. It may comprise either civilian volunteers undertaking support functions or additional personnel directly performing military roles, such as garrison troops or police duties, usually on a part-time basis.

Historically the designation "auxiliary" has also been given to foreign or allied troops in the service of a nation at war.[1] In the context of colonial armies locally recruited irregulars were often described as auxiliaries.

Historical usage

Roman auxiliaries

Auxiliaries in the Roman army were recruited from provincial tribal groups who did not have Roman citizenship. As the Roman army of the Republican and early Empire periods was essentially based on the heavy infantry who made up the legions, it favored the recruitment of auxiliaries that excelled in supplementary roles. These included specialists such as missile troops (e.g. Balearic slingers and Cretan archers), cavalry (recruited among peoples such as the Numidians, and the Thracians), or light infantry. Auxiliaries were not paid at the same rate as legionaries, but could earn Roman citizenship after a fixed term of service.[2]

By the 2nd Century AD the auxiliaries had been organised into permanent units, broadly grouped as Ala (cavalry), Cohors (infantry) and Cohors equitata (infantry with a cavalry element). Both cavalry alae and infantry cohors numbered between 480 and 600 men each. The mixed cohors equitata usually consisted of 6 centuries of foot soldiers and six squadrons of horsemen.[3] Specialist units of slingers, scouts, archers and camel mounted detachments continued in existence as separate units with a regional recruitment basis.

United Kingdom and British Empire

The Auxiliary Legion was a British military force sent to Spain to support the Liberals and Queen Isabella II of Spain against the Carlists in the First Carlist War.

During the Second Boer War Boer auxiliaries were employed by the British Army under the designation of "National Scouts". Recruited in significant numbers towards the end of the war from Afrikaner prisoners and defectors, they were known as hensoppers ("hands-uppers" i.e. collaborators) by their fellow Boers.[4]

Prior to the creation of the Territorial Force in 1908, the term "Auxiliary Forces" was used by the British Army to collectively cover Yeomanry, Militia and Volunteers. That is to say the various part-time units maintained to act in support of the Regular Army (UK).[5]

The Auxiliary Division was a British paramilitary police unit raised during the Irish War of Independence 1919–21. Recruited from former officers of the British Army who had served during World War I, the Auxiliary Division was a motorized mobile force nominally forming part of the Royal Irish Constabulary.

Cumann na mBan was the preceding organisation of the Women's Arm of the Irish Volunteers that acted as an auxiliary in the Easter Rising and the Irish War of Independence.

In 1941 the British Government created an organization of Auxiliary Units in southern England who would wage a guerilla war against occupying forces should Britain be invaded by the Nazis. Since the invasion never came, they were ultimately never used in combat. The Auxiliary Units were meant to carry out assaults on German units, along with damaging train lines and aircraft if necessary.

Whilst working as full-time, active duty personnel, the women's services of WWII were titled as or seen as auxiliaries to the male services. These services were:

The Royal Auxiliary Air Force was originally an auxiliary of the Royal Air Force, when it was first conceived and formed in 1924. Today the RAuxAF acts as a military reserve; this is reflected in its more common name 'RAF Reserve'.

Other former British military or governmental auxiliary organizations included:

Auxiliary organizations of other countries of the British Empire:


French Africa

France made extensive use of tribal allies (goumiers) as auxiliaries in its North African possessions.[6] During the Algerian War of 1954-62 large numbers of Muslim auxiliaries (Harkis) were employed in support of regular French forces.[7]

Italian Social Republic


During the Russo-Japanese War, Japan made use of honghuzi to act as auxiliaries against Russian forces.[8]

Nazi Germany

German paramilitary police forces, called Hilfspolizei or Schutzmannschaft, were raised during World War II and were the collaborationist auxiliary police battalions of locally recruited police, which were created to fight the resistance during World War II mostly in occupied Eastern European countries. Hilfspolizei refers also to German auxiliary police units. There was also a HIPO Corps in occupied Denmark. The term had also been applied to some units created in 1933 by the early Nazi government (mostly from members of SA and SS) and disbanded the same year due to international protests.[9][10][11]

Withe an increase in the amount of men needed to serve on the front lines, women were allowed to serve as auxiliaries to the Wehrmacht, known as Wehrmachthelferin, to take over duties within Germany freeing up men. From 12 February 1945, the Nazis conscripted German women and girls into the auxiliaries of the Volkssturm.[12] Correspondingly, girls as young as 14 years were trained in the use of small arms, panzerfausts, machine guns, and hand grenades from December 1944 through May 1945.[13]

Hiwis were auxiliary forces recruited from the indigenous populations in the areas of Eastern Europe first annexed by the Soviet Union and then occupied by Nazi Germany. Adolf Hitler reluctantly agreed to allow recruitment of Soviet citizens in the Rear Areas during Operation Barbarossa.[14] In a short period of time, many of them were moved to combat units.



United States

Current military or governmental auxiliaries




Hong Kong









United Kingdom

United States

Federal Government

State Government

State Defense Forces may be considered as auxiliary military organisations.[20]

Local Government


  1. Concise Oxford Dictionary, ISBN 0-19-861131-5
  2. Simkins, Michael. The Roman Army from Caesar to Trajan. p. 7. ISBN 0-85045-191-4.
  3. Wary, Raffaele D'Amato. Roman Army Units in the Eastern Provinces (1). p. 13. ISBN 978-1-4728-2176-8.
  4. Pakenham, Thomas. The Boer War. pp. 542 & 571. ISBN 0-7474-0976-5.
  5. Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, Volume 3, page 50
  6. Larcade, Jean-Louis. Zouaves & Tirailleurs: Vol 1. p. 280. ISBN 2-9515171-0-6.
  7. Windrow, Martin. The Algerian War 1854-62. p. 20. ISBN 1-85532-658-2.
  8. Ivanov & Jowett (2004). The Russo-Japanese War 1904–05. Osprey Publishing Ltd. pp. 12, 13, 46.
  9. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 26 October 2007. Retrieved 7 November 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. Richard Wires (1985). Terminology the Third Reich. Ball State University.
  11. Christopher Ailsby (1998). SS: Hell on the Eastern Front: The Waffen-SS War in Russia, 1941-1945. MBI Pub., Company. pp. 9–. ISBN 978-0-7603-0538-6.
  12. Hildebrand (1984). The Third Reich, p. 82.
  13. Kater (2004). Hitler Youth, p. 238.
  14. Thomas, Nigel (2015). "Eastern Troops. Hilfswillige". Hitler's Russian & Cossack Allies 1941–45. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 13–15, 57. ISBN 978-1472806895.
  15. Australian Red Cross Submission to the Australian Defence White Paper 2015
  16. "About the Civil Air Patrol". Archived from the original on 21 December 2016. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  17. About the Military Auxiliary Radio System
  18. About the Coast Guard Auxiliary
  19. About the Merchant Marines
  20. Volunteer Military Organizations: An Overlooked Asset
  21. About the Connecticut Auxiliary State Police
  22. About the Florida Highway Patrol Auxiliary
  23. About the Illinois Police Reserves
  24. About the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy
  25. "About the Ohio State Highway Patrol Auxiliary". Archived from the original on 1 January 2017. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  26. About the New Hampshire State Police Auxiliary
  27. About the New Mexico Mounted Patrol
  28. About Penn State University Auxiliary Student Police
  29. About the Vermont State Police Auxiliary
  30. About the Arlington County Police Department Auxiliary
  31. "About the Cheltenham Township Auxiliary Police". Archived from the original on 1 January 2017. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  32. "About Fair Lawn Auxiliary Police". Archived from the original on 7 December 2006. Retrieved 31 December 2016.
  33. About the Greenburgh Auxiliary Police
  34. About Hazlet Township Auxiliary Police
  35. About the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department Reserves
  36. About Madison Police Auxiliary Unit
  37. About Metuchen Police Auxiliary
  38. About the Nassau County Police Auxiliary
  39. About the New York City Police Department Auxiliary
  40. About Old Bridge Township Auxiliary Police
  41. About the Rockland County Sheriff's Office Reserve Force
  42. About Sayreville Police Auxiliary
  43. About Waltham Auxiliary Police

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