A flying column
, in military organization, is an independent corps of troops usually composed of all arms, to which a particular task is assigned. It is almost always composed in the course of operations, out of the troops immediately available.
Mobility being its raison d'être, a flying column is composed of picked men and horses accompanied with the barest minimum of baggage. The term is usually, though not necessarily, applied to forces under the strength of a brigade.
The mobile columns employed by the British forces in the South African War of 1899–1902, were usually of the strength of two battalions of infantry, a battery of artillery, and a squadron of cavalry, almost exactly half that of a mixed brigade.
The Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) was used by the British Army in the Western Desert Campaign in North Africa during World War II.
Flying columns are often used in guerrilla warfare, notably the mobile armed units of the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence 1919–21.
- Jim Maher (1988). The Flying Column - West Kilkenny 1916-1921. Geography Publications.