Generally, a battle is an instance of combat between two or more parties wherein each group will seek to defeat the others. Battles are most often fought during wars. Battles may be small scale, only involving a handful of individuals, perhaps two squads, up to battles on army levels where hundreds of thousands may be engaged in a single battle at one time.
A battle is most often deemed to have been won by one party when its opponent has surrendered, been dispersed, forced to retreat or been rendered militarily ineffective for further combat operations.
There are several similar terms which can be differentiated here:
- skirmish – a small conflict involving relatively few combatants; usually no major objective is involved, merely two groups of combatants fighting when they happen to come into contact.
- firefight – a skirmish involving the intense use of firearms, typically small-arms. This term is generally only used for tactical actions.
- battle – implies a larger scale action. The term implies a concentrated attack using a mass of available forces. The goal of a battle can be either either strategic or tactical objective(s) or both.
- war – implies the largest scale actions. The goal of a war is the achievement of a strategic objective(s).