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military units and organizations of armed forces of the capitalist states that are used to maintain colonialist rule and suppress the national liberation movement in the colonies and dependent countries.
Colonial troops are raised in the metropolitan countries by levies based on compulsory military service, by the enlistment of volunteers from the metropolitan country and foreign countries, and by the recruitment of Europeans living in the colonies and of certain categories of the local native population. As a rule, the officers are from the metropolitan country; only a small proportion of low-ranking officers come from the native population of the colonies. France sent many of its colonial troops from Africa to fight in the Western European theater during World War I (1914–18), and Great Britain sent Indian troops to various fronts. During World War II (1939–45), Great Britain carried out military operations in Africa, Burma, and certain other areas primarily with colonial troops, and after the war Great Britain, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, and Portugal maintained colonial forces. As the colonial system disintegrated and independent states were established in the former colonies, the colonial troops of a number of countries were disbanded, and by 1973 only Great Britain, Portugal, and the Netherlands still maintained such forces.
V. S. GOLUBOVICH