(strelkovie voiska), the general term for infantry units of various size, used up to the second half of the 20th century. In the European armies of the 18th century, in addition to the heavy, or line, infantry, there appeared light infantry, which operated in extended formation and was designed to use accurate fire in preparing for an attack by the heavy infantry. Light infantry was made up of subunits or units, whose forces were called musketeers, jaegers, or voltigeurs. They were armed with improved weapons—early carbines and rifles—and lighter equipment. In the second half of the 19th century the differences between light and heavy infantry disappeared, but certain units continued to be called rifle or jaeger units by tradition.
The Russian Army of the 19th and early 20th centuries had rifle regiments and brigades, and rifle divisions were used during World War I. The Siberian, Turkestan, and Finnish regiments, brigades, and divisions were also called rifle units. In the Soviet armed forces, infantry units were called rifle troops beginning in 1918; since 1957, they have been known as motorized rifle troops.