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a person who voluntarily enters military service. In several countries the system of volunteers was the basic means of army recruitment—for example, in Great Britain before World War I (1914-18)—before the introduction of universal military obligation. In the 18th century and the first half of the 19th, volunteer battalions and regiments existed in Austria-Hungary, France, and Italy that had joined the ranks of the regular army. In the second half of the 19th century the system of volunteers lost its significance in most states; it is still a means of army recruitment in Great Britain (since 1961) and serves as a supplement to the regular army in certain other states, particularly in time of war.
a serviceman in the Russian or foreign armies who would voluntarily enter military service on terms that were advantageous to him after having received a higher or secondary education (in Russia, also before completion of secondary education). The features of volunteer service that distinguish it from regular army duty included a shortened duration of service and of the time required for promotion in rank, the right to live on one’s own income outside the barracks, and the obligation to take an examination at the conclusion of service for the rank of junior officer in the reserves(in Russia, warrant officer).