"The Germans call them...the Bastards."
Soldiers in a large army may feel rather unimportant being identified as a member of the 103rd Orbital Magic Fighter Group
or the 486th Combined Rapid Assault Platoon
or whatever. To make themselves feel more distinct, they or their commanders come up with a more colourful nickname for The Squad
. This might just remain a private joke, or it may eventually come into use among the higher-ups. In some cases, the name may be officially attached to the squad.
Standard issue for any regiment with a particularly fearsome reputation
This has been Truth in Television
since at least the days of the The Roman Empire
Anime and Manga
- The Black Tri-Stars from Mobile Suit Gundam may count, though they are a bit small for a squad.
- UC Gundam tended to arrange Mobile Suits in squads of three. See also the White Dingo team in ''Rise from the Ashes".
- Gundam ZZ's Gundam Team of three Gundams, the golden Hyaku Shiki and a giant hoverbike.
- F91 has Zabine Chareux's Black Vanguard squadron
- Victory has the ill-fated, all-female Shrike Team.
- Also maybe, Phantom Pain from Gundam SEED Destiny (their official designation is "81st Autonomous Mobile Group").
- All major military units in Berserk have nicknames of varying coolness. The Band of the Hawk is the one Guts joins.
- Pumpkin Scissors: Imperial Army State Section III, aka "Pumpkin Scissors". Rather subversive, seeing as they're a war relief unit, rather than a combat force.
- Strike Witches: The 501st Joint Fighter Wing, better known as the Strike Witches. The Blu-ray booklet also elaborates on other joint fighter wings, each with their own nicknames. The 502nd is known as the "Brave Witches," and goes further with "Break Witches" as an extension of the original nickname due to their penchant for destroying Striker Units. The 503rd is called the "Typhoon Witches"; the 504th "Ardor Witches"; the 505th "Mirage Witches"; the 506th "Noble Witches"; the 507th "Silent Witches"; the 508th "Mighty Witches"...plus "Glorious Witches" for HMW, "Storm Witches" for the Afrikacorps, and "Shinigami" for Fuso's 42nd Joint Fighter Corps.
- The Howling Commandos in the Marvel Universe.
- From Marvel's The Transformers comics, The Wreckers for Autobots and the Mayhem Attack Squad for Decepticons.
- The title team of Suicide Squad is officially called Task Force X.
- Archie Comics' Sonic the Hedgehog used the Team suffix from Sonic Heroes to name a three-man team of heroes. Beyond Team Dark (which is the only Sega-canon group formed), there was Team Rose (Amy Rose, Cream and Cheese, and Blaze the Cat), Team Hooligan (Nack the Weasel, Bean the Dynamite Duck and Bark the Polar Bear), Team Fighters (Sonic, Tails and Amy) and Team Freedom (Rotor, Cream and Cheese, Big, Heavy and Bomb)
- The eponymous Inglourious Basterds. The 'lesser races' were referred to (even in official documents) as "bastards" by Nazi eugenicists.
- The title character of Sharpe commands the Chosen Men.
- According to the novels, Chosen Man was actually a rank replaced by Corporal in more modern eras.
- The warriors under Tsubodai's command in the Conqueror books are referred to as the Young Wolves. Following this lead, Jochi names his tuman the Iron Horse, and decides to refer to Jebe's tuman as the Bearskins, much to the latter's annoyance.
- The Wheel of Time has banners such as Edorion's Hammers, Carlomin's Leopards, and Reimon's Eagles among the Band of the Red Hand.
- And there's the Fists of Heaven too
- Starship Troopers: 'Roughnecks'.
- The book and board game mention other units as well, such as "Anton's Apaches" and "Smith's Centaurs". After Rasczak is KIA in the book, a suggestion to rename Rasczak's Roughnecks "Jelly's Jaguars" is shot down by the commander. Alliteration is restored later on, when it becomes Rico's Roughnecks.
- In Jim Butcher 's Codex Alera, we have Rufus Scipio's Battlecrows Cohort and the Knights Pisces, which come from an Insult Backfire.
- The Malazan Book of the Fallen has a bunch of these, like the Bridgeburners and the Bonehunters.
- Star Wars gives us squadron names such as Rogue Squadron, Wraith Squadron, Twin Suns Squadron, the Tierfon Yellow Aces, or the Screaming Wookiee Squadron. The Rebel Alliance seems to eschew numerical designations altogether, and the most generic they get are color-based names (Red Group, Gold Squadron) for ad-hoc starfighter organizations. The Empire usually avoids this, or at least we don't hear about it very often, but the 501st Legion Division is commonly known as Vader's Fist. The One-Eighty-First squadron was called the One-Eighty-Worst until Fel shaped it up, at which point it was usually called "One-Eighty-First" in respectful tones, by Imperial and Rebel pilots alike.
- In Allegiance, the five defecting-but-still-Imperial stormtroopers liberate a spaceport from corrupt officials. The grateful natives want to know who they are, and the leader of the stormtroopers, who hadn't intended to call attention to them, panics and says "Mostly, we're known as the Hand of Judgment" and instantly regrets picking the name. As soon as they're alone, the other four stormtroopers mock him vigorously.
Quiller: "You could have just picked a unit number at random. It's not like he could have checked before we got offplanet."
LaRone: "Fine. Next time you can be the officer and group spokesman."
Quiller: "Great. Does that mean you're promoting me from finger to thumb?"
Grave: "No fair. I want to be the thumb."
- Speaking of the 501st, it's a Shout-Out from Lucasfilm to one of their most devoted groups of fans: an entire regiment (literally) of Cosplayers who show up in Imperial armor or uniform. As for the in-canon 501st, they're the ones Anakin leads in the Jedi Temple massacre, the attack on the '''Tantive IV''', and the assault on Hoth.
- Monstrous Regiment gives us the "Ins and Outs" or the "Cheesemongers", named after a story about cheese, a soldier, and a young lady. Jingo gives us Colon reminiscing on his time in the "Pheasant Pluckers" regiment. Apparently, their official song was a little tough to sing right.
- In the Anita Blake book series, the police squad the titular character works with is the Regional Preternatural Investigation Team (RPIT), nicknamed "Rip It" or simply "The Spook Squad".
- Each of the Wasp Armies in Shadows of the Apt- so far we have (in no particular order) the Hive, the Gears, the Barbs and a couple of others I can't remember right now.
- Although not a professional squad, the Animorphs group was nicknamed by Marco. It's short for "Animal Morphers". Or "Idiot teenagers with a death wish." Whichever.
- In the Tortall Universe, once the Queen's Riders have become established, most Rider Groups have nicknames- for example, the Seventeenth is "Group Askew" and the Sixth is "Thayet's Dogs". The exception is the First Rider Group, which is just called the First.
- From Grunts!:
"Sir! Permission to call this squad Black Squad, sir!"
"Denied. We already have fifteen Black Squads, twelve Dark Squads, four Raven Squads, three Midnight Squads, one Sable Squad, one Ebony Squad and one," she glanced at a sheet of paper, "Pink Squad. Yes... we're all a little worried about Pink Squad."
- The Lusthog Squad from the Vietnam War novels The Short-Timers and The Phantom Blooper by Gustav Hasford. Nickname of the squad was not mentioned in the film of the first novel.
- Babylon 5 has the Black Omega Squadron of Psi-Corps fighter pilots.
- The Wild Cards squadron from Space: Above and Beyond
- In the final episode of the series, The Captain, at first, orders a different squadron to launch at the incoming Chig fighters. Then belays his first order and instead orders to "deal out the Wild Cards", despite the squadron being on suspension at the time.
- Blackadder Goes Forth has the Twenty Minuters, but this is apparently a nickname for any and all fighter pilots rather than a specific squadron.
- Truth in Television; the pilots of the first world war were indeed sometimes known as the 'twenty minuters' due to the expectation it'd take them about that long to get killed once-airborne. Blackadder Goes Forth merely played with this by having the protagonists assume they'd only have to do twenty minutes' work only to be told the truth later on.
- The Marine squads in Quake IV are named after various animals: Badger, Bison, Cobra, Cougar, Eagle, Fox, Grizzly, Kodiak, Raven, Rhino, Scorpion, Viper, Warthog and the Wolf Squads.
- Star Control has the Black Spathi Squadron who painted their ships black and performed "Acts of daring and near-suicidal heroism." This is from the race whose hat is Dirty Coward.
- Advance Wars Days of Ruin: "Brenner's Wolves" for the Rubinelle 12th Batallion.
- The "Aggressors" and "Cry Wolves" in Super Robot Wars. Also arguably the ATX and SRX team (those were named after projects, however), and the Octo Squad.
- FreeSpace 2: The "Suicide Kings" (flying light fighters down the barrel of Wave Motion Guns), among others.
- In Frontlines: Fuel of War, the player is part of the 125th Strike Division, known as the "Stray Dogs".
- Welkin Gunther of Squad 7 tends to call his own squad 7s
- A staple in the Ace Combat series. Practically every Player Character will be part of a named squadron with a distinct name, and the enemy squadrons often get a nickname or two:
- One trailer for Mass Effect 2 refers to Shepard's team as the Dirty Dozen, although no one in-story ever invokes this. They probably don't have a squad nickname because saying "Shepard's Team" is scarier than anything else you can make up.
- According to some of Starcraft's fluff, Jim Raynor once belonged to the 321 Colonial Ranger Battalion, Heaven's Devils (probably a sort of reversal on the Hells Angels' name). The back cover of the art book is the fancy version of their unit emblem, and features The Grim Reaper holding a a machine gun in one hand, and a hammer in the other.
- Their name came from a POW saying "They fell from the heavens, and fought like hell to free the Confederate POWs held deep inside KM territory. No one else could have done it. No one else did. That's how the Heaven's Devils earned their name.
- According to the book Heaven's Devils, young Raynor had his Powered Armor painted black with a skull on the visor.
- Most of the action in Madou Souhei Kleinhasa centers around the 502nd Independent Company, aka the Tiger Lilies.
- Front Mission has plenty of these, especially in its video games. FM Alternative has the IMAC (Independent Mobile Assault Company), Bamia, Sinsemilla, and the Cerberus Garde; FM 2089 and FM 2089-II have the Storm Unit, Chariots, and the Vampires; FM 1st has the Canyon Crows, Hell's Wall, Black Hounds, and the Silver Lynxes; FM2 has the Muddy Otters, Dull Stags, and the Dark Geese; FM Online has the Chasm Owls, Iron Hearts, and the Proud Eagles; FM3 has the Purple Haze and the Wulong; FM4 has the Durandal and the Blauer Nebel; 5 has the Strike Wyverns and the Barghest. FM Evolved has the Apollo's Chariot; and lastly, FM Gun Hazard has the Crimson Blow. In the other media, there's the Akatsuki (The Drive), Smile Dogs (Dog Life & Dog Style), and the Strike Eagles (Dog Life & Dog Style).
- Dwarf Fortress used to have randomly generated squad names, resulting in such classics as "The Washed Bodices" and "The Frilly Corridors".
- The Dragonslayers of the Whateley Universe.
- Survival of the Fittest: Happens from time to time when a group forms, starting with The Intrepid Six in Version 1, The Bloody Fists in V2, SADD in V3, and The Insane Commie Posse, Team Campbell and Team Ego in Version 4.
- The SCP Foundation has a whole page of them.
- Achievement Hunter has a number of nicknames for pairings of the six guys within their team. The most common is Team Lads, comprised of Ray, Gavin and Michael, and Team Gents, comprised of Jack, Ryan and Geoff.
- 617 Squadron of the Royal Air Force are known as the "Dambusters" for, well, that World War II mission. Today they fly Tornado GR.4 strike aircraft.
- The Easy Company of the United States' 101st Airborne Division counts to some degree: the name "Easy" comes from "E Company" spelled in a pre-NATO radio alphabet (it would be nowadays "Echo Company"), but after its major role in the World War II and the fame brought by Band of Brothers, "Easy Company" eventually became their moniker.
- The 101st Airborne as a whole calls itself the "Screaming Eagles" after the eagle on its unit patch.
- The rival 82nd Airborne Division were known as the "All-Americans," as when the division was originally raised, it was made up of soldiers from each of the then-48 states in the Union (hence the "AA" division patch).
- Another unit patch related nickname is the 1st Infantry Division. It's called "The Big Red One", because well....
- The 332nd Fighter Group of the US Air Force, aka "Tuskegee Airmen", named after its initial home at Tuskegee, Alabama, and famous for being the first African-American fighter squadron.
- "The Flying Circus". Monty who? I meant the Red Baron's fighter squadron in World War One...
- "The Rats of Tobruk". During World War II, Australian troops managed to halt a blitzkrieg launched by Rommel's Afrika Corps (the first Allied force to do so) and subsequently spent over six months besieged in the city of Tobruk. They survived first by hiding out in their intricate tunnel system and then by going on highly-cooridinated offensives against their besiegers. Nazi radio broadcaster Lord Haw-Haw tried to discourage the defenders by refering to them as "poor desert rats of Tobruk". The Aussies took the name and ran with it.
- A similar thing happened with the Scrap Iron Flotilla.
- The British Parachute Regiment are occasionally referred to as the 'Red Devils', in reference to their distinctive scarlet berets, but this seems to have fallen out of use in favour of simply referring to them as 'Paras'.
- It's more usually used now to refer to their display team instead.
- The Royal Marines are sometimes referred to as 'Bootnecks', presumably a reference to a close-fitting leather collar issued to infantry at the turn of the 19th century.
- The U.S. Marines are called 'Leathernecks' for the same reason. They are also referred to as 'Devil Dogs', Corps legend states this is because during an attack on a German position in WW 1 the gas mask wearing Marines began to foam at the mouth from the heat and gas, while the steep hill they had to climb made them clambor up on all fours. Seeing these rabid, four legged figures charging them, the Germans dubbed them 'Devil Dogs'.
- VMF-214 in World War II was known as the 'Black Sheep,' because the squad had essentially been cobbled together by replacements and volunteers and had never trained as a squad before their first combat missions.
- This is pretty much the norm for US Navy and Marine Corps air squadrons. Nicknames exist for practically all squadrons ranging from cool (VF-1 Wolfpack, VFA-154 Black Knights) to absurd (VF-114 Aardvarks).
- 1st Special Service Force: a WW II joint American and Canadian commando force known as The Devil's Brigade.
- The Kaiser, upon hearing that German forces were being held up in France while on their way to Paris, is said to have exclaimed his exasperation of "Sir John French's contemptible little army". This became the name adopted by a good chunk of the british regular army in WWI, "The Old Contemptibles"
- From World War II onwards, the Eighth Air Force, which earned the nickname "The Mighty Eighth" for their daylight precision bombing raids over Western Europe throughout the war.
- The United States 42nd Infantry Division, also known as the Rainbow Division, so named because when the National Guard was first Federalized for World War One, they formed the first such division with regiments from twenty-six different states to avoid problems with regional and state politics.
- The US 32nd Infantry Division was named Les Terribles by their French comrades during WWI.
- The American Volunteer Group, a fighter group assisting China against Japan in the early days of WWII with no official support or recognition by the United States Government was named "The Flying Tigers" by the Chinese for their ferocity in combat.
- Thanks to downsizing and regiments being merged, the British Army may actually have more squad nicknames than units. Most of them either have a long history (such as the Diehards, or the Ever-Sworded), or are very bad jokes (the Agile and Bolton Wanderers, or Hell's Last Issue).
- The Soviet WWII 46th and 588th Guard Night Bombers, all-female regiments, were known as "The Night Witches". If you don't know, a night bomber is an old WWI-esque wooden bomber that is light enough to glide unpowered for a relatively long time; the pilots used this tactic to stealthily fly above enemy lines after dark. Yes, they were Bad Ass Action Girls that made the Germans actually be afraid of those old pieces of junk.
- After all, the Germans actually gave them that name, Nachthexen.
- The US Second Armored Division was known as "Hell On Wheels". Alas, it was deactivated in 1995.
- During World War II, one of the most legendary units was the 7th Panzer Division, commanded by Erwin Rommel. While the Battle of France was raging, the group earned the nickname "Ghost Division" because of its speed and the fact that nobody seemed to know where it was, not even the German High Command.