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Interservice Rivalry / Real Life

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Army: If you have a pulse, you're in.
Marines: Hope you like the taste of crayons.
Air Force: Call us back when you've finished your doctoral thesis.
Navy: Gay.
Coast Guard: You remembered we exist?
Common self-descriptors from each respective branch

Back to Interservice Rivalry

International - Present and Historical

  • An international version: The US military and UK military in WWII. Sometimes it was lighthearted ("You Yanks are overpaid, oversexed and over here." "Yeah, well you Limeys are underpaid, undersexed... and under Eisenhower!"), sometimes it was more disruptive (for example, the near-endless arguments of who should be in overall command: Ike or Monty).
    • The argument was over who would command the ground forces, since considering the US provided most of the troops and equipment there was never any doubt Eisenhower would have supreme command. The argument was also not strictly across national lines: Eisenhower's British deputy Air Chief Marshal Tedder strongly urged firing Monty more than once.
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    • Interservice rivalry was the primary reason Eisenhower was retained in Supreme Command after a rocky start in North Africa: Roosevelt and US chief of staff George C. Marshall came to believe he was the only candidate with the skills necessary to keep flaming egos like Montgomery and Patton in line and pulling in the same direction. Churchill (who despised Montgomery) agreed with them.
    • Montgomery did push it too far once, actually lecturing Eisenhower on what he needed to do, prompting a furious Eisenhower to coldly remind Montgomery of who was in charge. Eisenhower was so pissed off that he immediately composed a "he goes or I go" letter to both Churchill and Roosevelt. Montgomery got wind of it and immediately sent a fawning, ass-kissing letter to Eisenhower apologizing for his behavior, which placated Eisenhower enough to keep him from sending the letters. Montgomery spent the rest of the war very much aware of where Eisenhower drew the line and staying well back from it.
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    • Still happens today. In the Iraqi wars, American forces referred to the British as "the borrowers" because of the way successive governments looking for defence cuts had left the British army short of just about everything - embarrassingly large gaps in British resources had to made up by asking the US for a handout. Meanwhile the British opinion of the US Army's military abilities summed up as "all the gear but no idea" - ie, pampered amateurs.
    • The U.S. introduced the five-star rank because of this (a U.S. four-star general would be outranked by a British Field Marshal). This in turn led to an additional six-star rank being created for George Washington to ensure that no American military officer could ever outrank him again. Really, it's the law. Washington retired at rank of Lieutenant General, and over the years a number of American military officers were promoted beyond that rank until he was made General of the Armies.
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  • Happened during the rescue of the Burnham couple from Abu Sayyaf. Philippine Marine Intelligence had been tracking the group for a while after gaining an informant which Abu Sabaya, the group's leader, trusted. Later, their already considerable intelligence effort was boosted by American assistance. However, the Marines were never given the chance to use any of this hard won intelligence. The Philippine Army always insisted on taking over every effort to actually go in and face Abu Sayyaf because they wanted the credit for the rescue. This eventually resulted in a clusterfuck which resulted in hostage death. Philippine Marine Intelligence is still bitter about it all.
  • In war games, Canada and the US.
  • Basically, any situation that requires a number of foreign nations to band together into an alliance or coalition to pursue a common goal. This means that inevitably some members will prioritize their own interests or spite their least liked ally.
  • The numerous Crusades in particular were rife with infighting due to the sheer number of factions involved, and is largely credited with why the Crusades ultimately failed and were pushed back after the Muslims unified behind Saladin. For example, the First Crusade had no less then eleven commanders gathered from all corners of Europe, who all competed with each other both politically and on the battlefield to be recognized as the overall leader of the Crusade. Beyond the Crusade leaders, there was the Catholic Church, who wanted to make sure the Crusaders stayed on their mission, the Byzantine Empire, who wanted assistance in retaking lands they lost to the Muslims, and the People's Crusade, who amounted to a massive mob of barely controllable and untrained commoners. While the Crusaders commonly competed with each other, they also largely didn't care much for the Byzantines' interests and would often plunder and conquer former Byzantine lands for themselves. Relations between the Crusaders and the Byzantines would decay so badly over time, that it culminated in the Fourth Crusade which involved the Crusaders sacking and occupying Constantinople.

USA - Present and Historical

  • Considering the multiple law enforcement agencies and the occasional shift of control (control of the drug unit is shifted from department X to department Y), this is certainly a reality in The United States [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7]
    • The FBI and the CIA
    • Before that, the FBI vs. the OSS and their MI6 allies.
    • The FBI and any State, County, or City police force. Street cops generally don't have a very good opinion of the FBI. This is due in no small part to the traditional role of the FBI as investigators of police corruption, but also stems from the FBI's institutional habit of expecting to automatically be in charge (and generally not being polite about it) whenever they are involved in anything. Depending on the crime being investigated and various other jurisdictional nuances, they can often be attached in an assistive capacity to local/state investigations; you can imagine how well it goes over when they show up and start giving orders.
    • Tragically, this is part of the reason the 9/11 attacks were not intercepted. The CIA knew that known terrorists were on US soil (to train to fly), and accidentally told the FBI. When the FBI NY station head tried to do something about this, he was told, essentially, that he should never have been told and to delete the e-mail. That said, inter-agency battle was not the defining factor in this reason, at least not as much as federal law was - prior to 9/11, the FBI and CIA were not allowed to share information without it being declassified (one of the purposes of the Patriot Act was to make cooperation better, specifically between the CIA and the FBI's counter-intelligence operations).
    • The CIA and FBI rivalry has had the NSA enter it to create a triangle where nobody likes each other or feels inclined to share information, thus making an already bad situation worse.
    • Ever since the increased militarization of police, there is a growing rivalry between the military and local law enforcement.
      • Many professional soldiers, national guardsmen and veterans have publicly criticized militarized police departments, arguing that many police officers lack the military discipline and training of actual soldiers, despite their adoption of body armor, assault rifles, and armored vehicles. Expect the comparison to also come up whenever a shoot-out occurs and the cops demonstrate poor marksmanship or follow lax rules of engagement, even ones much less strict than those enforced in war zones
      • In the other direction, police almost universally condemn the idea of the military being used in a law enforcement capacity. Aside from being illegal in most cases, soldiers are trained generally in how to hurt people and break their stuff, rather than the community engagement, conflict deescalation, and investigation skills necessary for proper law enforcement.
    • Everyone in law enforcement from the Border Patrol to local police hates Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Ever since its founding in 2003, ICE gained an infamous reputation for its draconian approaches to illegal immigration like separating children from their parents, mistakenly deporting US citizens and imprisoning illegal immigrants in detention camps. Border Patrol views ICE as a competitor in immigration enforcement while local police refuse to work with ICE as they fear agency's xenophobic image would harm cooperation with illegal immigrants in stopping organized crime. ICE meanwhile views both Border Patrol and police as soft on illegals and believe their hardline approach is necessary to scare illegals from entering the country.

  • Historical examples of American interbranch rivalry are numerous:
    • "The Soviets are our adversary. Our enemy is the Navy," said by Curtis LeMay, General in the United States Air Force during the Cold War.
    • The newly formed USAF made an effort shortly after WWII to take control of Navy aircraft but failed. The Navy has neither forgotten nor forgiven. The Army has yet to forgive the Air Force for becoming autonomous in 1947 either.
      • The Marine Corps jealously holds on to its air wings for the same reason, having never forgotten their Navy air cover abandoning them during the initial landings on Guadalcanal.
      • The A-10 Warthog has been in service for 40 years, even though they stopped building them in 1984. The Air Force doesn't care for them because they're slow, low-tech, and not very sexy; the Army loves them because they're basically flying tanks and are very good at dealing with anything the Army needs to blow up or put dozens of holes in. Part of the reason why they're still in use by the Air Force is that every time they suggest retiring them, the Army says "If you don't want them, we'll take them". At which point the Air Force refuses to retire the aircraft because they don't want the Army getting fixed-wing aircraft. The Army very much wants to reclaim the fixed-wing CAS (close air support) role from the Air Force, as they think the Air Force is uninterested in actually supporting Army troops on the ground. While the Air Force refuses to relinquish the role because they worry that it would divert funding for air operations out of their budget into the Army's, or even worse start a path to them being merged back into the Army.note 
    • The antagonism between the Army (under MacArthur) and the Navy (under Nimitz) grew to endemic proportions during the Pacific campaign. Both had directly competing ideas of how to defeat Japan; fortunately (for the U.S., not so much for the Japanese), the U.S. was powerful enough to execute both of their ideas at the same time.
      • The Marines especially hated MacArthur's guts, and he gave them plenty of reasons to do so. For just one example, in 1942 he recommended Presidential Unit Citations for every unit involved in the Bataan Peninsula siege, including the Navy, except for the 4th Marine Regiment, because according to MacArthur "The Marines have enough medals already."
      • The feud with MacArthur was a major contributing factor in the USS Indianapolis disaster. After delivering the atomic bomb components to Tinian Island, the cruiser was sent on her way to the Philippines without escort because "whenever MacArthur gets his hands on our destroyers, he doesn’t give them back." The Indianapolis would promptly be sunk by the Japanese submarine I-58 with only 316 survivors out of 1,195 - most of the dead being from the fact that those that didn't go down with the ship were stranded with little food or fresh water for four days because nobody knew Indianapolis had been sunk - the greatest loss of life at sea from a single ship in the Navy's history.
  • The Iranian Hostage Crisis. The Army, Navy, and Air Force each wanted to take the lead on getting the hostages out of Iran, so that none of them could hog all the glory. So they came up with a compromise plan. The result? Catastrophic failure. Afterward, the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) was created out of the special operations branches of all three services. The Marine Corps followed suit... eventually.
    • In The Vietnam War, there were four or five air forces depending on how you counted them: Tactical Air Command (USAF), Strategic Air Command (USAF), Army aviation (US Army), NAVAIR (US Navy including the Marines) and the South Vietnamese Air Force. Needless to say, planning was horrid at times since these combat commands had different chains of command. Congress actually passed a law, the 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act, that among other things removed the individual service chiefs from the chain of command and made them solely an advisory body to the President (the Joint Chiefs of Staff), and reorganized the military's entire chain of command through joint Unified Combatant Commands without regards to branches of service. This was in response to cock-ups like the hostage rescue mission and other service rivalry problems in Vietnam. As a result, while interservice rivalry is still a big thing in the US military (see below), it rarely interferes in the actual business of defending US interests.
  • Interbranch rivalry is deeply ingrained in the culture of the United States military:
    • Various branches of the military love to look down their noses at each other, and will frequently brawl should multiple branches arrive at the same bar. The Army and Marine Corps see Air Force personnel as lazy and incompetent. Air Force personnel see the Army as disposable cannon fodder and the Marine Corps as meat-headed thugs. The Marine Corps, Army, and Air Force will almost always make gay sailor jokes whenever the Navy is brought up. The Navy for its part will point out that they already have their own planes,note ground troops,note  special forcesnote  and nukesnote  and so they can do everybody else's job themselves.
    • Military personnel love to make mocking nicknames and acronyms for the various branches:
      • My Ass Rides In Navy Equipment, Sir.
      • Moron Always Ring In Navy Equipment.
      • My Ass Really Is Navy Equipment for a more vitriolic version.
      • Muscles Are Required, Intelligence Not Essential.
      • Uncle Sam's Misguided Children, though this one has been proudly adopted by Marines themselves.
      • U Suckers Miss Christmas.
      • Ain't Ready for Marines Yet.
      • Ain't Ready for '''M'''y '''A'''ss '''R'''iding '''I'''n '''N'''avy '''E'''quipped, '''S'''hips '''Y'''et
      • Air Force Rejected Me Yesterday.
      • Never Again Volunteer Yourself, though sailors made this one up about themselves.
      • Need Any Vaseline Yet is one that the other branches sometimes use against the Navy, with the usual homophobic undertones.
      • Unable to Shoot And Fuck.
      • The Air Force is often called the Chair Force, since any fighting you do while sitting down apparently only counts if your vehicle isn't meant to fly under its own power. And also because a relatively larger portion of the Air Force is dedicated to logistics rather than directly fighting, though this is quite applicable to the Navy as well. It's also teased that the Air Force is for wussies as they have less strict fitness requirements and a perception that Air Force bases are more luxurious than their Army counterparts; many USAF personnel point out that while this may sometimes be true, it just means that Air Force enlistees are simply smarter for choosing this route anyway. Also note that the "Chairforce" nickname has been used within the Air Force itself... to refer to pilots of UAVs, since they fight from an office chair without ever coming within a thousand miles of the enemy, spurring a rivalry with the pilots of manned fighters who sometimes resent UAV pilots even being called "pilots".
    • The grudges are taught young, as evidenced by the rivalry between military-oriented youth programs. If a Navy Sea Cadet runs into a Civil Air Patrol cadet, the excrement will hit the fan. Slightly less vitriolic is the relationship between the Army Cadet Corps and the Civil Air Patrol, the fights of which seems to take the form of the Army Cadets saying "ha ha, we get to use guns," and the CAP cadets saying "ha ha, we get to fly airplanes." As for the Young Marines, they are roundly laughed at for wearing orange nametapes and ribbons on battledress.
    • Within the Navy, the different branches have various low opinions of the others:
      • Submariners are called Bubbleheads and have the reputation of being extremely nerdy since the majority of them are trained in nuclear power. The thought of over a hundred mennote  trapped in a long, rounded steel tube underwater also takes the gay sailor jokes up to eleven.
      • Surface sailors ("skimmers") in general do not have any specific negative association, but Surface Warfare Officers in particular are often viewed as overbearing jerkasses with Chronic Backstabbing Disorder. Surface ships are often referred to by submariners simply as "targets" (the unspoken implication being that the sailors of those ships are mostly good for Cannon Fodder). "Brown-Shoes" (Navy aviators and their support staff) do, however, refer to surface officers and crew as being in the "transport" or "cargo" business, seeing their only role as getting the all-important planes where they're going.
      • Surface warfare officers usually didn’t have much good to say about Hyman G. Rickover, even if he was the “Father of the Nuclear Navy”. Senior brass often spoke of how they longed to see a destroyer named after Rickover (because destroyers are usually named for deceased Naval officers).
      • The other branches think Aviators are all obsessed with Top Gun and have extremely high opinions of themselves, and are lazy (being the only branch with mandatory 8 hours of rest per day, while on flight duty). Of course, they would say that everyone else is just jealous.
    • Don't forget the rivalry between the Squids (Navy) and Puddle Pirates (Coast Guard). The Navy loves to put down the Coast Guard, calling them things like "toy Navy" or "shallow Navy", to which any Coastie worth his salt will respond with a joke along the lines of, "Why do Navy kids look so good? They have Coastie dads", implying that Coasties tend to sleep with Navy wives while their husbands are out to sea.
      • Oddly enough, the Marines and Coast Guard tend to get along reasonably well, in large part due to a mutual dislike of the Navy.
      • Strangely enough, the Navy SeaBees definition  have a little-known rivalry with the Marines dating back to World War II. When the SeaBees were founded, they were mostly drawn from civilians with prior experience in construction, which skewed their ranks to a much higher average age than other draftees, to say nothing of the fact that, as older men with vital skills, the initial SeaBees were mostly volunteers as they'd have been far back in the drafting order. When they first conducted operations with the Marines, the Marines told them that they'd take care of them, to which the SeaBees replied no, they would take care of them. The humor in the idea of a group of sailors being Papa Wolves to the USMC should be obvious.
      • Hospital corpsmen are also well-respected amongst the Marines, despite technically being Navy personnel; the reasoning being that A) they undertake a role the Marines otherwise don't perform, B) they undergo much of the same training as the Marines and, other than medical supplies, carry the same kit, and C) the one group of people your sore ass really doesn't want to rub are medics who will be patching you up.
      • The Navy even has rivalries between types of ratings (e.g., technicians vs. engineers), or even between different ratings in the same field (e.g., Electronic Technicians (Communication systems) vs. Fire Controlmen (Weapon systems)).
    • From the Marines' Hymn:
      If the Army and the Navy
      Ever look on Heaven’s scenes;
      They will find the streets are guarded
      By United States Marines.
    • Col. John Boyd and his pals (known as the Fighter Mafia) were pushing a lightweight fighter, but the Air Force would have none of it and insisted on sticking to the F-15 for air superiority. Then Boyd suggested that the Navy might be trying to make a lightweight fighter that Congress could force on them, and golly gee they couldn't have that. To be fair, the Air Force had already been forced to eat a saltwater plane — the famous F-4. Lampshaded by Boyd himself after his gambit worked:
    "We don't care what the Russians are doing. We only care about what the Navy is doing."
    • This worked out well enough, as the result was the F-16. Ironically, the Navy then went on to adopt an enlarged version of the losing design in the Air Force's lightweight fighter competition as their own F/A-18. In part because the Navy prefers twin-engine designs, but also because no way in hell were they going to use the Air Force's choice.
  • It should be noted that much of this bickering between branches is much like a group of siblings. Sure, they give each other a hard time (or in the case of SEALs and Marines, get into brawls), but they would be the first to jump to any service member's defense if an outside party interfered.
  • On the other hand, there are cases when rivalries went downright vicious. No less than Presidents Truman and Eisenhower, both former Army officers, tried to disband the Marines. The Marines responded by going behind their backs and lobbying members of Congress to defeat the order.
  • The Revolt of the Admirals was a combination of this and Executive Meddling. After World War II ended, President Truman and his Secretary of Defense Louis A. Johnson wanted to draw down the size of the military and look for cost-savings and efficiencies. Convinced that nuclear-armed strategic bombers were sufficient to defend the US against any threat, in 1949 Johnson cancelled the supercarrier USS United States even though construction had already begun, and tried to eliminate the Marine Corps as a separate service branch. The Navy argued that the Air Force was overstating their capabilities and in any case, not all future conflicts could be won simply by dropping a bunch of nukes. Johnson countered by stating that the Navy was obsolete and that amphibious operations were also a relic of the past. Events just a year later showed that the Navy had a valid point.
  • Still in the United States: Reserve and National Guard components of all branches tend to get teased by members of the Regular components since the latter serve full-time while the former are only called up for drill one weekend a month and maintain their civilian careers on the outside world (hence the nickname "Weekend Warriors"). This rivalry turned especially vicious during The Vietnam War since many people volunteered for the National Guard to avoid being drafted and sent overseas (since National Guard units were almost never deployed overseas at the time, with the exception of a very brief deployment of Air National Guard F-102 Delta Daggersnote ). Ever since Operation Desert Storm and The War on Terror, the animosity has lightened up a bit, since Reserves and National Guard units have served on combat deployments alongside regular component units on a regular basis.
  • Late US Senator (and presidential candidate) John McCain, a decorated Navy pilot, was fond of saying, "When I graduated from the Naval Academy, I tried to get into the Marine Corps, but my parents were married."note 
  • On Gemini 12, Buzz Aldrin held up a sign during his spacewalk that said, "Go Army, Beat Navy." His commander (Jim Lovell) was a Navy captain, so he wasn't very happy about this.
  • Lovell was probably more amused when he was flying copilot on Gemini 7, as Wally Schirra on Gemini 6A (in rendezvous with Gemini 7) held up a sign that said, “BEAT ARMY”. Frank Borman (USAF, but a West Point graduate) on Gemini 7 was quick enough on the draw to radio, “Hey, look at that sign, it says 'BEAT NAVY'”. Schirra said he had to pull his sign down and recheck to see what it read (Schirra’s co-pilot Tom Stafford was USAF, but an Annapolis graduate).
  • There's an anecdote known as the "LA Speed Check Story", as told by Maj. Brian Shul, the man who was there, that has him and his backseat, Walter, as a new crew on the SR-71 Blackbird on a training run across the southern United States back when general aviation had to get their ground speed from Los Angeles Center and listening in as various aircraft radioed in for a speed check and trying to one up each other on how fast they are (the SR-71, of course, has a cruising speed faster than any of them could dream of). The last one was a Navy F-18 Hornet who thought to show them all what real speed is (620 knots). Up to that point, the Blackbird crew would have probably been content to stay out of it, but, "It's the Navy! They must die, they must die now!" So they radio in and get their ground speed, 1942 knots across the ground. They cap it off by radioing back that they show closer to 2000. Point: Air Force.
    Maj. Shul: The king of speed lived, the Navy had been flamed and a crew had been forged.
  • The Space Force is widely mocked for formerly being a glorified section of the Air Force. The Space Force on the flip side can easily retort with the simple statement that no other force has any credible anti-orbital bombardment defense, carefully overlooking the fact that they have no such capability.
  • This trope is actually one reason NASA exists. Initially both the Army and the Navy were in charge experiments in rocketry. The problem was that both were wasting money and resources competing against each other and refusing to share. The government eventually got fed up with it and instead put together the civilian organization of NASA.

British - Present and Historical

  • The London Metropolitan police and City of London police in the Jack the Ripper case. Rather than share information, each faction tried to obstruct the other—this is sometimes argued to have been a major reason why the killer was never caught.
  • The Royal Air Force took control of British naval aircraft after WWI, and the Fleet Air Arm did not return to the Navy until the mid-1930s. This is frequently cited as a reason why the Fleet Air Arm's WWII homegrown aircraft were mostly junk.
    • Good example: During almost all of WWII, the Fleet Air Arm's primary torpedo bomber was the Fairey Swordfish, a biplane known familiarly as "The Stringbag". And despite its obsolescence, the Swordfish was one of the better aircraft that the Fleet Air Arm acquired during its period of RAF control.
  • In Britain there are Youth Groups linked to the military. There's the Air Cadets, Army Cadets, and Sea Cadets. The Air Cadets and the Army Cadets hate each other, but they seem to forget about this hatred when confronted with the Sea Cadets, who they join together to hate.
    • When the more "proletarian" Army Cadets meet the Combined Cadet Forces drawn from public schools (ie, fee-paying education for the more privileged) then the Class War intrudes. Care has been taken to keep them apart.
    • Same thing also happens in the Canadian cadet organizations.
    • Don't even think about what happens when any of them encounter the Police Cadets or the Boys Brigade.
      • And all of the Cadet Forces in the UK, as well as the Boys Brigade for good measure, utterly detest the Scout Movement as being "for wusses".
  • The Royal Marines and the Parachute Regiment are more like Vitriolic Best Buds, at least since the Falklands War. Everybody still makes fun of the RAF, though the Army Air Corps is very popular since they got Apaches, and the Navy looks down its collective nose at the lot of them.
  • And of course, the Scots military units hate the English military units, and they both hate the Welsh ones. But if there are Americans nearby, all bets are off as everyone teams up to beat up the Yanks. And the Scots Guards hate the regular Scots units too, for being too wimpy.
    • And of course any Highland regiment hates (in order from least to most) any other Highland regiment, any Lowland regiment, any Irish regiment, any Welsh Regiment, and every American unit. Of course, they will team up with less objectionable enemies to beat more hated ones.
    • Despite their long and proud history of this sort of thing, the British Army ended up being the Only Sane Organisation in the middle of one of these during The Troubles. MI5, MI6, the Royal Ulster Constabulary and Special Branch spent so much time bickering over who was responsible for what (bit of an Enforced Trope, because domestic counter-insurgency operations were uncharted waters back then) and trying to show one another up that the quality of their work was rather lacking. Eventually, the Army resorted to forming a new company within the Intelligence Corps to run surveillance operations in-house.
  • Particularly during the Napoleonic Wars, the British Army vs. the Royal Navy. The Navy was the more glamorous and respectable service, while the Army was the one actually fighting Napoleon in Europe but often considered a poor second by high society. This is referenced in fiction set in this time period such as Sharpe, Aubrey-Maturin and so on.
    • It has to be remembered here that the Royal Navy basically swept their enemies (French, Dutch, Spanish, Danes) off the sea at a time when the Army generally suffered ignominious defeats on the European continent, i. e. before the Peninsular War, while Army successes elsewhere in that era were depended on the Navy. And the British army simply was too small on its own, even during the Peninsular campaign it was very much dependent on the manpower provided by their Spanish and Portuguese allies as well as the King's German Legion.
    • "The British Army should be a projectile to be fired by the British Navy." — Lord Grey, British Prime Minister.
    • It reflects Britain's historical position as a maritime power (go figure, Britain is an island), hence giving the Navy the lion's share. The great adversary, France, has the exact same rivalry between Navy and Army but in reverse, as befits France's continental position.
      • Britain also had a long history of distrust of armies in general, especially among the aristocracy (due to such events as Army leader Oliver Cromwell's execution of the English king and establishing himself as a dictator), whereas the Navy was seen as the only reason an island nation could even survive. There's a reason it's the Royal Navy but the merely the British Army.
  • The British regimental system led to this since regiments were raised from different parts of the country and had distinct histories and traditions. Sometimes this led to a Fire-Forged Friendship, but more often to rivalry; for example, the Gordon Highlanders (raised partially from Glencoe) hated the Argylls (raised by the Campbell clan which led the Massacre of Glencoe).

    This can go back a LONG way. In a battle in the Sikh War in 1845, a Scottish regiment broke and retreated ignominiously — right in front of the waiting Royal Welch Fusiliers, who were as verbally snarky about this as you could expect Welsh soldiers to be. The Scots then showed more fight to the Welsh than they had to the Sikhs, and an English regiment had to be interposed to maintain order. This is still a point raised in interaction between both regiments today and no love has been lost.
  • British journalist and former Navy Commando Lewis Page is known, when writing about military hardware for marines, to litter his articles with the J-word and then issue a not-apology in a footnote.
    Perhaps the fact of the author being an 11-year navy man and holder of the Royal Marines' commando qualification might allow it to be excused, under the heading of banter among fellow allied servicemen. If not, too bad.
  • The adoption of machine guns by the British Army could have been done anything up to fifty years earlier if the Infantry and the Royal Artillery had co-operated. The first machine guns used by the British had been imported American Gatling guns, used to deadly effect during the Zulu War in 1879. But as these came on artillery wheeled carriages, the Royal Artillery had insisted these were clearly artillery weapons and part of their inventory. The R.A. also insisted that any subsequent machine guns taken up by the Army be installed on cumbersome wheeled trails - even when countries like France and Germany were issuing their MGs on man-portable lighter carriages and issuing them direct to the infantry units they would support. Machine guns were only taken out of artillery control and issued direct to infantry units in the years immediately preceding WWII.
    • A similar demarcation dispute scuppered British development of self-propelled guns, vital to the experimental "blitzkrieg" strategy, in the 1920s and 1930s. The self-propelled Birch Gun (capable of keeping pace with a tank attack and providing immediate heavy support fire) was way ahead of its time for the late 1920s, but was shelved when the dispute over whether it was a tank or an artillery piece could not be resolved. Both SPG's and the lightning-war strategy they had been designed for were enthusiastically taken up by Germans who had observed the British manouevres and seen potential...
      • Germans did not escape this problem: self propelled assault guns, despite being employed like tanks, were part of artillery, not panzer. See below.
    • The Royal Artillery had seemingly learnt nothing and even as late as 1942, was still bitterly arguing that vitally needed anti-tank guns belonged to it, and not to the infantry. The British Army wastefully duplicated its anti-tank formations in a confused chain of command — some were directly issued to infantry, others were made into artillery regiments.
    • Similar rivalries ended up denying the American Expeditionary Forces access to the Lewis gun when they entered World War I. While they had access to the weapon at that time, with some Marine units even being issued them before they headed over, the AEF's chief of ordnance, General William Crozier, instead forced the use of the infamously-terrible Chauchat because he didn't like Colonel Lewis. (Admittedly, the Lewis gun had issues of its' own, including exploding after an endurance test, so that likely did no favors for Lewis' reputation.)
  • A more specific example from British history: during the Victorian Era, the Army was largely divided into two cliques: the "Wolseley Ring" (led by Garnet Wolseley, mostly veterans of African colonial campaigns) and the "Roberts Ring" (after Frederick Lord Roberts, mostly serving in India). These two groups competed for assignments and promotions, leading to serious tension between segments of the military. Queen Victoria favored Roberts, considering Wolseley a shameless self-promoter. Rudyard Kipling agreed: his poem "Bobs," a tribute to Roberts, cites as one of his virtues that Roberts "does not advertise," a veiled Take That! at Wolseley. The public however preferred Wolseley, who was lauded (and satirized) as the the very model of a (modern major) general.
    The rivalry finally came to a head during the The Second Boer War. Wolseley, commander-in-chief of the Army but too old to take the field, handpicked his protégé, Redvers Buller, to command. But Buller proved an unmitigated failure, losing battle after battle to the Boers. Buller was succeeded by Lord Roberts himself, who quickly routed the Boers (though the fighting soon devolved into guerrilla warfare). Adding insult to injury, Roberts assumed Wolseley's post at war's end.
  • More WWII: RAF Bomber Command vs, at various points, Fighter Command, Coastal Command, and the US 8th Air Force. The rivalry with Coastal Command has frequently been judged as having seriously set back the war effort by starving Coastal of aircraft.
    • One of the problems being that Fighter Command got all the glory in 1940 at the expense of the other services to glamourize "The Few" (during the Battle of Britain, Bomber Command actually incurred heavier losses than Fighter Command).
  • On November 6, 1940, a Heinkel He 111 suffered a compass failure and wound up ditching off the English coast. A group of British soldiers arrested the crew and got a tow rope around the Heinkel's tail. Before they could pull the plane ashore, a Royal Navy vessel showed up. The captain insisted that salvaging the plane was clearly a Navy matter (since it was in the water). He also outranked the soldiers, so eventually they handed off the two rope. The ship began to tow the plane into deeper water, intending to then lift it on board. Instead the tow rope broke and the Heinkel sank. It was eventually salvaged, and found to contain a top secret and now-water damaged X-Gerat night bombing receiver. It's possible the Coventry raid wouldn't have been quite as bad had the British countermeasures team gotten the X-Gerat sooner.

Russia and/or USSR - Present and Historical

  • Done deliberately by Stalin to Field Marshalls Kon(i)ev and Zhukov for the push on Berlin (Rokossovksy, despite his comparable if not greater abilities, being relegated to flank-defence along the German coast because he was both part-Polish and 'ideologically unorthodox'). He deliberately erased the boundaries between their army groups for the operation, meaning that both were free to send units into and across each other's forces. This resulted in more friendly-fire incidents than anyone cares to remember, not least because of the use of artillery and airpower. That said, at least a few of those 'incidents' were actually on purpose (albeit largely as payback for previous friendly-fire incidents).
  • In Russia, you have the army and the navy, the army and VDV in a not exactly bitter rivalry, and the army and the gendarmerie in the typical police vs soldier annoyance, the army intelligence (GRU), FSB, and SVR in standard CIA Evil, FBI Good intelligence agency competition and paranoia and finally the police and FSB hating each other with a passion. And then everyone hates the Air Force because those flying bastards got it easy, while the Air Force is jealous of the Navy, as they feel that they hog up all the high-tech resources.
  • A surprising aversion in the permanent branches of the armed forces of the Soviet Union (though it may no longer be true in contemporary Russia or the other CIS countries that inherited the Soviet military): the postwar organization of the Soviet armed forces was done along dual lines (unlike NATO), with the "peacetime" structure (by far more common) cutting across traditional NATO-style groupings. Entire divisions and other large groupings of specialized troops were created subordinate to a "different" force by design—for example, Soviet helicopters belonging to the army were flown by Soviet Air Force officers. While this could certainly mean for a difficult transition between peace and wartime standing, it has the consequence of avoiding the traditional friction such an arrangement is assumed to cause in a NATO army. Thanks to World War II, the supremacy of what was the "Red Army" is paramount, and ground forces generals were present in every level of academy instruction across all the armed forces. Elite units might be rivals among themselves, but interservice rivalry did not exist as you'd see famously in NATO. A closer examination of this unusual arrangement can be found from Chris Donnelly's ''Red Banner'' in chapter 8, "Running the Soviet Military Machine.".
  • The Tsars had competing civilian bureaucracies, named Interior and Finance. "Interior" in Russia is the traditional name for the police ministry (it persists to this day), and what the Finance does is obvious. Noble families would pick a side and serve as bureaucrats for a particular ministry for generations.

    The Tsars would sometimes favor whichever ministry was more effective, but more often would favor the underdog to keep either one from gaining too much power. Alternatively, they would set up their own bureaucracy, which would languish after their death, but never be officially disbanded. The terrible inefficiency of all this is one of the many reasons the Tsars fell.
  • In more modern times, there is the divide between the regular Russian Armed Forces and Rosgvardiya, the newly created National Guard of the Russian Federation. While the Russian Armed Forces are expected to carry out offensive operations aboard, Rosgvardiya is intended to act as an internal military force, providing domestic security and suppressing unrest. However, the main sticking point is that while the Armed Forces are controlled by the Security Council of Russia, Rosgvardiya is directly controlled by the President of Russia. There's been signs of friction between regular troops and Rosgvardiya due to their apparent differing priorities, as well as the knowledge that part of Rosgvardiya's responsibility is to suppress the military in case of a revolt.
  • A constant issue for Russia is the divide between volunteer contract soldiers and conscripts. Unlike most other countries, Russia still enforces compulsory military service and all Russian males are expected to serve at least one year in the military as conscripts. However, there have been many reports of widespread and systemic abuse of conscripts at the hands of volunteer soldiers, as they are constantly used as outlets for anger and frustration, simply because the volunteers don't see them as "real" soldiers.
  • In the modern era, there is friction between regular Russian military and private paramilitary groups like the Kadyrovites and the Wagner Group. The regular military views these mercenaries are undisciplined thugs favored by Russian President Vladimir Putin and, in turn, these mercenaries view Russian military as a bureaucratic and incompetent Soviet relic. It didn't help matters that during the 2022 Russo-Ukrainian War, the military and PMCs blamed the other to coverup for major military setbacks.

Germany - Present and Historical

  • Deliberately invoked by Adolf Hitler, who applied a Social Darwinist approach to bureaucracy. He kept a whole host of government and party organisations at each other's throats, figuring that competition would result in more radical and effective policy-making. For example: National Security fell to the Luftwaffe, Army, Navy, SS, Order Police and the Foreign Office. The threat of being sidelined did lead all the government agencies to radicalize themselves, and it also got a lot of talented (and amoral) young men like Reinhard Heydrich to join the various security agencies (2/3 of their senior leaders were under the age of 36, and the same proportion had degrees.)

    The price of this was redundancy and inefficiency. Ur-Example: In October 1942, the Luftwaffe was authorized to create 20 infantry divisions (250,000 combat troops) for the frontline, even though they had no ground combat experience and most Army divisions were at 2/3 strength (2 million troops of a theoretical 3 million). Of course, Hitler also saw this as a way to make sure nobody could replace him as Führer; with so many bitter rivalries playing into his hands, nobody but Hitler could possibly have enough power to even try.
    • In the early days of Nazi Germany, there existed a rivalry between the SS and the SA. The SA had been very active previously, serving as the Nazi Party's paramilitary wing/street thugs, while the SS started out as Hitler's elite personal bodyguard unit. Both groups were vying for power and influence, as well as Hitler's favor, in the newly formed Third Reich. Hitler was actually somewhat afraid of the SA due to the organization's number and strength, and its tendency towards left-leaning policies more than once caused friction, not only with Hitler's own political views, which were firmly right-wing but also with the influential conservative industrialists that Hitler was trying to court in order to consolidate his power, and it certainly did not help when the SA leadership demanded for the SA to replace the regular army.note  And most troubling to the SS, SA's leader, Ernst Röhm, was the only leading Nazi who was on First-Name Basis with Hitler. This conflict came to a bloody end on June 30, 1934, when the SS falsely accused the SA of plotting to overthrow Hitler and proceeded to eliminate the SA leadership (and other potentially problematic persons for the Nazi regime) in the Night of the Long Knives. The SA became pretty much powerless and irrelevant after that while the SS increased in prominence and authority.
    • The downsides of the approach were pretty famous - there were numerous instances of the various agencies slighting one another. The Navy never finished their carrier(s) because Goering was jealous, feeling that any German aircraft should come under his control, and the Navy sensibly felt that they should be in charge of their own planesnote  In revenge, they spiked Luftwaffe supplies and had them directed to U-Boat manufacture. Goering forced the Army to stop its advance on the BEF so that he could try to destroy the British with aircraft (the fact that the RAF might have something to say never occurred to him), and in revenge the Army never fully trusted the Air Force again, giving fuel and supplies for them relatively low priority in the supply chain.
    • Even Hitler's Last Act and Testament was a notable instance of this. Goering, aka the Chief of the Air Force, had unsuccessfully attempted to invoke the succession act when he learned of Hitler's suicide plans (having been his designated successor throughout the war). Hitler instead expelled Goering and called for his execution. He then designated his new chosen successor to be Karl Donitz, the Chief of the Navy. Donitz himself was considered a pretty random choice by most observers even at the time, so probably just a final insult to somebody he believed had betrayed him.
    • There had always been tensions between the regular Wehrmacht and SS forces, with the SS being a more radical, politically motivated force while the Wehrmacht tended to be more ideologically moderate. It also didn't help that both sides had to compete for soldiers, tanks, and equipment since the SS fought on the frontlines alongside the Wehrmacht and it wasn't unusual for both sides to butt heads. This rivalry couldn't be seen more clearly then in The Battle of Castle Itter, where regular German soldiers teamed up with American soldiers to free prisoners being held by the SS. The war was already basically over at that point and the local Wehrmacht garrison didn't appreciate the SS going around attempting to execute local Austrians who wanted to surrender to the Allies.
  • Meanwhile in Germany, when General Guderian was made Inspector-General of Armour in 1943, with the remit of rationalising all aspects of AFV production and delivery to the armed forces, inter-service rivalry rewrote his terms of operation to exclude all StuG self-propelled guns — then numerically more important than conventional tanks. Thus a good two-thirds of Germany's heavy armour ended up outside his control. His task was scuppered before it began, and German AFV production remained a long way behind that of the Allies.
    • To make it full circle, he was actually Hoist by His Own Petard (in a way) - during prewar development of the German army, assault guns were assigned to artillery, as their main operational mission was to be direct fire support of the infantry, which was deemed too "beneath" the Panzerwaffe, which adhered to Guderian's theories how the armour ought to be massed in independent formations and conduct its own independent operations.
  • German attempts at nuclear weapons during the war also fell through because of this. Rather than one program with several different institutions working together, as with America and the Soviet Union, the Nazi nuclear weapons program was split between nine completely independent institutions, which ultimately served to ensure that none of them could successfully produce a serviceable weapon - even if any one institute could have made weapons under the ideologically-correct constraints forced on them (what turned out to make the Manhattan Project a success was simply deemed "Jewish physics" by the Nazis and rejected outright), they would find themselves sabotaged by at least one of the other eight trying to save face. This fiasco is best remembered with the memetic note that one of the nine institutions involved was the German postal service.
  • Post-WW2 has German law enforcement versus the Bundeswehr. Whereas the police are respected by the public and government, the military is very unpopular and is treated as an afterthought given Germany's infamous legacy of military aggression. Further inflaming the rivalry are public relations involving their respective anti-terror units, the Federal Police's GSG 9 and the Bundeswehr's KSK. The GSG 9 - which, perhaps not incidentally, was formed in response to the 1972 Olympics terror attack that only the Bundeswehr had the equipment or training to stop but legally couldn't - is widely praised domestically and abroad for its accomplishments, most notably freeing all 86 hostages from a hijacked Lufthansa plane in Somalia without any losses. In contrast, the KSK garnered much notoriety for its members holding Neo-Nazi views and conspiring to assassinate left-leaning politicians. Incidentally it was the police who uncovered the KSK's terror plot and arrested several members, which lead to its partial disbandment.

Italia - Present and Historical

  • Italian Regia Marina (the Navy) versus Regia Aeronautica (the Air Force) during World War II. The Navy complained that the Air Force was the reason they had no carriers, that they were never on the battlefield in time, and that while they were very good at sinking ships, they weren't very good at recognizing which ships were British.note  The Air Force complained that the Navy hoarded all the funds and technically-capable recruits, yet couldn't defeat the Royal Navy. In a magnificent example of Fascist, but Inefficient, they were both right due the inefficiency of the Fascist government.
    • Ironically, some of these issues arose from the higher-ups trying to stop the rivalry. Between the wars, the government enforced various procedures to force them to work together, including a rather complex one for air support: whenever a Navy unit or squadron needed support they would have to ask for it from Supermarina (the Navy supreme command) in Rome, that would have to ask for it from Superaereo (the Air Force supreme command), that would then select the closest airport and send the planes. The planes invariably arrived late, and often attacked the Italian ships who requested the support because they weren't where they were supposed to be anymore and thus were mistaken for enemy ships. Needless to say, the rivalry grew worse.
    • Perhaps they should both blame the collective Italian military establishment for saying, essentially: "This radar fad? It'll never catch on." Cue instances of Italian cruisers being jumped by British battleships and an entire fleet being crippled in its home port by British aircraft.
  • In the Italian army there is a long-standing rivalry between the Bersaglieri and the Alpini, as the latter replaced the former as mountain troops.
    • The Carabinieri (military police and gendarmerie) are despised by the rest of the armed forces, with a contempt second only to the one reserved for the military cooks (Cordon Bleugh Chefs by Italian standards).
  • Between Italian police forces, the one between the Carabinieri (military police and part of the Italian Army until 2000, when they became their own branch) and the State Police and their predecessors (civilian police and never part of the Army, even if one of the corps that were amalgamated in the modern State Police was considered part of the military from 1943 to the creation of the State Police in 1981). While the officers tend to leave each other alone, the higher-ups have fought enormous ministerial-level battles for jurisdiction outside of the main cities (and the funds coming with it), with the Carabinieri ultimately winning.

Other Countries - Present and Historical

  • This is surprisingly averted with the Canadian Armed Forces after some early teething problems with unification when the Canadian Army, Royal Canadian Navy, and Royal Canadian Air Force were merged into a single organization in 1968note . With most kinks worked out over the decades, Army, Navy, and Air Force are now simply different elements of the same service, and thus it is rare to see a unit that doesn't contain a mix of at least two of them. Then there are what are known as "purple trades", occupations like engineer, doctor, clerk, etc that don't directly identify with an element: the difference between an Army and an Air Force engineer literally boils down to what color of beret the member likes better.
  • Often develops as a result of the segregation between the various branches of a military or bureaucracy. While specializing can help these branches with their particular tasks, it also has a nasty tendency to make one branch view the other(s) as a separate entity rather than as part of the greater whole, as they have no experience or training from working with them. This tribalism can occur in large groups and small, and can have serious consequences: many times in history, units have worked or fought in the presence of other "friendly" units, rather than with them.
  • Saddam Hussein's Iraq, after his rise to power, had the typical triangular operation — the military, the Baath Party, and the people. If one branch got too uppity, he would instigate the other two against that one.
  • In the People's Republic of China, there is much resentment between the main army, and the navy and air force, the latter two technically under the army.note  Also, the missile and artillery forces are somewhat independent. Also, each army by military district can have intense problems with each other. So much so, the government brought in units from the countryside during the Tiananmen Square massacre, as those in the Beijing military district were considered too untrustworthy and might turn the conflict into a full-blown civil war.
  • With regards to the Australian Defence Forces, one (army) recruiter once joked that "The Army sleeps under the stars, the Navy navigate by the stars and the Air Force choose their hotels by the stars." This was met by silence as 90% of the audience was looking to join the Air Force.
    • A similar joke exists among the Royal Navy Reserve: When the Army is ordered to secure a building they blow it up. When the Marines are ordered to secure a building they storm in, kill everyone, then blow it up. When the Navy is ordered to secure a building they lock all the doors and windows. When the Air Force is ordered to secure a building they take out a six-month lease.
  • In pre-revolutionary Iran, as usual, the Imperial Army, Navy, and Air Force had rivalries with each other, and all disliked the SAVAK. After the Revolution, the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps showed up. The regular military has somewhat put aside its differences to hate on the IRGC, as although it started as a revolutionary militia, it now has its own land, naval, and air forces, as well as complete control of the Iranian long-range missile force (and thus Iran's nuclear weapons if/when it gets them), and commands the Basij — the regime's morality and political police force — as well.
  • The Imperial Japanese army and navy experienced a destructive version of this trope. From the Meiji Restoration until the Russo-Japanese war the Army was generally considered the senior service. However, the navy won the decisive victories of the war while the army got bogged down in a meat grinder in Manchuria. So, the navy gained in prestige. After World War I and during the run-up to World War II, the intense rivalry between the was only made worse by the fact that both forces were heavily involved in politics. The military ended Japan's brief experiment with electoral democracy thanks to the way the Meiji constitution worked. The senior officers of the army and navy were actual members of the cabinet and there was no civilian cabinet member to oversee them. That meant that if a service didn't get what it wanted their officer would resign from the cabinet and bring down the government. With nobody in the government to check themnote  it got to the point that the main political factions in the Japanese government weren't political parties at all, but "Army" and "Navy". Before the war, it wasn't uncommon for army and navy officers to assassinate each other. Once the war got underway, both services established dedicated amphibious warfare branches (the army fielding its own troopships and landing craft, and the navy organizing its own infantry units), the army had their own fleet of light carriers to support army aircraft, and prioritization of steel and development money for navy ships and planes meant that the army's tanks were under-armored and completely outnumbered and outgunned by the Allies. The army, on the other hand, had complete control over infantry weapon production, so the navy (intent on maintaining those infantry divisions of its own) imported rifles from Germany and Italy as well as helping themselves (without permission) to weapons the army had captured in China.
    • One particular story that showcases how bitter the rivalry between the IJA and IJN was is how both services dealt with the issue of beriberi, a debilitating and deadly illness that afflicted both Japanese soldiers and sailors. A naval doctor in the IJN performed his own studies, and proved that beriberi was the result of nutritional deficiency, which was easily solved by changing the diet of IJN sailors.note  However, IJA doctors refused to believe that the Navy got it right and and held on to their own theory that beriberi was an infectious disease. The IJA's pride would lead to thousands of soldiers falling victim to the condition.
    • There was also a rivalry between the IJA and the civil police; in 1933 an IJA soldier jaywalked while off-duty and was arrested by the police. Immediately IJA officers have an issue about a soldier being put into custody by civilians and considered that the police "insulted" the military. This turned into a full-scale dispute between the Home (which handles the police) and the Army ministries and needed Hirohito's own jawboning to put it down. There're some identical undercurrents between IJA's rivalries with IJN and the police: the largest supporters of pro-Imperial forces in the Meiji Restoration were Choshu and Satsuma samurai, and eventually Choshu samurai gained control of the IJA, and Satsuma the IJN to calm down the bickering between both sides in the post-Restoration military. As to the police, when it was formed in 1871, it was led by a former Satsuma samurai and two-thirds of the initial 3,000 officers were also former Satsuma samurai.
  • Indonesia is no stranger to this trope, either. During the 32-year authoritarian rule of Suharto (Suharto being an army general), the army become so dominant not only in the society, but in the armed forces institution itself, and the other branches very often became sidelined. Fortunately, this got better after Suharto fell out of power.
    • Due to low discipline, some cases of inter-service rivalry even escalated to military/police units shooting at each other- police vs. military being the most frequent case. Some examples are:
      • In 1964, fully armed Army Special Forces personnel (RPKAD, now Kopassus) stormed an Indonesian Marine Corps base in Senen, Jakarta. Dozens of personnel from both sides got badly injured before the brawl could finally be suppressed by their superiors. The cause: exchanges of taunting from both sides got heated.
      • In 2002, hundreds of soldiers from the 100th Airborne Troops Battalion in Binjai, North Sumatera, left their base fully armed and attacked a local police station. The police, overwhelmed, called a nearby police mobile brigade (Brigade Mobil, or Bri Mob) for help and battle ensued throughout the night. The cause: one of the soldiers from the battalion had a friend that was arrested by the police. When the soldier, with some other soldiers, tried to free his friend from the police, melee ensued. Although no one got killed, the news quickly spread to other soldiers in the base, agitating them. An attempt to calm them from their superiors came to no avail.
      • In 2013, at least 90 soldiers from the 15th armed battalion in Ogan Komering Ulu district, South Sumatera, attacked and burned police officers and stations after one of their comrades got shot dead by the police.
      • In 2014, the 134th infantry battalion and the Riau Island police's mobile brigade in the city of Batam exchanged fire. At least one soldier died and one civilian was injured. Some analysts concluded this accident roots from police and military rivalry in supporting/protecting illegal business in the island; the final trigger itself was taunting each other, again.
  • Much like Canada, the Israel Defense Forces constitute one organization with a single Chief of Staff and various highly coordinated branches. However, in contrast to most modern countries, the Navy is if anything seen as slightly less prestigious than the Army, due in part to its historic origins as part of the right-wing Irgun self-defense movement (whereas the Army, grew out of the much larger, more popular Haganah) as well as a general disinterest for sea power by the military brass and government.note  This has resulted in a self-fulfilling prophecy, with Israel having an unusually small Navy (10,000 personnel and only three rated warships, all Corvettes) relative to its land and air power. Though individually each of the Navy's 3 corvettes and many of its missile boats are exceptionally well-armed relative to their small size.
  • Historically, members of the French army's 11th Parachute Brigade and the French Foreign Legion did not get along. Those stereotypical interservice bar brawls were a very common occurrence back when they trained near each other and took weekend leave in the same town. The Legion's elite parachute regiment is technically part of the 11th Paras. One wonders if this makes the rivalry more or less intense for them. Then again, the Foreign Legion does think it's above everyone...

Other Miscellanous

  • Was used and is used in class conflict. By turning the liberals, trade unions, old school, and conservatives against each other; the government can maintain power.
    • This is used by big business to undermine labor unions. They blame overseas corporations for wage cuts and then demand the union allowing the firing of a specific group (new workers, old workers, lowest paid, highest paid) or the factory will be closed for budget reasons.
    • Caution should be used when it comes to conspiracy theories. While some are true, many are spread to discredit the opposition factions.
  • Consider the terrorist and revolutionary groups that break apart and often attack each other rather than the original enemy or, worse still, becomes a Full-Circle Revolution. The IRA is an excellent example of the former, and The French Revolution for the latter.
    • After the government has fallen, the revolutionary factions tend to either continue fighting with each other or one group clearly emerges on top and starts The Purge.
      • The Red October soon led to the Russian Civil War between moderates, socialists, anarchists and everyone who didn't want to get stomped in the process. Western powers encouraged this and armed counter-revolutionary forces. Even after the Reds won, different political factions in their movement and commanders from different armies immediately locked horns for dominance and the importance of their contribution.
      • And then Josef Stalin quietly grabbed the real power, his followers and the First Horse Cavalry Army raising in his wake. And he encouraged further interservice rivalry — so that his most dangerous underlings kept each other in check. The whole Soviet system: the Communist Party (and the Supreme Soviets, the country's parliamentary bodies), the NKVD (Commissariat for Internal Affairs), and the military (including military intelligence) were all at odds with each other. The military had the big guns, the NKVD knew where all the bodies were buried (sometimes literally), and the Party determined ideological purity in the military and NKVD and thus could institute a purge if either got too uppity. If any one of the three seemed to gain too much of an upper hand, the other two could, and did, cooperate to cut it down.
      • Continuing in the Cold War — with the KGB (nominally civilian intelligence and one of the committees that emerged from the breaking apart of the NKVD) and GRU (military intelligence which had its origins before the Second World War) opposing each other.
  • Sometimes also happens between factions of a political party.
    • One joke has a newly-elected politician taking his seat in parliament for the first time, looking across at the other party. "There they are," he says to his older colleague, "The enemy." His older colleague replies, "No, that's the opposition. The enemy are seated all around you."
      • This is related to the joke about politicians and bureaucrats popularized by Yes, Minister:
      The Opposition is really the opposition in exile. The Civil Service is the opposition in residence.
  • The concept of "separation of powers" within a government is intended to foster this so that no one branch of government can become totally autonomous. In the United States, this is called "checks and balances," and is deliberately created so that the three branches will struggle against each other for power and hopefully create a stasis.
  • In the Roman Catholic Church, there are similar rivalries between religious orders. The Dominicans and the Franciscans don't get along and are united in their mutual dislike of the Jesuits. Monks may team up on generic priesthood. Unofficial coteries and official departments in the Vatican may support (or be made of) one or another faction. The failure of Catholic missionaries in Ming China has been attributed to the infighting, as the Jesuits' opponents managed to get the Pope to speak out against Jesuit attempts to accommodate Chinese customs.
  • Invoked by Sears/Kmart CEO Eddie Lampert. His firm belief in Objectivism - the belief that people perform best when acting selfishly - has led him to pit individual Sears and Kmart stores against each other in a battle for company resources. This, along with some of his other quirks, has not been good for the company, to put it mildly. Bloomberg offers a long analysis on the matter.
  • The entire field of health care (at least in the United States) can often come across like a pack of siblings who are perpetually infighting. To wit:
    • According to many nurses, most doctors are over educated, overpaid, elitist egomaniacs who often lack any kind of common sense or interpersonal skills, who don't appreciate the hard and dirty work nurses do, whose first priority is feeding their own superiority complex, and often get in the way of nurses trying to take care of patients.
    • Conversely, a lot of doctors will never stop griping about nurses who think they know best despite having a fraction of the skills and knowledge that doctors do, (or at least that doctors believe they do) while missing the forest for the trees and sometimes being barely trained or competent.
    • Technicians of all stripes (whether we're talking about radiologic techs who take x-rays and other images, phlebotomists who draw blood and prepare other specimens like urine and stool for testing or laboratory techs who test those samples to see what is causing a patient's symptoms) will complain about both doctors and nurses and how they either screw up trying to do functions a technician should be doing, (for example, ask any phlebotomist about the lack of skill doctors and nurses have in drawing blood and you are guaranteed to get all kinds of horror stories about the needless pain and suffering caused by doctors and nurses who never mastered the art of handling needles and drawing blood) or otherwise make a technician's job harder. Additionally, techs may often brag that doctors and nurses know nothing without the tests that the techs run and the information it provides them. Needless to say, those doctors and nurses take a very dim view of this attitude.
      • Just to add onto the above three categories, there are additional divisions based on field and specialties of particular healthcare workers.
    • Support staff of all kinds, (receptionists, coders, billing specialists, etc.) get blamed for all kinds of screw ups from all of the above groups, and dish out plenty of acidic comments about them as well, with the main one being that every doctor, nurse, and tech often fall into being a Know-Nothing Know-It-All.
    • One of the few things that all of them will ever agree on is that the various corporations running health care and the high ranking people like hospital board members, or people with fancy titles like Chief of Medicine are Obstructive Bureaucrats who make the job harder and get in the way of proper treatment due to greed and just generally being what the military would call a REMF. (Rear Echelon Mother Fucker)
  • In large companies, conflict between the Engineering and Marketing departments is a common enough phenomenon that there have been studies dedicated to figuring out what's going on and how to keep the departments from sabotaging each other. The problem is that the two departments see the process from completely different ends; engineers ask "what can we build?" while marketers ask "what can we sell to the customers?" Accordingly, it's not uncommon for each department to try to meddle with the other, usually to the detriment of the company. You don't want engineering decisions driven by marketers who have no idea how the product will actually be built or work, but by the same token, you don't want your marketers forced to sell a technically-brilliant product that no one wants.
    • IT also tends to not get along with other departments — primarily because, as The IT Crowd and r/TalesFromTechSupport will show you, the IT people are underfunded and neglected, while sales, marketing and/or management will make things worse (typically by promising things IT can't/won't do, not knowing how to work any form of technology, being assholes, or most commonly all three).
  • In any company with multiple shifts that generally don't interact with one another professionally, it's not uncommon for them to blame each other when something doesn't work right. Examples include:
    • At Amazon's robotic-storage facilities, it's not uncommon for one shift to spot a problem, and not know how it happened. This is especially true with the amnesty crew. Problems found by a night shift AA may have been a result of something done by someone on day shift... or so the blame will likely be placed.
    • Night shift nurses may blame day shift nurses for anything that happens to patients, and vice-versa. "The patient was fine when we handed them off to you, what happened?" This may apply to anything, even when it's non-life-threatening.
    • Ramp workers at airports may have this now and then, due to the wild schedules some companies operate on, it's possible for two shifts to cover the same plane (one covering arrival, one covering departure), with additional shift changes possible in the baggage area between the two. If you've ever wondered how it's possible your luggage could've gotten lost... wonder no more...
  • This is a significant part of what led to Sega dropping out of the video game console race. Sega of Japan and Sega of America were constantly headbutting due to the fact that SoJ couldn't market the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive as well as SoA. This led to a number of problems, including a purposely-botched Sega CD launch, the snubbing of Sony by SoJ that led to the creation of the PlayStation solely because Sony talked to SoA first, and part of the reason why the Saturn failed. See Right Hand Versus Left Hand for more of this.
  • When a street gang becomes a loosely connected network of individual "sets", this is bound to happen, as the Crips can testify.
  • The expression "Tell it to the Marines" (i.e. "pull the other one") is truncated from the original, "Tell it to the (Royal) marines, the sailors won't believe you!". In other words, marines will fall for what sailors can tell is false.
  • In construction projects, there's always a rivalry between the architect and the engineer. The architect is usually hired to not only design the building, but to make it as aesthetically pleasing as possible and following the whims of the project owner. On the other hand, it's the engineer's job to make sure the building can actually be feasibly built and and not collapse at the slightest breeze. This will sometimes cause friction between the two sides, with the architects complaining that engineers are set in their ways and afraid of change, making them unimaginative, while engineers will complain that architects have their head in the clouds and just draw up whatever comes to mind without devoting a single thought to whether their design is physically possible or not.

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