How well could 15 year olds fight in a war?

Theodoric

Ad Honorem
Mar 2012
3,029
Yötebory Sveriya
Soldiers with 15 years old, and less, had recently (in the last 50 years) been seen them in many wars around the world, such in Liberia, Serra Leone, Congo, Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia, Libya, Cambodia, or with the drug lords in Asia, and Latin America (Mexico, Colombia, Bolivia). And I am only talking bout some places that they were mostly used.
There's a lot of difference due to technological advancement. For instance, even a small child or very weak adults can easily kill someone with a gun. The same can't be said for a child in Roman-era melee combat.
 

Tulius

Ad Honorem
May 2016
6,557
Portugal
There's a lot of difference due to technological advancement. For instance, even a small child or very weak adults can easily kill someone with a gun. The same can't be said for a child in Roman-era melee combat.
Yes, but see the first part of post #17. Medieval period.
 
Sep 2012
1,222
Tarkington, Texas
Keep in mind Hitler Jugend was a special case. The SS could not conscript in Germany, but could do so in the German Populations in the occupied areas. Since German Youth was called up at 18 for Army Duty, the SS, Kreigsmarine and Luftwaffe could accept younger volunteers. The 17 year old class was a fairly large group of males. The Hitler Jugend encouraged its member to volunteer at 17, before the Army could draft them.

In the years that followed, the age of conscription went lower and lower. Officially the Germans drafted down to the age of 16. Those younger kids were part of the Volkstrum. Most German males went to school until 16, after which they applied for college prep schools or they became apprentices.

Looking back to my High School years, I entered at 14, was 5'8" and weighed 160 pounds. I was not large compared to the other football players. We had Running Backs bigger than me! Three of them went to LSU! My age class was a bit short. We were all well nourished and were put on a weight lifting program. The Army was drafting 18 year olds that did not do well in class. In school there were many smaller males. If you could be selective you could get a number of 17 and 18 year olds that could serve. I graduated at 17. I was still 5'8" and now weighed 190.

Back in Roman Times different peoples had different nutrition standards. Many tribes raised males to be warriors. Some allowed women to fight. In Gaul, the young men could serve as Javelin throwers and slingers. As they grew older and bigger, they graduated into Spearmen and took part of the Tribal Line.

These days some areas use Child Soldiers. The SKS and AK 47 are scaled small enough for children could use them. This interferes with a child's mental maturation and often ruins the person's body development. They are given drugs and alcohol and are encouraged to kill without mercy. This scars the young ones mental development.

Pruitt
 

betgo

Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
6,710
I agree that it is more practical in recent times, because sword fighting, throwing projectiles, and shooting arrows required strength.
 

Kirialax

Ad Honorem
Dec 2009
4,959
Blachernai
I realize that the title says "fight" but there a lot of jobs in a pre-modern army that do not require peak combat strength. Someone needs to pasture the baggage animals and cook food.
 

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,865
Florania
Keep in mind Hitler Jugend was a special case. The SS could not conscript in Germany, but could do so in the German Populations in the occupied areas. Since German Youth was called up at 18 for Army Duty, the SS, Kreigsmarine and Luftwaffe could accept younger volunteers. The 17 year old class was a fairly large group of males. The Hitler Jugend encouraged its member to volunteer at 17, before the Army could draft them.

In the years that followed, the age of conscription went lower and lower. Officially the Germans drafted down to the age of 16. Those younger kids were part of the Volkstrum. Most German males went to school until 16, after which they applied for college prep schools or they became apprentices.

Looking back to my High School years, I entered at 14, was 5'8" and weighed 160 pounds. I was not large compared to the other football players. We had Running Backs bigger than me! Three of them went to LSU! My age class was a bit short. We were all well nourished and were put on a weight lifting program. The Army was drafting 18 year olds that did not do well in class. In school there were many smaller males. If you could be selective you could get a number of 17 and 18 year olds that could serve. I graduated at 17. I was still 5'8" and now weighed 190.

Back in Roman Times different peoples had different nutrition standards. Many tribes raised males to be warriors. Some allowed women to fight. In Gaul, the young men could serve as Javelin throwers and slingers. As they grew older and bigger, they graduated into Spearmen and took part of the Tribal Line.

These days some areas use Child Soldiers. The SKS and AK 47 are scaled small enough for children could use them. This interferes with a child's mental maturation and often ruins the person's body development. They are given drugs and alcohol and are encouraged to kill without mercy. This scars the young ones mental development.

Pruitt
This is exactly why we are trying to discourage child and teenage soldiers as much as possible.
Under any standards, you are a little overweighted.
 

sparky

Ad Honorem
Jan 2017
5,692
Sydney
young boys of more than ten make excellent soldiers , while not as physically capable as fully grown men
they are nimble , have a great capacity to learn and can be molded in totally ruthless killers
they tend to be more responsive to authority , are naturally gregarious in group , crave recognition and have a great desire to over perform their peers
 

Edric Streona

Ad Honorem
Feb 2016
4,546
Japan
Since the concept of childhood was a bit more fluid in past times .... some cultures considered you a man at 12 or 13, it is not surprising that 15 to 18 year olds would be in combat. The bigger and older looking the boy the more likely he’d be considered combat worthy. I’d think it more likely they turn up in militia and levied troops instead of proffesional soldiers... who’d I think have the youngest ones “learning the trade” in camp.

In medieval warfare, squires would end up in combat and while the youngest boys were left in camp or the rear... I think we can assume longbowmen would all be fully grown adults... I doubt a teenager could draw a war bow.

I’m not an expert on medieval warfare however, 18-19th century is my area. Even then recruiting sergeants preferred to take boys under 20.... as they had longer shelf life. Over 25 was undesirable as they considered most likely to be “habitually dissipated and profligate characters, broken down gentlemen, discharged soldiers, deserters...”
In 1797 the 9th, 16th, 22nd, 34th, 55th and 66th regiments were given permission to recruit boys 13-18. In 1800 this permission was extended to the 4th, 52nd, 32nd and 45th regiments. Most of these recruits would not have been sent abroad for several years while the “boys” were allowed to grow into their roles. At Waterloo the 3/14th was comprised of about 585 men, 300 of which were 20 years or younger, the youngest private was 13 year old George Campbell who was only 5ft tall, it’s youngest Officer was the 15 year old Volunteer Charles Montegue Burrows.

however I know of no army in which such soldiers make up the majority as full grown men will always be fitter, stronger and preferred over children. The one exception being the Children’s Crusade of the 12 hundreds.... and that may not be true.
 
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