The pharaoh headed Egypt's armed forces as commander-in-chief. As the warrior king he led a highly organised and professional standing army and navy. Tactics and strategies were decided upon by the pharaoh, in consultation with his war council. During the time of Thutmosis III there appears to have been only two army divisions: Amun based in Thebes and Ra based in Heliopolis.
Each division numbered approximately five thousand troops. Divisions were then organised into smaller units of approximately two hundred and fifty soldiers who were commanded by a standard bearer. A group of "shock troops" known as the Braves of the King served as the pharaoh's personal bodyguard.
The highly disciplined infantry or mesha was the largest group and gave Egypt an advantage over its enemies such as the Mitanni. These infantry units were composed of spearmen, archers, axe-bearers, clubmen and slingers. Many foot soldiers lacked adequate armour; some were even without shields.
Within the infantry there were three main groups of soldiers: the elite first class warriors called the braves, the experienced soldiers and the new recruits of whom many were conscripts.
The elite of the army were the charioteers or sennyw. Charioteers backed up the infantry by scouting and protecting the foot soldiers from enemy chariot attack. Each chariot was drawn by a pair of horses and was manned by a driver and a fighter armed with spear, bow and arrows.
The auxillary troops
Medjay troops from Nubia were first used in Egypt as mercenaries against the Hyksos. The Medjay and other foreign recruits from vassal states such as Libya became indispensable to the New Kingdom army.
The navy was first used in combined land and sea campaigns against the Hyksos. It was primarily a transport unit carrying troops and supplies to...