I envision a scenario where a government, or some other entity, creating armies and sending them into the field. Some event or situation comes up, and the government is now completely bereft of any capacity to provide for the armies in the ways that governments do: materiel, intelligence, coordination, or even orders.

The government's solution - not to disband the units - but in a final communique to order the armies to provide for themselves. These armies are still armies, but they have no top-level management. They are conceptually "orphaned" or - something.

One might say "the (army|division|unit) was ____" or "When the _____ occurred" "when we had the ____".

I'm flexible.

Your suggestions are appreciated.

  • 4
    Look up on Wikipedia the 1861 "Feed and Forage" act, which (to summarize probably partly incorrectly) allows U.S. military units to incur expenditures for immediate needs if they can't be provided for in the usual way. You'll get some ideas there. They're "cut loose"--on their own.
    – Xanne
    Jun 13, 2017 at 9:03
  • Maybe they have been 'disowned'.
    – user147593
    Jun 13, 2017 at 10:24
  • Sounds like defunded. Jun 13, 2017 at 11:19
  • Devolution (of power, not of the army) comes close, but I prefer @Xanne's cut loose.
    – Lawrence
    Jun 13, 2017 at 11:24
  • If you want something formal, it sounds like privatisation. The army was privatised. Unfortunately, that would normally indicate a structured process, which this doesn't seem to be. I like cut loose too, but perhaps also cut off, abandoned or defunded? Jun 13, 2017 at 11:49

1 Answer 1


"The (army|division|unit) was left to its own devices."

leave to (one's) own devices: To force (someone) to cope or manage without assistance.

American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. S.v. "left to their own devices." Retrieved June 13 2017 from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/left+to+their+own+devices

  • Yeah! This is absolutely an answer to my question. I was more hoping for something that would fit in one of my examples. I don't suppose there's a single word for this?
    – spenserb
    Jun 14, 2017 at 8:03

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.