- This article is about the military of the Fire Nation. For other similar uses, see Military (disambiguation).
The military of the Fire Nation is the unified armed forces of the Fire Nation. It was the world's most powerful military during the Hundred Year War, and saw many glorious victories in battle throughout the span of the conflict. However, it also committed horrible war crimes such as the Air Nomad Genocide.
The Fire Lord is the commander-in-chief of the Fire Nation military and delegates power through a select few generals and admirals of the army and navy, respectively. The War Minister develops and provides technology and equipment for the Fire Nation military and reports directly to the Fire Lord. At least prior to the Hundred Year War's end, female Fire Nation soldiers mainly served in the homeland.
The Fire Nation military is comprised of a large number of personnel, with an extensive propaganda campaign used to convince people to volunteer. The nation's army is the second largest in the world in terms of numbers, after the Earth Kingdom, and it maintains the largest navy. The Fire Nation military also possesses advanced and powerful military equipment, giving it huge military capabilities and power projection solidifying itself as the most powerful military force in the world. The only known force capable enough to match the Fire Nation military head-on was the military of the Earth Kingdom, though it very often experienced major losses against the Fire Nation.
- Main article: Fire Army
Fire Nation's army, officially called the "Fire Army", is comprised of both nonbending and firebending soldiers. For much of its history, it included both male as well as female soldiers, although the latter had become a small minority by the Hundred Year War's end. The army is very large and employs infantry, cavalry, and artillery.
The Fire Army traditionally emphasizes hard training, esprit de corps, aggressive strategies, and up-to-date technologies, making it capable of almost any military ground operation. As one of the most advanced ground warfare forces in history, the Fire Army was the first force in the world to use tanks on a large scale.
The Fire Army has played a major part in the Fire Nation's history. As standing force loyal to the Fire Lords, it initially kept the country's noble clans and their private militias in check. In the 3rd century BG, a Fire Army soldier named Rangi became Avatar Kyoshi's girlfriend, firebending trainer, and bodyguard.
The Fire Army was eventually used by Fire Lord Sozin and his successors Azulon as well as Ozai to conquer much territory during the Hundred Year War. In this conflict, the Fire Army proved to be the strongest army in the world, defeating the militaries of the other nations numerous times. Following the Hundred Year War's end, it was used by Fire Lord Zuko to protect the Fire Nation colony of Yu Dao amid the crisis surrounding the Harmony Restoration Movement.
By the time of the late Hundred Year War, the Fire Nation maintained the so-called "Domestic Forces" as territorial defense, to enforce the law in both the homeland and a few of the larger colonies, as well as to guard prisons. The majority of the Domestic Forces were women who usually did not serve on the front lines, although there were domestic servicemen as well. They also served to train new recruits for both the army and the navy, and as a result most of the military's forces are trained by high-level female firebenders. As a result of them acting as the Fire Nation's law enforcement agency, the Domestic Forces were also known as the "police force".
By the time of Avatar Kyoshi, domestic security in the Fire Nation was mostly entrusted to the noble clans' household troops. However, these were not loyal to the Fire Lords and often engaged in bloody feuds among each other instead of keeping the peace.
In 95 AG, the Domestic Forces secured the Fire Nation Capital during the celebrations surrounding Fire Lord Ozai's coronation.
By 100 AG, the Domestic Forces were charged with guarding villages, schools, factories, dockyards, and prisons, and essentially acted as a police force. They kept the population in line and were responsible for apprehending criminals, traitors, pirates and anyone who defies the will of the Fire Lord. Many of the higher officers were veterans from other branches of the military, and thus had significant front line experience and were highly trained.
The domestic army had several encounters with Team Avatar in the weeks following the conquest of the Earth Kingdom. They were first seen when a group of officers spotted Aang in his Fire Nation disguise. They thought that he was a student playing hooky, due to his wearing a school uniform recently stolen to replace his monk attire. They took him to a local Fire Nation school, where he was escorted to a classroom taught by Ms. Kwan. They later assisted the Headmaster when he raided Aang's secret dance party after another student told him about it. The guards tried to catch Aang, but the other students put similar headbands on to confuse them and help Aang escape. Katara saved the local village of Jang Hui from the domestic forces whose nearby factory was polluting the river on which the village was situated. She did this by posing as the village's spiritual guardian, the Painted Lady. Later on, the authorities of Fire Fountain City attempted to apprehend Toph after she used her earthbending to scam the city's local con men and dealers. They managed to capture both Toph and Katara in an attempt to lure in Aang so that an assassin could eliminate him on behalf of Prince Zuko.
On the day before the Day of Black Sun, General Shinu of the army reported to Fire Lord Ozai that earthbender rebellions were preventing total victory in the Earth Kingdom, so he advised sending domestic forces to aid the army overseas. This plan was rejected in favor of a plan to simply burn down the Earth Kingdom using Sozin's Comet.
The next day, the domestic army was called forth to defend the Fire Nation Capital in the attempted Invasion of the Fire Nation, led by Aang and his allies. The domestic army was badly beaten as the invaders destroyed dozens of tanks and forced the army to retreat when the eclipse occurred, rendering them powerless. However, as the eclipse passed and the invasion subsequently failed, the domestic army retaliated by deploying their air force and bombing the invasion force.
Finally, the domestic army attempted to prevent the traitorous Prince Zuko and his allies from escaping the Boiling Rock, the Fire Nation's most secure prison. This failed miserably when Mai stopped the guards from killing Zuko. When she and her friend Ty Lee betrayed Princess Azula, who was at the prison with them, they arrested the two girls and locked them away. They were released after the War's end.
These soldiers do not utilize the thick armor seen on front line soldiers, as few of the Fire Nation's enemies have ever managed to approach the homeland. Instead, these warriors only wear light armor with black shirts and pants underneath. Most of them wear headbands with various Fire Nation emblems on them, but Boiling Rock prison guards have been seen wearing helmets with golden visors as opposed to skull masks. Male warriors are fully clothed, but female soldiers wear shirts that expose their midriffs. Also, all warriors wear short sleeves. This light armor serves their policing duties better, allowing the pursuit of suspects without heavy armor slowing them down.
The color of shoulder and chest-plate armor also denotes the rank of an officer in ascending order: rusty red, gold trim and bright red trim.
Equipment and weaponry
The domestic army has access to almost all of the weapons and vehicles used by the front line forces, among them tanks, airships, warships, etc. A vehicle exclusive to the domestic army is the jet ski, a two-man water vehicle that can travel at fast speeds in order to intercept trespassing vessels. The defenses of the Fire Nation capital showed extensive use of ballistae that fired harpoons and explosive shells.
Nonbenders in the domestic army employ the use of swords and spears for basic defense.
Known commanding officers
As a result of the Fire Nation being an archipelago, its navy is a key part of its armed forces as it is required to project the Fire Nation's power and soldiers to foreign territories. The Fire Nation thus maintains a large standing navy. The navy is composed of hundreds of coal-powered, ironclad vessels, manned by firebenders as well as regular troops. Using these massive warships, the Fire Navy can launch incredible amphibious assaults, like the great siege of the Northern Water Tribe. The Fire Nation Navy is the largest and most powerful in the world, capable of dispatching over a hundred warships in larger operations.
The Fire Nation Navy is highly organized and stratified, with a clear hierarchy and efficient bureaucracy. All soldiers are expected to defer unquestioningly to their superiors. The navy's movements are coordinated by messenger hawk through various towers placed strategically throughout the ocean, and all towers are required to stay current on all navy movements.
At some point long before the life of Avatar Kyoshi, the Fire Navy was involved in some kind of conflict with the Earth Kingdom, causing the 22nd Earth King to ban it from entering the Eastern Sea.
By the late 4th century BG, the Fire Navy was considered the most powerful naval force on the world. It patrolled the waters around the Fire Islands, ensuring that no pirates plagued the Fire Nation. As a result, Earth Kingdom politican Jianzhu and his pupil Yun planned to sign a treaty with the mighty Fifth Nation pirate group which would redirect the corsairs against the Fire Nation, with both hoping that the Fire Navy could wipe out the criminals. Even though this plan did not succeed due to the pirates ambushing Yun's party instead of signing the treaty, the Fire Navy later assisted the Earth Kingdom in destroying the Fifth Nation's bases and freeing slaves held there. One village, however, became hard to track down, and the Fire Navy hunted down Chukagnak's splinter fleet in order to get them to give up the location of the missing villagers.
Before the Hundred Year War, Fire Lord Sozin massively expanded the already powerful Fire Navy to prepare for his quest of global domination. The Fire Nation consequently owed many of its victories in the century-long War with the Earth Kingdom and Water Tribes to its navy. It deployed thousands of firebenders to the front lines to fight in the land war against the Earth Kingdom and was capable of bombarding enemy coastlines as well as raiding defenseless settlements.
One of the navy's most notable achievements was its victory over the two Water Tribes. In the war's early stages, it inflicted a series of massive naval defeats on the tribes, forcing the Northern Water Tribe to retreat and limit itself to the defense of the North Pole, while the Southern Water Tribe became vulnerable to direct attacks. The Fire Navy consequently began a prolonged campaign against the Southern Tribe on Fire Lord Azulon's orders. In the opening stages, the navy repeatedly bombarded and raided the defenseless coastline of the South Pole, losing only a few ships to the valiant waterbenders. The Southern Raiders – a raiding group within the navy – were later deployed to capture all remaining waterbenders in the tribe, and their success resulted in the imprisonment of almost all Southern waterbenders. The tribe was left in ruins due to the actions of the navy.
Prince Zuko used his personal ship to hunt down the Avatar. However, his ship was among the weakest and smallest in the fleet, and was eventually destroyed in a failed attempt on his life staged by Admiral Zhao.
When Aang was in the Northern Water Tribe to learn waterbending, Zhao assembled a massive naval invasion force to destroy the Northern Water Tribe, and this fleet leveled much of the capital city and deployed hundreds of assault troops onto the shores. Aang's timely intervention, however, allowed he and the Ocean Spirit to merge and annihilate this fleet. The loss of Zhao's fleet proved to be an enormous defeat for the Fire Nation, but did little to slow the Fire Nation's war effort. However, the Fire Nation's interest in the Water Tribes waned.
Despite the loss of Zhao's fleet, the Fire Nation still clearly controlled Earth Kingdom waters and their ships prowled about within Ba Sing Se's vicinity.
During their journey across the Serpent's Pass to Ba Sing Se, Team Avatar and their allies were engaged by a single Fire Nation cruiser patrolling the local waters. However, Aang managed to damage this vessel and forced it to retreat. Shortly before Ba Sing Se fell, Chief Hakoda of the Southern Water Tribe and his men were charged with defending Chameleon Bay, a body of water that led directly to the city. They used tangle mines to ward off Fire Nation warships, thus preventing any means of attacking the city by water. One such engagement saw four Fire Nation warships fight Hakoda's warriors. The Southern warriors were successful in fighting these ships.
After Ba Sing Se fell to the Fire Nation, the Fire Nation sent troops with its massive fleets to occupy the city. The Fire Navy remained at sea, picking off the Fire Nation's enemies, and hundreds of vessels remained active on the seas.
Ships and weaponry
Ship types vary from huge vessels like those of the empire class, to smaller vessels such as Zuko's ship. These vessels serve many purposes, from ferrying and disembarking troops to providing bombardment with their catapults to creating blockades and transporting cargo.
The Fire Nation is a pioneer of warship design, using advanced metallurgy on all warships.
Most ships in the Fire Nation Navy have a heavy releasable bow at the front of the ship, which shares some characteristics with that of a real-life Icebreaker. As the bow also acts as a landing exit, it can be used to batter through walls to create a landing point for ground troops, as shown in raids on both the Northern and Southern Water Tribes.
Many of the ships vary in size and appearance to reflect its status and role. For example, Admiral Zhao's flagship had a large dragon on the hull during the Siege of the North. Princess Azula's royal sloop also had several spikes on its hull as well as a pagoda command tower or bridge.
All warships are equipped with semi-automatic trebuchets for attack and defense.
The Fire Nation Navy uses metal semi-automated trebuchets on all warships, operated by trebuchet operators. These engines work by setting a ball of coal in a shovel-like placement that is attached to a machine and held stationary with rope. The coal-ball is ignited and the rope is cut; this causes the bar holding the placement to fling over and toss the ignited coal-ball into the air. Fire Navy ships can also be armed with ballistae that fire harpoons.
The only named ship class is the empire-class battleship, a huge warship capable of carrying a crew of thousands. However, other unnamed ship classes are also seen, here with non-canon classes according to function:
- Empire-class battleship - Admiral Zhao's vessel was the huge flagship of the Fire Nation armada that attacked the Northern Water Tribe capital. Twice the length of a standard cruiser, it possessed an ornate bow resembling the head of a dragon.
- Fire Nation cruiser - The mainstay of the Fire Navy, these huge ships carry a large crew and armament. Some variants are armed with three trebuchets in a line, while others have five trebuchets. One cruiser was even seen armed with ballistae. The ships are steam-powered, with two smoke stacks and a massive command tower aft amidships. They have spike-shaped bows that can be used as rams and lowered to form ramps.
- Zuko's ship (outdated cruiser) - Zuko's ship, while fairly large in general terms, was small compared to standard cruisers (about half-size in all dimensions). It was an old ship from the early days of the Hundred Year War. This ship appears to be the same class as the shipwreck, the old Fire Navy ship stuck in ice on the South Pole. Zuko's ship was armed with a single catapult, rather than more modern trebuchets.
- Kayak - Some Fire Navy ships possess kayaks or small lifeboats deployable through a side hatch on the hull. Zuko used one of these ships to infiltrate the Northern Water Tribe.
- Prison ferry - Used to transport earthbending prisoners in the western colonies to the prison rig.
- River steamer - A metal, steam-driven river raft Zuko used first to chase Aang to the Avatar Temple on Crescent Island and in his hunt for the gang after they steal a waterbending scroll from some pirates. The pirates later commandeer this particular boat when their own sloop is taken by the Gang, and run both down a waterfall. Zuko's ship held at least this one steamer, and they may be standard issue in the Fire Navy.
- Riverboat - Admiral Zhao used a series of wooden riverboats to traverse through narrow rivers in his search for the traitor Jeong Jeong and the Avatar. All of these particular boats got destroyed by Zhao's reckless firebending, after some goading by Aang.
- Royal sloop - Azula's royal sloop was fast and large, complete with a highly ornate bow and a large pagoda-style conning tower. However, the ship seems more representative than made for actual fighting, probably relying more on an armed escort, as it is sleek, has no visible armaments and the house-like tower looks rather fragile. Fire Lord Ozai also possessed his own unique personal vessel, which was briefly seen before his departure to the Earth Kingdom prior to the arrival of Sozin's Comet. The ship appeared to be slightly larger than Azula's ship and again highly ornate. Like all Fire Nation vessels, it sports a large conning tower on a large base.
- Southern Raiders frigate - The Southern Raiders make use of this warship variant. Smaller and faster than the traditional Fire Nation ships, the Raiders' ships are perfect for attacking coastal villages. Their smaller size and improved maneuverability allow the ships to pull up close to the shore and surprise the enemy. One of their special technologies is a large set of dual paddle wheels used to propel these ships through the waters.
Known commanding officers
- Admiral Chan, leader of the Eastern Fleet
- Admiral Dalja Ro, founder of the Fire Nation Relief Fleet
- Admiral Jeong Jeong (prior to desertion)
- Admiral Liang, leader of the Western Fleet. He was reported to be in Ba Sing Se shortly after its capture, and also led Fire Navy forces in conquering the East Lake.
- Admiral Zhao, overall leader of the navy
- Captain Li
- Fire Navy officer
The Fire Nation was the first of the four nations to develop flying machines for military purposes; war balloons and airships. It should be noted that the war balloons were designed by the mechanist, an Earth Kingdom citizen, and that the airships were made using the balloons as a base. Being able to control the skies gave the Fire Nation an almost insurmountable advantage over its enemies.
For most of the course of the Hundred Year War, the Fire Nation was not known to have utilized any true air force against its enemies. However, after the battle for the Northern Air Temple, the Fire Nation acquired a war balloon, a hot air balloon designed by the mechanist, an Earth Kingdom inventor who the Fire Nation had pressed into service by designing weapons and technology. As stated by War Minister Qin, "This defeat is the gateway to many victories." Toward the end of the invasion of the Fire Nation, it was revealed that the Fire Nation had constructed many more war balloons which are now fueled by firebenders, as well as several massive metal airships.
The Air Force aided Azula in tracking down Team Avatar after Sokka and Zuko freed Hakoda, Suki, and Chit Sang from the Boiling Rock. After a short battle at the Western Air Temple, the team managed to escape on Appa.
The airships served a critical role in Ozai's plan to destroy the Earth Kingdom by harnessing the power of Sozin's Comet. Although the attack razed much of the western coastline, the airships were all captured or destroyed when Avatar Aang and his friends defeated Ozai and sabotaged the attack. This attack essentially destroyed the Fire Nation air force, as the bulk of its power had been invested in the airships. The air force was reconstituted after the war's end and employed to quickly transport members of the royal family such as Iroh and Fire Lord Zuko to important meetings.
Hot air balloons
- Main article: Hot air balloon
The Fire Nation hot air balloon, also called the war balloon, is a simple airborne vehicle comprised of a large red balloon with the Fire Nation insignia and a personnel gondola underneath. The balloon is fueled by a coal furnace set alight by a single firebender while a second firebender launches projectiles at air or ground-based forces.
- Main article: Fire Nation airship
Airships are massive aerial warships made of metal, with dozens of crew members. They are primarily used for bombing ground targets, and have dozens of small platforms from which firebenders can attack airborne enemies, and also defend the body of the ship. The airships float using large fuel cells on the bottom of the hull to heat the air inside. The airships played a large role in the last stages of the war, as they made up the battle force with which Ozai planned to burn down the Earth Kingdom during the passing of Sozin's Comet.
Known commanding officers
Special task forces
- Main article: Yuyan Archers
The Yuyan Archers are Colonel Shinu's highly skilled unit of archers, and are, according to Zhao, "capable of pinning a fly to a tree from one hundred yards away, without killing it".
- Main article: Royal Procession
The Imperial Firebenders are an elite group of firebenders dressed in unique armor serving to protect members of the Royal Family. They were banished by a paranoid Azula just before Sozin's Comet arrived, as she belived they could not be trusted and would eventually betray her.
- Main article: Rough Rhinos
The Rough Rhinos were an elite group of Fire Nation cavalry, founded by Colonel Mongke. There were five members of the group, each of whom carried a different specialized weapon. They were highly skilled and able to ride their komodo rhinos silently through the brush. After the Hundred Year War, the Rough Rhinos left the military to become mercenaries.
- Main article: Southern Raiders
The Southern Raiders are comprised of an elite force of vessels and soldiers tasked with launching the numerous raids on the Southern Water Tribe.
Their insignia is a sea raven and their uniforms are slightly different from conventional Fire Nation armor. Their helmets have red eye shields that extend to the sides with two spikes on each side in the resemblance of flames or wings and the armor is all black except for red outlining along the edges. The commander has a more intricate helmet in that he has no eye shield but has three red spikes extending outward, a curved red spike outlining the eyes, a black nose guard that extends down, spikes near the mouth, and finally spikes on the arm guards.
Their flagship is fairly advanced, with an unusually large conning tower. The goal of the Southern Raiders is to eliminate all the waterbenders from the Southern Water Tribe, as well as stealing supplies for the Fire Nation.
Known commanding officers
- Main article: Fire Nation Relief Fleet
The government committed to funding an official Relief Fleet in the early-mid 160s AG, after seeing Admiral Dalja Ro reroute their ships to aid a village where a volcano had erupted. The Relief Fleet is dispatched to deal with mine collapses, tsunamis, and earthquakes, and helps anyone in the world who needs their aid. Some civilians and citizens of other nations are also part of the fleet, as the admiral never turns down anyone who offers help.
The Fire Nation military operated many bases and garrisons throughout the homeland and Earth Kingdom during the Hundred Year War. These bases were led by high ranking officers of the Army and Navy.
- "All warfare is based on deception."
- ―A widely known Fire Nation proverb.
The Fire Nation military forces seem to favor a strategy that symbolizes their bending art. The Siege of the North showed that the Fire Nation uses heavy bombing with their fleets before overpowering the enemy with armored vehicles, heavy cavalry, and heavy infantry. After gaining a foothold the Fire Nation usually clears the area by advancing at great speeds with cavalry and tanks. After the first advancement, the Fire Nation military usually swarms over the area with infantry. Other strategies are not shown but they are known to make use of maneuver warfare and for encircling their enemy.
List of major engagements
- According to unverified information by the Avatar: The Last Airbender YouTube channel, the Fire Nation already possessed some kind of air force at the time of Fire Lord Sozin.