FLYING COLUMN, in military organization, an independent corps of troops usually composed of all arms, to which a particular task is assigned. It is almost always composed in the course of operations, out of the troops immediately available. Mobility being its raison d'être, a flying column is when possible composed of picked men and horses accompanied with the barest minimum of baggage. The term is usually, though not necessarily, applied to forces under the strength of a brigade. The "mobile columns" employed by the British in the South African War of 1899-1902, were usually of the strength of two battalions of infantry, a battery of artillery, and a squadron of cavalry - almost exactly half that of a mixed brigade. Flying columns are mostly used in savage or guerrilla warfare.
Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)