In my alternative history story, taking place at the end of the 20th century, one country has an army with platoons of airborne scouts. But unlike modern special forces they don't use combat knives as side-arms, but combat axes. Like this one:
So, question is: why do they use them instead of combat knives? Is there any advantage?
My ideas are:
- Traditions (maybe the ancestors of these soldiers were lumberjacks)
- When you have to drop in forested areas an axe can be much more useful to chop wood, make shelters, including long-lived shooting points, or traversing young forest areas.
- There was a Soviet Union soldier who captured a Nazi tank using an axe during World War II
I know that in close-quarter combat killing with a knife is usually faster; you can kill with a single well-placed jab, and an axe requires space to make a swing. An axe is also harder to conceal. But the main soldier's weapon is an automatic rifle, not a knife or axe.
UPD: As Nex Terren mentioned, an axe, like a shovel, can be used as entrenching tool. Furthermore, Soviet Army used small sapper shovels:
Soviet Spetsnaz units had advanced training with the MPL-50, which they mostly used not for entrenching, but for close quarters combat. The spade is well balanced, which allows it to be used as a throwing weapon.
So using axe not just as a tool but also as a last-chance melee and throwing weapon looks possible.