List of military tactics
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|Outline of war|
This page contains a list of military tactics.
- Identification of objectives: Also referred to as 'Selection and Maintenance of the Aim'; Tactics should be directed to achieve a particular outcome such as the capture of a hill, a successful disengagement from an advancing enemy, or merely causing a greater proportional loss to the enemy than to your own force (attrition). Once an aim is identified, time, resources and effort are expended to achieve it; therefore, these are wasted if the aim is frequently changed. By way of an operational/strategic level of example, consider Hitler's frequent shift of focus in 1941 in the invasion of the Soviet Union; constantly shifting resources from one operation to another; when he might have done better to remain focused on the capture of Moscow first.
- Force concentration A blade is edged so that it lands with more energy per square centimeter than an equally sized blunt object. Concentration of effort is a fighting force's edge. Once an aim is identified, earmark enough resources to achieve it and focus them on the task.
- Exploiting prevailing weather. This is not one of the stated principles of war, but is a good habit. Many of the most successful attacks in the First World War: Vimy Ridge, Amiens or the opening of the German March offensive of 1918 began - mostly coincidentally - in fog or a snow storm. The Japanese carrier groups sent to attack Pearl Harbor and Midway advanced whenever possible behind a storm front, as the bad weather cut down on the chance of detection.
- Exploiting night: Again, this is not a principle of war, but a temporary advantage of technology in the last 40 years. Western troops, in particular, have been well-equipped with night vision equipment.
- Maintenance of reserves: Again, in many national armies’ "Principles of War", this is not listed, except perhaps generally under the heading of 'Flexibility'. The maintenance of a reserve force allows a tactician to exploit new opportunities, or react quickly to reverses and unexpected developments. Typically, most commanders keep about a quarter of the forces back in reserve for this function - a battalion might keep a company back, the brigade might keep a battalion back, etc.
- Economy of force: A common principle of war; the attentive commander knows that his troops, equipment and supplies must be husbanded and used carefully, only if there is a good chance of success.
- Force protection: Another component is the principle of security. A military unit or formation must always have sentries or reconnaissance deployed, specialized weapons against specific attacks - such as anti-aircraft defences today - must always be carefully sited and available, even if halted for only a short period, defensive measures should be taken.
- Force dispersal: This is not a principle of war, but is a very necessary practice in modern circumstances where contemporary firepower is so overwhelming. It is interesting to consider that in a kilometer wide battlefield, the Classic Greeks or Romans might have stuffed over 8,000 men in a front line formation, Wellington would consider half that number crowded; a World War One Army would deploy 1,000 men, and today's forces might use less than 100.
- Military camouflage: Camouflage is an ancient measure designed to deceive opponents and protect one's forces. Outlines have to be broken up, textures disguised, and reflective surfaces dulled. An example of this is the ghillie suit. Camouflage techniques also extend beyond the visible spectra that the human eye normally uses, as the same principles now need to work in infrared light, against starlight scopes and radar frequencies.
- Deception: Sun Tzu said that all war is based on deception back in the 4th century BC; a wise commander takes measures to let his opponent only react to the wrong circumstances. Diversionary attacks, feints, decoys; there are thousands of tricks that have been successfully used, and still have a role in the future.
- Perfidy: Soldiers tend to have assumptions and ideas of rules and fair practices in combat, but those combatants who raise surrender flags to lure their attackers in the open, or who act as stretcher bearers to deceive their targets, tend to be especially disliked.
- False flag: An ancient ruse de guerre - in the days of sail, it was permissible for a warship to fly the flag of an enemy, so long as it properly hoisted its true colors before attacking. Wearing enemy uniforms and using enemy equipment to infiltrate or achieve surprise is possible.
- Electronic countermeasures
- Use and improvement of terrain
- Multiple Axis of Movement
- Fire Attacks: Reconnaissance by fire is used by apprehensive soldiers when they suspect the enemy is lurking nearby. Basically, fire into likely enemy positions and see if anyone returns fire, or otherwise reveal themselves.
Small unit tactics
- Infantry Minor Tactics
- Hull-down (in armored warfare)
- Infiltration tactics
- Marching fire
- Fire and Movement, also known as leapfrogging
- Reconnaissance Patrol
- Fighting Patrol
- Standing Patrol (OP/LP)
- Linear Ambush
- 'L' Ambush
- Area Ambush
- Highland charge
- Trench raiding
- Peaceful Penetration
- Rapid dominance
- Blitzkrieg: A misnomer, usually associated with specific weapons systems (such as the use of tanks and aircraft) rather than as a technique. Blitzkrieg could be also referred to as the "Expanding Torrent" (Liddell Hart), Tukhachevsky's and the post 1960 Soviet theorists of 'Deep Battle.' Essentially, the ideas are the same. These include utilizing speed, manoeuvre, and the shock of sudden violence throughout the entire depth of an enemy's defence to create conditions of psychological shock in the minds of their troops and commanders. The idea is to beat them mentally, as a prelude to their destruction or surrender. Deep penetrations by raiding formations - such as a Soviet Operational Manoeuvre Group (OMG) or a battalion of air cavalry - coupled with disruptive techniques and air superiority wrest the initiative away from the enemy, keep them off balance and unable to react faster than one can exploit, and prevent them from establishing effective defences.
- Carpet bombing: The usage of massive bomber squadrons to annihilate an enemy city. While useful in destroying industrial might and wrecking the enemy's ability to wage war, it can often fail to impact civilian morale. During various stages of World War II, air raids against British and German cities became as routine for civilians as the weather.
- Human wave attack
- Shock tactics
- Swarming (Military)
- Planned attack
- Use of Supporting Fire
- Indirect Fire Support
- Base of fire
- Flying wedge (used by Alexander the Great)
- Armoured spearhead
- Hammer and anvil
- Inverted wedge
- the "refuse" (cavalry formation)
- Frontal assault
- Holding attack - to hold the enemy in position while other offensive or defensive activity takes place
- Penetration or infiltration
- Pincer movement - An army assaults an enemy by attacking two sides at opposite locations, often planning to cut off the enemy from retreat or additional support in preparation for annihilation.
- Pincer Assault - An army assaults an enemy force by sending troops to the enemy's flanks and by attacking their front attacking three areas at once, often planning to cut off any retreat or support as well as confusing the enemy in preparation for annihilation.
- Flanking maneuver
- Interdiction - Severing or disrupting lines of communication and supply
- Control MSR (Main supply routes)
- Envelopment tactics
- Rapid deployment
- Capturing key points
- Airborne operations
- Air Mobile operations
- Amphibious operations
- Motorized operations
- Tank desant
- Mechanized operations
- Armored operations
- Raiding: A small team is inserted deep behind enemy lines to capture a high valued individual or destroy a vital enemy installation then extracted before the enemy can respond.
- Preemptive Strike
- Disrupting Communications
- Basic Principles
- Fighting withdrawal
- Counter attack
- Delaying Defence
- Break contact
- Hedgehog defence
- military bottleneck
- Deception and misdirection
- Use of surprise