Talk:Military tactics

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Requested move[edit]

The following discussion is an archived debate of the proposal. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on the talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.

The result of the debate was to move this page

Tannar vandalized this page, i cannot fix it...Admin help! 00:09, 21 November 2006 (UTC)

Military tacticMilitary tactics — This is about the subject of tactics, not about a tactic. Michael Z. 2005-12-28 17:32 Z


Add *Support or *Oppose followed by an optional one-sentence explanation, then sign your vote with ~~~~
  • Support—my request. Michael Z. 2005-12-28 17:34 Z
  • support, totally non-controversial. --Irpen 17:35, 28 December 2005 (UTC)
  • Support. Olessi 19:52, 29 December 2005 (UTC)
  • Support. -ryan-d 05:13, 30 December 2005 (UTC)
  • support, totally non-controversial. Gronky 13:14, 31 December 2005 (UTC)


The above discussion is preserved as an archive of the debate. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section on this talk page. No further edits should be made to this section.


The current article seems to get a couple of things not quite right:

"Military tactics is the collective name for methods of engaging and defeating an enemy in battle."

I think tactics is a subject, not simply the plural form of the noun tactic.

"In current military thought, tactics comprise the operational use of forces in a particular combat situation."

Are not tactical, operational, and strategic the three discrete levels of military thinking? See operational art, operational warfare, military strategy Michael Z. 2006-01-1 18:36 Z

Yes, I agree. I'll make a minor change to that effect.RDT2 14:05, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

What's missing?[edit]

When I look at the list of military tactics, I see a good candidate for what could be included on this page. Each of the sections on the listing page could easily be a separate discussion on the military tactics page, expanding on the subject according to the list content. Why keep them separate? — RJH (talk) 16:20, 20 August 2006 (UTC)

I believe this article is in fact to much like a list. There’s already a list of military tactic page. If I want to know what a specific military tactic is, I’m going to go on that page. This should be a general explication of what a Military tactic is. I know it would be much shorter, but right now it is way too descriptive and as no guiding line. It would be interesting to have a description of the word tactical as an adjective (ex: Tactical vest, tactical light, tactical team etc). What make such object Tactical?

for Overwhelming Force, it can also be applied if the attacker is able to mobilize or shift his forces to a point faster than his counterpart can response (something the German seem to do very well in attack was mobility). it therefore requires either superior numbers or superior speed. 16:39, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

UMT: Hit and Run[edit]

The last paragraph just doesn't feel right:

"While many people do not realize this, hit and run tactics are very useful for armies of large nature also."

Doesn't seem quite neutral; maybe reworded to:

"Though not obvious, hit and run tactics can be very useful for armies of large nature also."

However, I must take issue with the following:

"...small groups of raiders with demolitions and other "exotic" weaponry (such as Punji sticks) can destroy well fortified positions..."

The use of explosives is fine, but how is placing sharpened sticks around a stronghold going to defeat it for you? It appears the previous editor doesn't understand what a Punji stick actually is - it would limit the enemies' movement outside of their defensive positions, but the point of a defensive stronghold is a position that you remain within. Other 'exotic methods' I could suggest for inclusion here would be 'shoot and scoot' bombardment with small, man-portable mortars, sniping of officers and defensive personnel in general to reduce defensive readiness (they're busy hiding instead of manning the ramparts), or even undermining via tunnels.

Anyhow, before I just step right in and revise this, I'd like to get other people's ideas and opinions - whaddy'all think? Empath 21:00, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

Yes, please do revise it. The Punji stick comment struck me as inappropriate as well, but I'm not versed enough to be able to replace it with something more productive. As I try to point out below, the article is full of these type of inaccuracies, really driving its quality down to anyone with even basic knowledge. An article shouldn't simply assert "can destroy" but should detail how the use of tactics would actually make a difference. Otherwise, it's just saying, basically, that 'tactics exist for guerilla warfare' - not very insightful. Tofof 16:29, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Cleanup needed[edit]

A request was put on the WP:Cleanup page to remove the 2nd person, so I've done that, though the tone problems also discussed there are still very present. I'm willing to help if we come to a consensus on how to solve the article's tone problems. -KingPenguin 15:07, 25 March 2007 (UTC)

As best as I can determine, the tone feels so wrong because it is very informal. Most of this article's information is very basic, there's no 'expert' voice anywhere in it. Phrases like "second to encirclement", "he or she" (in reference to 'the defender'), use of the plural "they", and the reliance on citing a single 'famous' example for each subject all make it read like a high-school essay, not an encyclopedia article. In reviewing further, I'd assert that there's an overuse of simple declarative statements without further elaboration (e.g. "These tactics are also called 'Guerrilla Tactics'.") as well as an overuse of the verb "be", especially in the conditional "can be" tense ("can be especially effective" "can also be used" "It could be said that" appear in just one four-sentence section) The reliance on "can be" weakens the entire article. Tofof 16:37, 2 May 2007 (UTC)

Did some General write this? It's pretty opinionated Samrsharma 18:14, 24 May 2007 (UTC)

"break" is misspelled consistently in the pictured. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:59, 3 May 2009 (UTC)

Dreadful page in need of radical action[edit]

This really is a terrible page. Many of the items listed are not genuine tactics at all - just because it's "a good idea" to surround the enemy doesn't make it a tactic. There is no single "line tactic". The article lacks any foundation in history or military science.

Given that tactics change over time and with differences in weapons and situations, no single article is going to be able to list them all. If this article is to exist, it should be a general discussion of the nature and purpose of tactics. Specifics need to go in more specific articles, eg Napoleonic infantry tactics or World War I Artillery Tactics. Cyclopaedic 19:17, 26 October 2007 (UTC)

I've read the article again and I can't stand it. The introduction is pretty good, but it then degenerates into a list of "good ideas" that make a mockery of the subject. The article would be better if this material (which is entirely unreferenced) were removed, so I'm going to delete it. Cyclopaedic 19:48, 9 November 2007 (UTC)

supressive fire[edit]

Is suppresive fire really a tactic. At best it is a technique, which when combined with other techniques, might constitute a portion of a tactic.

Suppressive fire is a technique used to keep someone's head down. By itself, e.g. without movement or destructive fire it achieves little.

In my opinion tactics have a dynamic element, an element of movement, mere application of fire by itself is not imo a tatic.

Or am I too much a slave to my national (Australian) doctrine in this judgement? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 03:57, 6 November 2007 (UTC)

Article revised?[edit]

Reading the above comments, I was mystified to some extent. Has the original article been completely redone since the last entry in the debate, or..?

Anyways, as it stands now, the article does little other than to clarify the hierarchy of military planning somewhat. I would've liked some words on the concerns of the three levels, if for nothing else, then to have somewhere to point my thumb: ("Look, we're talking tactics, right? You're on the operational level, there... And Wiki says so, too!")  ;)

Something to the effect of: "Tactics have the most limited scope of the three levels of planning and execution: If strategy defines the goal and OF the means, then tactics defines the method by which these means are applied to achieve that goal."

If that makes any sense. Smolk (talk) 01:52, 30 December 2008 (UTC)

References? Sources? Citations?[edit]

Hi all, IMHO this is an important article as it defines a key concept in military doctrine. However, I was unable to find verifiable references in it, and even less, relevant inline citations. I'll add the appropriate tag to facilitate the task of referencing it; and will try to find sources myself.
I'll also try to give a bit of structure to the article, so it's more "readable".
Kind regards, DPdH (talk) 06:35, 24 April 2009 (UTC)

This pagespace deserves some wikilove, agreed. BusterD (talk) 12:13, 24 April 2009 (UTC)


this page is awesome, good work everyonemakeswell 14:18, 9 April 2010 (UTC) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Makeswell (talkcontribs)

Redirection of "Tactical" to this page?[edit]

Hello - The name "Tactical" is currently being used by the page Tactical, which is for an album by a death metal band called World Under Blood. I posed the question on the album's article's talk page of whether we should rename that page to "Tactical (album)" or something like that, and have the phrase "Tactical" redirect to this page, which is what I believe the majority of WP users are intending when they use that phrase. Any thoughts on this? KConWiki (talk) 12:37, 29 June 2013 (UTC)

I am cleaning up some of these now, but here is an example of an instance where an article about a military operation inadvertently linked to the article for the album. KConWiki (talk) 12:42, 29 June 2013 (UTC)

"Depth" or "Level"?[edit]

Recent changes have removed many uses of "level" when talking about tactical, operational, and strategic, and replaced them with "depth", or even "depths of situational awareness". AFAIK, modern sources use "tactical level" far more times than "tactical depth" and such. Also, I see no inherent clarity of "depth" over "level". Comments? Pinging Crock81. --A D Monroe III (talk) 21:44, 8 August 2016 (UTC)

IMO the usage of these terms is making nonsense of the paragraph. Also, the word 'depth' itself has important tactical and operational meanings so it should not be used here in a different sense. Yes, please, go back to the tactical LEVEL etc. DMorpheus2 (talk) 14:04, 10 August 2016 (UTC)
Okay, I've reverted for now while we discuss, per WP:BRD. There were many changes combined into that one series of edits which didn't rely on "depth". I've attempted to salvage and expand on two of them, here and here. --A D Monroe III (talk) 17:13, 10 August 2016 (UTC)
A D Monroe III, just because 'military sources' use LEVEL does not mean they are right.
The earliest reference to "level of war" I can Google is in Strategy and History, by Edward Luttwak, 1985. As it happes I do know that the US Army was made aware of the operational domain from writings by Richard Simpkin (British Army) who translated from Russian.
If you Google the Glossary of Soviet Military Terminology: English-Russian, Russian-English, by United States. Dept. of the Army, 1955, you will not find "operational level" there.:::
It pops up Réalités (French magazine) in 1960, but this was more a travel periodical than a military publication. The next occurence is in in Segev's La Guerre de six jours, opération "Drap roug." - Page 252, but Segev is not a native French speaker, and reference was to the purge of the Syrian forces officer corps, the better French word being echelon. The next French reference is clearly referring to American personnel, "Environ 25 militaires américains de niveau opérationnel reçurent leur formation à Bletchley." is from 1984.
In Russian the question "на каком уровне ведутся" "at what level is the conduct of" combat operation does not refer to altitude, but headquarters, i.e. what is the level of authority at which decisions are taken for specific planning executions. Here the Russian semantic and cultural context are required, because in Russian the 'level' refers to nothing more than an organisational chart posted on a board in every Soviet headquarters above battalion! Often the chart 'level' referred to the physical office location 'level' in the building!
What does "operational level" mean in English?
Are you undoing my edits because you want to conform to meaningless jargon, or because you want to inform the reader?
In the English language 'level' properly refers only to altitude.
The meaning of level as "a position on a scale of amount, quantity, extent, or quality" is meaningless when applied to strategy, operational, or tactical employment of military force.
Read here for example.
Depth is exactly what sources MEAN when they say 'level' because invariably they refer to movement and general logistic thinking expressed in time/space, and not quantity or quality. Extent is another possible synonym to depth. Strategic in general refers to movement of resources to the operational staging areas. From there resources seek to achieve "operational reach" until they reach the tactical staging areas just outside of the depth of tactical zone where the resources can be subjected to indirect and direct enemy fire. What is the 'level' of fire at the "tactical level"? What is the flight duration at the "operational level"? How fast do the strategic rail assets need to travel to move from A to B at the "strategic level"? In all cases the movement and observation represents 'depth of vision' enhanced as it is by many different assets in modern force structures. SOME of these assets DO operate at specific altitudes above the sea level. They have OPERATING LEVELS as do all air vehicles. Submirsible vehicles also have OPERATING LEVELS below the surface. There are no 'operational levels'. Nor is there a tactical 'level', or strategic 'level' unless one refers to office locations of the people in the strategic decision-making echelon of command.
EDIT FOR MEANING, not Google-statistics. Its supposed to be an encyclopaedic article, not a statistical representation of literature survey.
I think the protocol was to discuss before reverting edits because I think it was obvious that my contribution was not whimsical.Crock81 (talk) 04:36, 18 August 2016 (UTC)

In the US Army and in most historical works I have (US english language for the most part) the correct term here is 'level'. It has absolutely nothing to do with 'altitude'.
"Depth" refers to terrain/organizational areas, and so could be very confusing in the way you want to use it. There is a concept of tactical depth, operational depth and strategic depth that are related to terrain and (closely related) organizational responsibility.
That at least is the US usage. Depth and level are related but not synonymous.
Regards, DMorpheus2 (talk) 12:12, 18 August 2016 (UTC)
'Level' is a correct term for what?
"The commander first selects his operational objectives, which may also be initial strategic objectives. He next selects his intermediate operational objectives, possibly key ground but more probably resources such as airfields, or enemy C3 foci, delivery means and depth forces, which may obligingly be sitting on key ground. He then studies the defender's layout and the ground immediately beyond the obstacle. The spatial relationship between the obstacle, the rear of the main defended zone and the intermediate operational objectives gives him a feel for the line at which he reaches 'operational depth'. This is the depth from which he must launch any move aimed directly at operationally significant success or at forcing the enemy to react at operational level." (Simpkin, Red Armour, 1984) Simpkin goes on to say in the Appendix A that "At its simplest, 'operational' defines a level between 'tactical' and strategic', say from division or corps up to army group (Russian 'front') but excluding theatre headquarters." He goes on to say that he "...distinguishes an 'operational from a (tactical-level) 'battle' or 'engagement' in the scope of its effect., and "...the concept 'operational' to be an indispensable element in the theory of 'movement of masses'." (ibid., p.229) Finally, in Appendix B Simpkin sights the "...Soviet concept of operational depth"(original bolding, p.232), and all agree that the concept of 'operational' was borroed into NATO doctrines from the Soviet writings via people like Simpkin and Glantz, the latter a colonel at US Army War College, Carlisle in the late 70s-early 80s. Richard Simpkin passed away in 86, but I'm happy to ask Glantz if need be.
All this reference to depth, spatial relationships and relationships between headquarters, scopes of effect and movement of mases refers to distances, not levels. In a military force's deployment to a theatre a higher headquarters is not said to be "on a level" 50km away. 'Level' clearly refers to a schematic representation of hierarchies on a graphic such as an organisation chart, not an actual military concept outside altitude for air forces or depth below sea level for naval forces. The term has just been badly and copiously misused by writers more focused on the 'operational' than the accompanying noun.
Depth of field and level are not even related! Depth of focus more readily describes the strategic, operational and tactical perception Depth perception by various echelon officers within their Field of view, the tactical view being clearest and in greater focus, hence the technological race to offer higher-echelon headquarters (often located in below ground level structures!) greater situational awareness by use of airborne assets, most recently remotely piloted high altitude drones.
Wikipedia is not a US DoD publication, and does not need to conform to official DoD terminology, particularly given this is revised almost annually.
I insist it is a confusing and meaningless use of the word, introduced perhaps by non-English background writers.
The reason I'm insistent is because 'operational' is a dynamic concept, and reflects time/space reltionships for planning purposes where the authorities of command may or may not be co-located with the force in question. Use of 'level' confuses this, and needlessly and rigidly fixates on a 'level', denying the infusion of dynamic language into the conceptual nerrative. 'Level' is surplus to conceptual requirements.

Crock81 (talk) 02:31, 20 August 2016 (UTC)

Our opinions on the meaning of words are not very relevant in WP. It's true we don't have to follow DoD terminology, but we do have to follow the dominate terminology of our RSs. In this case, that follows DoD. Long-winded reasoning on why that terminology isn't precise doesn't influence how readers "should" understand it. It might be helpful to add something to the article on other terminology used by a minority of RSs, but it cannot go in the lede, per WP:UNDUE. But before we do even that, we'd first need a list of those differing RSs to evaluate them together, not walls of text. --A D Monroe III (talk) 15:14, 20 August 2016 (UTC)