Talk:Pincer movement

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Pincer movements in modern history[edit]

The article does not have info on pincer movements in the first and second world wars. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Polysophia (talkcontribs) 14:53, 13 February 2010 (UTC)

I think "double envelopment" actually refers to a two-ring pincer movement, with the inner pair of pincers intended to stop the captured units' attempts to break out and the outer pair of pincers intended to stop any outside attemts to relieve the capture units.

It may also be worthwhile to illustrate the difference between single and double pincers, and mention that the single is dispreferred since it can rarely move fast enough to surround the target before the target slips out.

-- B.Bryant

yes Vera Cruz 13:07 Dec 15, 2002 (UTC)

Why was this page moved? There are two reasons why this move was wrong. Firstly: maneuver is an American English spelling. The British English spelling of the word is manoeuvre. Secondly: As it is more commonly known as a 'pincer movement' anyway, as a quick check on google will confirm. Mintguy 12:41 Dec 15, 2002 (UTC)

I moved it because the air force engages in pincer maneuvers-not movements-and because pincer movement is a political term in the US that has little to do with this topic Vera Cruz 12:43 Dec 15, 2002 (UTC)

Is this political usage derived from the military usage? Or are we talking about "Pincer Movement" as opposed to "pincer movement"? Mintguy
I live in the USA and have never heard of "pincer movement" as anything other than the military strategem. I'm a wargamer, and I don't believe I've ever heard the term "pincer maneuver" at all. -- B.Bryant

pincer attack gets 9,000

Quick check on Google.

"pincer attack" 1,160.
"pincer movement" 4,590.
"pincer moneuver" 159 !!!!
"pincer manoeuvre" 31.
Mintguy 12:58 Dec 15, 2002 (UTC)

Im using Yahoo. It gives totally different stats. We should try to use something other than a search engine as our argument.

for instance here merriam-webster clearly states that military movements are to be known as maneuvers Vera Cruz 13:00 Dec 15, 2002 (UTC)

FWIW, my Websters has it as pincers movement. -- B.Bryant

also note that many of the google listed pincer movement links have nothing to do with the military Vera Cruz 13:02 Dec 15, 2002 (UTC)

in fact, merriam-webster now refers you to maneuver, should you look for a military application of the word movement

Yahoo gives very similar results. Remember to put the quotes in so that it finds the exact phrase.

"pincer attack" 1,110 .
"pincer movement" 4,370.
"pincer maneuver" 136 !!!!
"pincer manoeuvre" 13.
Mintguy 13:06 Dec 15, 2002 (UTC)
Add military and you can eliminate most non-military usages. I still get 1780 for pincer movement on google, plus 203 for pincers movement. -- B.Bryant

What Yahoo/Google finds on "pincer movement"

IN short, "Pincer movement is a political/economic term"

NOte: Pincer Movement To Bust Cybercrime. FIELDS AND FRANCO NEVADA COULD BE WORKING A PINCER MOVEMENT IN AUSTRALIA.,7550,416995,00.html Apple and Linux In Pincer Movement on PC market?

You can find similar usages for pincer maneuver. The whole argument is irrelevant to the determination of the correct military terminology. -- B.Bryant

If this political usage is derived from the military usage then is should be at the same page. Mintguy 13:12 Dec 15, 2002 (UTC)

The political usage is irrelevant to the current discussion. The question is, what is the correct name of the military strategem? -- B.Bryant
True. However this page should say that the term has come to be used in these non military situations.
Why should we care what the non-military applications of the word are? There are non-military applications of division, flank, army, etc., and we don't change all the military jargon on that account. -- B.Bryant
Ooops -- I was so wrapped up in the what is the right term debate that I missed your point. Yes, the extension to other domains is worth a mention. -- B.Bryant
More on Google
"pincer movement" + military = 1,820
"pincer maneuver" + military = 49!
...and FWIW...
"pincer move" + military = 209
"pincer strategy" + military = 108
"pincer strategem" + military = 55
"pincer plan" + military = 20
"pincer tactic" + military = 20
...plural forms...
"pincers movement" + military = 203
"pincers attack" + military = 25
"pincers move" + military = 20
"pincers maneuver" + military = 7
...conclude that pincer movement is a real outlier, whether singular or plural. (Almost an order of magnitude more google citations than anything else, whether singular or plural. Indeed, about 4x the sum of all the other citations, both in singular and in plural.)
-- B.Bryant

according to Merriam-Webster...military movements are correctly named military maneuvers

The operative question is, what does your dictionary say under pincer movement or pincers movement. Mine uses the term maneuver in the definition, but has movement in the name of the entry all the same. -- B.Bryant

The term is most commonly in usage as pincer movement. For this page to be found by those searching for it, this is where the page should reside. Particularly and people who don't use American English (i.e. the rest of the world) are never going to find it under 'pincer maneuver'. Mintguy 13:29 Dec 15, 2002 (UTC)

It's just occurred to me that as the non-military usage is derived from the military one it proves that this is the more commonly understood term. Otherwise we would be talking about a pincer maneuver on Congress or whatever. Mintguy 13:41 Dec 15, 2002 (UTC)

I unilaterally moved the page back to 'pincer movement'. I don't like to tread on people toes with things like this, but I think the discussion had come to a conclusion. Mintguy 15:25 Dec 15, 2002 (UTC)


I doubt envelopment maneuvers have been used in "all wars". It would be an exceedingly hard point to prove, even were it true. I would have thought frontal assaults are exceedingly more common at both tactical and strategic levels. On the other hand, the deliberate aim to gain high ground or retain access to avenues of retreat would be much more common features of both tactics and strategy (and intermediate levels).

Tactical and strategic level implementation of such maneuvers is another issue that is not addressed in the article. While graphically the same on paper, and having certain features in common, there is a great deal of difference between utilizing outflanking positions for enfilade fire, cutting off retreat, facilitating pursuit and so on for tactical advantage, as opposed to occupying ground to your enemy's rear, in order to break his lines of communication at a strategic level. At a tactical level, there is also a great deal of difference between interposing infantry or even artillery between an enemy and his line of supply/retreat, and the more usual use of lighter mobile troops like cavalry or mechanized units.

I think it is a helpful "myth-buster" to point to Hanibal (and the Zulu "horns of the buffalo"), so a casual reader learns envelopment is not a German innovation from WWII, however "all wars" is unproven (unprovable?) overstatement.

I'd love some treatment of the weaknesses and risks associated with this particular tactic/strategy. They are significant and there are many instances of outflanking maneuvers going sour. At a strategic level, that the Prussians rather than Grouchy arrived at Waterloo is a classic example. More significant yet is that time and time again Napoleon played on holding the central ground and defeating more numerous enemies surrounding him, in detail, one by one.

Just some thoughts from someone who knows nothing. Alastair Haines 18:54, 3 October 2007 (UTC)


It might be worth mentioning the use of a pincer movement as a feint.

John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough on several occasions attacked the flanks of an enemy to make it look like he was copying Hanibal, and when the enemy thinned out his centre to defend his flanks, Marlborough then attacked through the centre. His most famous victory, the Battle of Blenheim was won that way. --Philip Baird Shearer (talk) 09:50, 21 January 2008 (UTC)

Reference Dispute[edit]

I think the sentence that states Hannible's use of pincer at the battle of Cannae was the first in history should be changed. Yes, Hannible did use double envelopment at Cannae, but it was not the first recorded incident of this military tactic in history; this honor goes to the Athenians at the Battle of Marathon, 490 B.C.E, as recorded by Herodotus. I saw your citation and I cannot locate it to varify its actual validity, but, as a Professor of History at the University of Tennessee, I feel that the statement regarding Hannible's use of double envelopment, in 216 B.C.E., as being the first historically documented account, is up for much dispute.

Feedback on this subject would be more than helpful at resolving this issue - there's definantly more sources needed. Dr. Owenby (talk) 15:37, 14 December 2008 (UTC) Dr. Owenby

Merge This Article with Encirclement[edit]

Seems to me there's a possibility of merging this article into the one on Encirclement. I see Double Pincer as a subsection of the Encirclement article along with Turning Movement. ````chillroy —Preceding unsigned comment added by Chillroy (talkcontribs) 23:25, 19 December 2008 (UTC)

The mysterious virtual absense of Soviet General G. Zhukov[edit]

The article cites an American Civil War battle as one of the most well known double envelopment maneuvers in modern warfare. More modern is Zhukov's use of it at Stalingrad in 1942-43 to physically destroy the German Sixth Army and Fourth Panzer group, cripple the Wehrmacht [at least on the Eastern Front] and end the Nazi threat to the USSR. In 1938, Zhukov used the same maneuver against the Imperial Japanese in Manchuria, badly mauling one of the Japanese armies there, thereby permanently terminating the Japanese threat to the USSR in WW2. The significance of this should have it placed in the article, not merely in footnotes, etc. (talk) 15:00, 16 July 2011 (UTC)


The category should be checked either "Maneuver tactics" or "Military strategy". Seriously, could be considered under tactics AND strategy?Connection (talk) 11:30, 15 January 2013 (UTC)

Why does/did it work?[edit]

The article should explain why the pincer movement works, or at least used to work. As it is now the article does not mention some element of surprise is needed or that armies used to rely heavily on overland communications and supply lines and that the formations of these armies were too rigid to effectively fight in multiple directions at once or quickly turn to face an approaching enemy. Finally ancient armies lacked efficient long distance weaponry (there were archers and javelin throwers but they were a minority and especially the latter couldn't fight well from behind other soldiers), this meant that forcing the enemy army to curl up meant you had to face less of their soldiers at any one time (a circle has the smallest perimeter of any shape). Modern warfare is quite different with its wireless communication, airpower and highly mobile, relatively independent, professional multirole units, all of whom have long range weapons. Anyway, I'm not a historian or military officer so I'm sure someone more versed in the subject can write a better paragraph in the article. (talk) 00:08, 29 August 2013 (UTC)