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Military tactics encompasses the art of organizing and employing fighting forces on or near the
battlefield A battlefield, battleground, or field of battle is the location of a present or historic battle A battle is an occurrence of combat in warfare between opposing military units of any number or size. A war usually consists of multiple battle ...

battlefield
. They involve the application of four battlefield functions which are closely related – kinetic or
firepower Firepower is the military capability to direct force at an enemy. (It is not to be confused with the concept of rate of fire, which describes the cycling of the firing mechanism in a weapon system.) Firepower involves the whole range of potenti ...
,
mobility Mobility may refer to: Social sciences and humanities * Economic mobility, ability of individuals or families to improve their economic status * Geographic mobility, the measure of how populations and goods move over time * Mobilities, a contempo ...
, protection or security, and shock action. Tactics are a separate function from
command and control Command and control is a "set of organizational and technical attributes and processes ...
hat A collection of 18th and 19th century men's beaver felt hats A hat is a head covering which is worn for various reasons, including protection against weather conditions, ceremonial reasons such as university graduation, religious reasons, safet ...

hat
employs human, physical, and information resources to solve problems and accomplish missions" to achieve the goals of an organization or enterpris ...
and
logistics Logistics is generally the detailed organization and implementation of a complex operation. In a general business sense, logistics is the management of the flow of things between the point of origin and the point of consumption to meet the requ ...

logistics
. In contemporary
military science Military science is the study of military processes, institutions, and behavior, along with the study of warfare, and the theory and application of organized coercive force. It is mainly focused on theory A theory is a reason, rational type of ...
, tactics are the lowest of three levels of warfighting, the higher levels being the
strategic Strategy (from Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 millio ...
and
operational An operational definition specifies concrete, replicable procedures that reliably produce a differentiated, measurable outcome. For example, an operational definition of fear often includes measurable physiologic responses such as tachycardia, galva ...
levels. Throughout history, there has been a shifting balance between the four tactical functions, generally based on the application of military technology, which has led to one or more of the tactical functions being dominant for a period of time, usually accompanied by the dominance of an associated fighting arm deployed on the battlefield, such as
infantry at the Battle of the Somme The Battle of the Somme, also known as the Somme offensive, was a battle of the First World War fought by the armies of the British Empire and French Third Republic against the German Empire. It took place bet ...

infantry
,
artillery Artillery is a class of heavy military ranged weapons built to launch Ammunition, munitions far beyond the range and power of infantry firearms. Early artillery development focused on the ability to breach defensive walls and fortifications dur ...

artillery
,
cavalry Cavalry (from the French word ''cavalerie'', itself derived from "cheval" meaning "horse") are soldiers or warriors who Horses in warfare, fight mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the most mobile of the combat arms, operating as li ...

cavalry
or
tank A tank is an armored fighting vehicle An armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) is an armed combat vehicle protected by armour, generally combining operational mobility with offensive and defensive capabilities. AFVs can be wheeled or tra ...

tank
s.


Tactical functions


Kinetic or firepower

Beginning with the use of
melee A melee ( or , French: mêlée ) or pell-mell is disorganized hand-to-hand combat in close combat, battles fought at abnormally close range with little central control once it starts. In military aviation, a melee has been defined as " air ba ...
and missile weapons such as clubs and spears, the kinetic or firepower function of tactics has developed along with technological advances so that the emphasis has shifted over time from the close-range melee and missile weapons to longer-range projectile weapons. Kinetic effects were generally delivered by the sword, spear, javelin and bow until the introduction of
artillery Artillery is a class of heavy military ranged weapons built to launch Ammunition, munitions far beyond the range and power of infantry firearms. Early artillery development focused on the ability to breach defensive walls and fortifications dur ...

artillery
by the
Romans Roman or Romans usually refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Lazio, ...

Romans
. Until the mid 19th century, the value of infantry-delivered missile firepower was not high, meaning that the result of a given battle was rarely decided by infantry firepower alone, often relying on
artillery Artillery is a class of heavy military ranged weapons built to launch Ammunition, munitions far beyond the range and power of infantry firearms. Early artillery development focused on the ability to breach defensive walls and fortifications dur ...

artillery
to deliver significant kinetic effects. The development of disciplined
volley fire Volley fire, as a military tactics, military tactic, is (in its simplest form) the concept of having soldiers shoot in the same direction en masse. In practice, it often consists of having a line of soldiers all discharge their weapons simultaneou ...
, delivered at close range, began to improve the hitting power of infantry, and compensated in part for the limited range, poor accuracy and low rate of fire of early
musket A musket is a that appeared as a weapon in the early 16th century, at first as a heavier variant of the , capable of penetrating heavy armour. By the mid-16th century, this type of musket went out of use as heavy armor declined, but the ter ...
s. Advances in technology, particularly the introduction of the
rifled musket A rifled musket, rifle musket, or rifle-musket is a type of firearm made in the mid-19th century. Originally the term referred only to musket s aboard the frigate A frigate () is a type of warship, having various sizes and roles over tim ...
, used in the
Crimean War The Crimean War, , was a military conflict fought from October 1853 to February 1856 in which Russia Russia ( rus, link=no, Россия, Rossiya, ), or the Russian Federation, is a country spanning Eastern Europe and Northern Asia. ...
and
American Civil War The American Civil War (also known by Names of the American Civil War, other names) was a civil war in the United States from 1861 to 1865, fought between northern U.S. state, states loyal to the Union (American Civil War), Union and south ...
, meant flatter trajectories and improved accuracy at greater ranges, along with higher casualties. The resulting increase in defensive firepower meant infantry attacks without artillery support became increasingly difficult. Firepower also became crucial to fixing an enemy in place to allow a decisive strike.
Machine gun A machine gun is an auto-firing, rifled tank gun. In firearms, rifling is machining Helix, helical grooves into the internal (bore) surface of a gun's Gun barrel, barrel for the purpose of exerting torque and thus imparting a Rotation, s ...

Machine gun
s added significantly to infantry firepower at the turn of the 20th century, and the mobile firepower provided by
tank A tank is an armored fighting vehicle An armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) is an armed combat vehicle protected by armour, generally combining operational mobility with offensive and defensive capabilities. AFVs can be wheeled or tra ...

tank
s,
self-propelled artillery Self-propelled artillery (also called locomotive artillery) is equipped with its own propulsion system to move towards its firing position. Within the terminology are the self-propelled gun, self-propelled howitzer, , and . They are high mob ...
and
military aircraft A military aircraft is any Fixed-wing aircraft, fixed-wing or rotorcraft, rotary-wing aircraft that is operated by a legal or insurrectionary armed service of any type. Military aircraft can be either combat or non-combat: * Combat aircraft are ...
rose significantly in the century that followed. Along with infantry weapons, tanks and other armoured vehicles, self-propelled artillery, guided weapons and aircraft provide the firepower of modern armies.


Mobility

Mobility, which determines how quickly a fighting force can move, was for most of human history limited by the speed of a soldier on foot, even when supplies were carried by beasts of burden. With this restriction, most armies could not travel more than per day, unless travelling on rivers. Only small elements of a force such as
cavalry Cavalry (from the French word ''cavalerie'', itself derived from "cheval" meaning "horse") are soldiers or warriors who Horses in warfare, fight mounted on horseback. Cavalry were historically the most mobile of the combat arms, operating as li ...

cavalry
or specially trained light troops could exceed this limit. This restriction on tactical mobility remained until the latter years of
World War I World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war engaged in by all or most of the principal nations of the world". The term is usually reserved for ...

World War I
when the advent of the tank improved mobility sufficiently to allow decisive tactical manoeuvre. Despite this advance, full tactical mobility was not achieved until
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved —including all of the great powers—forming two opposing s: the and the . In a total war directly involving m ...
when armoured and motorised formations achieved remarkable successes. However, large elements of the armies of World War II remained reliant on horse-drawn transport, which limited tactical mobility within the overall force. Tactical mobility can be limited by the use of field obstacles, often created by military engineers.


Protection and security

Personal armour Body armor, also known as body armour, personal armor/armour, or a suit/coat of armour, is protective clothing designed to absorb or deflect physical attacks. Historically used to protect military personnel Military personnel are members of the ...
has been worn since the classical period to provide a measure of individual protection, which was also extended to include
barding Barding (also spelled ''bard'' or ''barb'') is body armour Body armor, also known as body armour, personal armor/armour, or a suit/coat of armour, is protective clothing designed to absorb or deflect physical attacks. Historically used to prot ...
of the mount. The limitations of armour have always been weight and bulk, and its consequent effects on mobility as well as human and animal endurance. By the 18th and 19th centuries, personal armour had been largely discarded, until the re-introduction of
helmet A helmet is a form of protective gear Personal protective equipment (PPE) is protective clothing, helmets, goggles, or other garments or equipment designed to protect the wearer's body from injury or infection. The hazards addressed by p ...
s during World War I in response to the firepower of artillery.
Armoured fighting vehicle An armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) is an armed protected by , generally combining with and capabilities. AFVs can be wheeled or . s, , armoured s, s and s are all examples of AFVs. Armoured fighting vehicles are classified according to th ...

Armoured fighting vehicle
s proliferated during World War II, and after that war, body armour returned for the infantry, particularly in Western armies.
Fortification A fortification is a military construction or building designed for the defense of territories in warfare, and is also used to establish rule in a region during peacetime. The term is derived from Latin ''fortis'' ("strong") and ''facere'' ( ...

Fortification
s, which have been used since ancient times, provide collective protection, and modern examples include entrenchments,
roadblock A roadblock is a temporary installation set up to control or block traffic along a road. The reasons for one could be: *Roadworks *Temporary road closure during special events *Police chase *Robbery *Sobriety checkpoint In peaceful circumstances, ...

roadblock
s,
barbed wire A close-up view of a barbed wire Roll of modern agricultural barbed wire Barbed wire, also known as barb wire, occasionally corrupted as bobbed wire or bob wire, is a type of steel Steel is an alloy An alloy is an admixture of metal ...

barbed wire
and
minefield A land mine is an explosive device concealed under or on the ground and designed to destroy or disable enemy targets, ranging from combatants to vehicles and tanks, as they pass over or near it. Such a device is typically detonated automatical ...

minefield
s. Like obstacles, fortifications are often created by military engineers.


Shock action

Shock action is as much a psychological function of tactics as a physical one, and can be significantly enhanced by the use of surprise. It has been provided by charging infantry, and well as by
chariot A chariot is a type of carriage A carriage is a private four-wheeled vehicle for people and is most commonly horse-drawn A horse-drawn vehicle is a mechanized piece of equipment pulled by one horse or by a team of horses. These vehicles ...

chariot
s,
war elephant A war elephant was an elephant Elephants are the largest existing land animals. Three living species In biology Biology is the natural science that studies life and living organisms, including their anatomy, physical structu ...

war elephant
s, cavalry and armoured vehicles which provide momentum to an assault. It has also been used in a defensive way, for example by the drenching flights of arrows from English
longbow A longbow is a type of Bow and arrow, bow that is tall – roughly equal to the height of the user – allowing the archer a fairly long draw. A longbow is not significantly Recurve bow, recurved. Its limbs are relatively narrow so that they are ci ...

longbow
men at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415 which caused the horses of the French
knight A knight is a person granted an honorary title of knighthood by a head of state (including the pope) or representative for service to the monarch, the christian denomination, church or the country, especially in a military capacity. Knighthood ...

knight
s to panic. During
early modern warfare Early modern warfare is the era of warfare following medieval warfare. It is associated with the start of the widespread use of gunpowder Gunpowder, also known as the retronym black powder to distinguish it from modern smokeless powder, ...
, the use of the tactical formations of
columns A column or pillar in architecture File:Plan d'exécution du second étage de l'hôtel de Brionne (dessin) De Cotte 2503c – Gallica 2011 (adjusted).jpg, upright=1.45, alt=Plan d'exécution du second étage de l'hôtel de Brionne (dessin) ...
and
lines Long interspersed nuclear elements (LINEs) (also known as long interspersed nucleotide elements or long interspersed elements) are a group of non-LTR (long terminal repeat A long terminal repeat (LTR) is a pair of identical sequences of DNA, sever ...
had a greater effect than the firepower of the formations alone. During the early stages of World War II, the combined effects of German machine gun and tank gun firepower, enhanced by accurate
indirect fire Indirect fire is aiming and firing a projectile without relying on a direct line of sight between the gun and its target, as in the case of direct fire Direct fire refers to firing Dismissal (also referred to as firing) is the termination of emp ...
and air attack, often broke up Allied units before their assault commenced, or caused them to falter due to casualties among key unit leaders. In both the early modern and World War II examples, the cumulative psychological shock effect on the enemy was often greater than the actual casualties incurred.


Development over time

The development of tactics has involved a shifting balance between the four tactical functions since ancient times, and changes in firepower and mobility have been fundamental to these changes. Various models have been proposed to explain the interaction between the tactical functions and the dominance of individual fighting arms during different periods. J. F. C. Fuller proposed three "tactical cycles" in each of the classical and Christian eras. For the latter epoch, he proposed a "shock" cycle between 650 and 1450, a "shock and projectile" cycle 1450–1850, and a "projectile" cycle from 1850, with respect to the Western and North American warfare. During World War II,
Tom Wintringham Thomas Henry Wintringham (15 May 1898 – 16 August 1949) was a British soldier, military historian, journalist, poet, Marxist Marxism is a method of socioeconomic analysis that uses a materialist interpretation of historical development, ...
proposed six chronological periods, which alternate the dominance between unarmoured and armoured forces and highlight tactical trends in each period. Massed volley fire by archers brought infantry firepower to the fore in Japanese warfare in the second half of the 13th century, preceding the rise of the English longbowman. The mobility and shock action of the Oirat
Mongol The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , ''Mongolchuud'', ; russian: Монголы, ) are an ethnic group to the , and the of Russia. The Mongols are the principal member of the large family of . The in Western Mongolia as well as the ...
army at the
Battle of Tumu The Tumu Crisis (; mn, Тумугийн тулалдаан), was a frontier conflict between the Northern Yuan dynasty The Northern Yuan () was a dynastic regime ruled by the Mongol The Mongols ( mn, Монголчууд, , ''Mongolchuu ...
in 1449 demonstrated that cavalry could still defeat a large infantry force. In both the European and Oriental traditions of warfare, the advent of gunpowder during the late
Medieval In the history of Europe The history of Europe concerns itself with the discovery and collection, the study, organization and presentation and the interpretation of past events and affairs of the people of Europe since the beginning of ...
and Early Modern periods created a relentless shift to infantry firepower becoming "a decisive, if not dominant" arm on the battlefield, exemplified by the significant impact of massed
arquebus An arquebus ( ) is a form of long gun A long gun is a category of firearm A firearm is any type of gun A gun is a ranged weapon designed to use a shooting tube ( gun barrel) to launch typically solid projectiles, but can also proj ...

arquebus
iers at the
Battle of Nagashino The took place in 1575 near Nagashino Castle on the plain of Shitarabara in the Mikawa Province of Japan. Takeda Katsuyori attacked the castle when Okudaira Sadamasa{{Infobox noble, type , name = Okudaira Nobumasa , title ...

Battle of Nagashino
in 1575.


Combined arms tactics

The synchronisation of the various fighting arms to achieve the tactical mission is known as
combined arms Combined Arms is an approach to war War is an intense armed conflict between states, government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In the cas ...
tactics. One method of measuring tactical effectiveness is the extent to which the arms, including military aviation, are integrated on the battlefield. A key principle of effective combined arms tactics is that for maximum potential to be achieved, all elements of combined arms teams need the same level of mobility, and sufficient firepower and protection. The history of the development of combined arms tactics has been dogged by costly and painful lessons. For example, while German commanders in World War II clearly understood from the outset the key principle of combined arms tactics outlined above, British commanders were late to this realisation. Successful combined arms tactics require the fighting arms to train alongside each other and to be familiar with each other's capabilities.


Impact of air power

Beginning in the latter stages of World War I, airpower has brought a significant change to military tactics. World War II saw the development of
close air support In military tactics Military tactics encompasses the art of organizing and employing fighting forces on or near the battlefield. They involve the application of four battlefield functions which are closely related – kinetic or firepower, Mobil ...
which greatly enhanced the effect of ground forces with the use of aerial firepower and improved tactical
reconnaissance In military operations, reconnaissance or scouting is the exploration of an area by military forces to obtain information about enemy forces, terrain Relief map of Sierra Nevada, Spain Terrain or relief (also topographical Topogr ...

reconnaissance
and the interdiction of hostile air power. It also made possible the supply of ground forces by air, achieved by the British during the Burma Campaign but unsuccessful for the Germans at the
Battle of Stalingrad In the Battle of Stalingrad (23 August 19422 February 1943), Nazi Germany, Germany and Axis powers, its allies fought the Soviet Union for control of the city of Volgograd#Stalingrad, Stalingrad (now Volgograd) in Southern Russia. Marked ...

Battle of Stalingrad
. Following World War II,
rotary-wing aircraft A rotorcraft or rotary-wing aircraft is a heavier-than-air aircraft An aircraft is a vehicle that is able to flight, fly by gaining support from the Atmosphere of Earth, air. It counters the force of gravity by using either Buoyancy, static ...
had a significant impact on firepower and mobility, comprising a fighting arm in its own right in many armies. Aircraft, particularly those operating at low or medium altitudes, remain vulnerable to ground-based
air defence systems Anti-aircraft warfare or counter-air defence is the battlespace response to aerial warfare, defined by NATO as "all measures designed to nullify or reduce the effectiveness of hostile air action".AAP-6 It includes Surface-to-air missile, surfa ...
as well as other aircraft.
Parachute A parachute is a device used to slow the motion of an object through an atmosphere An atmosphere (from the greek words ἀτμός ''(atmos)'', meaning 'vapour', and σφαῖρα ''(sphaira)'', meaning 'ball' or 'sphere') is a layer or a ...

Parachute
and glider operations and rotary-wing aircraft have provided significant mobility to ground forces but the reduced mobility, protection and firepower of troops delivered by air once landed has limited the tactical utility of such vertical envelopment or
air assault Air assault is the movement of ground-based military forces by vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) aircraft—such as the helicopter—to seize and hold key terrain which has not been fully secured, and to directly engage enemy forces behind ene ...
operations. This was demonstrated during
Operation Market Garden Operation Market Garden was an Allies of World War II, Allied military operation during the World War II, Second World War fought in the Netherlands from 17 to 25 September 1944. Its objective was to create a Salient (military), salient into Ge ...
in September 1944, and during the
Vietnam War {{Infobox military conflict , conflict = Vietnam War , partof = the Indochina Wars The Indochina Wars ( vi, Chiến tranh Đông Dương) were a series of wars fought in Southeast Asia Southeast Asia, also spelled ...
, in the latter case despite the additional firepower provided by helicopter gunships and the ability quickly to remove casualties, provided by
aeromedical evacuation#REDIRECT Aeromedical evacuation {{Redirect category shell, 1= {{R from move {{R from other capitalisation ...
.


Concept

Military tactics answer the questions of how best to deploy and employ forces on a small scale. Some practices have not changed since the dawn of warfare:
assault An assault is the act of inflicting physical harm or unwanted physical contact upon a person or, in some specific legal definitions, a threat or attempt to commit such an action. It is both a crime In ordinary language, a crime is an u ...
,
ambush An ambush is a long-established military tactics, military tactic in which combatants take advantage of concealment or the element of surprise to attack unsuspecting enemy combatants from concealed positions, such as among dense underbrush o ...

ambush
es,
skirmishing Skirmishers are light infantry or light cavalry soldier A soldier is one who fights as part of a military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for ...
, turning flanks,
reconnaissance In military operations, reconnaissance or scouting is the exploration of an area by military forces to obtain information about enemy forces, terrain Relief map of Sierra Nevada, Spain Terrain or relief (also topographical Topogr ...

reconnaissance
, creating and using obstacles and defenses, etc. Using ground to best advantage has not changed much either. Heights, rivers, swamps, passes, choke points, and natural cover, can all be used in multiple ways. Before the nineteenth century, many military tactics were confined to
battle A battle is an occurrence of combat Combat ( French for ''fight'') is a purposeful violent conflict meant to physically harm or kill the opposition. Combat may be armed (using weapon A weapon, arm or armament is any implement or devic ...

battle
field concerns: how to maneuver units during combat in open terrain. Nowadays, specialized tactics exist for many situations, for example for securing a room in a building. Technological changes can render existing tactics obsolete, and sociological changes can shift the goals and methods of warfare, requiring new tactics. Tactics define how soldiers are armed and trained. Thus technology and society influence the development of types of soldiers or warriors through history: Greek
Hoplite Hoplites () ( grc, ὁπλίτης : hoplítēs) were citizen-soldiers of Ancient Greek Ancient Greek includes the forms of the Greek language used in ancient Greece and the classical antiquity, ancient world from around 1500 BC to 300 B ...
, Roman
Legionary A recreation of Roman legionaries wearing the '' lorica segmentata'', 1st–3rd century The ancient Rome, Roman legionary (in Latin ''legionarius'', plural ''legionarii'') was a professional heavy infantryman of the Roman army after the Marian refo ...
, Medieval
Knight A knight is a person granted an honorary title of knighthood by a head of state (including the pope) or representative for service to the monarch, the christian denomination, church or the country, especially in a military capacity. Knighthoo ...

Knight
, Turk-Mongol
Horse Archer A horse archer is a cavalryman armed with a Bow (weapon), bow and able to shoot while riding from horseback. Archery has occasionally been used from the backs of other riding animals. In large open areas, it was a highly successful technique for ...
, Chinese
Crossbowman An arbalist, also spelled arbelist, is one who shoots a crossbow A crossbow is a ranged weapon using an elastic launching device similar to a bow; it consists of a bow-like assembly called a ''prod'', mounted horizontally on a main frame cal ...
, or an
Air Cavalry For much of history, humans have used some form of cavalry Cavalry (from the French word ''cavalerie'', itself derived from "cheval" meaning "horse") are soldiers or warriors who Horses in warfare, fight mounted on horseback. Cavalry were hi ...
trooper. Each constrained by his weaponry,
logistics Logistics is generally the detailed organization and implementation of a complex operation. In a general business sense, logistics is the management of the flow of things between the point of origin and the point of consumption to meet the requ ...

logistics
and
social conditioning Social conditioning is the sociological process of training individuals in a society to respond in a manner generally approved by the society in general and peer groups within society. The concept is stronger than that of socialization, which is t ...
would use a battlefield differently, but would usually seek the same outcomes from their use of tactics. The First World War forced great changes in tactics as advances in technology rendered prior tactics useless. "Gray-zone" tactics are also becoming more widely used. These include “everything from strong-arm diplomacy and economic coercion, to
media manipulation Media manipulation is a series of related techniques in which partisans create an image or argument that favours their particular interests. Such tactics may include the use of logical fallacies, psychological manipulations, outright deception ( d ...
and cyberattacks, to use of paramilitaries and proxy forces.” The title "gray-zone" comes from the ambiguity between defense vs. offense, as well as the ambiguity between peace-keeping vs. war effort.


See also

*
List of military tactics This article contains a list of military tactics. The meaning of the phrase is context sensitive, and has varied over time, like the difference between "strategy" and "tactics". General * Exploiting prevailing weather – the tactical use of ...
*
Combat arms Combat arms (or fighting arms in non-American parlance) is a collective name for troops within national armed forces A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for wa ...


References


Notes


Bibliography

* * * * * Gerhard Muhm : La Tattica nella campagna d’Italia, in LINEA GOTICA AVAMPOSTO DEI BALCANI, (Hrsg.) Amedeo Montemaggi - Edizioni Civitas, Roma 1993.


External links


Contemporary Marine tactics for war fighting




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