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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 ...
. 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 Image:CIC-USS-CarlVinson-2001.jpg, A watchstander at her station in the combat information center of USS Carl Vinson, USS ''Carl Vinson'' in the year 2001. Command and control is a "set of organizational and technical attributes and processes ... ...
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 requi ...

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 Military theory, theory, method, and practice ...
, 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 (July–November 1916) during the First World War Infantry is an army specialization whose military personnel, personnel engage in military combat on foot, distinguished from cavalry, artillery, and armored warfar ...

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 ...
,
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 ...
or
tank A tank is an armored fighting vehicle intended as a primary offensive weapon in front-line ground combat. Tank designs are a balance of heavy firepower, strong vehicle armor, armor, and good battlefield mobility (military), mobility provided ...

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 Hand-to-hand combat (sometimes abbreviated as HTH or H2H) is a physical confrontation between two or more persons at very short range (grappling distance, or withi ...
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 ...
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 ...
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 s aboard the frigate Grand Turk (frigate), ''Grand Turk'' A musket is a muzzle-loaded long gun that appeared as a smoothbore weapon in the early 16th century, at first as a heavier variant of the arquebus, capable of penetrating heavy armor. By ...
s. Advances in technology, particularly the introduction of the
rifled musket Rifle Musket Rifle 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 muskets that had been produced as a smoothbore weapon and later had their Gun barrel, ...
, used in the
Crimean War The Crimean War, , was a military conflict fought from October 1853 to February 1856 in which Russian Empire, Russia lost to an alliance made up of Second French Empire, France, the Ottoman Empire, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ire ...
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 the helical groovings that are machined into the internal (bore) surface of a gun's barrel, for the purpose of exerting torque and thus imparting a spin to a ...

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 intended as a primary offensive weapon in front-line ground combat. Tank designs are a balance of heavy firepower, strong vehicle armor, armor, and good battlefield mobility (military), mobility provided ...

tank
s,
self-propelled artillery Self-propelled artillery (also called locomotive artillery) is 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 devel ...
and
military aircraft A military aircraft is any fixed-wing A fixed-wing aircraft is a heavier-than-air flying machine, such as an airplane An airplane or aeroplane (informally plane) is a fixed-wing aircraft that is propelled forward by thrust from a je ...
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 ...
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 or the First World War, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously known as the Great War or "The war to end war, the war ...

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 World war, global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved World War II by country, the vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great ...
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 for Horses in warfare, war horses. The practice of armoring horses was first extensively developed in antiquity in the eastern kingdoms of Parthia and Pahlava, and after the conquests of ...
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 File:Tour du Doubs 2014 - Pontarlier - Jérémy Leveau.jpg, French cyclist Jérémy Leveau wearing a bicycle helmet A helmet is a form of protective gear worn to protect the Human head, head. More specifically, a helmet complements the skull in ...
s during World War I in response to the firepower of artillery.
Armoured fighting vehicle An armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) is an armed combat vehicle protected by vehicle armour, armour, generally combining operational mobility with Offensive (military), offensive and defense (military), defensive capabilities. AFVs can be wheeled ...
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 A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically officially authorized and maintained by a sovereign state, w ...

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 file:Barbed Wire 1.JPG, A close-up view of a barbed wire file:Barbed Wire Roll.jpg, 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 fencing wire c ...
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 driven by a charioteer, usually using horses to provide rapid motive power. The oldest known chariots have been found in burials of the Sintashta culture in modern-day Russia, dated to c. 2000 BC. The critica ...
s,
war elephant
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 Line, lines, The Line, or LINE may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Films * ''Lines'' (film), a 2016 Greek film * ''The Line'' (2017 film) * ''The Line'' (2009 film) * ''The Line'', a 2009 independent film by Nancy Schwartzman Lite ...
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. Aiming is performed by calculating azimuth An azimuth (; from Arabic اَلسُّمُوت ...
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 East Asian people, East Asian ethnic group indigenous peoples, native to the Inner Mongolia, Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China, Mongolia and ...
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 w ...
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 that appeared in Europe and the Ottoman Empire The Ottoman Empire (; ota, دولت عليه عثمانيه ', literally "The Sublime Ottoman State"; Modern Turkish: ' or '; french: Empire ottoman) (' ...
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 warfare which seeks to integrate different combat arms of a military to achieve mutually complementary effects (for example, using infantry and armor in an urban environment, where one supports the other, or both ...
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, and other activities. Examples of reconnaissance include patrolling by troops (skirmishers, ...

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 ...
. 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 by creating drag (or in the case of ram-air parachutes, aerodynamic lift). Parachutes are usually made out of light, strong fabric, originally silk SILK ...

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 Ger ...
in September 1944, and during the
Vietnam War {{Infobox military conflict , conflict = Vietnam War , partof = the Indochina Wars and the Cold War , image = VNWarMontage.png , image_size = 300px , caption = Clockwise, from top left: U.S. ...
, 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 and a tort and, therefore, may result in crimi ...
,
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 or ...

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, and other activities. Examples of reconnaissance include patrolling by troops (skirmishers, ...

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 ...
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) were citizen-soldiers of Ancient Greece, Ancient Greek Polis, city-states who were primarily armed with spears and shields. Hoplite soldiers utilized the phalanx formation to be effective in war with fewer soldi ...
, 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. Knighthood ...

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 requi ...

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 war ...


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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