Basic Tactical Principles
Tactical concepts are binary in character: attack and defense, for example; cohesion and dispersion; fortification and mobility. This lesson reviews 11 components of tactics.
- THE OBJECTIVE
- Just as any political or economic project needs a goal to which resources can be committed and at which energy can be directed, military operations necessitate clearly defined aims. The armed forces of a nation provide maximum support for the national objective by destroying the enemy's armed forces--and his will to fight and resist.
- THE OFFENSIVE
- Defensive operations can typically only ward off defeat; to obtain decisive results requires offensive operations. A commander strives to maintain the initiative, to preserve his freedom of action and to impose his will on the enemy. Offensive actions are assisted when surprise and morale are on the side of the attacking commander.
- UNITY OF COMMAND
- Only under assertive leadership can every combat unit work in concert--minimizing wasted or misdirected energy and applying their combined efforts towards the common goal.
- THE PRINCIPLE OF MASS
- Concentration of enough combat power at the proper place and time can deal a decisive blow to the enemy. However, excessive congregation of forces--beyond those needed to achieve superiority--is reckless.
- ECONOMY OF FORCE
- The available resources ought to be used as efficiently as possible to support the objective.
- THE MANEUVER
- Maneuvers can create advantages in combat position that can overcome superior numbers.
- Given a sufficient mass of combat power, attacking an enemy unprepared for either the time, place or manner of the assault can inflict devastating psychological damage: it instills fear in the enemy; numbs his capacity for immediate and intelligent reaction; and often brings about utter demoralization.
- A commander must preserve his freedom of action and avoid being taken by surprise. Being on the offensive is the most secure posture, for it keeps the enemy occupied. Reconnaissance, readiness for action, knowledge of enemy capabilities and special attention to the flanks and rear--all these help maintain adequate security.
- A commander must issue orders that are as clear and uncomplicated as possible, realizing that the confused, changing conditions of the battlefield make the execution of every command more difficult.
- THE MAINTENANCE OF MORALE
- Caring for soldiers' welfare, explaining the importance of each battle and building confidence in the leadership all help maintain high morale, which generates good discipline and makes success more likely.
- All operations need sound organization, communication, supply and support.
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