The Minute Book
Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Russian Military Principles
Topic: Military Theory

Russian Military Principles

FM 100-2-1—The Soviet Army; Troops, Operations and Tactics, July 1984

Classic Russian Military Principles

  • Extreme exertion of force at the very beginning of a war.
  • Simultaneity of actions.
  • Economy of forces.
  • Concentration.
  • Chief objective - the enemy's army.
  • Surprise.
  • Unity of action.
  • Preparation.
  • Energetic pursuit.
  • Security.
  • Initiative and dominance over the enemy's will.
  • Strength where the enemy is weak.

The most significant points of this list are:

  • He who gets to the initial battle with the "most" wins.
  • The enemy must be confronted with more than one situation to deal with.
  • One should not be diverted by geographical objectives, but should concentrate on the destruction of the enemy's military forces.
  • Detailed, exacting preparation must precede an attack.
  • Design actions to preempt the opponent and keep him reacting to situations that you control.
  • Concentrate on the enemy's weak points rather than his strengths.

Contemporary Soviet military theorists hold that nuclear weaponry and other means of modem warfare have modified the basic principles. By the early 1970's, the following principles dominated Soviet operational art and tactics:

Russian Military Principles of the 1970s

  • Mobility and high rates of combat operations.
  • Concentration of main efforts and creation of superiority in forces and means over the enemy at the decisive place and at the decisive time.
  • Surprise and security.
  • Combat activeness.
  • Preservation of the combat effectiveness of friendly forces.
  • Conformity of the goal to the actual situation.
  • Coordination.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 20 September 2015

The Six Rules of Soldiering
Topic: Military Theory

The Six Rules of Soldiering

Martin van Creveld, Fighting Power; German and US Army Performance, 1939-1945, referencing a German training manual "Heeres Dienstvorschrift 300 - Truppenfuhrung" (Army Manual 300 - Command of Troops, 1936)

1.     Develop individual initiative and responsibility.

2.     Never follow orders blindly.

3.     Develop proper discipline.

4.     Develop primary groups.

5.     Develop an unremitting attack philosophy.

6.     "The Golden Rule" — It is better to do something wrong but decisive, than to wait for orders which may never arrive.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 22 August 2015

Soviet Principles of Military Art; 1984
Topic: Military Theory

Soviet Principles of Military Art

FM 100-2-1—The Soviet Army; Troops, Operations and Tactics, July 1984

Soviet military theorists consider the following points to be the general principles of military art. They do not represent any special revelation of truth or radical departure from traditional military thought. However, by their emphasis on these particular points, Soviet military leaders reveal the character of their military thinking and predict the basic characteristics of future Soviet military operations.

According to the Soviets, their armed forces must:

  • Be fully prepared to accomplish the mission regardless of the conditions under which war begins or must be conducted.
  • Achieve surprise whenever possible. Military operations must be characterized by decisiveness and aggressiveness. Forces must strive continuously to seize and to hold the initiative.
  • Make full use of all available military assets and capabilities to achieve victory.
  • Insure that major formations and units of all services, branches, and arms effect thorough and continuous coordination.
  • Select the principal enemy objective to be seized and the best routes for attacking it. Make a decisive concentration of combat power at the correct time.
  • Maintain continuous and reliable command and control.
  • Be determined and decisive in achieving the assigned mission.
  • Maintain complete security of combat operations.
  • Reconstitute reserves and restore combat effectiveness as quickly as possible.

These are general principles that apply to all three levels of military art: strategy, operations, and tactics. At each of these levels, there are more specific, detailed principles.

Soviet military thought subscribes to certain "laws of war" at the strategic level, and "principles of operational art and tactics" which apply to the actual conduct of combat.

The Laws of War

First Law: The course and outcome of war waged with unlimited employment of all means of conflict depends primarily on the correlation of available, strictly military combatants at the beginning of war…
Second Law: The course and outcome of war depend on the correlation of the military potentials of the combatants.
Third Law: (The) course and outcome (of war) depend on its political content.
Fourth Law: The course and outcome of war depend on the correlation of moral-political and psychological capabilities of the peoples and armies of the combatants.

Marshal Sokolovsky
Military Strategy

In simpler terms, these laws mean the following:

  • First Law: Be prepared. Prepare in peacetime for the next war. Forces-in-being are the decisive factors. The side with the most and best troops and equipment at the start of war will win the war.
  • Second Law: The side which can best sustain a protracted war will win the war.
  • Third Law: The higher the political stakes of a war, the longer and more violent it will be.
  • Fourth Law: War aims must be seen as just. Modem war cannot be waged without public support.

Soviet planning and preparation for war reflect a dominant feeling that war is inevitable. This is not to say that the USSR wants war, but that it is preparing for it continuously.

The Soviet state is autocratic, militarized, and centralized. Its political and economic systems give priority to military requirements. The state allocates resources and directs production for preparation and maintenance of a war footing.

The preparation of a nation for war is accomplished along three main lines:

  • the preparation of the armed forces,
  • the preparation of the national economy,
  • and the preparation of the population.
  • The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Friday, 24 July 2015

Chinese Strategic and Tactical Principles
Topic: Military Theory

General Strategic and Tactical Principles

Handbook of the Chinese People's Liberation Army, Defence Intelligence Agency, November 1984

Inherent in Mao Zedong's military writings are numerous strategic and tactical principles, many having a strong emphasis on politics. These principles, although not adhered to as rigidly as they were before Mao's death, as generally used in both planning and operation.

The aim of war. War aims to destroy the effective strength of the enemy rather than to hold areas of cities.

Security. Conservation of the strength of one's own forces is essential to any military operation.

Mobility. Withdraw before the enemy's advance; pursue the enemy's withdrawal; disperse or concentrate one's own forces swiftly on a wide and flexible battlefield.

Local superiority. Concentrate overwhelming strength against an enemy's weaker points; accept a decisive engagement only with two to six times the enemy's strength.

Offensive action. Attack is the primary means of destroying the enemy; surround the enemy and attach from at least two directions.

Singleness of direction. Strategically, there must be only one main direction at a time; tactically, there must be a single objective.

Flexibility. Tactics must be ingenious and flexible, suited to the time, place, and the situation.

Surprise. One's own forces must be assembled in secrecy and must attack at the time and place which the enemy leasts expects.

Initiative. Always seize the initiative, preserve one's own freedom of action, and force the enemy to retreat.

Unity of command. Unified command is essential to success, particularly in the coordination of guerrilla and regular forces.

Preparation. Combat requires meticulous preparation to avoid entry into battle without assurance of success.

Confidence. Victory is determined by the confidence of commanders and troops in the inevitable triumph of their cause.

In addition to these principles, the Chinese place great emphasis on the maintenance of morale. Apart from the normal concerns for morale common to all armies, political commissars are found at all levels down to and including companies. They are responsible for the morale, motivation, and political education of all personnel.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Sunday, 12 July 2015

Topic: Military Theory


Ride of the Second Horseman, Robert L. O'Connell, 1995

Groundbreaking research conducted after World War II into the factors influencing cohesion during combat showed clearly that it was founded upon bonding among small groups. Soldiers consistently indicated that their primary motive in assuming risks during battle was a deeply felt desire to support and protect their "buddies." Meanwhile, the anthropologically well documented tendency of human males to join together in small groups, along with its reflection in the primary units of so many armies (even those with very large and homogeneous tactical groupings), points to an innate behavioral foundation, with the logical origin being the hunting of big game by our prehistoric ancestors. For along with weapons use and speech, the kind of teamwork and unity engendered by such banding-plainly a feature of other pack animals-would have provided us with a significant competitive advantage. It makes sense that this capacity would have been selected for and passed forward, making it available for exploitation in later dangerous pursuits such as warfare. In both hunting bands and the small units of ancient armies, this cohesiveness would have been further reinforced by the likelihood of kinship ties and the limited though still powerful force of genetic altruism known technically as inclusive fitness.

But if this affinity within small military units can be analogized to the "strong force" operating at the subatomic level to bind nuclei, then the assembly of army-sized groupings still demanded an alternate source of attractive energy, equivalent to electromagnetism at the molecular level, to knit pods of combatants together at successively higher tiers. This force was the cultural medium known broadly as regimentation, but it operated through several instrumentalities of execution anc reinforcement. For however much innate behavioral repertoires might be manipulated, armies were still highly unnatural social entities and ones whose functioning inevitably subjected them to unusually powerful entropic forces. Therefore military cohesion always implied a healthy measure of coercion, but not exclusively so.

How this works on an individual level is most apparent during the initial transformation of a raw recruit into something approaching a fighting man, a basic training process encompassing not only the stimulation of latent propensities but also the teaching of new skills and the calculated repression of certain unwanted inhibitions. It seems likely that the widespread practice of such activities is nearly as old as organized conflict itself, and if the precepts reflected in the writings of the Roman Flavius Vegetius Renatus and the so-called Seven Military Classics of ancient China are any guide, military training was always based on a fundamentally shrewd and pragmatic understanding of our motives and limitations in war. At a higher level, attempts at organizational and institutional manipulation are clearly less consistent and more contingent on economic and social variables, including those of personal whim, but they remain based on a fairly uniform view of what might be useful in welding an individual to a military organization.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Predicting the Next World War
Topic: Military Theory

Predicting the Next World War

An extract from War, Gwynne Dyer, 1985

We normally count only the two great wars of our own century as "world wars," but what this phrase means in practice is a war in which all the great powers of the time are involved. By that criterion, there have been six world wars in modern history: the Thirty Years War of 1618-1648, the War of the Spanish Succession 1702-1714, the Seven Years War of 1756-63, the Revolutionary and Napoleonic wars of 1791-1814 and the two World Wars of 1914-1918 and 1939-1945.

This is not a catalogue of random disasters. The list has an alarmingly cyclical character. Apart from the long nineteenth-century gap, the great powers have all gone to war with each other about every fifty years throughout modern history. Even the "long peace" of the last century is deceptive. Right on schedule, between 1854 and 1870, practically every great power fought one or several others. …

So why do the great powers all go to war about every fifty years? It is almost certainly because the most important international facts in any interwar period are determined by the peace treaty that ended the last war.

… At the instant it is signed, the peace settlement is generally an exact description of the true power relationships in the world. … [Once these relationships change] some frustrated power whose allotted role in the international system is too confining, or some frightened nation in decline that sees its power slipping away, kicks over the apple cart and initiates the next reshuffle of the deck. … It is easy to list the key changes that would violate or undermine the 1945 settlement in dangerous ways: the reunification of Germany, the rearmament of Japan to a level commensurate with its economic strength, or the relative economic decline of the Soviet Union to the point where it could no longer credibly sustain its role as a superpower and a guardian of the status quo.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 21 April 2015

The Modernization of Armies
Topic: Military Theory

The Modernization of Armies

Thoughts on War, Liddell-Hart, 1944

The modernization of armies is likely to take two forms, which are to some extent successive stages. The first is motorization; the second is true mechanization—the use of armoured fighting vehicles instead of unprotected men fighting on foot or horseback.

As the transformation proceeds, an army, having become as a whole strategically mobile, will re-group itself into two fighting parts with separate tactical functions: one a close-fighting part, composed of semi-mechanized infantry, and the other a mobile-fighting part, composed entirely of armoured-fighting vehicles. The close-fighting units would be employed to clear hilly and wooded country, to gain river-crossings, to evict the enemy from villages or trench systems, to occupy strategic points, an to act as general handymen. The mobile-fighting units would manoeuvre widely to turn the enemy's flanks and attack his lines of supply. If they encounter an enemy in a well-prepared position bristling with anti-tank guns, their tactics will probably be to harass the inert foe by fire while they cut off his supplies of food, petrol, and ammunition--until he is driven either to surrender or to expose himself in an attempt to get away. When acting in direct combination, the close-fighting part of an army would be used to pin and paralyse the opponent while the mobile-fighting part would carry out a decisive manoeuvre against his rear. (April 1930.)

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Manoeuvre Against the Enemy's Rear
Topic: Military Theory

Manoeuvre Against the Enemy's Rear

Maneuver In War, Col Charles Andrew Willoughby, 1931

"The general idea underlying Napoleon's favorite and most effective system - the maneuver against the rear of the enemy - can be expressed as follows:

(1)     Frontal pressure will rarely lead to a decision; the enemy can always withdraw, fight delaying actions in successive positions and finally escape.

(2)     Through demonstrations by detached forces, the enemy is drawn away from his bases or capitol.

(3)     In rapid, secret concentrations, the mass of the army is moved into the hostile zone of retreat by a march around the enemy's flank; if possible, this movement is under cover of a natural screen: mountain range, forest, etc.

(4)     The object is a position astride the enemy's line of communications in order to secure a strategic barrier, usually a river line cutting of his avenues of retreat.

(5)     This threat in rear is expected to produce a certain degree of demoralization and a reversal of enemy movements.

(6)     Then turn against the enemy in a battle of your own choice, in time and location."

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Friday, 24 October 2014

The "Man-in-the-Dark"
Topic: Military Theory

The "Man-in-the-Dark"

The "Man-in-the-Dark" Theory of Infantry Tactics and the "Expanding Torrent" System of Attack.

By Captain B.H. Lidell-Hart, K.O.Y.L.I., [Presented] On Wednesday, November 3rd, 1920, at 3 p.m. and published in the Journal of The Royal United Service Institution; February, 1921

Thus the man-in-the-dark resembles the commander in modern war. Let us examine the correct principles of action which a man seeking to attack an enemy in the dark would naturally adopt.

"The Man Fighting in the Dark."

1.     In the first place he must seek his enemy. Therefore, the man stretches out one arm to grope for his enemy, keeping it supple and ready to guard himself from surprise.

This may be termed the principle of "protective formation."

2.     When his outstretched arm touches his enemy, he would rapidly feel his way to a highly vulnerable spot, such as the latter's throat.

This is the principle of "reconnaissance."

3.     The man will then seize his adversary firmly by the throat, holding him at arm's length so that the latter can neither strike back effectively, nor wriggle away to avoid or parry the decisive blow.

This is the principle of "fixing."

4.     Then while his enemy's whole attention is absorbed by the menacing hand at his throat, with his other fist the man strikes his opponent from an unexpected direction in an unguarded spot, delivering out of the dark a decisive knock-out blow.

This is the principle of "decisive manoeuvre."

5.     Before his enemy can recover the man instantly follows up his advantage by taking steps to render him finally powerless.

This is the principle of full and immediate "exploitation" of success.

To follow these principles is the only sure path to victory. We can only neglect the fixing phase, if our enemy commits some mistake, such as the neglect of his own security, by which he fixes himself without our intervention and so exposes himself to our decisive blow.

Now the whole action of our man-in-the-dark can be simplified into two categories:-

When the man has fixed his enemy, he delivers a decisive knockout blow. It will be obvious that the harder this blow the more likely it is to be decisive. Hence the man must put his maximum possible force into it, while he only uses the necessary minimum of strength to carry out the preparatory operations. This is the principle of "Economy of Force." But the man can increase the effect of his available strength by surprising the enemy; by his speed; by the momentum or "follow through" behind his blows; by striking his opponent's most vulnerable spots; by full exploitation of every opening or advantage; by husbanding his energy; and by moving his limbs and muscles in harmony like the parts of a well-oiled machine. All these are means to promote economy of force, and therefore can be grouped under that principle.

Thus we see that there are two, and only two, supreme governing principles - Security and Economy of Force.

Read the complete paper by Liddell-Hart.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Monday, 6 October 2014

The Indispensable Infantry
Topic: Military Theory

The Indispensable Infantry

The Indispensable Infantry, Lecture to 2nd Division Officers' Class, 1932, Field-Marshal Earl Wavell, reprinted in The Good Soldier, 1948

Before dealing with the attempts to modernise our infantry … it seems important to decide what the true role of the infantry is. Here are some that have been suggested in various quarters:—

  • To act merely as scavengers to the artillery, and as jackals to the tanks, to do the work of moppers-up and hangers-on.
  • To hold bases or "pivots" for armoured forces.
  • To act as armed policemen to keep the peace within the Empire.
  • To act as light infantry in rough and enclosed country, in mountains and forests.

The first is the solution that the French seem to have adopted, with their short-service army and limited problem; and it is presumably the solution of those who believe that the machine-gun has completely paralysed movement on the battle-field.

The second is the solution of the mechanical warfare enthusiasts.

The third has always been, in practice, one of the principal roles of the British infantry; and demands incidentally a higher standard of training, common sense, and discipline than probably any other role.

The fourth role is a kind of compromise which would divide theatres of war into "tank" country and "infantry" country, tank enthusiasts having somewhat grudgingly recognised that the Almighty in his inscrutable wisdom has created some country unsuitable for Armoured Fighting Vehicles.

My own view is that infantry properly trained, and there is no excuse for our long-service infantry not being properly trained, can carry out any of the above roles, as occasion demands.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 31 May 2014

Assimilation of New Weapons
Topic: Military Theory

Assimilation of New Weapons

The Evolution of Weapons and Warfare, Colonel T.N. Dupuy, 1980

The invention of a weapon that is potentially more lethal is only the first of three steps toward realization of that lethality. It must be adopted by a military establishment, and it must be assimilated into tactics, doctrine and organization.

elipsis graphic

The invention of a workable weapon has not in the past guaranteed either that it would be promptly purchased by any armed force or that, if bought, it would be purchased in sufficient quantity to be standard issue.

elipsis graphic

It is fairly easy to ascertain from observation or from the record that a weapon has not been assimilated, that is, that its capabilities are not fully realized and it is not being used to the best advantage. It is almost as easy to recognize that a weapon has in fact been assimilated and is an effective part of a military establishment. But it is less easy to pinpoint exactly when the process of assimilation was accomplished.

When a radically new weapon appears and is first adopted, it is inherently incongruous with existing weapons and doctrine. This is reflected in a number of ways: uncertainly and hesitation in coordination of the new weapon with earlier ones; inability to use it consistently, effectively, and flexibly in offensive action, which often leads to tactical stalemate; vulnerability of the weapon and of its users to hostile countermeasures; heavy losses incident to the employment of the new weapon, or in attempting to oppose it in combat. From this it is possible to establish the following criteria of assimilation:

a.     Confident employment of the weapon in accordance with a doctrine that ensures its coordination with other weapons in a manner compatible with the characteristics of each.

b.     Consistently effective, flexible use of weapon in offensive warfare, permitting full employment of the advantages of superior leadership and/or superior resources.

c.     Capability of dealing effectively with anticipated and unanticipated countermeasures.

d. Sharp decline in casualties for those employing the weapon, often combined with a capability for inflicting disproportionately heavy losses on the enemy.

There have been three basic preconditions historically for assimilation of new weapons or ideas:

1.     An imaginative, knowledgeable leadership focused on military affairs, supported by extensive knowledge of, and competence in, the nature and background of the existing military system.

2.     Effective coordination of the nation's economic, technological-scientific, and military resources.

3.     Opportunity for battlefield experimentation as a basis for evaluation and analysis.

When these conditions have been present, there has usually been a time lag of approximately twenty years, or one generation, between the initial experimental adoption of a new weapon and its full assimilation. It is notable that this time lag does not seem to have changed much over the course of the past century, despite the fact that science and technology have been producing new weapons, or adaptations of weapons, in accelerating numbers and at an accelerated pace. When the conditions have not been present (which was frequently the case before 1830), the process of assimilation has been slower.

New weapons, or modifications of new weapons, have generally been developed because scientists, technicians, or soldiers have perceived an opportunity to develop a new weapon or improve an existing one. Only rarely have new weapons been designed for the specific purpose of coping with a tactical problem.

There has been a natural reluctance to make a sweeping change in tactics, or organization, by widespread adoption of a new and untried weapon before it has been thoroughly investigated under battle conditions. There is some evidence (not conclusive) that intelligent boldness in this respect can pay handsome dividends (as in the case of Prussian adoption of needle guns). Despite this reluctance and despite the likelihood that optimum assimilation will be impossible without battlefield testing, the increasing pace of invention is placing pressure on the military today to make such sweeping changes.

elipsis graphic

The German experience and those of the other great powers who have followed the German pioneering work in general-staff concepts and in related military affairs to national society as a whole suggest additional preconditions for assimilation in the mid-twentieth century:

a.     There must exist industrial or developmental research institutions, basic research institutions, military staffs and their supporting institutions, together with administrative arrangements for linking these with one another and with top decision-making echelons of government.

b.     These bodies must conduct their research, developmental, and testing activities according to mutually familiar methods so that their personnel can communicate, can be mutually supporting, and can evaluate each other's results.

c.     The efforts of these institutions—in related matters—must be directed toward a common goal.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Saturday, 31 May 2014 12:36 AM EDT
Friday, 30 May 2014

Responsibilities of the Staff
Topic: Military Theory

The front gates of Fort Frontenac, Kingston, Ontario,
home of the Canadian Army Command and Staff College.

Responsibilities of the Staff (1899)

From the Lecture on "The Evolution of the Canadian Army" by Capt. C.F. Winter, the G.G. Foot Guards; The Officers' Association of the Militia of Canada; Transactions of the Semi-Annual Meeting 1899

In peace time the General Staff work out all details belonging to mobilization, marching, stationing, manoeuvres, and all military matters connected with railways and telegraphs. They should study all possible theatres of war — the preparation of maps, and the elaboration of plans, &c., for possible movements based upon a careful study of past experiences in similar emergencies also the instruction of younger officers in Staff duties.

In war time their duties become of greater importance. They are thus laid down by General von Schellendorf:—

1.     Working out ail arrangements for the quartering, security, marching and fighting of troops, according to the varying conditions of the military situation.

2.     Communicating the necessary orders, either verbally or in writing, at the right time and in sufficient detail.

3.     Obtaining, collecting and working out in order all materials which concern the natural and the military features of the theatre of war and the procuring of maps.

4.     Collecting and estimating the value of information received concerning the enemy's forces and reporting on the same to the higher military authorities.

5.     Keeping up the fighting condition of the troops and being constantly informed of their condition in every respect.

6.     Charge of day books publishing reports of engagements and the collection of important materials to afterwards form a history of the war.

7.     Special duties, viz: — reconnaissances.

Now you may have possibly gathered from all this that this General Staff becomes a lot of "knows-alls" with perhaps "swelled heads," and form a sort of Corps of Officers of somewhat different make-up to the other officers of in the National Force, but this is quite an error — in all the larger European Armies experience has taught that officers selected and trained in the duties of the General Staff are kept at their best by frequent returns to regimental duty and periods of training with the different arms. There is no desire to place themselves on a superior plane to their regimental comrades, but rather to ensure throughout the whole army of the country that systematical co-operation which alone can give success to any military effort. It is to this end that the initial training of a party of our Officers is now proceeding under Col. Kitson at the Royal Military College, Kingston.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Armour Doctrine, 1916
Topic: Military Theory

Armour Doctrine, 1916

Colonel Ernest Swinton, as presented in The Evolution of Weapons and Warfare, Colonel T.N. Dupuy, 1980

Seven months before the commitment of British tanks, Colonel Ernest Swinton, one of the early protagonists of the tank, had proposed a doctrine for the employment of armor. In it he made these points.

1.     Some means of communication from commanders to tanks — other than through the telephone lines of accompanying infantry — should be worked out. (Swinton clearly envisaged radio. which was not yet sufficiently sophisticated to be installed in tanks.)

2.     Artillery and mines were most to be reared. The former should be attacked by support1ng aircraft and also taken under counter-battery fire.

3.     These machines "should not be used in driblets" (emphasis Swinton's). in order to keep their existence secret until sufficient were ready and their crews trained for "one great combined operation" (He vigorously protested the September 15 attack as premature. but was over-ruled. )

4.     The sector of attack should be carefully chosen to minimize the tank's limitations and enhance its capabilities.

5.     Approach to the line of departure should be at night from assembly areas not more than two miles back. The attack should start just before dawn.

6.     The tanks should precede the infantry by a distance sufficient to allow the enemy's rifle and machine-gun fire to be concentrated on the tanks when the infantry reached its attack objectives.

7.     Once the infantry arrived. the tanks should move onto the next trench line, bringing it under enfilade fire and attacking enemy reserves and bombing parties moving up.

8.     The tank attack should be in such Force that it could continue. without halting, through the enemy's arti1Iery positions (about l2 kilometers).

9.     The momentum necessary to achieve deep penetration in a single attack would require carefully planned logistical support to assure a continuing. adequate supply of fuel, ammunition, and other necessities.

10.     Smoke should be used to conceal the tank attack to the maximum extent possible.

To an armor officer today these concepts would seem elemental. But in l9l6, and for a long time thereafter. they seemed radical, based on undemonstrated theory, and inconsistent with the realities of contemporary warfare. As a matter of fact, Swinton somewhat overestimated the capabilities of the contemporary tank.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Vegetius' General Maxims
Topic: Military Theory

Vegetius' General Maxims

The Military Institutions of the Romans, Flavius Vegetius Renatus, translated from the Latin by Lieutenant John Clark, Military Service Publishing Co. Edition, 1944

It is the nature of war that what is beneficial to you is detrimental to the enemy and what is of service to him hurts you. It is therefore a maxim never to do, or to omit doing anything as a consequence of his actions but to consult invariably your own interest only. And you depart from this interest whenever you imitate such measures as he pursues for his benefit. For the same reason it would he wrong for him to follow such steps as you take for your advantage .

The more your troops have been accustomed to camp duties on frontier stations and the more carefully they have been disciplined the less danger they will be exposed to in the field.

Men must be sufficiently tried before they are led against the enemy.

It is much better to overcome the enemy by imposing upon him famine, surprise or terror than by general actions for in the latter instance fortune has often a greater share than valor.

Those designs are best of which the enemy are entirely ignorant till the moment of execution. Opportunity in war is often more to be depended on than courage.

To seduce the enemy's soldiers from their allegiance and encourage them to surrender is of especial service, for an adversary is more hurt by desertion than by slaughter.

It is better to have several bodies of reserves than to extend your front too much.

A general is not easily overcome who can form a true judgment of his own and the enemy's forces.

Valor is superior to numbers.

The nature of the ground is often of more consequence than courage.

Few men are born brave; many become so through training and force of discipline.

An army is strengthened by labor and enervated by idleness.

Troops are not to be led to battle unless confident of success.

Novelty and surprise throw an enemy into consternation, but common incidents have no effect.

He who rashly pursues a flying enemy with troops in disorder, seems bent upon throwing away that victory which he had before obtained.

An army unsupplied with grain and other necessary provisions risks being vanquished without striking a blow.

A general who trusts to his cavalry should choose the proper ground for them and employ them principally in the action.

He who depends on his infantry should choose a situation most proper for them and make full use of them.

When an enemy's spy lurks in the camp, order all your soldiers in the day time to their tents, and he will instantly be apprehended.

On finding that the enemy has notice of your designs, you must immediately alter your plan of operations.

Consult with many on proper measures to be taken, but communicate the plans you intend to put in execution to few, and those only of the most assured fidelity. Or better trust no one but yourself.

Punishment, and fear thereof, are necessary to keep soldiers in order in quarters; but in the field they are more influenced by hope and rewards.

Good officers never engage in general actions unless induced by opportunity or obliged by necessity.

To distress the enemy more by famine than the sword is a mark of consummate skill.

Many instructions might be given with regard to the cavalry. But as this branch of the service has been brought to perfection since the ancient writers and considerable improvements have been made in their drills and maneuvers, their arms, and the quality and management of their horses, nothing can be collected from those writers' works. Our present mode of discipline is sufficient.

Dispositions for action must be carefully concealed from the enemy, lest they should counteract them and defeat your plans by proper expedients. Lest the soldiers in the confusion of battle should be separated from their comrades, every cohort had its shields painted in a manner peculiar to itself. The name of each soldier was also written on the shield, together with the number of the cohort and century to which he belonged.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 12 April 2014

Battle Precepts for Infantry and Armor
Topic: Military Theory

Battle Precepts for Infantry and Armor

Brig.-Gen. S.L.A. Marshall (U.S. Army) in "The 100-Hour War", published in "Army" magazine of the Association of the United States Army. (republished in the Canadian Army Journal, Vol 12, No 4, Oct 1958)

1.     Leading means moving to the point of main danger if decisive pressure is to be maintained. There is no excuse for holding back.

2.     When orders can't get through, assume what the orders would be.

3.     When in doubt, hit out. The short route to safety is the road to the enemy hill.

4.     Don't attack head-on; there is usually a better way.

5.     When troops are truly exhausted, hold back and rest them.

6.     Waste no energy in useless movement. Maintain the pace of the attack so long as physical resources seem sufficient.

7.     If the force designated to attack is not suitably armed to overrun the position, pull off and call for what is needed. Avoid useless wastage.

8.     Don't delay the battle because of supply shortages which lie beyond its probable crisis.

9.     Keep your sense of humour if you would save your wits.

10.     When trapped by sudden fire, movement means salvation more surely than a foxhole.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Soviet Principles of Military Art
Topic: Military Theory

Soviet Principles of Military Art

From the Soviet Military Encyclopedia, as presented by W.P. Baxter in Soviet Airland Battle Tactics, 1986

1.     High military preparedness for fulfilling of missions under any conditions for starting or conduct of war.

2.     Surprise, decisiveness, aggressiveness of military activity, continuous striving to achieve and retain the initiative.

3.     Full use of the various means and capabilities of battle to achieve victory.

4.     Coordinated application of and close cooperation between major units of all the armed forces and branches of service.

5.     Decisive coordination of the essential force at the needed moment and in the most important directions and for the decision of the main mission.

6.     The simultaneous destruction of the enemy to the entire depth of his deployment, the timely accumulation of forces, the clever manoeuvre of forces and means for the development of military action at a rapid tempo, and the destruction of the enemy in a short period.

7.     Calculation and full exploitation of the moral-political factor.

8.     Strict and uninterrupted leadership.

9.     Steadfastness and decisiveness in fulfilling assigned missions.

10.     Comprehensive security of combat activity.

11.     Timely restoration of reserves and combat capability of forces.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Thursday, 13 March 2014

Sieges and Trenches
Topic: Military Theory

The Siege of Burgos [1812], by François Joseph Heim, 1813

Sieges and Trenches

From: The Military Guide for Young Officers, by Thomas Simes, Esq., Philadelphia, 1776



From: The Military Guide for Young Officers, by Thomas Simes, Esq., Philadelphia, 1776


View, of a place to besiege it, it is said to be taken when the General, accompanied by the engineers, reconnoitres it, that it, rides round the place, observing the situation of it, with the nature of the country about it; as hills, valleys, rivers, marshes, woods, hedges, &c. thereby to judge of the most convenientplace for opening the trenches, and carrying on the approaches; to find out proper places for encamping the army, for the lines of circumvallation and couter-vallation, and for the park of artillery.

Approaches, are the trenches, places of arms, lodgements, sap, gallery, and all works, whereby the besiegers advance towards a place besieged.

This is the most difficult part of a siege ; and where most lives are loft. The ground is disputed inch by inch, and neither gained or maintained without the loss of men ; it is of the utmost importance to make your approaches with great caution, and to secure them as much as possible, that you may not throw the lives of your soldiers. The besieged neglect nothing to hinder the approaches; the be- away The fiegers do every thing to carry and on this depends ; them on the taking or defence of the place.

The trenches bing carried to their glacis, you attack and make yourself master of their covered way, make a lodgment on the counterscarp, and a breach by the sap, or by mines with several chambers, which blow up their intrenchments and fougades, or small mines, if they have any.

You cover yourselves with barrels, sacks, fascines, or gabions; and, if these are wanting, you sink a trench.

You open the counterscarp by saps to make yourself master of it; but, before you open it, you must mine the flanks that defend it. The belt attack of the place is the face of the bastion, when by its regularity it permits a regular approach and attacks according to art: if the place be irregular, you must not observe regular approaches, but proceed according to the irregularity of it ; observing to humour the ground, which permits you to attack it in such a manner at one place as would be useless or dangerous in another; so that the engineer who directs the attack ought exactly to know the part he would attack, its proportions, its force, and solidity in the most geometrical manner.

Siege. To besiege a place, is to surround it with an army, and approach it, by passages made in the ground, so as to be covered against the fire of the the place.

When an army can approach an so near the place as the covert-way, without breaking ground, under favour of some hollow roads, rising grounds, or cavities, and there begin their work, it is called accelerating the siege; but when they can approach the town so near as to take it without making any considerable works, the siege is called an attack.

To raise a Siege, to give over the attack of a place, quit the works thrown up against it, and the posts taken about it. If there be no reason to fear a sally from the place, the siege may be raised in the daytime. Artillery and ammunition must have a strong rear-guard and face the besiegers, lest they should attempt to charge the rear; if there be any fear of an enemy in front, this order must be altered discretionally, as safety, and the nature of the country, will allow. To make, or form a siege, there must be an army sufficient to furnish five or six reliefs for the trenches; pioneers, guards, convoys, escorts, &c., an artillery, magazines furnished with a sufficient quantity of warlike stores, of all forts, and an infirmary with physicians, surgeons, &c.

To turn a siege into a blockade, to give over the attack, and endeavour to take it by famine: for which which purpose, all the avenues, gates and streams leading into the place, are so well guarded, that no succour can get to its relief

Trench, or lines of approach and attack, a way hollowed in the earth, in form of a fosse, having a parapet towards the place be- sieged, when the earth can be removed; or else it is an elevation of fascines, gabions, wool-packs and such other things, tor covering the men as cannot fly into pieces or splinters. This is to be done when the ground is rocky; but when the earth is good, the trench is carried on with less trouble, and' the engineers demand only a provision of spades, axes, to shovels, make it and pickaxes, to make it two fathoms wide. The greatest fault a trench can have, is to be enfiladed: to prevent which, they are ordinarily carried on with turnings and elbows. As the trenches are never carried on but in the night-time, therefore the ground should be viewed and observed very nicely in the day. On the angles or sides of the there should be lodgements, or epaulements, in form of traverses the better to hinder the sallies of the garrison, to favour the advancement of the the trenches, and to sustain the workmen. These lodgements are small trenches, fronting the places besieged, and joining the trench at one end.

The platforms for the batteries are made behind the trenches; the first at a good distance, to be used only against sallies of the garrison. As the approaches advance, the batteries are brought nearer, to ruin the defences of the place, and dismount the artillery of the besieged. The batteries for the breaches are made when the trenches are advanced near the covert-way.

If two attacks, there must be lines of communication, or boyaus, between the two, with places of arms, at convenient distances. The trenches should be six or seven feet high, with the parapet, which should be five foot thick, and have banquets for the soldiers to mount upon.

Returns of a Trench, are the elbows and turnings, which form the lines of the approach, and made as near as can be parallel to the defence of the place, to prevent their being enfiladed.

To mount the trenches, is to mount guard in the trenches; to relieve the trenches, is to relieve the guards of the trenches, to dismount the trenches, is to come off guard from the trenches; to cleanse or scour the trenches, is to make a vigorous sally is upon the guard of the trenches, force to give way, and quit their ground, drive away the workmen, break down the parapet, fill up the trench, and nail their cannon.

Counter-trenches, are trenches made against the besiegers, which consequently have their parapet: turned against the enemy's approaches, and are enfiladed from several parts of the place, oil purpose to render them useless to the enemy, if they should chance to become masters of them; but they should not to be enfiladed, or commanded by any height in the enemy's possession.

To open trenches, is the first breaking of ground by the besiegers, to carry on their approaches towards a place. The difference between opening and carrying on the trenches is, that the first is only the beginning of the trench; which is always turned towards the besiegers. It is begun by a small fosse, which the pioneers make in the night on their knees, generally a musquet-shot from the place, or half a cannon-shot, and sometimes without the reach of cannon-ball, especially if there be no hollow or rising grounds to favour them, or if the garrison be strong, and their artillery well served. This small fosse is afterwards enlarged by the next pioneers which come behind them, who dig it deeper by degrees, till it be about four yards broad, and four or five feet deep, especially if they be near the place; to the end, the earth is taken out of it, may be thrown before them, to form a parapet, and cover them from the fire of the besieged. The place where the trenches are opened, is called the end of the trench.

Returns of a Trench, the turnings and windings which form the lines of the trench, and are as near as they can be made parallel to the place attacked, to shun being enfiladed. These returns, when followed, make a long way from the end of the, trench to the head, which going the straight way is very short, but then the men are exposed; yet, upon a sally, the courageous never consider the danger; but getting over the trench with such as will follow them, take the shortest way to repulse the enemy, and cut off their retreat, if possible.

Sap, a trench, or an approach made under cover, of ten or twelve feet broad, when the besiegers come near the place, and their fire grows so dangerous, as not to be approached uncovered.

Works, generally denote the fortifications about the body of a place; as by out-works are meant those without the the first inclosure. This word is used to signify the approaches of the besiegers, and the several lines, trenches, &c. made round a place, an army, &c for its security.

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Saturday, 9 November 2013

The Timeless Verities of Combat
Topic: Military Theory

Battle of Waterloo, by William Sadler.

The Timeless Verities of Combat

From Understanding Combat; History and Theory of Combat, Col. Trevor N. Dupuy, US Army, Ret., Paragon House Publishers, 1987

1.     Offensive action is essential to positive combat results.

2.     Defensive strength is greater than offensive strength.

3.     Defensive posture is necessary when successful offence is impossible.

4.     Flank or rear attack is more likely to succeed than frontal attack.

5.     Initiative permits the application of preponderant combat power.

6.     Defenders' chances of success are directly proportional to fortification strength.

7.     An attacker willing to pay the price can always penetrate the strongest defences.

8.     Successful defence requires depth and reserves.

9.     Superior combat power always wins.

10.     Surprise substantially enhances combat power.

11.     Firepower kills, disrupts, suppresses and causes dispersion.

12.     Combat activities are always slower, less productive, and less efficient than anticipated.

13.     Combat is too complex to be described in a single, simple aphorism.

Canadian Army Battle Honours

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EST
Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Jomini's Twelve Essential Conditions
Topic: Military Theory

Jomini's Twelve Essential Conditions

Jomini and his Summary of the Art of War, Condensed Version, edited by Lt. Col. J.D. Hittle, U.S.M.C., 1947

Twelve essential conditions in making a perfect army:

1.     To have a good recruiting system,

2.     A good organization,

3.     A well-organized system of national reserves,

4.     Good combat, staff, and administrative instruction,

5.     A strict but not humiliating discipline, and a spirit of subordination and punctuality, based on conviction rather than on the formalities of the service, and

6.     A well-established system of rewards, suitable to excite emulation,

7.     The special arms of engineering and artillery to be well instructed,

8.     To have an armament superior, if possible, to that of the enemy, as to both offensive and defensive arms,

9.     A general staff capable of applying these elements and organized to advance the theoretical and practical education of its officers,

10.     A good system for the commissariat, hospitals, and of general administration, and

11.     A good system of assignment to command and of directing the principal operations of war;

12.     To excite and keep alive the military spirit of the people.

None of these twelve conditions can be neglected without grave inconvenience.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT
Updated: Wednesday, 23 October 2013 12:19 AM EDT
Monday, 30 September 2013

Principles of War (A.T.M. Australia No. 21)
Topic: Military Theory

Canadian Army Training Memorandum No. 29, Aug 1943

Principles of War (A.T.M. Australia No. 21)

1.     Study of recent operations in all area in which our forces are fighting, continue to emphasize that the principles of war must be fully appreciated and clearly applied if successful results are to be achieved. The first requisite then is that the principles of war are known and understood.

2.     The following doggerel was recently issued in a training document by G.H.Q., MIDDLE EAST, and while its origin is obviously pre-war since references are made to horses, etc., its truth remains unaltered:—

Oh always Maintain your Object-ive
Offensive your action should be
Surprise 'gainst the foes is effective
and Concentrate on him, he'll flee.
Economise always your forces.
Security seek from alarms.
Make Mobile your columns — like horses
and Co-operate with All Arms.


When you make appreciation
Of a given situation,
Time and date and place are due,
and of whom the point of view.
First the Object you require.
SecondFactors and Deductions
Strength — localities — barbed wire—
Topographical obstructions—
Character — Morale and Training—
Methods of Communication—
Time of year and dry or raining—
Food and water — Transportation—
Factors too of time and space
Must not be without a place.
Third — the Courses for the foes—
FourthOur Own best line of action—
Last the Plan which seems to show
Greatest chance of satisfaction.
Plans must be concise and clear
so the Orders can appear.

The Senior Subaltern

Posted by regimentalrogue at 12:01 AM EDT

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