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Posted on Apr 26, 2007 in Front Page Features, Tactics101

Tactics 101: 015 – The Basics of the Offense

By Rick Baillergeon and John Sutherland

Frontal Attack – Certainly, the most basic and probably unimaginative form of maneuver is the frontal attack.  In it, the commander maneuvers his forces across a broad front over the enemy defense.  Obviously, this can be an extremely risky endeavor.  The only time a commander should attempt a frontal attack is when he has an overwhelming advantage in combat power over his enemy or the enemy defense is not very well prepared.  Unfortunately, our experience suggests that many inexperienced tacticians attempt frontal attacks even when the conditions are not right.  The consequences of this decision are not pretty!

“Hit Hard, Hit Fast, Hit Often.”
Admiral Halsey

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Penetration – Harkening back to the days of the Eastern Front is the penetration.  In this form of a maneuver, a force attempts to pierce a hole through an enemy defense on a narrow front (unlike the frontal attack which maneuvers through a broad front).  It is hoped that this will cause the enemy defense to collapse.  A commander will normally decide on a penetration when the terrain does not allow an envelopment (no assailable flank) or if he does not have enough time to execute an envelopment (since it is time consuming).  Since the penetration maneuvers through the heart of an enemy defense, the commander assumes great risk in casualties and equipment losses.  If a commander has sufficient forces, he may attempt multiple penetrations through the enemy defense.

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“We’re going to go through em like **** through a goose.”
Patton

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Infiltration – An infiltration is when a small force attempts to maneuver undetected through an enemy defense to occupy an objective in the enemy’s rear area.  They may maneuver through the front of enemy defense or through the flank.  Generally, the objective of the infiltration is to seize terrain that may assist the main effort in accomplishing their mission.  Because of the nature of this mission, it is best suited for small light infantry units.  In most cases, an infiltration is not a decisive operation.  It is trying to set the conditions to achieve the decisive operation.     

“Attack weakness, avoid strength.”
Sun Tzu

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