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Enfilade and defilade are concepts in military tactics used to describe a military formation's exposure to enemy fire. A formation or position is "in enfilade" if weapons fire can be directed along its longest axis. A unit or position is "in defilade" if it uses natural or artificial obstacles to shield or conceal itself from enfilade.The strategies named by the English use the French enfiler ("to put on a string or sling") and défiler ("to slip away or off"), which the English nobility used at that time.
Enfilade fire—gunfire directed against an enfiladed formation or position—is also commonly known as "flanking fire".Raking fire is the equivalent term in naval warfare. Strafing, firing on targets from a flying platform, is often done with enfilade fire. It is a very advantageous, and much sought for, position for the attacking force.
A formation or position is "in enfilade" if weapon fire can be directed along its longest axis.For instance, a trench is enfiladed if the opponent can fire down the length of the trench. A column of marching troops is enfiladed if fired on from the front or rear such that the projectiles travel the length of the column. A rank or line of advancing troops is enfiladed if fired on from the side (from the flank).
The advantages of enfilading missiles have been appreciated since antiquity, whether in pitched battles such as the Battle of Taginae or in fortifications designed to provide the defenders with opportunities to enfilade attacking forces.Although sophisticated archery tactics grew rare in Western Europe during the Early Middle Ages, enfilade fire was reemphasized by the late medieval English using ranked archers combined with dismounted knights, first employed at the Battle of Dupplin Moor in 1332 and used to devastating effect against the French in the Hundred Years War. The benefit of enfilading an enemy formation is that, by firing along the long axis, it becomes easier to hit targets within that formation. Enfilade fire takes advantage of the fact that it is usually easier to aim laterally (traversing the weapon) than to correctly estimate the range to avoid shooting too long or short. Additionally, both indirect and direct fire projectiles that might miss an intended target are more likely to hit another valuable target within the formation if firing along the long axis.
When planning field and other fortifications, it became common for mutually supporting positions to be arranged so that it became impossible to attack any one position without exposing oneself to enfilading fire from the others, this being found for example in the mutually supporting bastions of star forts, and the caponiers of later fortifications.
Fire is delivered so that the long axis of the target coincides or nearly coincides with the long axis of the beaten zone.
A unit or position is "in defilade" if it uses natural or artificial obstacles to shield or conceal. For an armored fighting vehicle (AFV), defilade is synonymous with a hull-down or turret-down position.
Defilade is also used to refer to a position on the reverse slope of a hill or within a depression in level or rolling terrain. Defiladed positions on hilltops are advantageous because "dead space" – a space that cannot be engaged with direct fire – will be created in front of the position. Ideally, this dead space should be covered by the interlocking fields of fire of other nearby positions, and/or by pre-planned indirect fire such as mortars or other forms of artillery.
In the case of antitank weapons, and especially short-range man-portable antitank rockets, defiladed positions behind a hill have several important advantages. This is because the dead space created by the intervening crest of the hill prevents an approaching tank from using the range of its direct-fire weapons, and neither the attacker nor defender will have a clear shot until the tank is within range of the defending antitank weapon. In such engagements the tank is usually at a further disadvantage because the defender will often be camouflaged while the attacking tank will be silhouetted against the sky, giving the defender an easier shot.
In addition, if the tank fails to detect the defending antitank weapon while the tank is still defiladed, but advances beyond that position to the crest of the hill, it may expose the relatively thinner armor of its lower hull or belly to the defender. Early detection and elimination of antitank threats is an important reason that tanks attack with infantry support.
Artificial entrenchments can provide defilade by allowing troops to seek shelter behind a raised berm that increases the effective height of the ground, within an excavation that allows the troops to shelter below the surface of the ground or a combination of the two. The same principles apply to fighting positions for artillery and armored fighting vehicles.
A unit sited in defilade threatens an enemy that decides to pass it and move forward, because the enemy would be put in an enfiladed position when moving in a rank.The friendly unit would be in a position that is shielded by terrain from direct enemy fire, while still being able to fire on the enemy in an effective manner.
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A glacis in military engineering is an artificial slope as part of a medieval castle or in early modern fortresses. They may be constructed of earth as a temporary structure or of stone in more permanent structure.
Anti-tank warfare originated from the need to develop technology and tactics to destroy tanks during World War I (1914–1918). Since the Triple Entente developed the first tanks in 1916 but did not deploy them in battle until 1917, the German Empire developed the first anti-tank weapons. The first developed anti-tank weapon was a scaled-up bolt-action rifle, the Mauser 1918 T-Gewehr, that fired a 13mm cartridge with a solid bullet that could penetrate the thin armor of tanks of the time and destroy the engine or ricochet inside, killing occupants. Because tanks represent an enemy's greatest force projection on land, military strategists have incorporated anti-tank warfare into the doctrine of nearly every combat service since. The most predominant anti-tank weapons at the start of World War II in 1939 included the tank-mounted gun, anti-tank guns and anti-tank grenades used by the infantry, as well as ground-attack aircraft.
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In the military science of fortification, wire obstacles are defensive obstacles made from barbed wire, barbed tape or concertina wire. They are designed to disrupt, delay and generally slow down an attacking enemy. During the time that the attackers are slowed by the wire obstacle they are easy to target with machinegun and artillery fire. Depending on the requirements and available resources, wire obstacles may range from a simple barbed wire fence in front of a defensive position, to elaborate patterns of fences, concertinas, "dragon's teeth" and minefields hundreds of metres thick.
Panzerjäger was a branch of service of the German Wehrmacht during the Second World War. It was an anti-tank arm-of-service that operated anti-tank artillery, and made exclusive use of the tank destroyers, which were also named Panzerjäger. Personnel wore ordinary field-gray uniforms rather than the black of the Panzer troops; however, those Panzerjäger troops who crewed the tank-destroyers wore the Panzer jacket in field gray.
A flame tank is a type of tank equipped with a flamethrower, most commonly used to supplement combined arms attacks against fortifications, confined spaces, or other obstacles. The type only reached significant use in the Second World War, during which the United States, Soviet Union, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom all produced flamethrower-equipped tanks.
An air burst or airburst is the detonation of an explosive device such as an anti-personnel artillery shell or a nuclear weapon in the air instead of on contact with the ground or target. The principal military advantage of an air burst over a ground burst is that the energy from the explosion is distributed more evenly over a wider area; however, the peak energy is lower at ground zero.
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The Battle of Mława, otherwise known as the Defence of the Mława position, took place to the north of the town of Mława in northern Poland between 1 and 3 September 1939. It was one of the opening battles of the Invasion of Poland and World War II in general. It was fought between the forces of the Polish Modlin Army under General Krukowicz-Przedrzymirski and the German 3rd Army under General Georg von Küchler.
Infantry tactics are the combination of military concepts and methods used by infantry to achieve tactical objectives during combat. The role of the infantry on the battlefield is, typically, to close with and engage the enemy, and hold territorial objectives; infantry tactics are the means by which this is achieved. Infantry commonly makes up the largest proportion of an army's fighting strength, and consequently often suffers the heaviest casualties. Throughout history, infantrymen have sought to minimise their losses in both attack and defence through effective tactics.
A reverse slope defence is a military tactic where a defending force is positioned on the slope of an elevated terrain feature such as a hill, ridge, or mountain, on the side opposite from the attacking force. This tactic hinders both the attacker's ability to observe the defender's positions as well as reducing the effectiveness of the attacker's long-range weapons such as tanks and artillery.
Counter-sniper tactics have evolved in sniper warfare to reduce the effectiveness of snipers.
A close order formation is a military tactical formation in which soldiers are close together and regularly arranged for the tactical concentration of force. It was used by heavy infantry in ancient warfare, as the basis for shield wall and phalanx tactics, to multiply their effective weight of arms by their weight of numbers. In the Late Middle Ages, Swiss pikemen and German Landsknechts used close order formations that were similar to ancient phalanxes.
The tank destroyer battalion was a type of military unit used by the United States Army during World War II. The unit was organized in one of two different forms—a towed battalion equipped with anti-tank guns, or a mechanized battalion equipped with armored self-propelled guns. The tank destroyer units were formed in response to the German use of massed formations of armored vehicles units early in WWII. The tank destroyer concept envisioned the battalions acting as independent units that would respond at high speed to large enemy tank attacks. In this role, they would be attached in groups or brigades to corps or armies. In practice, they were usually individually attached to infantry divisions. Over one hundred battalions were formed, of which more than half saw combat service. The force was disbanded shortly after the end of the war when the concept had been shown to be militarily unsound.
Sapping is a term used in siege operations to describe the digging of a covered trench to approach a besieged place without danger from the enemy's fire. The purpose of the sap is usually to advance a besieging army's position towards an attacked fortification. It is excavated by specialised military units, whose members are often called sappers.
VC and PAVN battle tactics comprised a flexible mix of guerrilla and conventional warfare battle tactics used by Viet Cong(VC) and the North Vietnamese People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) to defeat their U.S. and South Vietnamese (GVN/ARVN) opponents during the Vietnam War.
The Battle of Fort Eben-Emael was a battle between Belgian and German forces that took place between 10 May and 11 May 1940, and was part of the Battle of Belgium and Fall Gelb, the German invasion of the Low Countries and France. An assault force of German paratroopers, Fallschirmjäger, was tasked with assaulting and capturing Fort Eben-Emael, a Belgian fortress whose strategic position and strong artillery emplacements dominated several important bridges over the Albert Canal. These carried roads which led into the Belgian heartland and were what the German forces intended to use to advance. As some of the German airborne forces assaulted the fortress and disabled the garrison and the artillery pieces inside it, others simultaneously captured three bridges over the Canal. Having disabled the fortress, the airborne troops were then ordered to protect the bridges against Belgian counter-attacks until they linked up with ground forces from the German 18th Army.
Direct fire refers to firing of a ranged weapon whose projectile is launched directly at a target within the line-of-sight of the user. The firing weapon must have a sighting device and an unobstructed view to the target, which means no obstacles or friendly units can be between it and the target. A weapon engaged in direct fire conversely exposes itself to direct return fire from the target.
The flexible defense is a military theory about the design of modern fortifications. The examples of "flexible" defense-lines are not based on dense lines of heavily armed, large and expensive concrete fortifications as the systems such as the Maginot Line were. Their protective capacity hinges on multiple lines of obstacles and small shelters fitting into the environment. They are "flexible" because soldiers are not locked in pillboxes, but fight instead in easily replaceable open earth-wood maden positions, while bunkers serve only as shelters during bombardments. As a result, they are able to adapt to the opponent's movements, and there are no easily targeted large buildings in these lines.