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 potential weapons. The concept is generally taught as one of the three key principles of modern warfare wherein the enemy forces are destroyed or have their will to fight negated by sufficient and preferably overwhelming use of force as a result of combat operations.
Through the ages firepower has come to mean offensive power applied from a distance, thus involving ranged weapons as opposed to one-on-one close quarters combat. Firepower is thus something employed to keep enemy forces at a range where they can be defeated in detail or sapped of the will to continue. In the field of naval artillery, the weight of a broadside was long used[ by whom? ] as a figure of merit of a warship's firepower.
The earliest forms of warfare that might be called firepower were the slingers of ancient armies (a notable example being the biblical story of David), and archers. Eventually, the feared Huns employed the composite bow and light cavalry tactics to shower arrows on the enemy forces, a tactic that also appeared in a less mobile form in Britain, with its famed longbowmen, used during the various Anglo-French conflicts collectively known as the Hundred Years' War during the Middle Ages. The Battle of Crécy is often thought of as the beginning of the "age of firepower" in the west, where missile weapons enabled a small force to defeat a numerically superior enemy without the need for single combat. Firepower was later used to dramatic effect in a similar fashion during the Battle of Agincourt.
Firepower of military units large and small has steadily increased since the introduction of firearms, with technical improvements that have, with some exceptions, diminished the effectiveness of fortification. Such improvements made close order formation useless for middle to late 19th century infantry, and the use of machine guns early in the 20th stymied frontal assaults. Military uniforms changed from gaudy to drab, making soldiers less visible to the increasing firepower. At sea, improved naval artillery ended the use of prize crews, and naval aviation brought an end to heavily armored battleships.
The use of firepower in achieving military objectives became one of several conflicting schools of military thought, or doctrines. The Battle of Vimy Ridge used massed artillery to help win an Allied victory, but dramatic improvements in siege weapon technology had also gone hand in hand with small scale infantry tactics.Operation Desert Storm also relied on massed firepower as did the 2003 Invasion of Iraq, but firepower was integrated with advances in small-unit training.
Small arms, such as the M249 SAW, have been employed on a squad level to provide an overwhelming volume of fire in relatively close quarters situations (within 100-300 yds). The idea is that a large volume of accurate suppressive fire will immobilize the enemy, degrading their ability to perform. In addition, grenade launchers such as the M79, and particularly those that can be underslung on an assault rifle, such as the M203 or M320, are used to provide units with a disproportionate amount of firepower. These weapons are useful in situations where a unit is outnumbered and needs to respond immediately with fire superiority, such as in an ambush by forces not similarly equipped.
A battle is a combat in warfare between two or more armed forces. A war usually consists of multiple battles. In general, a battle is a military engagement that is well defined in duration, area, and force commitment. An engagement with only limited commitment between the forces and without decisive results is sometimes called a skirmish.
Infantry is a military specialization that engages in military combat on foot, distinguished from cavalry, artillery, and armored forces. Also known as foot soldiers or infantrymen, infantry traditionally relies on moving by foot between combats as well, but may also use mounts, military vehicles, or other transport. Infantry make up a large portion of all armed forces in most nations, and typically bear the largest brunt in warfare, as measured by casualties, deprivation, or physical and psychological stress.
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, mobility, protection or security, and shock action. Tactics are a separate function from command and control and logistics. In contemporary military science, tactics are the lowest of three levels of warfighting, the higher levels being the strategic and operational 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, artillery, cavalry or tanks.
Combined arms is an approach to warfare which seeks to integrate different combat arms of a military to achieve mutually complementary effects. According to strategist William S. Lind, combined arms can be distinguished from the concept of "supporting arms" as follows:
Combined arms hits the enemy with two or more arms simultaneously in such a manner that the actions he must take to defend himself from one make him more vulnerable to another. In contrast, supporting arms is hitting the enemy with two or more arms in sequence, or if simultaneously, then in such combination that the actions the enemy must take to defend himself from one also defends himself from the other(s).
A fireteam or fire team is a small military sub-subunit of infantry designed to optimise "bounding overwatch" and "fire and movement" tactical doctrine in combat. Depending on mission requirements, a typical fireteam consists of four or fewer members: an automatic rifleman, a grenadier, a rifleman, and a designated team leader. The role of each fireteam leader is to ensure that the fireteam operates as a cohesive unit. Two or three fireteams are organised into a section or squad in co-ordinated operations, which is led by a squad leader.
Trench warfare is a type of land warfare using occupied fighting lines largely comprising military trenches, in which troops are well-protected from the enemy's small arms fire and are substantially sheltered from artillery. Trench warfare became archetypically associated with the World War I (1914–1918), when the Race to the Sea rapidly expanded trench use on the Western Front starting in September 1914.
The military tactic of frontal assault is a direct, full-force attack to the front line of an enemy force, rather than to the flanks or rear of the enemy. It allows for a quick and decisive victory, but at the cost of subjecting the attackers to the maximum defensive power of the enemy; this can make frontal assaults costly even if successful, and often disastrously costly if unsuccessful. It may be used as a last resort when time, terrain, limited command control, or low troop quality do not allow for any battlefield flexibility. The risks of a frontal assault can be mitigated by the use of heavy supporting fire, diversionary attacks, the use of cover, or infiltration tactics.
Close-quarters combat (CQC) or close-quarters battle (CQB) is a tactical concept that involves a physical confrontation between several combatants at very short range. It can take place between military units, police/corrections officers and criminals, and in other similar scenarios. In warfare, it usually consists of small units or teams engaging the enemy with personal weapons within a distance up to 100 metres (110 yd), from proximity hand-to-hand combat to close-quarter target negotiation with firearms. In the typical close combat scenario, the attackers try a very fast, violent takeover of a vehicle or structure controlled by the defenders, who usually have no easy way to withdraw. Because enemies, hostages/civilians, and fellow operators can be closely intermingled, close-quarters combat demands a rapid assault and a precise application of lethal force. The operators need great proficiency with their weapons, and the ability to make split-second decisions in order to minimize accidental casualties.
Skirmishers are light infantry or light cavalry soldiers deployed as a vanguard, flank guard or rearguard to screen a tactical position or a larger body of friendly troops from enemy advances. They are usually deployed in a skirmish line, an irregular open formation that is much more spread out in depth and in breadth than a traditional line formation. Their purpose is to harass the enemy by engaging them in only light or sporadic combat to delay their movement, disrupt their attack, or weaken their morale. Such tactics are collectively called skirmishing.
In warfare, infiltration tactics involve small independent light infantry forces advancing into enemy rear areas, bypassing enemy frontline strongpoints, possibly isolating them for attack by follow-up troops with heavier weapons. Soldiers take the initiative to identify enemy weak points and choose their own routes, targets, moments and methods of attack; this requires a high degree of skill and training, and can be supplemented by special equipment and weaponry to give them more local combat options.
Stormtroopers were specialist soldiers of the German Army in World War I. In the last years of the war, Stoßtruppen were trained to use infiltration tactics – part of the Germans' improved method of attack on enemy trenches. Men trained in these methods were known in Germany as Sturmmann, formed into companies of Sturmtruppen.
Armoured warfare or armored warfare, mechanised warfare or tank warfare is the use of armoured fighting vehicles in modern warfare. It is a major component of modern methods of war. The premise of armoured warfare rests on the ability of troops to penetrate conventional defensive lines through use of manoeuvre by armoured units.
In military history, the German term Kampfgruppe can refer to a combat formation of any kind, but most usually to that employed by the Wehrmacht of Nazi Germany and its allies during World War II and, to a lesser extent, of the German Empire in World War I.
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.
Ground warfare or land warfare is the process of military operations eventuating in combat that take place predominantly on the battlespace land surface of the planet.
Fire and movement, or fire and maneuver, is the basic modern military low-level unit tactic used to maneuver on the battlefield in the presence of the enemy, especially when under fire. It involves heavy use of all available cover, and highly-coordinated exchanges of rapid movement by some elements of the squad or platoon while other elements cover this movement with suppression fire. It is used both to advance on enemy positions as part of an attack, or withdrawal from current positions under attack by the enemy. The moving and supporting (suppressing) elements may be teams or individuals, and may quickly and continuously exchange roles until the entire unit completes the maneuver objective. Some members will specialize more in different roles within fire and movement as fits their range, equipment, terrain, and ability to maneuver. This is usually applied to standard infantry tactics, but forms of this are also used with armored fighting vehicles or when supported by artillery or airpower.
Shock tactics, shock tactic or shock attack is the name of an offensive maneuver which attempts to place the enemy under psychological pressure by a rapid and fully-committed advance with the aim of causing their combatants to retreat. The acceptance of a higher degree of risk to attain a decisive result is intrinsic to shock actions.
Military art is a field of theoretical research and training methodology in military science used in the conduct of military operations on land, in the maritime or air environments. Military art includes the study and application of the principles of warfare and laws of war that apply equally to the closely interrelated military strategy, operational art and tactics. Exercise of military art is highly dependent on the economics and logistics supporting the armed forces, their military technology and equipment, and reflects the social influences on the military organisation exercising military art. Often misunderstood due to its 19th-century perception as generally "including the entire subject of war", it is primarily, as the term implies, the expression of creative thinking on the part of the decision-makers in employing their forces, with the map of the area of operations as a veritable canvas, and the movement of forces commonly marked on the map with arrows, as brush strokes. Less imaginatively it was defined in France during the 19th century as
The art of war is the art of concentrating and employing, at the opportune moment, a superior force of troops upon the decisive point.
Napoleonic tactics describe certain battlefield strategies used by national armies from the late 18th century until the invention and adoption of the rifled musket in the mid 19th century. Napoleonic tactics are characterized by intense drilling of the soldiers, speedy battlefield movement, combined arms assaults between infantry, cavalry, and artillery, relatively small numbers of cannon, short-range musket fire, and bayonet charges. Napoleon I is considered by military historians to have been a master of this particular form of warfare. Napoleonic tactics continued to be used after they had become technologically impractical, leading to large-scale slaughters during the American Civil War, Austro-Prussian War and the Franco-Prussian War.