Offensive (military)

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An offensive is a military operation that seeks through aggressive projection of armed force to occupy territory, gain an objective or achieve some larger strategic, operational, or tactical goal. Another term for an offensive often used by the media is 'invasion', or the more general 'attack'.

A military operation is the coordinated military actions of a state, or a non-state actor, in response to a developing situation. These actions are designed as a military plan to resolve the situation in the state or actor's favor. Operations may be of a combat or non-combat nature and may be referred to by a code name for the purpose of national security. Military operations are often known for their more generally accepted common usage names than their actual operational objectives.

Military strategy is a set of ideas implemented by military organizations to pursue desired strategic goals. Derived from the Greek word strategos, the term strategy, when it appeared in use during the 18th century, was seen in its narrow sense as the "art of the general", or "'the art of arrangement" of troops. Military strategy deals with the planning and conduct of campaigns, the movement and disposition of forces, and the deception of the enemy.

Military tactics science and art of organizing a military force and techniques

Military tactics encompasses the art of organising 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.

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The offensive was considered a pre-eminent means of producing victory, although with the recognition of a defensive phase at some stage of the execution. [1]

A quick guide to the size or scope of the offensive is to consider the number of troops involved in the side initiating the offensive.

Offensives are largely conducted as a means to secure initiative in a confrontation between opponents. They can be waged on land, at sea [2] or in the air.

A naval offensive is the aggressive deployment of naval forces during a military campaign to strategically, operationally or tactically provide secure use of shipping routes, or coastal regions for friendly shipping, or deny them to enemy shipping.

An air offensive is a type of military operation conducted using aircrew, airborne and strategic missile troops to allow securing of war, campaign or operational initiative, air-space superiority or ensure defeat of enemy forces through use of air-delivered ordnance, or destruction of enemy air, ground and naval forces.

Naval offensives, such as the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, can have wide-ranging implications for national strategies, and require significant logistical commitment to destroy enemy naval capabilities. It can also be used to interdict enemy shipping, such as World War II's Battle of the Atlantic. Naval offensives can also be tactical in nature, such as Operation Coronado IX [3] conducted by the United States Navy's Mobile Riverine Force during the Vietnam War.

Attack on Pearl Harbor Surprise attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy on the U.S. Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor in Hawaii

The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike by the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service upon the United States against the naval base at Pearl Harbor in Honolulu, Hawaii on Sunday morning, December 7, 1941. The attack led to the United States' formal entry into World War II the next day. The Japanese military leadership referred to the attack as the Hawaii Operation and Operation AI, and as Operation Z during its planning.

Military logistics Military operations to move and maintain military forces

Military logistics is the discipline of planning and carrying out the movement and maintenance of military forces. In its most comprehensive sense, it is those aspects or military operations that deal with:

Maritime interdiction operations (MIOs) are naval operations, that aim to delay, disrupt, or destroy enemy forces or supplies en route to the battle area before they do any harm against friendly forces, similar to air interdiction.

An air offensive is an operation that can describe any number of different types of operations, usually restricted to specific types of aircraft. The offensives conducted with use of fighter aircraft are predominantly concerned with establishing air superiority in a given air space, or over a given territory. A bomber offensive is sometimes also known as a strategic bombing offensive and was prominently used by the Allies on a large scale during World War II. [4] Use of ground attack aircraft in support of ground offensives can be said to be an air offensive, such as that performed in the opening phase of the Red Army's Operations Kutuzov and Rumyantsev, when hundreds of Il-2 aircraft were used en masse to overwhelm the Wehrmacht's ground troops.

Fighter aircraft Military aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat against other aircraft

A fighter aircraft is a military aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat against other aircraft, as opposed to bombers and attack aircraft, whose main mission is to attack ground targets. The hallmarks of a fighter are its speed, maneuverability, and small size relative to other combat aircraft.

Bomber Military aircraft for attack of ground targets with bombs or other heavy ordnance

A bomber is a combat aircraft designed to attack ground and naval targets by dropping air-to-ground weaponry, firing torpedoes and bullets, or deploying air-launched cruise missiles.

Strategic bombing military attacks by air aimed at destroying a countrys ability to make war and will to fight

Strategic bombing is a military strategy used in total war with the goal of defeating the enemy by destroying its morale or its economic ability to produce and transport materiel to the theatres of military operations, or both. It is a systematically organized and executed attack from the air which can utilize strategic bombers, long- or medium-range missiles, or nuclear-armed fighter-bomber aircraft to attack targets deemed vital to the enemy's war-making capability.

Theatre offensive

A theatre offensive can be a war and a dominant feature of a national security policy, or one of several components of a war if a country is involved in several theatres such as the United Kingdom in 1941. In general theatre offensives require over 250,000 troops to be committed to combat operations, including combined planning for different arms and services of the armed forces, such as for example air defence troops integrated into the overall plan for ground operations. [5]

Theater (warfare) Area or place in which important military events occur or are progressing

In warfare, a theater or theatre is an area in which important military events occur or are progressing. A theater can include the entirety of the airspace, land and sea area that is or that may potentially become involved in war operations.

War Organised and prolonged violent conflict between states

War is a state of armed conflict between states, governments, societies and informal paramilitary groups, such as mercenaries, insurgents and militias. It is generally characterized by extreme violence, aggression, destruction, and mortality, using regular or irregular military forces. Warfare refers to the common activities and characteristics of types of war, or of wars in general. Total war is warfare that is not restricted to purely legitimate military targets, and can result in massive civilian or other non-combatant suffering and casualties.

Military history of the United Kingdom during World War II

The United Kingdom, along with most of its Dominions and Crown colonies declared war on Nazi Germany in September 1939, after the German invasion of Poland. War with Japan began in December 1941, after it attacked British colonies in Asia. The Axis powers were defeated by the Allies in 1945.

Strategic offensive

A strategic offensive is often a campaign, and would involve use of over 100,000 troops as part of a general Strategy of the conflict in a given theatre. For example, the Operation Barbarossa was a theatre offensive composed of three distinct and inter-related campaigns in the Southern, Central and Northern parts of USSR territory. Soviet strategic offensive operations during World War II often involved multi-front coordinated operations. Along with the Wehrmacht operations on the Eastern Front of World War II, these were the largest military operations of the twentieth century. Strategic operations of the Red Army in World War II provides a listing of large-scale Soviet operations.

A strategic offensive is the aggressive expression of war planning and use of strategic forces as a whole, combining all resources available for achieving defined and definitive goals that would fundamentally alter the balance of power between belligerents. [6] However, the planning and execution of strategic offensives are always based on theoretical considerations because it is impractical, uneconomic and difficult to hide a full-scale rehearsal of large-scale operations.

A strategic offensive consists of simultaneous, tandem or phased operational offensives that seek to achieve specific operational objectives that eventually lead to the achievement of a strategic goal, usually a complete defeat of the opposition, but also destruction of a significant enemy force or occupation of strategically significant territory, such as the Manchurian Strategic Offensive Operation. [7]

Any given strategic offensive is a derivative of a combination of factors such as national military doctrine, past military experience, and analysis of socio-political, economic and military circumstances. [8]

An offensive

An offensive is a conduct of combat operations that seek to achieve only some of the objectives of the strategy being pursued in the theatre as a whole. Commonly an offensive is carried out by one or more divisions, numbering between 10–30,000 troops as part of a combined arms manoeuvre.

See also

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References

  1. p.220, Glantz
  2. Edward Wegener; Henning Wegener, The Soviet Naval Offensive: An Examination of the Strategic Role of Soviet Naval Forces in the East-West Conflict, Naval Institute Press, 1976
  3. p.135, Fulton
  4. Longmate, pp.309-312
  5. Isby, p.52
  6. p.8, Glantz (1991)
  7. page xvii, Glantz (2003)
  8. p.8, Glantz (1991)

Sources