quick glance and intuition must be
developed so that, following a series of accepted techniques,
they help those in command to control and direct the operations.
Studiousness and reasoning are used to know the best techniques and how to apply them. Once learned by experience and reflection, these must open the way to governance by intuition. This prevails in a global, holistic sense – in an internal processing of the spirit – that settles down a pace and gives proportion and adjustment to the given situation. Which is much more rapid and effective, that the continuous resource to the analysis, the feedback and the check list of things to do.
The possibilities, advice and techniques that follow one from another in a given and changing situation, grow in exponential form. Knowing all of them at any given moment is impossible. And it can be source of errors, since that stance does not allow readily for feedback, verification, and adaptation. That stance is not very useful either, because it slows deliberation and because possibilities, techniques, and advice are sometimes contradictory, in light of all the conditions that define a situation.
Thus, once formed, an officer must trust his military sense, that is, the specific intuition on how to act in all occasions. Excessive emotion, especially fear and hatred (negative ones), block the intuitive management and the agility of the mind, reducing its effectiveness to that of fallible reasoning. Serenity and discipline are the best assistants of intuition.
An anonymous sage said that «reasoning was a way to err with conviction». The cause or reason of this is nothing more than «we do not have at hand all the conditions or parameters that define a complex situation».
The search for a solution for an operational or tactical mission happens through a mental process of investigation, information and deliberation. The results of intelligence and exploration must also inform and be rooted in the command’s mind. According to the western psychology, these mental processes give rise to intuition.
In this process it is not absolutely clear the nexus between deliberation and solution, since these cases have numerous “variants” and diverse possibilities for reality or certainty. The solution does not arise by accumulating data and its ruminating,
But by a “qualitative leap”, after which the essential concept of the situation or its total conceptual apprehension is clearly contemplated.
These “leaps” take place in unconscious mental elaboration by a mind trained to discern these essential concepts. That can be absolute or referred to the mind in itself, or relative, referred to situations or external facts to it, as parcels of the knowledge. After information is considered, the analytical mind verifies it and validates the correctness of one or two “special” solutions (better than “ideals”) available.
This apparent incoherence between the Solution which we postulated, and the branched solution that is obtained, arises as a result of the natural indetermination that exists in defining and considering all the variables in any given phenomenon or situation. Mental courage is the best aid of wisdom, enabling one to overcome doubt in a situation and take hold of creative opportunities.
is even more important in a military
as they are by the “smoke
or fog of
war”, and being
affected by friction
and the errors
ofoperatingmen and units.
Part of that “smoke”
is generated by our own
knowledge, that is
erroneous, and only partially
correct, about the “enemy
at the other side of the hill”.
practitioners of theory.
All the examples we present are characterized by having repeatedly overcome their enemies in their confrontations. And, maintaining a striking creativity and freshness in their use of the «art science of war».
at times, an operational strategy of hammering, on the
part of an enemy with more means and resources, has finally deprived
some of the victory.
Now, closing the “historical and definer cicle”, the wars of V generation are called hybrid or multi functional wars, which, really, always have existed. With the major or minor participation of each one of the available “means of intervention» (Foreign Relations, regular and irregular Armed Forces, Economy, Cybernetics, etc) in the social group, to obtain the searched «functions of intervention» on the enemy. Forming a “means” mix, adapted to all situations and confrontation theaters.
for nominating nowadays with an exotic and new word, preferably
foreign, one makes
this way a «mean
or a function of intervention»
fresh and promising. The problem is that the ignorance of the
history, still the recent one, impoverishes the new concepts, ideas
and situations of conflict.
Without winning in application,
efficiency and cognitive capacity
with it. With
this, only it
falls or repeats
the previous history, returning
to learn it. And that, as
in a spiral screw,
only changes the phenomenon temporal
«plane of execution«.
Where are kept safe
and now partly secret, the different «essential
parameters» of the phenomena
of the conflicts and fights.
Almost all the «means of intervention» of the State, used to obtain his national aims, already were present in the panoply of means at his disposition, a long before this new name of the Hybrid War. The «functions of intervention» were developed by «means» adapted to the real possibilities of his epoch. And they were obtaining the looked aims, though they were very specific. There we have the actions of the SAS (Special Air Service) as «special forces of punctual intervention with limited objectives” in the enemy rearguard. Fighting against this one and to support and help the local «forces of resistance to the occupant». In the USA we have to the SEALs, the Rangers, the Delta force and the Special Forces, among others. In Germany is the GSG 9 group. In Australia and New Zealand they have the same name that the British corps.
strategic and tactical needs of the war and the functions of the
«means of intervention» are slightly
variable. And his variability is a function
of the improvements in general training, scope, speed,
capacity of shock and fire on the enemy, communications between
«means», protection of these, etc. That offer the
successive technologies applicable to the «means».
One of the «means of intervention» of a world or regional power to obtain his «national and strategic aims» are the «Foreign Relations«. That has a concept qualitatively more extensive than the Diplomacy. This refers to the State or government affairs, that treat two or more nations (alliances). And the diplomatic «function» is to negotiate by the political way what communicates to him his State, department or secretary. Asking and receiving successive instructions, if it was necessary, to support and continue the negotiation. And being kept or not in his execution and protocol relations, within the qualities of discretion, prudence and tact that characterize his trade.
The Foreign Relations also include other relations and more heterodox actions. That is necessary to look for, to keep and to support in the exterior to obtain our National aims. This way, a function of the foreign relations is to appear for it, new opportunities and more secondary ways or routes and «means of intervention«. The Foreign Relations collaborate directly, since always it has been done, using the means and the in force national strategy, with the Intelligence, the Economy and the national Armed Forces. That is to say, acting together in a «mix» of functions and means of intervention, the war always has been Hybrid from the Prehistory. Creating new opportunities and ways, to apply and use the whole creative and potential capacity of the State, to achieve his strategic and operational aims.
A succinct example between thousands of situations. The «Central Strategic Command of Combined War» can request to Foreign Relations the search of dissident or domestic enemy in a potential enemy country. Located one o more of these, there are valued his capacities, circumstances, implantation and operational possibilities. This way, FF. RR. would present a report to the Central Command in the shape of a «founded resolution”, involving in it. That is, valuing schematically the existing cases and being decided for one or two, depending on his qualities and our general or punctual convenience.
These dissidents or enemies will be politicians or also armed rebels. In the first case, our nation might grant to them asylum, scholarships, economic support and advice to his groups. In the second one, in a phase of major confrontation, we could also send supply and armaments, advisers and trainers and «special operations» or units of «foreign volunteers», to support and/or reinforce them in his insurgents activities.
At the beginning of the 16th century the «reformists and heretical» ideas of the priest Martin Luther propagated in the center and north of Europe, with the help of the press. The origin of the word propaganda arises during the Counter Reformation. It is a reference to the spread of the catholic faith. With the Jesuits in the forefront of this task of catechizing. Facing to the deviations from the preexisting orthodoxy, taught by the Lutherans, Huguenots, Calvinists, Erasmists, etc.
always handles basic,
essential information, that are easy
and simple by
definition. This is due to the fact that his «aim» (the
is always large
and numerous: the
a certain country or region, or a religious, economic, racial or
socially different extensive group.
They are those that it is necessary to inform, convince and,
the cases, to protect.
«mean of intervention» against
the enemies or to change or to influence wills, which was not known,
for unthinkable, until a few years ago, is the Cybernetic War.
The cybernetic attacks can go to the software or the hardware of the personal IT, managerial or institutional systems. The software is the «logical support» of an IT system, which makes possible the accomplishment of the different tasks. This «logical support» includes the operating system and the applications or IT programs that those realize. The hardware is the machinery or the set of physical components of the computer. This way, summarizing, the software generates instructions that are executed by the hardware or physical support of the system.
In general, the attacks are realized to the software of a system, looking for a «weakness» of this one. And using the malicious codes, the back entrances, etc. A penetration or attack to the software is prevented in general with an antivirus adapted to the received virus. To attack the hardware is necessary to act on the «physical component» of the computer. And his detection, with the nowadays existing miniaturization, turns out to be very improbable and long in the time, until the devastation is detected. The best way of acceding to the hardware is realizing the intrusion in the factories of components and of assemblies. But these are protected by control measures of components and external equipment, based on the nationality and the producer of them. Unless the attacker and the manufacturer undesirably match…
The Economy is an important and classic “mean of intervention» of the State and of the Nation. It means and involves in the effort of war the capacity of obtaining and producing all kinds of goods and services, intermediates and finals, that the technologies and processes in effect in each stage are capable of get and obtain.
The Economy is tied directly with the applied, specific education, of the skilled workforce, who is needed and could be achieved in a nation. The own aptitude to obtain goods or services (even with tourism, raw materials, trade) appetizing to other nations or social groups, will serve for the direct exchange or for barter of the goods and services in which a society is showing a deficit. As an example, energy or specifically qualified workforce.
Also, in cases of need and usefulness, a nation can decide to assign more productive resources to the production of a certain good. But, all more it is required specialization in the production, the performances, both neat and economic (as cost of them) will be minor. By virtue of the laws of the diminishing performance and of the increasing costs that suffer these «specialized reconverted productive processes«.
It is very easy to use the cement in producing military goods of static defense (bunkers, defensive armed lines) and not to raise buildings with it; it is relatively easy to convert the industrial vehicles factories of into armored vehicles plants. And it is very difficult to obtain great performances from a dairy changed in an arms plant.
All of these «means of intervention» require been necessarily and sufficiently harmonized and coordinated by a «centre of gravity» of the Central Strategic Command in each theatre of operations. That, in a centripetal and convergent effort, simultaneously or successively, it would direct and apply the specific means at its disposal.
The center of gravity is not an own physical unit, nor is its mission, neither a point in space or one with a predominant physical characteristic or an enemy unit.
The center of gravity is a coordinated flow of ideas of variable application, that generate original actions for fulfilling the mission and objectives. Originality, flexibility, variability, consistency, difficulty to predict by the enemy and effectiveness are essential to its establishment. Actually, the center of gravity is the instrument of direction, distribution and concentration, impulse and work. That the command has to focus on and unify, with the goal of accomplishing objectives and missions, and employing the efforts of his subordinate units and supports.
The chief is centered in his objectives and missions by means of the created center of gravity and follows a methodology for applying the operational systems.
As far as concentration goes, the so called “principal effort” expresses an effect of penetration in a given direction and a sense of being able to arrive at the rupture and exploit it. The combined-arms and aerial efforts of the units are concentrated on this.
The center of gravity has a more spatial and temporal sense, looking for an “operational convergence” of “related efforts” towards an objective. Those are not necessarily contiguous, simultaneous or sequential, but are synergic and result in outcomes based on consideration of the optimal form (means economic) of action of each weapon and service.
The center of gravity is more global or holistic; the main effort is more adding and cumulative. The main effort is exemplified by the hammering strategy of French Marshal Foch on the European western front beginning in the summer of 1918. This strategy was used to overcome the Germans purely by eroding their battle capacity in the theater of operations. And only shifting its direction when German resistance was excessive.
The effects of the main effort are more direct, predictable and evident. Those of the center of gravity are more subtle and unexpected, at least in the first phases of a military action.
The main effort is an instrument of the tactical level and is not necessarily generalized to the other levels. The center of gravity can be used in all dialectical activity where several means (either in number or in nature, near or distant) can be used. Within each level of military activity, beginning with the superior one, the center of gravity brings together and harmonizes all activities to obtain the most important effect or objective of that level.
At the strategic level, these would be the critical vulnerabilities of the enemy within the theater of operations. The nature of these would be informed by an important political component. At operational level the center of gravity would be created over the critical vulnerabilities of the campaign. At tactical level it would be the objective that would make operational transcendental the battle. If this was correctly addressed, as necessary for the operational direction, the objective would be that which would be decisive in the battle and get the exploitation of victory.
The center of gravity supposes a centripetal action of all the lines of performance, of the ramified activity of all the units and the services, not necessarily coincident, but convergent in their efficiency and result.
Following the communications ramified lines, we take advantage of the departure situation of each force and the transitability of the land, looking for the optimal use of the combined-arms set, reserves and logistics. By means of the different lines of attack or action we induce uncertainty in the enemy, we disperse his defensive capacity and disturb his plans for, and execution of, defense.
The ramified lines, in a final centripetal action, are peculiar to the center of gravity. The accumulation of forces in a sector, reiterating (inserted or successive units) or strengthening (adding tanks, narrowing the sector or providing greater fire support) the effort, is peculiar to the concept of the main effort.
An example of the use of the center of gravity following those ramified lines at the strategic level, is found in Napoleon’s operations to secure the surrender of Ulm held by the Austrian army of General Mack and Archduke Ferdinand.
In an ample advance of its independent army corps, the Great Armée (about 210,000 men) crossed the center of Germany, from the Rhein to the Danube. With this it operationally interposed between the Austrians (about 40,000 men) and the allied Russian forces that went to help them. The French initiated the crossing of the Danube on October 7, 1805 and, during the following week, Napoleon converge most of his army corps in an enormous spiral on Ulm. While a sufficient force watched the arrival from the east of Russian General Kutuzov.
General Mack made, in vain, several attempts at rupturing through Napoleon’s forces, applying his greatest efforts in Haslach and Elchingen. Both Austrian commanders quarreled among themselves and Archduke Ferdinand, with his 6,000 riders, separated from the main force and tried to escape to the northeast.
On the other hand, General Mack and the rest of his men (about 27,000, after the mentioned battles) met Napoleon’s overwhelming numbers at the doors to the city of Ulm since October, 14 and laid down their weapons at the feet of the Michelsberg mount. The capitulation was signed by General Mack on the 20th. The forces of Archduke Fernando were surrounded and won by the cavalry corps of Murat near Trochtelfingen. Another 12,000 Austrians surrendered in Neustadt. The campaign, without properly battles, cost Austria more than 50,000 men of her initial forces of about 70,000 troops.
The center of gravity directs, canalizes, gathers and orients the creation and the direction of the strike of different units and supports in each case. Its shift by the command allows the continuous adaptation to circumstances and the maintenance of focus on intermediate aims.
The center of gravity has as effective factors the speed of operations and logistics. The first allows optimal actuation of the combat capacity of forces and the second diminishes or compensates for the inevitable wearing down of the mobility capacity of troops and posible combat capacity during operations.
Its negative factors are poor transitability, including caused by obstacles, cuts and minefields, and battles command did not wish to engage in. The first “wears away” the operational mobility of the troops and the second “exhausts” their potential combat capacity.
Without those capacities, the fluidity, synergy and the ramified activity of thecenter of gravity tends to revert in a main effort in an operational direction that is quickly known by the enemy. So, the “stunning waves” that are generated on the enemy, cross-sectional to our advance in his operational zone, diminish with it in intensity and frequency, perhaps in the end, even disappear.
The direct elements of performance in the center of gravity are the combined-arms sets, the own and superior level of reserves (even including those in the mass of support or operational rearguard) and logistics. Once the center of gravity is conceived, it is applied and developed by means of the operational systems.
and the Future.
Hybrid War, a scolium?
but this concept for command can be useful for the wars of I, II, III
and IV generation (according to the US denomination, widely
«accepted»). But, now we approach the era of the war
of V generation: the
hybrid or miltifacetic or multifunctional war.
Employing, in addition, digital, computer methods, using the precision and discrimination that allow mathematical algorithms and the technology of radiations and electromagnetic pulses.
But it is just that this model of dialectical confrontation with its variable component of physical strength, needs a harmonious and holistic integration of the available multidisciplinary means. By focusing them on achieving different objectives simultaneously or successively, that we want to achieve. And preserving the universal principle of optimization and saving means.
Consulters with Mc Kinsey’s prestige were praising for more than two decades, the need to create internal «competitions» between the different areas or business branches of a great size company. Thinking that, of this competition of the «dialectics of the rivals», benefits would arise for the company and spurs and motivations for the areas of the company and the employees. But, this «social process» is more proper of the scientific materialism, being based on the evidences of the historical materialism. And, in the practice, the intensity of this competition ascends to the limits, because this theory does not put limits or brakes to the dialectics that is used. Except the implicit one of the good education, which allows to say many and hards things with good manners. The inevitable small mistakes and imperfections that were arising in the actions and executions from all, were praised and used by his rivals to justify theirs and to overvalue the efficiency of his own acts. And, instead of using an operating system of «combined arms» (departments and functions integrated to collaboration) to convergently use on the gravit center, for use a military resemblance, the counselors were creating a great horses team. Where each animal was following his indvidual direction. Managing to hinder and to jam this way the work of the «advised» companies. The internal tears in the companies, provoked between those who should be companions in the culture and the complete accomplishment of the company, were the principal lasting result of this autodestructive practical. Since, unlike the facts of the historical materialism, here were not remaining «victors» and «exclude conquered».
Other times, as part of this «capitalist enterprise culture», the external consultants of firms of recognized solvency, as Arthur Andersen (liquidated during the crisis of Lehman Brothers, victim of his own internal contradictions and heterodox practices), were used by the high management of the companies to slim his stable and trained personnel. The implicit contracting was usually done by the executive managing director in a «casual» contact (promoted by a high commercial directive of the consulting firm), during a banquet or a high standing meeting. The brainy advisers, who were diving free by the company, were finally facilitating the obligatory report to the management of the firm. That was using it to support the dismissal or the movement of employees, before these and the unions. The basic premise was that the fixed cost (of personnel) was malignant «per se» and had to be replaced by the variable cost, depending on the activity or the sales of the companies. As corollary and natural consequence, almost all kinds of functions were moving out of the company. And they were submitting to carry out them to services or outsourcing companies. But these not always had not even the means, nor the qualified personnel that had the dismembered company. The degree of the outsourcing that was suffering the original company was a function of the saving cost wished by his management and agreed with the consultants’ international firm.
YOUNG GEORGE PATTON…
There really can be relocated almost always the works of maintenance and of cleaning; the caretaking and the security; the distribution transport to the client and the long distance transport by complete loads, etc. But there can not to be handed over to third parties the essential activities of a company, nor those which could debilitate it in his strategic functions and the flowchart. And it is necessary, in addition, to have the own means to monitor and to control perfectly the fulfillment of his obligations, by the part of the third collaborators. The service to the clients, as for his satisfaction in time, place, quantity and quality of the received, is a strategic activity. That is easily ill-treated by a submitting to third parties of the functions related to it (orders reception, service or delivery time, etc.). In the practice, a «enterprise culture» had been created for the relocation. But there were not established the means and the functions necessary for his vigilance and control. That could be formwith the parts literally uprooted from the companies, to save fixed costs…
The arms is a special profession, often forgotten by the modern societies or, at least, neglected. Especially when the «opportunity» of his employment is not glimpsed in an immediate future. It is not possible to govern this institution with the parameters of internal competition and tension, downsizing and outsourcing of secondary functions, business management and management by objectives, typical of the big and medium modern corporations. This was tried by the genius (high IC) of Robert McNamara, ex-president of Ford Motor Company, as JFK’s secretary of Defense, in his military reform of 1960. The result was seen a few years later, in the middle of the war of Vietnam. Many combat units could not trust in his natural chiefs and under the enemy fire, literally collapsed and refused to fight. This institutional rot led that at least 1000 officials and subofficials of small units were murdered by his men. Though the real number might be major. The number of officials died in Vietnam was of the order of 4500. The military modern history does not offer another example of this magnitude and transcendency.
The Motivation of the Men in Arms.
It is not easy, for not saying that it is almost impossible, to create an armed forces effective and motivated in a weak, fractured nation, without autoesteem, defeated herself inside. Because the armed forces are not more than the part of the nation specialized in his active defense. And civilians or nationals in uniform integrate them. And, this way, it is not possible to defend what is not known, does not exist or is perceived as not deserving of the selflessness and of the own effort.
Because of it, the first thing is to cultivate and to reinforce the internal links of the nation. That are seated always in his idiosyncratics virtues. That is to say, his constitutive, distinctive and permanent values. For the pashtuns, artificially divided by the line Durand, established by the colonialist Britishs, between Afghanistan and Pakistan, many of these virtues are gathered in his Pashtunwalli or honor code. For many African tribes, his assabiya or identity reflects his essential values and the mutual duties and rights between the individual and his immediate collectivity or social group. The existence of a threat to the nation, to his territorial or social integrity, to his survival, allows to accelerate these internal processes of vertebración and galvanization of a society. Creating, as consequence, a natural and stout defense.
The soldiers in general must be participants, in certain form, of his destinations. But, this is not a question to create a «popular army». Where the criterion of the «amorphous groups» of the soldiers, substitutes the military wisdom of the commands and the guide of the doctrine and the regulations. Where, in the practice, is the «guide» of the political commissioner of the unit the one that was dictating the procedure and his application. Whose examples and precedents were unlucky in the so called «popular democracies». The communists had to rapidly return to the estruture of only one command for the military units. If they wanted to recover efficiency. And the political commissioner, directly dependent of the Political General Administrative Office of the Armed Forces, was at the time called the “substitute of the chief of the unit for the political work”, depending hierarchically of him.
But, the soldiers take part feeling attended, trained, equipped, ordered and compromised with his missions. Feeling integrated with the facts and his destiny. Forming a part of a well designed (clear, effective and modern doctrine), which is well led (involved, effective, human and respectable commands) and built machinery: endowed with the human and materials means adapted to the missions to fulfill. Though their punctual and relative shortage is usually chronic.
In general, the victorious and/or resiliences armies of all the epochs have possessed an officials and commands corps educated and short, of not more than 7 or 8% of the men. With the men, trained, qualified and mental motivated by religious, ethnic or social reasons. And all endowed of a common «corps spirit», of belonging to a select social group and estimated by the nation. Which gives them entirety, cohesion, sacrifice spirit and obedience to the duty, transmitted by his commands. That is above, sometimes, of the normal requirements of the performance of his arms profession. It is not a question of fanfares and harangues, of parades and of «missions» in the allied or depressed countries. It is a question of conviction, belonging, of healthy pride and disposition of themselves, fulfilling a mandate of the nation.
A favorite tactic of the Mongols, especially effective when their enemy was willing to meet or was more confident in its exit, for reasons of pure initial numerical superiority, was the «mangudai». It was that a Mongol «army» corps, inferior to the enemy, was seriously engaged in fighting. Its size was large enough for the Mongol effort to be considered important. With it he would mentally attract the enemy and remove him from any other thought or possibility. After a hard battle, the sheer weight of the enemy forced the Mongol corps to retreat. What was a tactical retreat, never really disorderly, was taken by the enemy as an exploitable defeat. His total and permanent ignorance of the Mongols made him suspect nothing. And his desire for victory, augmented by the true effort made in the combat, did not let him to see beyond.
The yearning persecution ended up scattering the tight, solid formations of the enemy riders. At a moment of pursuit, always far from the rest of the enemy forces waiting, the bulk of the Mongol heavy cavalry emerged, hidden, fresh and thrown to the clash. That ended by undoing the disjointed cavalry groups, in which the persecutors had dispersed. After a real hunt, the enemy forces that remained in their initial positions in battle, either dispersed or were in turn attacked by the whole of the Mongol forces.
The modern working of the combat and operational movement binomial.
putting into practice with a «correct sense» these things,
the combats and the operational movements are continuously and
cyclically renewed in their possibilities. Giving each one mutual
impulses, opportunities and reasons for action. In this intimate
collaboration, decisions are outlined and consolidated until
objectives are achieved.
operational movement of units in military operations, returning to
the physical force simile, is not an applied force, but a potential
one, that has not yet produced work. It is like free gas or a stream
of water. Its potential character, which is perceived by the enemy,
is a threat that can cause disorganization and dislocation on its
operational advance. Combat is like a concentrated, regular and
kinetic force, capable of immediately performing the service asked of
it. It springs into action as steam exits a boiler and as water moves
the turbine paddles of a dam.
Another pair of better-known complementary «opposites» exist between interarms groups and it is the factor of efficacy that they possess.
refers to cooperation between mechanized infantries and tanks, which
is derived from the nearby combat capacity of the first and the
protection and direct fire power of the second, that are united in
comparable tactical and operations speeds. Both forces maintain the
impulse and the shock of the armored corp, according to opportunities
that are offered to it and framed by its intentions and resources,
the terrain, and the intentions and means of the enemy.
We have to remember that at the end of 1980s and the beginning of 1990s, proponents of a war of maneuvers in America argued that combat (bad) harmed movement (good).
But, without combat there is no decision and without operational movement there is no exploitation of the operational and strategic enemy zones, nor there are high profitable combats against enemies whose deployments have been dislocated. A mobile corp «influences» the enemy by damaging him through combat or by the timely interruption of vital parts of his deployment. Nuclear dissuasion worked because its destructive capacity was real and intolerable and because the possibility of its employment was credible.
Operational movement and combat are necessary, complementary, cooperative and mutually transcendent instruments of the operational strategy. Problems and contradictions arise when, deprived of freedom of action, it is necessary to use or substitute one in the detriment of the other, in order to generate a new impulse for continued military action. When forced to do this, the effects are grave, as they harm «total time» required to planning, preparation and accomplishment of combat or movement operations. It is for this reason that, for example, to engage in an unexpected combat during a march, is inadvisable, as it wreaks havoc on operation «time» and squanders the combat capacity of the units.
the movement phase, combat is secondary and should be used against
opportunistic objectives, to secure the sector of advance, and,
especially, to thwart enemy efforts when possible. In the combat
phase, combat capacity should be used according to tactical
established procedures and looking in its conception to ensure that
decisions have transcendence in operational strategy. Doing this
results in each element stimulating and strengthening the other in
their respective operations, something that often has a multiplier
effect in causing final results that were unexpected «a priori».
The feeling that a special «pace» or tempo has been
achieved is a sure enough sign that one’s forces have freedom of
action and are operating correctly with the nature of war in its
The relative characteristics of combat are:
Its great intensity in a tactically «dense» environment, with heavy operational actions; the depletion of combat capacity, with a corresponding loss of «influence» on the enemy, that comes from not being able to further damage him; and the maintenance of movement capacity to carry out an operational exploitation.
allows one to gain operational «impulse» by
breaking through and penetrating, enveloping and pursuing the enemy.
Including a delayed defense when forces are obliged to stop their
advance, and, in general, to take advantage of tactical
The relative characteristics of operational movements are:
Operational lightness that allows for a high speed of march; the depletion of its movement capacity with the corresponding loss of «influence» on the enemy, that comes from not being able to reach him; and the maintenance of combat capacity in a system where combined arms are balanced.
Operational movement becomes obstructed when mobility is impeded. This can be caused by: the enemy (mine fields, reinforced and/or covered by fire obstacles); the necessity of responding to enemy fire or tactical movement; the lack of supplies or the dislocation of mobile groups from their «mass of support«; deployment changes, the force reorganizations, the uncertainties caused by the lack of intelligence, and the undecisions or doubts within the command.
Finally, when logistics are well-organized and communication lines are secure and adequate, the capacities of combat and operational movement can be recovered. Even if they have been depleted by the mobile corps and by its support mass in the different operations, in order to move forward on objectives ordered by the command.
Prince Wenhui’s butcher was carving up an ox, he seized the animal
with his hands, forced it to its knees and his knife, upon being sunk
into the animal, produced a pure musical sound.
Seeing his butcher working one day, Prince Wenhui said: –Ah!, Excellent! How have you reached such perfection with your art?
aside his knife, the butcher answered, «At first, when I, your
servant, began butchering oxen, I only saw the ox before me; after
three years I still did not see the ox itself. Now I use my spirit to
truly know the ox, not my eyes to merely see it. Once the senses are
restrained, it is the spirit that acts.
the natural lines of the ox, I cut between the joints until I reach
the bones between the bones and the tendons. In this way, the knife
accommodates the natural lines of the ox and, in this way, encounters
not even the merest hindrance from the veins or tendons, much less
from the animal’s big bones!
good butcher changes knife once a year, since that it is used to cut
the meat; a common butcher changes it once a month, as he uses to cut
bones. Nineteen years has passed that I, your servant, have used the
same knife. With it I have butchered thousands of oxen, yet it
remains as sharp as if it had recently been forged at the millstone.
The joints of the ox have hollows and the blade of the knife is not
thick. Sinking the blade of the knife into the softness of the ox is
done comfortably and easily. Because of this, even after so many
years my knife appears as new as when it was just came off the
I sometimes run across a knot, I probe the difficulty and proceed
with the greatest care. I regard the ox intently, move slowly, handle
the knife very carefully and, there!, the ox is quartered and reduced
to flesh. At that time I stand up, knife in hand, and look around
feeling pleased. I clean the knife and put it away.
Prince Wenhui. Hearing your reasoning I have come to understand the
work necessary to nurture life.
it is true, Sir, remarked the butcher, this virtue is acquired
neither from erudition nor from books. It is the fruit of observation
and reflection and, because of that, it cannot be passed on if not
learned first-hand. (1)
The effect of a torrent of water in his way (2):
we observe a torrent descending on successive banks of land or dams
that lie in its way, we see that it first thrusts against the
obstacle, probing and testing all its surfaces.
Opportunely, once finding a small break or weakness, the water gathers and its first trickles begin to rush over the obstacle.
on all sides, the water rushes through the gap and, by eroding the
earth it comes into contact with, widens the gap. Whirling through
and around the edges of the gap, the water washes away soil and
expands the gap.
this happens, a current of water flows directly through the gap; on
each side of the current, whirlpools of water continue to circulate.
Having crossed the gap, the water gathers and expands, to become once
again a torrential onslaught. As it flows, the water increases
constantly its volume until the torrent has reached again its
original proportions, leaving in ruins all obstacles that it
The butcher, his knife and his art, non-reflective in action, represent the specific aim of the operative strategy in war: disorganize the enemy with the least possible cost to one’s own means (combat capacity, operational mobility and supplies).
The work of the butcher is to cut up beast; to convert it from a beinginto a set of pieces and wreckage that is ready to be prepared for consumption. To prepare the pieces of the ox for later consumption, further work of cutting, portioning and reducing is required by other butchers and cooks at the palace. This work is equivalent to battles of encirclement and annihilation, where the overwhelming superiority of a local operative strips its enemies of resources and strength.
metaphor of flowing water is akin to the flexibility
and adjustments necessary to tactical actions carried out by units
and small combined arms units against an enemy.
the breach in an obstacle encountered by water is neither enlarged,
nor does it expand without erosion. Not even water, the
embodiment of docility and smoothness, vanquishes, per se, soil.
drop of water that flows through the breach, erodes soil through its
“minimal gravitational force”, especially during the turbulent
movement of the liquid, whose force is tangential to the
water in a torrent or river flows continuously, seemingly
inexhaustibly, due to the gravitational energy of the
Earth, which pulls it to the lowest level in a riverbed.
waters of the sea and of the rivers win over gravity and the forces
of Van der Waals, which join by covalent bonds
its molecules, thanks to thermal solar energy that
provides to them the «specific heat of evaporation«.
Water is condensed into drops by superficial tension,
giving them their size and shape. They are then gathered into clouds,
from which water falls as droplets again to the Earth, feeding the
«constant torrent «.
Combat and operative movements are not antagonistic forces. Rather, they are necessary and complementary forces. That move harmonically and opportunely our military resources in the effort to achieve the objectives that an enemy would violently denies us. Combat is the utilization of combat capacity, while operational movement refers to the employment of the operational movement capacity of a military system.
Both form a unit of action, so that one without the other can not exist from conceptual and practical points of view in the machine of war. One force may sometimes be predominant, such as when it is being employment, and during that period it is more visible to observers and in its effects.
The combat without opportunity and operational transcendence ultimately falls, in unbearable human and material losses and brutal and successive shocks. That enervate and degrade participants. Effects that could get in «the chaos born from itself». An example are the battles on the Western Front during World War I. Which originated the tactic of slow, prolonged, stabile and undecided fighting, whose results and personal and economic costs were terrible.
Operational movement that systematically avoids combat also fails due to the lack of decision and transcendence. It becomes superfluous and useless, a spendthrift arabesque that depletes logistics and results finally in paralysis. This is illustrated during the epoch of Marlborough and Marshall of Saxe. As Beaufré claims, this war that began in the 17th century lasted through much of the 18th century was characterized by mobile but only slightly decisive operations.
example of the synthesis of these factors in an almost perfect system
of war is art of war achieved by the Mongolians through their
conquests and invasions. As example, its series of sustained attacks
that managed to seriously threaten the center of Europe in the middle
of 13th century.
Mongolian Warfare: an harmonic synthesis of the combat and the
On one hand, the Mongolians possessed an incredible capacity for consistent movement. Their minimal needs were met by pillaging the land and each rider possessed several mounts. These provided both meat and transport for their rapid tactical and operational actions. One Mongol horse could supply enough meat for more than 100 men’s daily rations in campaign. Their success was enhanced by a few polished, simple and forceful tactics. Based on discipline and that made use of their hunting experience with the compound bow, their expertise in managing herds and their knowledge of the human feelings that combat intensifies. The know-how of the Mongolians with the compound bow –a skill that takes much time to acquire and that must be maintained by frequent training– came from their productive activities as nomadic shepherds, who had a great deal of free time.
was the operational zone of the Mongols?
did not have it, nor did they need it. Their optimal level of
enlistment was both simple, effective and quick to achieve. They
start from «their» strategic zone, defined by
the advance and the location of their nomadic hamlets,
never observed or suspected by their enemies, to the tactical
zone with it. No need for the transition or adaptation
imposed by the complexity of manufacturing technology and the
combined arms groups and their deployments and the entire logistics
chain of an army. Their operations do not require the physical
support of the operational zone.
front of the discontinuous front of the positions of their enemies,
there is a wide, unprotected and empty area, controlled by no one,
that the Mongols use to the fullest for their strategic
is nothing, on the part of its enemies, that reminds advanced
detachments or reconnaissance groups. Although the Marshal of Saxony
in a similar war context, because there was not yet mechanization of
armies or long-range fire, warns that they can be relatively safe, in
their operations independent of the forces advancing behind them.
This double character, punctual of the combats and independent of them in the operations, favors to the maximum the art of the Mongol war, which is always operationally offensive.
The Mongol preoccupation with the enemy is generally strategic, thinking of its exposed flanks at the level of the occupied countries. Somehow, it is originated in its ever-small number for their objectives and in the tactical non invincibility of their forces. If they find an organized, skilled and, above all, serene enemy. Genghis Khan, in 1221, after the conquest of the Muslim empire of Samarkand, located in Turkestan, Persia and Afghanistan, systematically sacked Afghanistan. His son Tului killed most of the inhabitants of northern Persia (Khorasan). With this they protected the southern flank of the empire.
In 1241 100 thousand Mongols, under the command of the crown prince Batu and general Subudai, crossed the Polish-Ukrainian border to attack Hungary. Around 20000 men, two Tumans or divisions, under the command of Prince Baidar and Prince Kadan, are charged with ensuring that the Hungarians will not receive reinforcements from Poland, Germany or Bohemia.
To this aim, they defeat the concentrations of the forces of these nations in Chmielnik (attracting the enemy in their pursuit, without a previous fight, to an ambush, appearing as a incursion group that was retiring to its base), at 18 Kms of Krakow, and in Liegnitz (by means of a “mangudai”), at 60 Kms to the west of Breslau. With this last victory and a feint to penetrate in Germany, they drive away, until more than 400 Kms of Hungary, the King Wenceslau of Bohemia, who goes back to defend his lands. In less than a month, the Mongol detachment had travelled 650 Kms and fought two decisive battles for its plans. Poland was stunned and prostrated after their passage and the Germans, at west of the Oder, were preparing to defend their lands. This action also protected the Mongol’s land communications with Ukraine, their base of departure, where their nomadic hamlets remained. Which were unable to follow or logistically support so spectacular advances.
Its large units, divisions or tumans always advance covertly, disguised and informed by what was an operational reconnaissance with combat capacity. It was based on squadrons of light cavalry (archers protected with a silken wadding that enveloped, isolated and allowed to remove very easily the points of enemy arrows) from 50 to 100 men. Their exploratory tests and rapid movement also contributed directly to misleading and intimidating an enemy who was unaware of the role of these units. And many times he took them for the vanguard of the armies. Also, this way, the enemy saw Mongols everywhere…
This function of operational reconnaissance has not always been recognized by modern armies. The Germans were masters in it, especially in theaters like the African and the Soviet, where discontinuous fronts and the vacuum of enemy operational areas allowed very well it.
Independent of this reconnaissance of their immediate area of operations, the Mongols maintained another strategic exploratory activity, as a generator of intelligence for immediate use: espionage and the use of agents at their service, inside enemy countries. They sought to understand the characteristics of those nations and the alliances and divisions among them. The Mongols, in turn, were virtually impervious to their knowledge by their enemies. Even in tactical details that, when they found the Mongols, had to be more obvious to them.
is possible to bring «coherent
to the tactical microterrain,
giving specific missions and orders at battalion or company level.
The units used will be light
reinforced with material and experts (engineers, mines, mortars,
anti-tank, anti-aircraft). The lower tactical unit will be the
with 2 or 3 squads of 3 to 5 men and their supports. She will receive
a direct and simple mission, however dangerous, difficult and
laborious. The operating time and available equipment will
necessarily be short and light, unless the equipment can be bring
a protected . From the time of departure or crossing our
own lines until their extraction or disengagement
should not pass
more than 40 hours. And, it would be preferable not more than 24
hours for an individual mission.
The combatant’s means are: the terrain, with which he must melt and blend for his basic operations: march, attack and defense; the grenades are a part of his organic «heavy fire». Completing or replacing the 60 mm mortar, when the combatant is at the distance of subreptitious penetration or infiltration.
the mode or manner of actions must be guided by harmony
in the system «friend, enemy and ground»
serenity and silence
of the combatants. Thus, for example, harmony
requires that in the infiltration of an enemy position the effect of
camouflage on the advance of the fighter
be respected. A shrub or bush
cannot move forward or change position in
such a way
that it is shocking to one of the elements of the enemy’s security
or combat advanced.
Rather than attacking from afar, favoring the use of enemy heavy fire (artillery, mortars, aviation), the combatant must subreptitiously slide to more or less depth in the enemy’s tactical rear. To attack there operational or tactical targets: command and communications centers; warehouses, trucks parks and vehicles and general logistics equipment; barracks, heavy weapons and observatories of all branches. Depending on the type and the entity of the enemy unit attacked.
a major attack, the section
can advance 2 or 3 teams or raid squads. And, for a thorough
reconnaissance of the enemy position, it
can send 1 or 2 groups
or scouting squads. The advancing
or band of the section
can reach 150 ms.
The enemy, in this subreptitious attack, can defend itself by changing the structure of its security zone. By increasing surveillance positions, it will further strengthen it. But, its security will not have improved qualitatively. Effective protection will come from superimposing that network of sniper pits and defense nests, a network of patrols without a fixed route. To hinder or detect and prevent the work of concealed, patient and silent penetration of the attacking groups.
In defense, the fighter will do the same, but almost the other way around. It will melt and blend with the surrounding micro-terrain. Hiding as much as possible their battle positions and fortifications to the more numerous and/or technological enemy. Dissipating the tactical trail of their strong positions, both for combat or support.
If fortified redoubts are used, they must be camouflaged and covered and partially excavated in the ground. Around them, there will be a swarm of shooters or pairs of them, covering its approaches at the appropriate distances. It is good to be able to maintain a crossfire, which distracts the attention of the enemy on the origin of it.
In urban areas, the light infantry will create a series of defense positions articulated in defense zones. The use of sewers and tunnels shall be continuous for concealment, protection and subreptitious maneuvres. The positions of direct heavy fire (anti-tanks, machine guns, light guns) will be embedded inside the buildings, controlling the rebuffs.
a block, some buildings will be defended by pairs of fighters
and others by sections.
The movement of the fighters between and across the floors for
tactical opportunity will be decided by the defenders. Access to the
lower floors from the streets shall be obstructed and protected by
booby traps and/or fire from other positions. The courtyards and lots
can be suitable for the deployment of anti-aircraft and indirect
heavy fire positions.
The mines, barricades, cuts and obstacles will be «interruptions covered by fire«, which break the enemy impulse. The «relative hidden heights» of any urbanized area and the twists and turns of the streets and tracks hide us and break enemy units. Our indirect artillery can register approaching routes and parks and squares, to disrupt enemy advances, concentrations and deposits.
Our tactical actions will seek to: override the enemy impulse; prevent it from encircling and surpassing our units; erode their advances from various sides; destroy their armored and transport vehicles; block their entrances to buildings from terraces and top and bottom floors; and advantageously anticipate their intentions and attempts.
All our efforts seek to make that the enemy, with our defense deployment and with the technics and tactics we use to make it work, lose all its numerical, technological, and fire and tactical motion capabilities advantages over us.
If we can have a «detached mobile group» outside the urban perimeter, that is not located by enemy reconnaissance or its air or ground units. It could harass, ambush, erode or attack, as the case may be, the enemy in its tactical rearguard. Their offensive actions must have the operational objective of weakening and disrupting enemy tactical capability. And with this task in mind, the various opportunities to fight against small enemy units and their supports of all kinds will arise. Another premise of their action is that our «detached group» must keep its security, always avoiding an unwanted encounter with the enemy, its premature detection and being surrounded by it.
There is a third category of actions that are marches. These would be to the combat, between our own near or far positions and retrograde, with enemy persecution or not. The march to the combat, especially at the near and medium distances, aims to reach the combat positions of each branch with the enemy. Protecting and maintaining the combat and tactical movement capabilities of all units. To make the enemy feel, without any reduction, all our fighting capacity: fire, shock, infiltration.
it is also necessary to get melt
and blend with
terrain. It can be different according to the sections of the route.
is the primary condition of our march, as we have not yet begun
combat with the enemy. And, without it, we
will have squandered and thrown away
our opportunities and scarce military means.
Every march with the possibility of an unwanted encounter with the enemy is a march to the combat. And that possibility will define the security and concealment needs of our «marching groups«.
of our routes must be sufficiently advanced, depending on our
knowledge of the route and the enemy and their characteristics. That
will be supported by a
And considering always that its
mission includes avoiding the fight with the enemy, except our
rejection in a suffered ambush. The hidden and silent features of our
Protection is a necessary element of surprise. Which is a cheap and effective multiplier of the combat capabilities of our light and lean units. Since the enemy tends to not «combat readiness» for most of the time. But this is a desirable and natural thing: lions rest more than 2/3 of their daily available time. And since the enemy needs a «time of detection and alert» to prepare to fight, he has to maintain an advanced security in an effective deployment. That guarantees him to count on such «essential time«, so as not to be surprised by our attack incursion.
technological weakness of our deployment will be amply compensated,
with the concealment, the longer running time, the security
of this, the careful and necessary reconnaissance
and use of the ground,
which gives us that desired fusion with it.
Employing the most favorable terrain to advance: its folds, unevenness and concealment; and dragging to cross over waterlogged lands or near to the enemy and difficult to cross terrain; and the creative and varied camouflage; and making use of the concealment that gives us the night, as a natural reinforcement of our actions. To leave as little tactical footprint as possible for the enemy.
the cities, there are
means of concealment, which gives us their layout, their elements and
their construction, the parks, the ditches and the sidewalks. Along
with the metropolitan railroad system, the general sewer system and
the tunnels of circumstances that we can excavate or reinforce.
To advance through the slopes, it is important to use our side or slope of the relative military crests. Considering that, the enemy will deploy on its side. And, whether or not advance some security, branches observers or forces near them. The distance to the ridge is important and different for the types of fighting. If the defender is somewhat separated, he could be attacked with grenades. And if it is very separately, this means leaving the attacker the domain of the subreptitious approach. Somewhat close, may allow you to detect the assailant and beat and reject him with grenades.
conduction of these units must include and then inspire and reflect
the complementary and continuous character of their «essential
polarity«. And that it acts in its conception,
development, doctrine, implementation, equipment and training,
logistics and support, marches and execution of missions and tasks.
Let us remember, now, that they are regular or semi-regular units, which protect themselves and fight, in a characteristic and singular way, with a greater or better equipped technologically enemy. And, employing in its dialectic war any form of fight (attack, rejection, retardant defense) or maneuvers. And acting partially and to the appropriate degree, as an irregular unit, confusing and merging with the tactical terrain.
Whereas, if we insist too much on a form, conception and implementation, the dynamics of the processes underway can end up moving us away from good doing and even from success. All this has to do with quantum mechanics, Heissenberg’s indeterminacy principle and Hobber’s principle, as natural and ultimate regulators of processes.
the direction, mode and realization of our means and objectives must
be guided as the pilot of a small boat guides it. With the objective
on the horizon and employing small course corrections to resume the
initial and successive intentions.
Flowgram and Balance processes, actions and facts in the fight of light units in an different or extraordinary way.
Centralization // Coordination // Delegation
Authority // Information
Terrain // Terrain and Micro terrain
Strategy and Operations // Implementation
Intentions // Contingencies
Means // Chances
Organization // Error’s correction and prevention
Reinforcements // Carrying out
Intelligence // Reconnaissance and Intelligence application
Simultaneity seeks to directly and immediately shock the most enemy echelons allowed by one’s own combat capacity. But, it does not discriminate among objectives according to their importance, which violates the previous and universal principle of the economy of means (one of the most accepted by authors) and it does not create a center of gravity for one’s own efforts. Its action is purely and clearly focused on enemy attrition, demanding a proportionally high consumption of ammunition and missiles of different types, since the action does not look only to neutralize the enemy, but to destroy him. This action commits the equipment and maintenance logistics, demanding a greater number of substitutions of tubes, of ammunition, etc.
In any given moment, simultaneity gives equal preference to objectives such as tactical reserves in depth and obstacles to the advance in the forward edge of the enemy defense position (observatories, infantry combat positions, heavy infantry weapons firing positions, anti-tank positions in the infantry zone). Simultaneity also gives equal preference to objectives that are explored in depth, to objectives that flank one’s advance in the rupture (including an antitank bolt, which has enfilade and firepower cover).
THE ARMY GENERAL NORMAN SCHWARZKOPF WON THE GULF WAR ATTACKING SIMULTANEOUSLY ALL THE LEFT FLANK OF THE IRAQ’S DEPLOYMENT.
This simultaneity demands a combat capacity greater than that of the enemy. Since the principal task of our forces of containment and of maneuver is to strike at the same operational «time» all the depth of the attacking deployment. Seeking to shock it, to undo its coherence and to disintegrate it. And the theoreticians ones call «own synergy» to the simultaneously and linearly created effort over the enemies whole front and flank and/or rearguard. This “own synergy” is adding and rather meagre. And it would enrich with the operational indirect, not frontal, fighting, with the surprising action, with the application of the effort on enemy weaknesses. This way, it would be an exponential synergy.
Simultaneity is really a tactical principle. It collaborates in making a breakthrough in a battle, extending contact with the enemy or in taking advantage of different weapons ranges in a defense in depth, in order to beat the tactical echeloned forces of an attacker, for breaking the continuity of his effort by tactical isolating his different echelons. Its transcendence at the operational level is through planning of the battle and is achieved when a positive decision in battle is obtained.
On the other hand, complementariness, when focused on fire (heavy infantry arms, tanks, artillery and aviation), does not respect the combined-arms systems. That place the enemy deployment in a centripetal effort (derivative of different and complementary actions). That tend to place him in a “tactical defenseless dilemma”. We have already indicated that the destruction of an objective is always very onerous (goes against the saving of costs looked for in budgets). The difficult thing is to obtain this effect. If we use maneuvers of combined-arms groups, it will be sufficient the neutralization or temporary loss of the actuation capacity of the objective against us.
On the other hand, given the distance of most enemy objectives from one’s combat capacity, some are immediately attainable only by indirect heavy fire or aviation. This tends to trade one’s mobility and shock elements (including tanks and mechanized infantry) for heavy firepower units, in the mix of one’s available combat capacity. It is hoped that these produce the simultaneous destruction. In favor of this interchange of funds for the defense, is the psychological and politically preferred fact that the precise or the saturation heavy fire theoretically diminishes the “interfaces of action” with the enemy at close distance. The existence of a more than proportional heavy fire tends to favor its use as an attrition element on the enemy in the doctrines and regulations.
The two last reasons fix heavy fire as a key weapon in operations, enhancing mobility as its capacity to locate itself very quickly in successive and/or effective fire positions forces. That it is in fact a tactical mobility, measured at the rate of Kms/day in advance. This harms operational mobility and the main instrument for the decision in that level will be that of “successive combats”, which not always will be wished and transcendent. That is to say, the simultaneity and complementariness unbalancedly support the employment of attrition or pure destruction. And undesirably favor the interchangeability of mobility (operational mobility of troops) and shock for indirect heavy fire and/or aviation bombing.
The Center of Gravity:
In addition, the principles of means economy and of the systematic use of surprise (as a multiplier of combat capacity, even in defense, with reverse slope positions echeloned in depth, opportune counterattacks, fire bags) are directly related to the principles of the concentration of means and mobility in all operations (combats and movements, activity in the defense). Employing by the command the use of the “center of gravity” of the joint effort, as a factor of planning, actuation and direction of combined-arms systems.
That is to say, the center of gravity is the main integrator of the principles of war, in its conduction and execution and is a natural feature of it. As Marshal Von Hindenburg said: “A battle without Schwerpunkt (center of gravity) is like a man without character”.
NAPOLEON WON THE BATTLE OF ULM USING A FULL CONVERGING ADVANCE ON ULM, BY HIS «GRANDE ARMEE» INDEPENDENT CORPS.
As far as concentration goes, the so called “principal effort” expresses an effect of penetration in a given direction and sense, to be able to arrive at the rupture and exploit it. The combined-arms and aerial efforts of the units are concentrated on this. The main effort is exemplified by the «hammering strategy» of general Foch on the European Western Front, beginning in the summer of 1918. This strategy was used to overcome the Germans, purely by eroding their combat capacity in the theater of operations. And only shifting the direction of attack, when German resistance was excessive in a sector.
WITHOUT ESCAPE, THE AUSTRIANS GIVE IN TO NAPOLEON OUTSIDE ULM.
The center of gravity has a more spatial and temporary sense, looking for an “operational convergence” of the “related efforts” towards an objective. Those are not necessarily contiguous, simultaneous or sequential. But are synergic and resulting in the effects and outcomes. Which based on consideration of the optimal form (energy economic) of action of each weapon and service.
The center of gravity is more global or holistic; the main effort is more adding and cumulative. The effects of the main effort are more direct, predictable and evident. Those of the center of gravity are more subtle and unexpected, at least in the first phases of a military action. The ramified lines, in a final centripetal action, are peculiar to the center of gravity. The accumulation of forces in a sector, reiterating (inserted or successive units) or strengthening (adding tanks or engineers, narrowing the strip or sector or providing greater fire support) the effort is peculiar to the concept of main effort.
The center of gravity supposes a centripetal action of all the lines of performance, of the ramified activity of all the units and the services, not necessarily coincident, but convergent on the enemy objetive. The center of gravity directs, canalizes, gathers and orients the creation and the direction of the strike of different units and supports in each case. Its shift by the command allows the continuous adaptation to circumstances and the maintenance of focus on intermediate goals.
At the National Strategy Center of a Society, the center of gravity guide and drive all the different diplomatic, economic, military and social available or created means of a society in synergy and continued actions over the enemy and its allies, to get and produce our National Strategy Objectives (NSO). This is what discovered and found recently the theory of Asymmetric Warfare.
The Signs of Tactical or Operational Success related to the Physical and Environmental Support:
Land transitability will be neutral or favorable to the operation.
Transitability is the geographical (superficial or spatial) dimension where military actions take place. It is principally framed by the superficial capacity of an area to support certain means or military capacities and their movements. It is completed today in a spatial dimension, by the range of heavy fire and aircrafts.
It has independentandabsolute functions, as are the passing of specific points during a period of time, the time it takes to travel the distance between them and the not superficial simultaneity of military means. These refer on the transitability, related to how the Nature and obstacles interact with operations. Transitability also has relative functions that are generally dependent on geography. These are more concretely determined by the availability and quality of roads, railways and fluvial nets (urbanized geography), the climate, the hydrology, the orography, the season and meteorology and the hour of the day (physical geography). These functions change with different national and regional surfaces.
Transitability determines the facility or physical difficulty for rapidly maneuvering and, in consequence, determines the total time of an operation, in the phases of execution through the successive «cycles of action«. Roads and railroad networks are the most suitable physical support to obtain low times of execution in operations or high «tempos». Their transitability characteristics will be their availability in the operations zone, the road surface resistance, the traffic saturation conditions and the “narrow or critical” points existing in the ways networks and their “continuity traveling cuts”.
Roads that support a good advance pace are problematic, as outside of developed countries pave roads are uncommon. More often it is the case that a terrain is untransitable as an operational element and will require units to physically struggle in order to going on. The channels, the rivers, as continuity cuts, constitute another relative conditioner of the transitability of a zone. On one hand, they constitute an almost inevitable restraint of the impulse of maneuver. In effect, in almost any direction that follows an operational route during sufficient Kilometers, it ended up confronting the crossing of a natural or artificial water obstacle. The bridges that surpass them, as part of a road network, not always will exist or be at hand. Given the present amphibious means, the main obstacle to the transit will be offered by the water flows banks. It will be necessary to consider the slope of both banks and the characteristics of resistance, adherence, consistency, etc. of them and of their immediate approach grounds.
One can try to use the superficial dimension, or even the spatial one, to improve transitability in different cases when good conditions do not exist. The first leads to employ a cross country mechanized formation, supported logistically. This was the imagined ideal of strategists and tacticians in the 1930s. On one hand, the best all-field or tracked vehicle moves better along a highway than across a field. For a given useful load weight, all-field or tracked vehicles have more tare than wheels vehicles. For total given weights, vehicles on tracks and on wheels that advance cross country have greater wears, more breakdowns and more fuel consumption than those that travel on highways.
This raises a double economic and logistic inconvenience, whose solution is very difficult. For this reason, it is ideal to operate along steady surfaces and using the railroad up to a bit more than one hundred kilometers to the front or the enemy. And to fight cross-country, taking advantage of shooting cover sectors, concealment and so on. Using the tactical characteristics of the field. Specially, rolling grounds that favor the mechanized fighting.
The spatial dimension also encompasses the impossibility, like that of saturated ground roads, of the simultaneous arrival of numerous aircraft at a given point. Or the airships fly in row, arriving at the same time, but laterally extended or they go in line to unload or arrive successively in a «single» operations point. The helicopters give more concentrated results than those of the airplanes, but these have more lifting and ordnance capacity.
The effects of climate, season, hour, and hemisphere are superposed on these conditions, worsening or mitigating them. Orography affects transitability when it make difficult the construction of a road layout and when it increases the slope that military marches must cross. The cross-sectional passing of “height lines” can become impassable, except by defiles or mountain ports. Which create bottlenecks that collapse the maneuver impulse and prevent the deployments of the units that cross them. Fights at heights have a generic “gravity center” in order to control these passages.
A RESOLUTE ENEMY IS STILL WAITING YOU OVERTHERE…
When “height gradient” diminishes there exists a less evident, but more frequent and very important factor, which is the «drop». “Drop» refers to height variations of a few meters up to dozens of meters in relation to the surroundings. It appears in cross-country running, in areas of more or less waviness, in broken areas and even in roadways sections. It has also an expression in urban zones, both residential and industrial. As well as buildings, houses and facilities form «relativeconcealingheights«. These generate protection and danger, opportunities and risks. And are the urban expression of the «drop». The forest is a special variant of this case, with obstacles and shorts views for both enemy forces.
Urbanized or industrial zones shape numerous parallel, transverse and interweaving «drop» lines. They channel all military effort in the mentioned zones, generating innumerable «interfaces of action» with the enemy. That are frequently determined under surprise conditions. These zones definitively paralyze the impulse of the units and generate attrition (in military means) and wear (in logistical terms) disproportionate to the results obtainable by their occupation.
An Historical Application of the Principle of the Aim in the War.
A clear and simple example of the application of this principle in the operational strategy, we have in the campaign of Ulm. In May, 1805 broke out the war between France and the Third Coalition, formed by Russia, Austria and England, its promoter. The main body of the French army was deployed along the coast of the English Channel, preparing itself to invade England. But the threat for the French army in campaign, which was the real strategic aim in the Napoleonic wars (let’s remember that the occupations of Madrid, Vienna, Moscow, were not decisive), was arising in the East Europe, from the armies of the Russian and Austrian empires. In September, 1805 Napoleon moved his «Army of England» to the Rhine, deploying it between Mainz and Strasbourg and renamed the «Great Army». The Great Armée was formed by 145.000 infantrymen and 38.000 riders, joined 7 army corps. Each one at the orders of a French marshall, a great cavalry reserve, at the orders of the marshall Prince Murat, and the Imperial Guard, directly under Napoleon. To them 25.000 Bavarian allies were added.
Taking the initiative, as was habitual with him, Napoleon decides to give the first strategic blow against the army of 72.000 Austrians, which, at the orders of the general Mack and the archduke Fernand, son of the emperor Francis II, was advancing towards Ulm, without waiting for the arrival of the Russian help. Napoleon maneuvered his army corps in a centripetal spiral over Ulm. It supposes the joint action of all the means in his “lines of action”. Of the «branched out» activity of all the units and the services, not necessarily coincidental in the time, but convergent and resultant in his efficiency and in the result. By means of the different and coordinated,lines of advance or action, the uncertainty and insecurity is induced in a prepared enemy. And always his rejection capacity is dispersed and is disturbed his plan of defense and its systematic conduction.
The general Mack went out at the doors of Ulm, to surrender to Napoleon, at the foothills of mounts Michelsberg.
In a wide advance of his independent army corps, the great Armée quickly crossed the center of Germany, from the Rhine to the Danube, between septiembre, 25 and October, 6. With this he operationally intervened between the Austrians and the Russian allied forces, still distant.
The Austrians did not understand the need of the rapidity of these movements. They were thinking only about the battle, as the only instrument of the decision. Their operational strategy did not exist. And they waited his enemies, centred on Ulm and expectant. The Frenchmen initiated the crossing of the Danube on the 7th. And, during the whole week, Napoleon made converge, on an enormous constrictive maneuver, the majority of his forces on Ulm. While, an army corp was monitoring the possible arrival of the general Kutuzov from the East. The trap was remaining closed in irresistible force.
The general Mack uselessly realized several attempts of breakthrough, with the major efforts in Haslach and Elchingen. Both Austrian commanders fought between them. And the archduke Fernand separated from the main body with his 6.000 riders and tried to escape in North-East direction. But, near Trochtelfingen, his forces were surrounded and defeated by the Murat’s corps cavalry. Other 12.000 Austrians gave up themselves in Neustadt. The general Mack and the rest of his men (around 27.000, after the combats and mentioned incidents), with Napoleon in scandalous majority at the doors of Ulm from October, 14, went out to surrender their weapon at the foothills of mounts Michelsberg. The general Mack signed the capitulation of the army on the 20th. The campaign, without battles in strict sense, cost to Austria more than 50.000 men, almost 70 % of his initial troops.
The Current Process of Definition and Follow-up of the Aim.
The retreat of the USA of Vietnam produced a readjustment and another appreciation of the principle of the aim. The later evaluations of the politicians and military men led to proclaiming the imperious need to give always to their armed forces in any future conflict: the support without fissures of the people; a few clear and expressly defined operational and strategic aims and the necessary means for its achievement. This «check list» of supports of the national strategy to the military strategy, appears today as a good summary of the moral and material commitment that the peoples and the controls have with their military men, when they send them to the war for reasons of «national interest».
In the practice, the development of the operational strategy will be defining new operational and tactical aims. That are the surveyor’s poles of the sinuous way that leads to obtaining the strategic aims raised to the military men. That can be so precise and so general as: the occupation of an enemy territory, the recovery of a some provinces pillaged by that one, his effective military defeat or his surrender with or without conditions. Let’s remember that Moltke the Old was saying that the own initial plans only were resisting or were viable up to the first contact in force with the enemy.
The western democracies are provided with extensive, direct and deep communications through all their social tissue. Everything appears easily at first sight. And all the persons take the right or the obligation to debate about everything. But, in the «political military area» that is great more unstable, insecure and opaque. This does not want to say that the operational requirements should not exist. And that the need to prescribe and keep the discretion and the security necessarily limit the «universal exhibition» to the mass media in the area of the national safety.
The Senate of the United States controls the evolution of the wars objectives.
It is necessary to define and to give clear aims to the military men. It implies the need of that the politicians study and compromise themselves with the high or national strategy. And, as necessary and inevitable corollary, that they give the sufficient operational autonomy to his military men. In order that they do not waste lives, efforts and a material means. In order that they neither get entangled, do not even be distracting in unproductive or secondary actions. In order that they do not lose the respect and the support of his people and gain the scorn of the neutrals and potential enemies.
But, closing an ideological and practical «curl», the age of the communications also offers advantages of rapidity and constant, reasonably trustworthy and sufficient intelligence using the military information and his management. Even in the fleeting and delicate cases, with the wireless communications of several levels and accesses, it is possible to obtain a «virtual presence» of the military chiefs and of certain politicians, in the operational distant field. This would facilitate to these controls, a successive approximation and the graduation of the actions of the military means in presence, towards the operational action. And it would facilitate the dilution in the space and the time of the need to fix the successive secondary aims, already from the beginning of a “cycle of military operations”. Keeping always a constant acceleration of the «cycles of action» on the enemy, to dislocate his rejection capacity and to seek and to act on his operational weaknesses. Already those must seek to go successively forward to the enemy, progressively turning ineffective his actions and induce in his men the abandonment of not being capable of offsetting nor overcome our tactical actions guided by our “in real time” operational strategy.
The principle of the objective demands that every operation goes towards a decisive, clear and obtainable aim with the means at disposition. This principle is applicable to the four levels of the war: the tactical, the operational, the military strategic and the total strategic or of national politics. In this last level meet to collaborate the national diplomacy and economy, who would give him his category of «total». At first, it seems that this principle of «direction of the war» is of the easiest to conceive and apply. Nevertheless, it is in the highest level of decision, that of the great strategy or national strategy, where it has not been correctly or sufficiently applied this principle. We can remember, supporting revolts of Lybia, as the great powers of the anti Gaddafi Coalition had difficulties to define the essential aims of his military intervention in Lybia.
Origins and Appearance of the Principle of the Aim in the War.
This principle is always related with the general principle of economy (or the administration) of the means. So, we rationalize our efforts and means on having centred on a complete aim. And this way, the lives and other military available means, always scanty or, even, insufficient, for a campaign, can be squandered, if the national commands fail in applying the principle of the aim at his own level. This principle is directly related to that of concentration. Which seeks to assemble all the means, not necessarily present for the moment, well simultaneous or successive, in a common effort on the aim to get. This way, for example, a combined arms unit that covers the free flank of his main body or the units of tactical exploration deployed in advance, are also taking part with his missions in this complete and synergical effort.
In the classic ancient military men (Sun Tzu, Machiavelli, Frederick the Great or Jomini) the knowledge of this principle arises more by what it is deduced from his works, that for its direct mention. That is to say, up to only a few decades ago, the principle of the aim was a second-class principle. How could be giving this paradox between his managerial importance and his carelessness? The principle of the aim was implicitly careless, when the military men expressly attended to the principles of surprise, of concentration and of protection. And it was so, because it was too evident. It was really, to defeat the enemy in the minor number of possible battles. We must remember that the principles of the war originally appear in the tactical field: as the advices and directives to follow to gain the battles.
Frederick II, the Great, ruled the Kingdom of Prussia for 46 years. A practiced and theorist of warfare.
Initially and even until little ago, the state matters were not of the interest or of the consideration of the people. The kings and absolute princes, even the illustrated ones, were autonomous and sufficient in the direction of the war and were not using the principle. This changed with the establishments of the diets, the parliaments and the chambers. More or less representing peoples cosovereigns with the monarches. It was already necessary to explain the motives and the aims of the wars. This way, the principle of the aim began to take form and content. And it reached his importance and sovereign, when the tactics or the art of considering and gaining the battles, already cannot by itself to gain a war.
In any operation the aim is essential. Without it there can exist neither a definite and clear plan nor the coordination of efforts (or «mass»). The last military aim is the destruction of the enemy forces in presence (not necessarily the physical annihilation, it would be enough that they were giving up themselves). Considering only the military factors, the aims must be defined from the beginning and select them in agreement with the available means. And this way, appears the paradox which we nowadays live in many cases. There exist political, economic and still strategic factors, which conspire to delay and still gets dark the definition of the aims in the war, as the case of Lybia. And, on the other hand, with the forces already displaced there, before the friends, neutral and enemy’s look, existed the urgent need to clearly define them. With it is achieved a “joint effort” (today baptized synergy) for the best utilization of the resources on the enemy.
From middle of the 19th century, appear and are consolidated the rapid globalization of the interests of the States and the scopes and powers of their military, political, economic and diplomatic means. With them, the military principles of tactical origin fullly reached the area of the national and military strategy.
The Pernicious Interference of the Politicians in the Military Actions.
Also there always was coming a moment in which the politician had to be quiet and not to intermittently meddle in the military specific occupation. Sun Tzu is the real or supposed name of a Chinese author, who wrote The Thirteen Chapters of the Art of the War. The unit of style of the work and his originality allow to affirm that it is neither a collective work nor a summary of preexisting works. His work is dated between 400 and 320 B.C. In effect, the use of the cross-bow did not generalize until 400 and the cavalry was not incorporated into the army before 320. What Sun Tzu said on the military missions and the spurious interferences, more than 2 thousand years ago?
The Statue of Sun Tzu in Enchoen, Yurihama, Japan.
«Normally, when the armed forces are in use, the general receives, first, the general orders of the sovereign. Then he assembles the troops, makes the army an homogeneous and harmonious set and installs it in his cam «. Chapter 7, verse 1.
«It is necessary to know that for the sovereign there exist three ways of taking his army to the disaster. They consist of proceeding as follows:
To ignore that the army must not advance and order that it should advance, or, to ignore that it must not move back and arrange a retreat. This is what calls «to put the army in a difficulty». Chia Lin’s comment: «there is no major calamity that the orders of the sovereign that resides in the court «.
To ignore all the military matters and to take part in his administration. This disorients the officials. To ignore all the problems of the command and to take part in the exercise of the responsibilities. This destroys the spirit of the officials». Chapter 3, verses 19 to 22.
«The one that has competent general and protects them from the (solvent) interferences of the sovereign, will be the victor». Ibid, verse 29. Ho Yen Hsi’s comment: «In the war hundreds of changes take place in every stage. To say that a general must wait for all the orders of his Superiors, is like to have to inform a Superior of that you want to extinguish a fire. Before the orders come, the ashes will be cold. And it has been said that in such circumstances it is necessary to consult the general inspector of the army! To shortly tie a competent general, while he is asked to suppress a crafty enemy, is as holding the Black Greyhound of Han and then give him the order to catch unattainable hares».
The three cavalry regiments of the brigade had a total of 27 officers, 228 N.C.O.s and 1,740 soldiers mounted on German horses. All those who could, carried sub-machine guns –either the MP-38 or MP-40- instead of the 7.92 mm K98 carbines. They were supported by 30 heavy machine guns (MG-34 on tripods) and 72 light machine guns (MG-34 with bipods). Their heavy support fire was provided by a battery of 6 light howitzers of 75 mm for each of three hippomobile regiments. As external support they would have artillery fire, either centralized or from the divisions placed in its flanks, for the attached observers and officers were accompanying it.
Country wagons moving forward in a huge Russian plain…
They were also supported by an engineers company (pioneers) and a sanitary company. By means of a park of Russian countrywagons, each dragged by a pair of native horses, the supplies, replacements, ammunitions, medical forces, etc. of the brigade would be carried to them. They also had a motorized supply column.
The nature, the structure of the brigade and its support were perfectly adapted to the mission and contributed to its simplicity. It even received the support of a tanks company (14 tanks) for the attack, when the reconnaissance saw the possibility for use it.
Another key aspect of the mission was intelligence, acting already before the conception of the operation. This provided the most complete knowledge of the enemy and operations zone. Intelligence was a combination of information acquired by all the units, that was continually updated. It allowed better definition of the mission, assignment of the means and units, and training preparation. It also allowed for more appropriate adjustments or changes in plans, etc.
Another indispensable factor in this extraordinary or heterodox operation was the trainingand trialof the mission. The brigade trained for 4 to 6 weeks before its activation, in areas similar to the future operations zone; this fulfilled the security factor.
The training with tanks was not done, because its employment was not foreseen. And one of the problems that arose during the operation was that communication between the cavalry and tanks was poor. In the thick wild forests the wirelessradios did not work well and it was necessary to use the existing wiretelephony. But these were not enough for adequate communications between all the small units.
A characteristic of the training in these special missions is that that it must be as complete as possible, in agreement to its peculiarities. And a full trial, including the total foreseen time, is always necessary. For example, to verify the resistance of certain equipments and not only its good functioning, as would happen in a partial or incomplete test.
The brigade and 5th panzer division were in their departure positions 10 days before the start of the march towards the contact. The Soviets were not capable of detecting the activation of this unit, so the security factor remained fulfilled.
Immediately, the brigade, with the help of the tanks troops, carried out an intense reconnaisance of the intermediate area and the enemy positions (advanced combat troops and the forward limit of the defense). It was deduced that the tanks’ support in the attack was possible (in a narrow sector), if a necessary adaptation was effected in the tracks accessing the area. This innovationwould add an important shock capacity and heavy direct fire to the assault, especially in the irruption, in the struggle for enemy fighting positions and in the interiorofthe defense zone (artillery, units in disorder or in retreat, transport, supplies, etc.)
The factor surprisewas going to be achieved by the tactical innovation and the unexpected action in «field of action» chosen for the attack. It is important to remember that the Soviets were prepared and fortified against an attack that they knew was coming. In addition, since the beginning of the war the Soviets had shown themselves to be masters of defense and in disguising positions. Still, the Germans hoped that a strong attack on an unexpected place would dislocate the enemy’s combat capacity and means of defense. The German plan allowed nopracticalreactiontime to the enemy.
With this, the speedofaction factor is obtained by the attacker. This allowed the Germans to overcome rapidly their principal vulnerability: the initial contact with the enemy in the decided «interfaceofaction«, in which always can be produced unexpected setbacks in the face of potentially bigger forces, until the lawoftheaction is imposed on the enemy.
As the mission begins, there is uncertaintyorfriction, due to the enormous number of individuals and units involved; mistakes, that are a function of the small failures that happen inevitably in all the human actions that comprise a mission; enemyaction, until the fire supremacy and maneuver deprive him of initiative; opportunities, in the shape of favorable situations not foreseen by the Germans and which the commands of the small units must exploit in order to fulfill the mission.
To be able to act this way, the extraordinary or special troops must possess the commitmentfactor, which involves the acceptanceandrecognition of the entrusted mission, its important consequences and its realpossibilitiesofsuccess in these conditions.
A couple of days before the assault, the engineers were making progress through the forest boundaries with mechanical saws. They constructed a reinforced path and carpeted it with middle logs cut up “in situ” and arranged about a meter apart. This was to give sufficient firmness to a route up to the Soviet minefields which would support the tanks added to the hippomobile brigade in tactical subordination, which slowly initiated its advance a little later. The noise of the saws and the engines of the vehicles was drowned by the flight of reconnaisance planes at low level and sporadic harassment fire.
The joint assault began on July 2, 1942.
The hippomobile brigade had to cross 15 kilometers of forests and marshes to reach the Soviet positions. At its right was the 5th panzer division attacking, which acted as the normalforceormassofsupport for the assault. Its left flank was supported on this area of difficult ongoing, covered by weak infantry forces (about a company). Until, on the 3rd day, a German infantry division began its assault through this sector.
At 3 a.m. the tanks advanced close to the cavalry troops, taking advantage of the general artillery preparations. They were accompanied by engineers’ troops. The minefields were immediately detected and the engineers cleaned the area around the passing paths to extend its width. Suddenly, the forwards tanks and cavalry reached the limit of the Soviet position of defense in this decided «field of action» over them.
Model saves the day for the 9th German Army. Column of Soviet military prisioners.
In a single thrust they burst in, breaking the Soviets’ first lines of defense. After this, the tanks were kept in reserve, since the enemy position stretched through an unknown wooded area. That morning the cavalry managed to penetrate 6.5 kilometers inside the Soviet position.
The whole time the train of country wagons was capable of advancing supplies, replacements and munitions to the tired men.
For its part, the 5th panzer division could not advance despite its superior capacity of shock and means, and suffered heavy losses by very well camouflaged Soviet forces in depth.
Around midday, a hippomobile regiment turned to attack the principal enemy positions from the east. To reach them, it had to cross a swampy forests zone where the water was knee-high. At dusk, the brigade had control of a sector of the principal road inside the Soviet position, breaking the Soviets’ tactical cohesion and turned it untenable.
Just after midnight on the 4th, Soviet resistance was collapsing in the area of assault of the 5th panzer division and hippomobile brigade. This crossed another swampy forest area of 10 kilometers depth and emerged at the operationalenemyrear. Here was a scene of chaos filled with abandoned vehicles and stroked columns and groups of troops and soldiers. Arrival of the panzer forces accelerated the decline of the 39th Soviet infantry army as an organized and effective force.
That same day the whole sector of this army collapsed and the German infantry divisions of Walter Model’s 9th army converged on its interior by all its assault sectors.
In the 11 days that the operation lasted, the Germans captured 50,000 Soviet prisoners, and around 230 tanks and 760 artillery pieces.
The common or general tactical surprise is that which is normally or frequently used and that is known and expected. There is one case we take as example, which is to ambush or hostilize enemy forces who come to help or rescue a group of their own immobilized and/or besieged by us. This attack is logical to do so, because the forces in march, and especially when the urgency drives them, are especially vulnerable: because of the weakness of their flanks, for their scant reconnaisance and greater ignorance of their marching grund to combat, and for their deployment or marching column more or less frayed.
The attack is to be made using sequential or simultaneously different techniques: ambushes, even employing small units; free shooters lines; shutts of the advance routes and his wings with mines; bombardments of the artillery and the unit’s organic mortars, using registered fire on the routes or its singular points; attacks of the own or allied aviation; appearances and assaults by an our «combat group» (of combined arms?) in his immediate rear or covering it in a flank of the itinerary that is favorable for our protection (heights line, edge of forests, industrial and urban areas).
It is necessary to use necessarily this common surprise. But, the attacker must not repeat his set of tactics and military technics during short periods of time. In order that our attack is not so predictable, also in the details and manners, which facilitates his rejection to the enemy. Since with our routine, we are announcing the enemy which is our game, showing him the cards. And, let’s know that, even with these precautions, we are teaching him to fight.
With the mentioned variety, his combinations and the opportunity of use, the enemy will not be able to take sufficient measurements for the rejection. Since the variants of action that we can use are sufficiently different and numerous.
This is a tactical surprise, in the same level in which we are unrolling ourselves. That will allow us to increase the attrition (on the means) and the wear (of the men) of the enemy. And, even, to place and move more favorably with regard to him. But the total results will depend on the development of the set of the raised operations. Based on the forms of fight, the movements and the involved men and means.
Colonel General Walther Model.
This way, this surprise less elaborated conceptually produces fewer fruits that have operational or decisive transcendency. Everything indicates that, in order that it should take place and increases qualitatively the transcendent efficiency in our actions, it is necessary that the quality of the surprise reaches another dimension in his action.
It is necessary, so, in the operational level of the surprise, that this would be an «ungrateful surprise» for the enemy. That has catastrophic effects, though they are local, on him, at the beginning. And that the «commotion waves» in the area or the affected sections, propagate for the enemy military system attacked. Damaging his capacities, his general and grupal moral (a section, the fighters of a weapon) and his intentions and perspectives. It would be equivalent, in the raised scene, to an «exploitation of the success» of our actions. That are encouraged and perfected by the operational surprise obtained.
The following battle during World War II illustrates the use of unexpected «fieldofaction» on the enemy, and the use of ordinaryandheterodoxforces. Thatallowed General Walther Model to take the initiative and destroy a Soviet army inserted in his operational rear.
During the winter counter-offensive of 1941-1942, the Soviet Union military had penetrated the operational rear of the 9th German army of Colonel General Model. It was integrated in the Central Armies Group, under the command of Fieldmarshal von Kluge. The Germans withdrew to positions near populated areas, tacked between them by its artillery fire and keeping open a few, precarious communications lines between the units. Thus helping maintain the operational stability of the army’s defensive area.
The Soviets had crossed the lines of the semi-continuous front, crushing weak German positions and setting up in the german rearwarsd the 39th infantry army and the XI cavalry corps (mobile forces for areas of difficult ongoing), a total of 60,000 men. Their deployment was protected in the semi wild forests and marshes between Boly and Rzhev, the principal regional city, and was supplied by a route that edged by Boly and continued to Nelidovo at the north of the zone. These Soviet forces were also in operational hibernation, waiting for the late thaw of the Russian spring.
This powerful enemy nucleus, in coordinated action with Soviet forces at the front, could compromise the German summer offensive (1942) by cutting the supply lines of the 9th army. For this reason, it was necessary to liquidate it before tackling a new campaign.
Under the instructions of General Model, a movil force was put together. This formed a hippomobilebrigade with the reconnaisssance forces (a reduced battalion) of each eight divisions of infantry of 9th army, all of which had all ground transit capacity.
The Rzhev’s projection was formed after the Soviet counter-offensive in defense of Moscow.
The mission of this brigade was to slip through enemy flanking sectors not covered by the security and principal positions of the enemy. Once in enemy territory, they were to wait for a principal important attack, to begin fighting in the enemy’s interior with the hope of occupying defensenucleus positions. The German aim was to severely unsettle the Soviets’ deployment and the conduction of their defenseplan.
By using its forces in the unexpected «fieldofaction«, the Germans hoped to recover the freedom of action to impose on the enemy the law of the action. The objective was simple, but its attainment was difficult.
The brigade, which was to penetrate the Soviet zone, was led by the 5th panzer division of Major General Gustav Fehn. That were the principal interarms forces and the mass of support or normal forces. They were to proceed following the principal reinforced surface road of the zone. Which passed from Olenino in the north and followed the western slope of the Luchesa river.
Soviet troops (39th infantry army), inside its defense zone clung to this road and had an antitank deployment (obstacles and guns). The Soviet flanks were thin but protected on each side by extensive minefields. Its right flank rested on the inhospitable and impassable woods and swamp lands of the deep valley of the Luchesa which, in the Soviets’ thinking, protected them against serious attack. The Soviet command foresaw what mustbe the German’s principaleffort against them and deployed their forces with creativity and inventiveness.
Only healthy, strong, veteran soldiers who worked well together and whose units had cohesion could be used in this mission. It was not work for garrison troops brought from the German rear or the occupied countries. Because of this, Walther Model did not hesitate to deprive his infantry divisions of its only mobileunits of maneuver to use in this battle.
Subodai concentrated his army in 3 groups of march. Each one would enter Hungary by a different route, across the mountain passes and valleys of the Carpathians. This deployment was given to the Mongols more resistance to the enemy surprises. And gave them an initial unfolding for the maneuvers of their 3 mobile corps, facilitating them to face the enemy. The Hungarians, for their part, did not dare to attack any of them, for fear of an advance of the other corps on their rear or to occupy anyone of their cities. The central column, which was under the command of the prince Batu, crossed Ruske’s mountain pass on March 12 and continued his advance for the valley of the Tisza. His vanguard with combat capacity came to the Danube on the 15th and 2 days later the principal corps did it. The vanguard had realized a march of 290 km in 3 days, crossing an hostile area and still covered by high snow.
On April 3, Subodai formed his 3 columns in front to Pest, in the east bank of the Danube. In Pest the king Bela had assembled his army of 100 thousand men. At another side of the river, joined both cities by bridges, was Buda. Subodai knew they were overcome in number by the Hungarians. Having also detached a tumen in Transylvania the left column of march, to assure that the Christians were not receiving reinforcements from Romania, the Mongols were now 70 thousand. Also, it was very dangerous for them to force a crossing of the Danube at the sights of the Hungarian deployed army.
On the other hand, the more time Subodai was taking in his calculations, decisions and preparations, the more time was giving to other European leaders to decide and to come to support the king Bela. The Mongol general applied then at strategic scale one of his tactic stratagems: his army moved back towards the East. The Hungarian chiefs supposed that the Mongols were not daring to fight against their army. And, spurred by their stagnation before the not hindered advance of the Mongols 3 marching columns, asked to initiate his pursuit. The Hungarians did not notice that Subodai was attracting them out of the protection of the Danube and of the support between detachments and the army corps.
The king Bela, commanded the great majority of the army, directed the pursuit. The Mongol retreat was calculately slow. They took 6 days in reaching the Sajo river, at 160 km at the North-East of Buda and Pest. And, at the west of the river, near its mouth in the Tiszna and in the plain in front of Mohi, the principal city of the zone, Batu and Subodai decided to confront their «persecutors». On April 9, the Mongols crossed a broad gorge, advanced by a heath, crossed a stone bridge and continued 16 km up to the bushes placed at the west of the hills and vineyards of Tokay. In them, they had numerous places where to camouflage or to hide. In effect, when a Hungarian reconnoissance detachment followed them that evening and came up to Tokay’s west, it did not find absolutely nothing. The Hungarian army, who realized a frontal pursuit, encamped in the heath, arranging his cars, joined by chains and ropes, closing a circle, where installed his tents and mounts. At the right of the camp, were the marshes of the bank of the Tisza, at his front, the heath of the Sajo was spreading and forests and hills were covering his left side.
FIGHTING ONTHE BRIDGE.
At dawn of Wednesday, the 10th of April, 1241, Batu and 40 thousand men threw towards the stone bridge by its east side. The Hungarians defended it with all energy, until they had to withdraw for the fire bombs of that the Mongols catapults threw them, on having been in a very narrow fighting sector. The Mongols went on to the west side, but during more than 2 hours, were terribly pressed by the Hungarians charges and only the shots of their archers briefly restored their defense line. Little by little, the Hungarian army deployed to liquidate the Mongol bridgehead. Suddenly, the general Subodai, who also had crossed to the west side by a circumstances bridge stretched downstream of the Sajo, while the Hungarians were distracting with the threat in the bridgehead, appeared with 30 thousand Mongols on the Hungarian rear. Struck and stunned, but with guts and experience not to fall down in the panic, the Hungarians moved back in good order to their camp. But the Mongols threw to it, surrounding almost totally the camp and covering it with incendiary bombs and arrows. Which were burning the load coaches and the tents and frightened away the beasts, spreading chaos between their enemies and undoing the autoconfidence of the Hungarians.
The Mongols prepared to throw a charge on the uncohesioned groups of the Hungarian army. But they continued without finishing to cover with any detachment, the siege to the camp by the access gorge to the heath. The Hungarian knights with enough moral courage yet formed a wedge, to resist the charge; it was the last firm resistance of the Hungarian army. But the majority of them moved back by the existing «gap» in the siege, fleeing in small groups towards what they were thinking that would be their salvation. And really falling down In a mortal trap, which was spreading over the whole route of their flight towards Pest.
The Mongol light cavalry, without risking anything, softened from a distant with his arrows the driven to despair deployment of the knights and, later, taking his opportunity, the heavy cavalry charged to squash them. Numerous Mongol light detachments went out in pursuit of the fled ones. A part them was pressing on their rear, to increase their commotion, their chaos and their fear. While, other detachments realized the overflowing pursuit, reaching them from the sides and spearing them or throwing their arrows to them with their small and most powerful compound arches, which shot from the mounts. Along 50 km, in the way of return to Pest, spread the remains of the Hungarians, their mounts and their equipments. More than 70 thousand Hungarians knights and auxiliary died in the battlefield, in the camp and in the escape towards the southwest. After the battle of the Sajo, the Hungarian resistance collapsed.
The Mongols immediately attacked Pest and burned it. But they did not dare to cross to the west side of the Danube in the exploitation of the success. In spite of the moral and numerical supremacies that they enjoyed in these moments. Batu and Subodai gave rest to their army and consolidated the positions at the east of the great river. And so more than half a year passed, where the principal related event was a slightly spirited declaration of Crusade against them from the Pope, of which it was obtained little in the practice. In December, 1241 the Danube froze in this great region.
MONGOL’S LIGHT AND HEAVY CAVALRIES.
The Mongols made good use of their time to plunder Buda, realized a reconnaissance in force in Austria and sent a detachment to the South, towards Zagreb, in pursuit of the king Bela. And on the 25th they assaulted Gran, the Hungarian capital and See of his archbishop, taking with them everything of value and antiquity they could.
A marvellous End for Europe. Who, What for?
Central and Western Europe were mature for a Mongol invasion. The Europeans did not have an army capable of facing this threat, which already was throwing them the breath in his napes. The strategic plan explained by Subodai to the Khan and to his generals seemed to be faithfully fulfilled up to his last parts. But, this was already only an illusion, the impossible one. An «appearance», which Sun Tzu would say. On December 11, 1241 they had received in the headquarters of Batu and Subodai an escorted messenger from Karakorum, the Mongol capital in the Eastern Asia. He was bringing the news that Ogadai, the Great Khan, had died and that his widow was acting as regent, until a new Mongol emperor was elected and promoting to the throne. The Mongol present princes were anxious to make worth their rights for the succession and decided to return to their capital, taking with them the imperial tumens.
Batu knew that without these select troops, he could not keep Hungary in his power. But he thought that with the Turkoman recruits, who already were experienced and taken part in combats, he might keep most of his territories. This way, the Mongols evacuated Hungary, without being hindered, harassed or pusued by their enemies. Though behind they left the land that was theirs. This was a symbol of their idiosyncrasy and exploiter character up to the extinguishment, land bandit and absolute predator. And without the minor aptitude to create, to keep, to develop, to extend and bequeath his successors, a civilization that was deserving this name. And not only to leave them the accumulated results of his outrages, bails, taxes, plunders and booties and the military educations to obtain them.
Batu returned to his departure field base, in Sarai, near the Volga and at scanty 100 km north of Astrakhan. And there established a Mongol subsidiary empire, which was known as the Golden Horde. The Mongols would not have another equal opportunity to invade Europe. After this aberrant nightmare suffered by the Europeans, these invented all kind of stories and myths, in which they narrated how they had defeated the «Tartar» invaders (this way they in general knew the Mongols) and had forced them to return to their lands.
This unthinkable, sudden and happened, in the last possible moments resulted… marvellous, Was it a matter of Destinity and of Europa’s Karma and his privileged Civilization? ¿Or was it the result of a Divine Intervention by the intercession of the Holy Virgin Mary? Certainly, humanly was an excessive and incredible chance. But the faith can never give some «evidences», because it would stop of being and would turn into the verifiable reality. The Divine effective intervention, in favor of Europe and his civilization, which without the Christianity operating from his marrow, would never look alike to what it went and to what is. But It is probable, because That is never thundering or overwhelming. God did not visit Elias in the beams storm or in the hurricane-force wind, but using a tenuous and soft breeze. And, to the esoteric and sincretists, the explanation might be «a cosmic action of the astral and akasic forces, in favor of the Light, the Peace and the human Civilization, towards the top levels of the Universal Conscience «.
Also, there exists a «rational» and common explanation of what happened, but that cannot specify the moment to begin this opportune retreat. The Mongols and the central Asiatic associate tribes were creating an Euro-Asian empire in the first half of the 13th century. But their material capacities and their ideological and religious resources were not corresponding with such important aim. As already we saw, for the peoples of the occupied countries, they did not have anything satisfactory and lasting to offer them. The Mongols were kept in these foreign lands by the threat of the known terror. As it would happen with other tyrants, that tried to become «worldwides», their necessary collaborators were ethnic or ideologically similar. But the Mongol etnia and his related ones were demographically insignificant, to be able to monitor and defend alone such vast empire. All this, in the decades of the invasion of Eastern Europe, had tightened up to the point of break their military capacities. This way, more early that late, the Mongols had to realize that retrograde general march, to assure and consolidate their lands in the East of Eurasia. Moving away from the contact with dynamic, Ideological and expansive civilizations, as the European. With whom the relations of vicinity and the first exchanges of merchants, explorers and adventurers would been solved by the military clash.
After the death of Gengis Khan in 1227 his the second surviving son, Ogadai, succeeded him in the Mongol throne. The Mongol expansion eastward was limited by the Pacific Ocean and scarcely were staying free enclaves in China and Persia. But, towards the West, the great steppes of Russia were offering to the Mongols an enormous opportunity of conquests. Using these extensive areas, which were favorable to the advance and the maintenance of his rapid hippomoviles armies. These steppes had been awarded to the grandson of Gengis, Batu. The great Mongol general Subodai urged his conquest, to strategically protect the west flank of the Empire and as possible operational headquarters for the invasion of the green plains of Hungary. These natural plains might serve in its moment for the advance in north and west directions of the Mongols tumens («divisions»), towards the conquest of the core heart of the Christian Europe.
The Prolegomenons of Europe’s Invasion.
This «strategic panoramic» insight of Subodai filled with enthusiasm the court and the Mongolian chiefs. And, this way, Ogadai provided the general with around 50 thousand veteran men, under Batu’s nominal control, to conquer the steppes of the west Russia. In the winter of 1237, the Mongols crossed the frozen Volga and penetrated in Russia. The Mongol army was reaching 120 thousand light and heavy riders, with auxiliaries and luggages. Including their catapults for the heavy fire and the means of siege and to construct these. And it had increased with the recruitments of Turkoman realized in the advance route and authorized by Ogadai. The quality of this reinforcement for the Batu and Subodai’s army was deficient and variable, in comparison with the Imperial tumens.
During the following 3 years, the Mongols systematicly destroyed the feudal Russian kingdoms of the west. Using the frozen rivers as broad and long routes without obstacles to deeply penetrate in them and to positionally dislocate the enemy defenders forces. With the capture of Kiev in December, 1240, the rest of the Russian organized resistance disappeared. And the Mongols were reaching in force the Carpathians mounts, the natural obstacle that was protecting Hungary.
Though in this epoch, in the beginning of the Low Middle Ages, the European leaders did not know practically anything on the Mongols, both the general Subodai and the prince Batu were regularly informed about the difficult political European situation. In effect, in February, 122, Subodai and Jebe, at the command a corps army of 20 thousand Mongols initiated a reconnaissance in force of two years in the western Russian steppes, looking for advance routes for the Mongol armies towards Europe. There they recruited a permanent and well paid spies’ network in different nations. And they realized a secret alliance with Venice, for which, in exchange for relevant information about the geography and the always changeable politics of the European states, Venice would get a trade monopoly in the Mongol conquered territories.
In January, 1241, Subodai concentrated the army around Lvov and Przemysl, close to the river San, tributary of the Vístula. This «strategic departure base» was at the north of the Carpathians and at a distance of 300 km to the Hungarian Danube. To realize the invasion, the army only was possessing then 100 thousand men. The reason was that it had to keep occupation detachments in the Russian west and to protect its communications towards his base. The operational gravity center of these were the mountain passes of the Carpathians towards the south, towards Hungary.
That were defined by the Tisza and his tributaries network, which were forming the Carpathians valleys. But the advance of the Mongols towards Gran, the great capital at that time, at 40 km to the northwest of Buda and Pest, all on the Danube, would leave the invading army exposed to an operational counterattack of the Germans, Austrians, Bohemians or Poles. That might fall down on his right flank and eastward communications. Threatening them, this way, with serious losses or isolating them from their base, being able to surround some Mongol detachments.
The Mongol worry towards the enemy was generally strategic, thinking about their exposed flanks at the level of the occupied countries. This worry was originated in his always exiguous number of riders for the entrusted or looked aims. And also in the not tactical invincibility of his forces, if were meeting an organized, skilful enemy, who was using opportunely and effectively his heavy and light cavalries, and calm to resist their tricks and feints. The Europeans only were possessing the heavy cavalry. Where his nobles and chiefs fighted and around which, as main weapon, his infantry armed retinues and armies were articulated. This way, Gengis Khan, in 1221, after the conquest of the Moslem empire of Samarqand, placed approximately between the Sir Daria and the Amur Daria, systematicly plundered Afghanistan. And his son Tului killed most of the inhabitants of the north of Persia (Khorasan). With it they were protecting the south flank of the brand-new empire.
The Beginnings of the Invasion of 1241.
To defend this flank of the mentioned assaults, Subodai divided his army in 2 «very asymmetric army corps». The principal corps would carry out the invasion of Hungary and the auxiliary, small corps, would fulfill the double mission of clear the European threats to his advance on those Hungarian cities and his communications with the Carpathians. The auxiliary army, at the orders of the princes Baidar and Kadan and formed by 2 tumens, advanced first, in March, 1241 and, crossing the Vistula by Sandomir, surprised the Poles. But, to separate them from Hungary, «they» had «to allow» his mobilization and later concentration. This way, dividing his meager forces, Kadan advanced through Poland in northwest direction. Seeking to extend the alarm and the consternation for all his interior and «to threaten» the German States placed at the west of the Oder.
For his part, Baidar went in southwest direction, directly towards Cracow, the capital, burning and plundering everything what could at his passage, to attract on his detachment the enemy attention. And, suddenly, close to Cracow, the Mongols stopped and initiated in a short time their retreat, following the opposite direction to the previous advance. They were simulating this way to be a small incursion force, possibly explorer, already moving back to his base. The Polish cavalry forces, concentrated for the defense of Cracow, did not recognize the rapid retrograde enemy march as a tactical trick. And, filled of a warlike ardor that was inflaming their senses, they were thrown after what they thought that it was a great victory already in their hands. This way, they left their positions under the protection of the infantry and the walls of Cracow, to realize a frontal warm pursuit. Without before having really beaten their enemy and leaving in hands of the wind all the due precautions. On having seen them, the Mongols accelerated their march and even left their prisoners, with what the Poles saw insured the «reality» of his conjectures. But in Chmielnik, at 18 km from the capital, a very ungrateful surprise was waiting for them. The whole Mongol light cavalry, conceal for the distant sights and deployed forming a half moon with his checkered detachments, began to throw clouds of arrows with piercing punch arrowtips, that easily penetrated in the armors and protections of the Polish mounts and riders. The majority of these simply died. The inhabitants of Cracow, when the news came, terrified fled in mass, and the Mongols, reaching the Polish capital, set it on fire.
Baidar continued up to Breslau, the Silesia’s capital, where found that the population had lit fire to the city and sheltered in the citadel. There he knew that in Liegnitz, at 65 km to the west, Henry, the king of Silesia, had formed a very heterogeneous army of 25 thousand men to attack them. He also knew that the king Wenceslao of Bohemia was going with his army of 50 thousand men to meet Henry. Baidar decided to rapidly go to Liegnitz, to prevent the meeting of both enemy armies. In the way, Kadan and his mobile detachment, which already had completed his mission of general grieve the Poles and Eastern Germans, joined him. Both tumens reached Liegnitz on April 8, 1241. The 9th, the king Henry went immediately to facing them. He did not know that Wenceslao and his army were situated at only a day of march. In times of difficult and precarious communications, the ignorance, which is rash for its simplification, was replacing the lacks of information with own elaborations, based on the greed and the dread. His army deployed near the city in a plain.
BATTLE OF LIEGNITZ
When the Mongol vanguard appeared in the horizon, Henry sent a small detachment to reject it. But a rain of arrows made it to move back to his rows. The king counter-attacked with all his cavalry. The Mongol vanguard, saw threatened, avoided the immediate contact and moved back. In what looked like to the knights an escape, after having kept the calm opposite to minor forces. The charge of the Silesian cavalry transformed in a career at full gallop, being disorganized and dispersed, looking for his prey. The Mongol archers were waiting for them in calmness, provided with their perforating cuirasses arrows. When the Silesian riders were inside their effective range, the Mongol archers covered them with arrows, knocking down many people and pulliing up sharply their clumsy assault. Already beaten the knights, the Mongol heavy cavalry charged against them and dissolved them. In turn, the light cavalry, screened by smoke bombs in his sector of advance, threw against the Silesian infantry, that were waiting at the end of the deployment. Behind, the Mongol heavy riders also charged, knocking down everything at their steps and killing the king Henry of Silesia.
When Wenceslao known about the disaster of the Silesians, stopped his march and moved back to protect Bohemia. Receiving for it reinforcements of the kingdoms of Saxony and Thuringia. The allied army formed in Klodzko, close to the gorges of the river Glatz, at 100 km to the south-east of Liegnitz. But, the Mongol reconnaissance detachments warned their princes of the dangers of those. In addition, the Mongol army corps had suffered enough losses in his raids and previous battles. In that moments, in less than one month of operations, 20 thousand Mongols had crossed around 650 km in enemy territory and gained 2 decisive battles. Poland was beaten and shocked and the Germans at the west of the Oder were moving back and preparing to defend their kingdoms.
The Bohemians, still intact, were at 400 km from the Hungarian defensive positions in the Danube. For what their army was operationally ineffective to achieve the decision in the Mongol attack to Hungary. To make sure of Wenceslao’s «intention», the Mongols realized a demonstration towards the west, inside Germany. Wenceslao pursued them. At a decided moment, the tumens deployed in small and slippery detachments. And, forming an almost invisible cloud for the enemy, they slipped for both sides of the Bohemian army and moved away from this.
In his retreat to meet Subodai, the Mongols crossed for Moravia, destroying his settlements, stores and fields. This way, they created a wide desert plateau, which would protect furthermore the right flank of the principal Mongol corps. On having left these lands unable to support for a time an army crossing it. In this secondary campaign Baidar and Kadan managed to eliminate any possibility that the Czechs, the Germans, the Poles and the Austrians were sending their troops in aid of the Hungarians. And they did it taking and keeping the initiative against a very numerous enemy, who was acting unco-ordinated. Whose principal weapon was the heavy cavalry, that acted only by the shock. And operating with a greater operational movement capacity, protected by the secrecy and the concealment, supported by a sufficient and constant information. And using in the combats decided by them the whole repertory of the tactics and technics of their cavalry, which were almost incomprehensible for the Europeans. And they could come in time of rejoining with Subodai’s corps at almost the end of the Hungarian campaign.