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Infiltration tactics

From Academic Kids

In warfare, infiltration tactics involves small forces bypassing enemy strongpoints, instead isolating these strongpoints for later forces and disrupting rear areas. This tactic was first used by the stormtroopers of the German Army in 1917 during the First World War, where it was named Hutier tactics.

It began with a brief and violent bombardment of the enemy lines. Unlike regular trench warfare, the bombardment was not directed at the front lines. Rather it was directed at the rear areas, to destroy roads, artillery, and other targets. This was done to confuse the enemy and reduce their capability to launch an effective counter attack from secondary lines. Where exactly the attacks are coming from is hidden until the last possible second for maximum effect.

These attack styles were led by light infantry, who would attempt to penetrate at multiple weak points. The attacks would be carried out by massed infantry, who would then have a huge advantage in numbers. Other reinforcements would enter these points and the entire enemy line would shortly collapse, because of these splits.

These attacks worked well in the early stages of its conception, and were used heavily. However, because of the overuse in the early stages of its creation, effective defences were quickly found.

The tactic was most famously employed by General Oskar von Hutier of the German Eighteenth Army during the 1918 Operation Michael.

Infiltration tactics led to the creation of the modern military formation of the fire team, a small group of soldiers with a certain degree of autonomy, capable of penetrating enemy territory on missions of sabotage and misdirection. These tactics were adopted by other armies in the second world war where they played a major part in infantry battles; the British equivalent of stormtroopers were the commando brigades.

References

  • House, Jonathan M. Toward Combined Arms Warfare: A Survey of 20th-Century Tactics, Doctrine, and Organization. U.S. Army Command General Staff College, 1984. Available online (http://cgsc.leavenworth.army.mil/carl/resources/csi/House/House.asp) (5 February 2005) or through University Press of the Pacific (2002).
  • Pope, Stephen and Wheal, Elizabeth-Anne, eds.The Macmillian Dictionary of the First World War. Macmillian Reference Books, 1995.
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