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Flanking

 

Disciplines > Warfare > Tactics > Flanking

Action | Analysis | Example | Analogy | See also

 

Action

Whilst one force engages the enemy head on, others attack from the sides or rear.

This may be done secretly, as by ambush, or openly and dynamically on the field of battle. Where the latter option is chosen, speed is of the essence.

The flanking attack need not require many troops; it is the effect that is important.

Analysis

Armies, like people, tend to face one way. They have a vector, a direction towards the enemy or target. Thus their sides and rear may be weaker as the main weaponry is towards the front. For this reason, flanking attacks can effectively be carried out by a relatively small force.

Their whole attention is also towards the front, where any conflict is assumed to occur. Attack from any other direction is thus a surprise. The need to rush forces to defend these new attacks also weakens the main front and distracts commanders. Finally it is highly demoralizing for the men who may feel they are being attacked from all directions and that their commanders are not in control.

Example

In Operation Desert Storm, the Americans swept through the desert around Iraqi front line, whilst pinning down the Iraqis with heavy bombing.

Analogy

In a debate, go off-topic and suddenly attack on a completely different topic, forcing them to defend this alternative attack and hence taking their mind off the main argument.

See also

Confusion in war, Distraction in war

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