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10 Military moves that can decimate an enemy on the battlefield

Surgical strikes: Take a look at these 10 military manoeuvres

The surgical strikes carried out by the Indian army's special forces in end-September on Pakistani terrorist launch-pads across the Line of Control are still a subject of (hot) debate more than a week after they were executed.

The surgical strike — a swift and targeted attack on a specific target while ensuring minimum collateral damage — is just one of the many military strategies that have been used by nations to suit the objectives and the situation at hand. Others have been more long drawn, intense and brutal.


1 : Surgical Strike

The US forces' Operation Geronimo to kill Osama bin Laden on May 3, 2011, in Abbottabad in Pakistan was described as a surgical strike by the US administration. The operation, conducted by a small team and designed to minimise collateral damage, was a team effort and a 'model of really seamless cooperation' across US agencies. While no breakdown of the mission's composition was made public, defence officials had revealed that US Navy SEALs were involved.


2. Attrition Warfare and Guerrilla Warfare

Widely used in the Vietnam War. While attrition, a strategy where the enemy is worn down to the point of collapse through continuous losses in people and material, was used by the US in Vietnam, the North Vietnamese army used the strategy of guerrilla warfare including ambushes, sabotage, raids, and great mobility to overwhelm the enemy. The US government faced protests at home over its attrition strategy because of the heavy civilian casualties.


3. Battle of Annihilation

A military strategy in which an attacking army seeks to destroy the military capacity of the opposing army in a single planned pivotal battle. This is achieved through the use of tactical surprise and application of overwhelming force at a key point.

While there are no modern examples of this, military historians believe that the Battle of Gettysburg in 1863, which was the turning point of the American Civil War, is one such battle of annihilation, with over 51,000 casualties during three days.


4. Shock and Awe

Also referred to as Rapid Dominance, it is a military doctrine based on the use of overwhelming power and spectacular displays of force to paralyse the enemy's perception of the battlefield and destroy its will to fight.

In March 2003 , a US-led coalition launched a military campaign against Iraq, which toppled the Saddam Hussein government but continued for many years. There were massive casualties among the Iraqis in the first 3-4 years of conflict with the US officially withdrawing in 2011.


5. Blitzkrieg

A method of warfare whereby an attacking force spearheaded by a dense concentration of armoured and motorised or mechanised infantry formations with close air support breaks through the opponent's line of defence with short, fast, powerful attacks and then dislocates the defenders, using speed and surprise to encircle them.

The term had appeared in 1935, and was used to describe German military operations between 1939 and 1941.


6. Military Blockade

An effort to cut off supplies, war material or communications from a particular area by force, either in part or totally. Should not be confused with an embargo or sanctions, which are legal barriers to trade.

It is also distinct from a siege in which a blockade is usually directed at an entire country or region, rather than a fortress or city. An example is the siege at San Antonio in 1836 when Mexican forces under Santa Anna besieged and massacred American rebels who were fighting to make Texas independent of Mexico.


7. Limited War

Limited in time, location and objectives. The Falklands War between Argentina and UK in 1982 was fought over the course of 10 weeks and ended with a little over a thousand casualties on both sides.


8. Pincer

Movement Also known as double envelopment, it is a military manoeuvre in which forces simultaneously attack both sides of an enemy formation. The name comes from visualising the action as the split attacking forces "pinching" the enemy.


9. Scorched Earth

A military strategy that targets anything that might be useful to the enemy while advancing through or withdrawing from an area. All assets that are used or can be used by the enemy are targeted, such as food sources, transportation, communications, industrial resources, and even the people in the area. Kuwaiti oil fires set alight by retreating Iraqi forces in 1991 is an example.


10. Drone Warfare

In Iraq, Syria and Turkey, drones are being increasingly used for military purposes by nations and military forces including the Islamic State, according to analysts and officials in the region. These devices are, in fact, changing the shape of warfare and making it more sophisticated.

Turkey, Syria, Iran, Russia, the US, Britain and Iraq all have used drones in the region. Kurdish militias, Syrian rebel forces, and the Hezbollah and IS have also used some form of drones. The missions range from simple surveillance to precisely targeted assassinations of key terrorists by the US-led coalition.

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