Test Your Knowledge: Defensive Military Tactics

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Staff

5 Min Quiz

If you use a so-called elastic defense, you try to slow down the enemy while giving up what?

Give them a bit of land and slow them down any way you can; it saps morale and causes casualties.

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What's one reason that an elastic defense often works well as a defensive tactic?

The stretched supply lines can slow down attackers' momentum and wear them out, too.

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What is the name for a unit that gives up its defensive position in an attempt to push through enemy lines?

A breakout is often attempted when a defending force realizes it can't hold a position for a variety of reasons, such as a lack of supplies or inadequate terrain.

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If you want to eventually attack from a defensive position, what do you need to do first?

You may have to hold out longer than you think, especially if you're surrounded.

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How are most modern land mines triggered?

It means they are effective against vehicles even if those vehicles don't pass directly above the mine.

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If you are defending a high position, you have to be wary of what?

If an attacker cuts your supply lines on the lower slopes, you lose the advantage of the high ground.

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What is a hedgehog defense?

The uneven lines help push attackers toward areas where defenders can fire on them from multiple directions.

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The hedgehog has historically been used many times against what kind of forces?

The attackers hit weak points first but then get sucked into fighting stronger points; in those areas they are vulnerable to fire from more than one direction.

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Which tactic involves defending a second, higher slope as an attacker ascends a lower first slope?

Duke Wellington used this type of defense to defeat Napoleon at the Battle of Waterloo.

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Revetments were commonly used in what kind of defensive tactic?

Revetments are essentially retaining walls on the side of a trench that provides protection and a place from which to fire a weapon.

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What's one major advantage of the V-shaped formation called the Flying Wedge?

It offers a wide field of fire and makes any attack more difficult.

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Why would infantry soldiers construct a sangar?

Sangars are fortifications made from rocks or sandbags, often in areas where trenches aren't possible.

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If you deploy your defenders in a line that's diagonal to the attacker's forces, you're using which defense?

It's one of the most common defenses used in conflict.

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Why do some armies resort to "scorched earth" tactics during a withdrawal?

The Geneva Convention banned the destruction of civilian water and food supplies to prevent massive civilian casualties.

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Compared to forested areas, how much more effort does it take to camouflage units in a desert environment?

The lack of foliage and the hard desert soil means defensive preparation takes much more time and effort.

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How many miles of railroad did Maj. Gen. William Sherman destroy as part of the scorched earth policy in the American Civil War?

Sherman's troops marched from Atlanta to Savannah, Georgia. His tactics were controversial but helped the Union defeat the Confederacy.

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Which defensive cover was the precursor to the fox hole?

They were so shallow they were vulnerable to bullets or attacking forces could just run over defenders using trucks and tanks.

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The first land mines didn't explode. What did they do?

They were sometimes called killing tunnels.

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World War I was the first to see the widespread use of which defensive tactic?

The trenches contributed heavily to a bogged-down stalemate, particularly on the Western Front.

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The Pakfront defense was used in World War II to interrupt what kind of attack?

It used surprise anti-tank gun attacks to quickly disable multiple tanks before they could unleash their huge firepower.

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Roman soldiers took which defensive position only if they were surrounded by enemy forces?

Think of soldiers standing back-to-back in a circle trying desperately to survive.

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Which defensive position protects forces from having exposed flanks?

In this defense, defenders can see and attack the ground all around them.

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How do you minimize casualties in an all round defense?

Also, you have to hope that your attackers can't completely surround and then destroy you.

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Why was trench warfare so effective in the WWI era?

Thus, defenders were in a much better situation than attackers.

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Which technology finally helped attackers develop ways to break through trenches?

Tanks could push through barbed wire and through all sorts of defensive positions.

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Why are land mines a controversial form of defense?

Civilians suffer from mines even decades after a conflict has ended.

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Why did Roman armies always try to fight with a strong wind at their backs?

Plus, the swirling dust helped to blind the downwind enemies.

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What does counter-battery fire accomplish?

It helps you use your weapons to destroy hidden guns of your attackers such as concealed artillery.

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Which tactic did the Romans use to prevent an enemy from breaking through their lines?

The saw used a unit just behind the front lines that shifted to areas weakened by attackers; viewed from an aerial perspective it would look like a sawing motion.

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Counter-battery fire is also often called what?

This kind of counter-artillery attack came into vogue during World War I.

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About This Quiz

War ain't easy and it's not for people who don't know what they're doing. Field commanders need a lot of smarts to figure out which military tactics to use and when. Perhaps you're familiar with some of the classical military maneuvers, such as the feint, flank, penetration and pincer.

Military strategy and tactics stretch back to the start of human warfare and the development of large governments and empires. Alexander the Great of Macedonia is one of the earlier military strategists, focusing his efforts on planning, communication and supply, security and the use of surprise. During the Middle Ages, Genghis Khan founded the Mongol Empire, the largest on Earth. The Mongol Empire covered more than 10 million square miles at one point, or about 20 percent of all of the land on the planet.

Napoleon I birthed the age of modern warfare, which included the creation of a rudimentary general staff. More recently, men like George S. Patton were hailed for their military smarts with Patton recognized for helping liberate Western Europe from the Nazis.

During all of this time, changes in weaponry and other technology necessitated constant changes in strategies and tactics. Just in the last century alone, there were debates as to whether air power alone could win wars, how best to use amphibious power, and how to strategically leverage the new and devastatingly powerful nuclear weaponry. Today, terrorism is a popular military tactic among smaller powers.

Ready to test your military tactic savviness? Then take the quiz!

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