Strange as it may seem (though maybe not so much, considering America's basic love of all things military), today's generation of kids probably know more about military strategy than many generals of a hundred years ago. Why? In a phrase: "Video games." From World of Warcraft to Halo, Modern War to Fallout 4, gamers these days get quite the education in military strategy well before they're old enough to attend West Point.
Maybe that's kind of a natural thing for a nation that proudly boasts the largest and most powerful military in human history. All things considered, it shouldn't be that weird. And yet somehow, we bet you'll be surprised by exactly how many of these classic military strategies you already know. You might not know the names of the strategies themselves, or the history behind them. But you'll probably find at least half of these strategies oddly familiar.Vote up the most genius military strategies below, and be sure to let us know what you think in the comment section.
One of the most basic tactical concepts in the world is taking the highground. In infantry battles, it's a lot easier to attack going downhill than uphill. Think of Gandalf and the Rohirrim's charge down the mountain at the Battle of Helm's Deep; they took the highground, and used the downward momentum of that charge to smash Sauron's orc army. And this battle also revealed another benefit of charging downhill. If you time it right, and plan your attack for morning or evening, you can attack with the sun at your back, blinding the enemy and giving your forces a massive combat advantage.But landborne forces aren't the only known to "come out of the sun" for an attack. These days, "the "high ground" is as often as not the sky itself. Since WWII, it's become axiomatic that he who establishes air superiority wins. Mostly because the high ground also gives an advantage in range for bombarding the enemy with artillery or bombs. Which, in the case of aircraft, fall straight from overhead.
Even if you know nothing at all about military strategy, you've probably heard someone make reference to "taking someone in the flanks" before. The flanking maneuver gets its name from the "flank" area of cattle - the side area of the body between the rib cage and hip bone, where flank steaks come from. If you're a matador trying to attack a bull, your goal is always to avoid the horns at the front, and attack the bull in its vulnerable flank areas - from the side and behind.
Flanking maneuvers work the same way. Instead of attacking an enemy formation from the front, a flanking maneuver attempts to attack its vulnerable sides, or even from the rear. These maneuvers were considered "checkmate" in the days of fixed lines and formations. Flanking is certainly still relevant, and still forms the core idea of many attacks. But with today's more mobile forces, flanking isn't always the checkmate it once was.Incidentally, attacking the flanks has always been the primary job of fast-moving cavalry. The cavalry's job is specifically to move around an enemy formation when it's vulnerable, and attack the flanks. "Calling in the cavalry" doesn't necessarily mean "calling in heavy reinforcements," as most people think. Cavalry is first and foremost a fast-moving offensive strike force, held in reserve until the enemy's flanks are exposed. The frontal "cavalry charges" you see in movies are usually either last-ditch desperation moves, or pointed penetration attacks.
In terms of broad strategy, you already know history's most famous choke point maneuver: brave Leonidas, and his tiny band of Spartans at the Thermopylae Pass. According to Frank Miller, a mere 300 Spartans held back an army of a million Persians by acting as a "cork" in one ridiculously narrow mountain pass. Alright, technically the pass was about 330 feet wide, the Persian army numbered about 150,000, and those 300 Spartans had about 7,000 Athenians standing behind them. But still, a pretty impressive feat, and the Spartans really did sacrifice themselves for the cause.In the modern day, a "choke point" could be something as small as a doorway for individual soldiers, a narrow strait for Naval forces, or the Suez Canal area on the Sinai Peninsula. All represent choke points on different scales.