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.
Football fans are familiar with the classic feint: a "fake-out" maneuver that causes the opposition to think you're going one way, while you secretly plan to go another. In military terms, feints can become hugely elaborate campaigns of deception, and typically involve "diversionary forces" to misdirect the enemy. When planning the D-Day invasion at Normandy, Allies pulled off a massive feint by building a fake army of inflatable tanks and jeeps, and parking them at a fake launch point. The real invading force, meanwhile, was hidden under camouflage miles away.Hitler, relying on misinformation fed to him by Allied double agents and radio traffic, believed the inflatable army was real. As the Allies landed at Omaha Beach, Hitler's main forces were miles away and unable to arrive in time to resist the landings. This brilliant campaign of deception made D-Day probably the largest and most successful feint maneuver in military history.
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.
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.
That's why he favored the blitz, and that's why it worked so well. Nobody expected the kind of fast-moving, decisive attack Hitler planned, led first by speedy Luftwaffe bombers. They expected slow-moving lines of entrenched soldiers and massive artillery pieces; Germany shocked everyone by using highly penetrative maneuvers, and capturing territory in hours instead of months. Eventually, though, the Allies adapted to Hitler's lightning strikes with radar, quick-responding defenses and lightning attacks of their own.