World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Pincer attack

Article Id: WHEBN0000169646
Reproduction Date:

Title: Pincer attack  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: List of military strategies and concepts
Collection:
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Publication
Date:
 

Pincer attack


The pincer movement or double envelopment is a military maneuver. The flanks of the opponent are attacked simultaneously in a pinching motion after the opponent has advanced towards the center of an army which is responding by moving its outside forces to the enemy's flanks, in order to surround it. At the same time, a second layer of pincers attacks on the more extreme flanks, so as to prevent any attempts to reinforce the target unit.

Description

A double envelopment by definition leads to the attacking army facing the enemy in front, on both flanks, and in the rear. If the attacking pincers link up in the enemy's rear, the enemy is encircled. Such battles often end in surrender or destruction of the enemy force, although the encircled force can attempt a breakout, attacking the encirclement from the inside in order to escape, or a friendly external force can attack from the outside to open up an escape route for the encircled force.

History

Sun Tzu in The Art of War speculated on the maneuver, but advised against trying it, feeling that an army would likely run first before the move could be completed. He argued that it was best to allow the enemy a path to escape, as the target army would fight with more ferocity when completely surrounded.

The maneuver was probably first used at the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC. The historian Herodotus describes how the Athenian general Miltiades deployed his forces of 10,000 Athenian and 900 Plataean hoplites in a U formation, with the wings manned much deeper than the center. His enemy outnumbered him heavily, and Miltiades chose to match the breadth of the Persian battle line by thinning out the center of his forces while reinforcing the wings. In the course of the battle, the weaker central formations retreated in order, allowing the wings to converge behind the Persian battle line, thus driving the much more numerous, but lightly armed Persians to panicky retreat.

Hannibal executed this maneuver at the Battle of Cannae in 216 BC. This is viewed by military historians as one of the greatest battlefield maneuvers in history, and is cited as the first successful use of the pincer movement to have been recorded in detail,[1] by the Greek historian Polybius.

It was also later effectively used by Khalid ibn al-Walid at the Battle of Walaja in 633, by Alp Arslan at the Battle of Manzikert in 1071 under name of Crescent Tactic, at Battle of Mohács by Süleyman the Magnificent in 1526 and by Field Marshal Carl Gustav Rehnskiöld at the Battle of Fraustadt in 1706.

It was also used by Daniel Morgan at the Battle of Cowpens in 1781 in South Carolina. Morgan's cunning plan at Cowpens is widely considered to be the tactical masterpiece of the American War of Independence.

A version of this maneuver was a standard tactic used by Zulu impis, who called it the "buffalo horn" formation.

A rudimentary form of this maneuver was also employed by Genghis Khan, known colloquially as the 'horns' tactic. In this case, two enveloping flanks of horsemen surrounded the enemy although they usually remained unjoined, leaving the enemy an escape route to the rear, as described above. This was key to many of Genghis' early victories over other Mongolian tribes.

The maneuver was famously developed to its perfection in the blitzkrieg as practiced by the armed forces of Nazi Germany during World War II. In this case, rather than being a mere infantry maneuver, it developed into a complex multi-discipline endeavor involving fast movement of mechanized armor, use of artillery barrages, air force bombardment, and effective radio communications, with the primary objective of destroying enemy command and control chains, undermining enemy troop morale, and disrupting supply lines.

See also

References

Further reading

  • U.S. Army training manual diagram of different modes of attack, including double envelopment
  • GlobalSecurity.org essay with a section on envelopments
  • Academic paper on military diagramming with diagram of a double envelopment
  • Georgy Zhukov's double envelopment at the battle of Stalingradit:Aggiramento
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and USA.gov, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for USA.gov and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
 
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
 
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.
 


Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.