Articles

6 of the most ballsy military tactics

War is a dangerous thing, often necessitating actions that — in any other circumstance — would be absolutely insane.


Here are six of the things that make sense in war, but are still pretty ballsy regardless:

6. Flooding your own territory

The idea for most defenders is to keep their territory whole for their own people, even in the face of enemy forces. But for defenders in low-lying areas facing a potentially unstoppable force, there's always the option of making sections of it impossible via water (though mines, obstacles, and a few other maneuvers work also).

This forces the enemy to attack through narrow channels determined by the defenders, and limits the territory that has to be protected. Does make for a hell of a cleanup problem, though.

5. Night raids

(Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Michael Larson)

Night raids have all the same drawbacks of normal raids in that the attackers are trying to conduct a quick assault before the defenders can rally, but with the added confusion of limited visibility and increased sound transmission — sound waves typically travel farther at night and have less ambient sound with which to compete.

Of course, the U.S. enjoys a big advantage at night against many nations. While night vision goggles and other optics provide less depth of field and less peripheral vision, if any, they're a huge advantage in the dark against an enemy without them.

4. Submarine combat

Sailors assigned to the Blue crew of the ballistic-missile submarine USS Pennsylvania man the bridge as the ship returns home to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor following a strategic deterrence patrol. (Photo: U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Amanda R. Gray)

Submarines face a lot of jokes, but what they do is pretty insane. A group of sailors get into a huge metal tube with torpedoes, missiles, or both, dive underwater and sail thousands of nautical miles, and then either park or patrol under the waves, always a single mechanical failure from a quick and agonizing death.

The reasons to go under the waves anyway are plentiful. Submarines can provide a nearly impossible-to-find nuclear deterrent, molest enemy shipping, sink high-value enemy vessels, place sensors in important shipping lanes, or tap into undersea cables.

But the guys who sail under the water are crazy to do it.

3. "Vertical envelopment"

(Photo: U.S. Army Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod)

Vertical envelopment means slightly different things depending on which branch's manuals you look at and from which era, but it all boils down to delivering combat power from the sky, usually with paratroopers from planes or troops in helicopters on air assault.

Either way, it leaves a large group of soldiers with relatively little armor and artillery trying to quickly mass and fight an enemy who was already entrenched when they arrived, hopefully with the element of surprise.

It's risky for the attackers, but it allows them to tie up or destroy enemy forces that could threaten operations, such as when Marines air assault against enemy artillery that could fire on a simultaneous amphibious assault.

2. Assault through ambush

A soldier fires blank rounds at a rotational training unit during an exercise at the Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, La., April 22, 2014. (Photo: U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Christopher Klutts)

When a maneuver force finds itself in a near ambush — defined as an ambush from within hand grenade range, about 38 yards — with the enemy sweeping fire through their ranks, it's trained to immediately turn towards the threat and assault through it, no matter the cost.

Each individual soldier takes this action on their own, not even looking to the platoon or squad leadership before acting. While running directly towards the incoming fire takes serious cojones, it's also necessary. Trying to go any other direction or even running for cover just gives the enemy more time to fire before rounds start heading back at them.

1. Ships ramming submarines

USS Farragut (DDG 99) comes out of a high-speed turn. (Photo: U.S. Navy)

It's hard to get more ballsy than one of the earliest methods for attacking submarines: taking your ship, and ramming it right into the enemy. This is super dangerous for the attacking ship since the submarine's hull could cause the surface ship's keel to break.

But surface ships do it in a pinch anyway, because there's more risk to allowing a submarine to get away and possibly into position for a torpedo attack. And the surface ship is generally more likely to limp away from a collision than the submarine is, which is still a win in war.

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