Amateur Historians Share The Trickiest War Tactics From History.
War is hell. Whether you've been in contact or not, the stories that come out of wars carry so much interest because of what's at stake: nations, the lives of those fighting, history. And some of the most interesting pieces are the ones where not a single shit was fired.
Here are some of the trickiest and most interesting war tactics used in battle as told by amateur historians.
Many thanks to the Quora users who provided these responses. You can check out ore from the source at the end of this article!
1/8. During the World War 2, Hitler was on a rampaging spree to conquer Europe which was almost a success till then and things were not going well for the Allied troops until they unleashed their 23rd Headquarters Special Troops also called 'The Ghost Army', an eclectic group of actors, make-up artists,and sound experts who together engineered one of the greatest deceptions in the history of military warfare.
The top secret unit which was revealed half a century later, carried out its mission successfully without firing a single shot. It consisted of around 1,100 make-up artists, actors, sound technicians, painters, photographers and press agents, many of them drawn from Hollywood and ad agencies.
By broadcasting fake radio traffic and using inflatable balloon tanks, jeeps and aircraft to create phantom cavalry and artillery formations, they aimed to convince German intelligence that they were an army of 30,000 men.They played sound recordings of lumbering tanks and noisy troops, using state-of-the-art recording devices to project the sounds for up to 15 miles.
The German intel images also tricked their officers about the heavy movement of Americans with their tanks on the coastline while the real invasion took place miles away. They intercepted Allied radio transmissions which appeared to confirm that two American divisions were on the ground led by their most aggressive officer General George S Patton.
The Ghost Army were also experts in espionage and intelligence, dressing up as senior officers and pretending to get drunk in towns that had been liberated by the Allies but which were suspected of still harboring spies.
They would talk loudly about false plans in bars and even let slip 'important' plans to prostitutes in brothels, hoping that this information would be passed on. (continued...)
Prepared for an invasion Hitler threw away all his forces towards a fake army, realizing later that the real damage has been done somewhere else by the original one. So the Ghost Army proved to be a game changer in the Second World War achieving the Allied Victory.
While Hitler lost the war for 'blowing things up', the Ghost Army apparently won for the same.
2/8. During the Kosovo war and subsequent NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999, Yugoslav forces made extensive use of decoys.
As it was a neutral and non-alligned country, Yugoslavia had long expected possible invasion from much stronger enemy, either NATO or Soviet Union. Because of that, Yugoslav strategists developed large number of deception and concealement tactics.
The strategy was similar to Napoleons' strategy at Austerlitz - to fool the attacker, making him think that the defender sustained large casualties, thus provoking a rash and ill-prepared attack.
The plan was to preserve as much forces as possible in the event of NATO ground invasion, to surprise the enemy with overwhelming unexpected force, and inflict heavy casualties that would turn the public opinion against the war.
Fake bridges, airbases and fortifications were built. There was a rule of thumb: each unit had to make at least 2-3 fake fortifications in the radius of 500-1000m from the real fortification.
Fake tanks and artillery were made using old tires, telephone poles, wood, plastic and all kinds of other materials. Real tank would make treadmarks to the decoy area, and it would return the same way to simulate movement.
Old cars were used to simulate tank engine heat.
Fake airplanes were built from wood and plastic.
Old Sherman tanks and old airplanes were set up as decoys for the enemy to waste their munitions and expose them to AA fire.
Fake radar emissions were made using tractor plows and microwave ovens.
Old Soviet radars were set to higher frequencies and used to hunt for stealth planes (F-117A and B-2).
Communication over military radio was rarely used. Couriers on offroad motorcycles, taxi radio stations and cell phones were used.
Movement of Yugoslav armor was made overnight and was carefully planned. March routes were planned to include as much forests and tunnels as possible. Every tank was camouflaged with local vegetation, and fresh camouflage was put on every few days.
Tanks moved with more than 200 m space between them, "jumping" from cover to cover. Bulldozers were used to create fake treadmarks on the ground, and the real tank treadmarks were immediately removed. In case of air attack, engines were immediately turned off and cooled with water to reduce IR mark.
All of this was done while constantly fighting Albanian KLA guerillas on the ground.
Due to strong AA fire, NATO planes usually flew at altitudes higher than 3500 m, so the effects of decoy targets were immensely successful: 90% of decoy targets were destroyed, and only 22 real armored vehicles and artillery pieces were destroyed, of that only 14 tanks (out of 1300).
3/8. I looked at a lot of answers but couldn't find this one. This trick was used during WWII.
Nazi Germany had gone on the defensive in 1944. It was during that time that the first truly ballistic missiles, the V-1 and V-2 were developed. They could travel at the speed of sound and cause considerable damage. In fact, the Allies estimated that continuous bombing of Britain by such missiles, might lead them to evacuate London, the city being bombed by these missiles.
So, the bombing starts and these missiles were so accurate that they are hitting London exactly and causing loss of life as well as infrastructure. Britain is perplexed on how to handle such missiles, and therefore comes up with an innovative strategy.
Owing to Operation Mincemeat, which has been explained below in an answer, the Germans were highly skeptical of any intelligence falling into their hands. However, the British convinced the Germans that the missiles were falling 10-20km off target and hence the Germans started firing the missiles 10-20km below where they were targeting.
Result? London escaped largely unscathed from the missiles.
4/8. In the cold December of 1398, when Timur marched to conquer Delhi - after decimating pretty much everything along his way from Samarkand - he faced a slight problem: war elephants - gigantic machines of destruction and death, something that his cavalry and infantry had never faced and clearly were not a match for!
The brilliant tactician that Timur was, he employed two brilliant schemes to neutralize this massive death-dealing force.
First, he used a part of his cavalry as bait and engaged the elephant force into a game of chase! And gave his cavalry caltrops, basically spikes for them to step on, to drop in the advancing elephants' path.
Sheer brilliance on Timur's part, exploiting the elephant's weakness in a spot that wouldn't be covered in protective armor or a tough hide!
And it gets better: He had his men dig a trench in front of their positions. Then, he loaded his camels with bales of hay. Prodded them in the rear with hot iron rods and set ablaze the loaded bales of hay! The poor camels, had only one way to go: ahead!
This spooked out the massive elephants, who not only were blinded and suffocated by the smoke, but also scared out of their wits on seeing this fear instilling sight - hundreds of blazing backed camels charging right at them!
The result: The elephants trampled the armies on their side, stomped each other to death and crushed the defenses of the city! Timur walks in and captures Delhi!
5/8. When the British captured senior German officers during WW2, they didn't put them in a prison camp. Instead they took them to a beautiful country mansion, and plied them with magnificent meals and drink, and allowed them to listen to German radio and read newspapers to keep up to date on the war. Each had his own room and a batman, and were treated like senior officers in the British Army.
Of course, the officers had much to talk about to each other, but unknown to them, the Brits had wired the entire mansion and had a team of intelligence officers working in the basement.
The intelligence they got was far more effective than pulling finger nails. They learnt a huge amount about the relationships between senior commanders and with Hitler. They also learnt a lot about German military strategy and tactics ... From the top.
Now that's intelligence.
6/8. Around 1670, the Mughal Emperor, Aurangzeb Alamgir was fighting the great Maratha warlord Shivaji. Alamgir's general, Mirza Raja Jai Singh controlled the powerful Sinhagad Fort (near modern Pune, Maharashtra, India). The garrison at the fort was not much, but the fort itself was almost impregnable.
It was built on a sheer rockface with one side of it facing an almost vertical cliff. This particular side was left undefended as it was thought impossible that anybody could scale the cliff.
Shivaji's general, Tanaji Malusare, adopted a novel strategy to scale that very cliff. He attached a massive iron hook to a long rope and tied it around a Bengal Monitor lizard (Varanus bengalensis). Once the wall had been scaled by the lizard, the rope was sharply pulled back till it came off and the hook was wedged between the battlements at the top of the Fort. Close to 300 Marathas were able to scale that wall in the darkness and surprise the Mughal garrison in their sleep. The Mughal commander, Uday Bhan, had no option but to surrender. He instead chose to fight to the death. Both he and Tanaji lay dead before the Maratha flag was unfurled over Sinhagad.
Abdaal M. Akhtar
7/8. Newburgh, Indiana was the first town north of the Mason Dixon line to fall during the American Civil War....and it fell without a single shot fired.
Prior to crossing the Ohio River from Kentucky into Indiana, confederate Colonel Adam Rankin Johnson and his men painted a stovepipe and a felled log black and propped them up on broken wagon axles.
After crossing the river and capturing a building containing a small Union force, they lent the troops a spyglass, showed them the "cannons", and told them that they would shell the town to the ground if anyone resisted. The Union force promptly surrendered.
Johnson and his men confiscated the valuable medical supplies and weapons that the town possessed and returned to Kentucky.
8/8. During the Kargil war,the Pakistani rangers occupied high altitude positions in the mountains. They had full provisions to carry on the conflict for extended period and they also had hand held Stinger missiles and are in well entrenched positions.
Indian airforce had been called in to provide tactical support to the Indian army. The USA, as it is an ally of Pakistan, had blocked the Gps signal for military applications thereby making it difficult for IAF to target the posts of Pakistani rangers.
Then IAF employed its jugaad. It is one of the best kept secrets of IAF.
Pilots flew real-time missions with hand-held commercial GPS sets to home in on high-altitude targets, usually tiny contingents of Pakistanis occupying Indian positions. And its aces used hand-held video cameras to record bombing runs for post-op analysis back at the base.
The challenge for the IAF in Kargil was unprecedented. No air force had ever been tasked to bomb targets at elevations of 14,000 to 18,000 ft, against a backdrop that made spotting impossible. To top it, there were instructions to not cross the LoC.
Another Jugaad used is as the Pakistani rangers were at higher altitudes accurately bombing those posts was very difficult,The IAF pilots simply used to shoot at snow at the top of the mountain peaks causing Avalanches,thereby destroying their posts.
Capture of Fort Eben-Emael
Fort Eben-Emeal was one of the best forts in the world at the start of World War 2, it defended a key pass into Belgium from the German side. This was to prevent an invasion of Germany. Although Germany would likely have smashed through it, it could've taken them a couple of weeks until the Allies ran out of ammunition. This would've been disastrous as this would've given time for the French to prepare and move tanks up to defend, and their rapid Blitzkrieg advance would've been halted.
Fort Eben-emael had powerful machine guns and anti-tank guns, and also multiple pieces of artillery and mortars. The defenders had more than 1000 people.
Luckily for the Nazis and unluckily for the Belgians, the officer Walter Koch came up with this genius idea which allowed for the capture of the fort within 15 minutes with under 100 soldiers. His forces numbering 82 utilized gliders and jumped from airplanes, and used flamethrowers to take control of the artillery in the fort.
Meanwhile, the German heavy forces advanced across the bridges and together, with troops inside and outside the fort, they were able to take the fort with few casualties.
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