Military Formations

Discussion in 'Land Forces' started by H.A., Apr 18, 2012.

  1. H.A.

    H.A. Senior Member Senior Member

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    Its well known that even a small army of a few 100's can bring down an army of thousand's there by winning wars. Our ancestors understood the concept / art of intelligent warfare rather than the art of a war fought in numbers. This is beautifully shown in the movie 300, where an army of just 300 men come close to killing the ruler of an army of thousands probably lakhs.

    This thread is about those formations which proved a turning point in the war or provided strength to its army.

    Request all enlighted members to please add to the thread
     
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  3. H.A.

    H.A. Senior Member Senior Member

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    Shield formation

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    Scutum is the Latin word for "shield", although it has in modern times come to be specifically associated with the rectangular, semi-cylindrical body shield carried by Roman legionaries.

    History

    In the days of Ancient Rome, Roman soldiers often bore round shields called aspidai (ἄσπιδαι) by the Greeks, in the fashion of Greek hoplites.

    The oval scutum is depicted on the Altar of Domitius Ahenobarbusin Rome, the Aemilius Paullus monument at Delphi, and there is an actual example found at Kasr el-Harit in Egypt. Gradually the scutum evolved into the rectangular (or sub-rectangular) type of the early Roman Empire.

    By the end of the 3rd century the rectangular scutum seems to have disappeared. Fourth century archaeological finds (especially from the fortress of Dura-Europos) indicate the subsequent use of oval or round shields which were not semi-cylindrical, but were either dished (bowl-shaped) or flat. Roman artwork from the end of the 3rd century till the end of Antiquity show soldiers wielding oval or round shields.
    The word "scutum" survived the old Roman Empire and entered the military vocabulary of the Byzantine Empire. Even in the 11th century the Byzantines called their armoured soldiers skutatoi (Grk. σκυτατοι).

    Combat uses

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    According to Polybius the scutum gave Roman soldiers an edge over their Carthaginian enemies during the Punic Wars: "Their arms also give the men both protection and confidence owing to the size of the shield."
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2012
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  4. H.A.

    H.A. Senior Member Senior Member

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    Tortoise formation

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    In Ancient Roman warfare, the testudo or tortoise formation was a formation used commonly by the Roman Legions during battles, particularly sieges. Testudo is the Latin word for "tortoise". The Greek term for this formation is "chelone" and during the Byzantine era, it seems to have evolved to what military manuals of the era call the "foulkon".

    In the testudo formation, the men would deploy very densely and position their shields at the sides (rather than by the grip behind theumbo. The first row of men, possibly excluding the men on the flanks, would hold their shields from about the height of their shins to their eyes, so as to cover the formation's front. The shields would be held in such a way that they presented a shield wall to all sides. The men in the back ranks would place their shields over their heads to protect the formation from above, balancing the shields on their helmets, overlapping them. If necessary, the legionaries on the sides and rear of the formation could stand sideways or backwards with shields held as the front rows, so as to protect the formation's sides and rear.

    Tactical analysis

    The testudo was used to protect soldiers from all types of missiles (arrows, spears etc.). It could be formed by immobile troops and troops on the march. The primary drawback to the formation was that, because of its density, the men found it more difficult to fight in hand-to-hand combat and because the men were required to move in unison, speed was sacrificed. As "foulkon," it played a great role in the tactics employed by the Byzantines against their eastern enemies.

    The testudo was not invincible, as Cassius Dio also gives an account of a Roman shield array being defeated by Parthian cataphracts and horse archers at the Battle of Carrhae:

    For if the legionaries decided to lock shields for the purpose of avoiding the arrows by the closeness of their array, the cataphracts were upon them with a rush, striking down some, and at least scattering the others; and if they extended their ranks to avoid this, they would be struck with the arrows.
     
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  5. methos

    methos Regular Member

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    What the... ?
     
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  6. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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  7. Damian

    Damian Defence Professionals Defence Professionals

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    Well, formally thes 300 soldiers didn't defeated Persians, and they all died so, You know. ;)

    Such events only show that well prepared small unit might slow down a big army, but not defeat it, in the end to defeat a big army You also need a big army.

    And this is what Methos had in mind.
     
  8. methos

    methos Regular Member

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    In the battle of thermopylae there were only 300 Spartans, but several thousand other Greek allies. Estimates vary, but modern estimates for the Greek force range from 5,000 to 10,000 soldiers. They didn't even come close to winning, they only delayed the Persian arrival and therefore gave the other Greek states time to prepare forces.
     
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  9. Vijay Kumar

    Vijay Kumar New Member

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    Alexander used Phalanx formation to defeat his enemies. However they are extremely vulnerable from the back which was exploited by Romans. Testudo formation is not suitable for attack. Spearmen are used to counter cavalry. Romans used pigs to frighten Carthage elephants. Guerilla techniques employed by Shivaji are also worth mentioning. you can write a whole book on military formations. Each has its own advantage and defects. Battle depends upon intelligence and experience of Generals rather than bravery
     
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  10. p2prada

    p2prada Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    I like the way ants attack their prey. That's a true army.
     
  11. methos

    methos Regular Member

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    It's not only Alexander. Alexander used the same tactics all Greek (and a number of other mediterain people) used some centuries. Phalanx guaranted some degree of immunity against cavalry, but were considered as immoble and "unadaptable". The Romans came up with a more mobile doctrine, which helped them to beat the Greeks. Javelins and short swords carried by medium-armoured soldiers were better than (sometimes) heavily-armoured soldiers bearing ~5 meter long spears and short swords.

    My two points for saying "What the..." are:
    1.) A few hundreds can not beat thousands just by using different formations
    2.) All formations (like the phalanx and the testudo) mentioned are designed for large groups, not just 100 men
     
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  12. H.A.

    H.A. Senior Member Senior Member

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    Phalanx formation

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    The phalanx is a rectangular mass military formation, usually composed entirely of heavy infantry armed with spears, pikes, sarissas, or similar weapons. The term is particularly (and originally) used to describe the use of this formation in Ancient Greek warfare, although the ancient Greek writers used it to also describe any massed infantry formation, regardless of its equipment, as does Arrian in his Array against the Allans when he refers to his legions.[1] In Greek texts, the phalanx may be deployed for battle, on the march, even camped, thus describing the mass of infantry or cavalry that would deploy in line during battle. They used shields to block others from getting in. They marched forward as one entity, crushing opponents.

    While the Spartan phalanx used a shorter more versatile spear, the Macedonian phalanx that Alexander commanded used a "sarissa" which was a much longer and heavier spear which required the use of two hands

    Many spear-armed troops historically fought in what might be termed phalanx-like formations. The word has come into use in common English to describe "a group of people standing, or moving forward closely together"

    The early history of the phalanx is largely one of combat between hoplite armies from competing Greek city-states. The usual result was rather identical, inflexible formations pushing against each other until one broke. The potential of the phalanx to achieve something more was demonstrated at Battle of Marathon (490 BC). Facing the much larger army of Darius I, the Athenians thinned out their phalanx and consequently lengthened their front, to avoid being outflanked. However, even a reduced-depth phalanx proved unstoppable to the lightly armed Persian infantry. After routing the Persian wings, the hoplites on the Athenian wings wheeled inwards, destroying the elite troop at the Persian centre, resulting in a crushing victory for Athens. Throughout the Greco-Persian Wars the hoplite phalanx was to prove superior to the Persian infantry

    TACTICS

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    Perhaps the most prominent example of the phalanx's evolution was the oblique advance, made famous in the Battle of Leuctra. There, the Theban general Epaminondas thinned out the right flank and centre of his phalanx, and deepened his left flank to an unheard-of 50 men deep. In doing so, Epaminondas reversed the convention by which the right flank of the phalanx was strongest. This allowed the Thebans to assault in strength the elite Spartan troops on the right flank of the opposing phalanx. Meanwhile, the centre and right flank of the Theban line were echeloned back, from the opposing phalanx, keeping the weakened parts of the formation from being engaged. Once the Spartan right had been routed by the Theban left, the remainder of the Spartan line also broke. Thus by localising the attacking power of the hoplites, Epaminondas was able to defeat an enemy previously thought invincible.
     
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  13. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    Chakravyuha Military formation

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    The Chakravyuha is an army formation mentioned in the Mahabharata.It is a seven-tier defensive spiral formation, used by Dronacharya, commander-in-chief of the Kaurava army.The Chakravyuh or Padmavyuh, is a multi-tier defensive formation that looks like a blooming lotus (padma, पद्म) or disc (chakra, चक्र) when viewed from above. The warriors at each interleaving position would be in an increasingly tough position to fight. The formation was used in the battle of Kurukshetra by Dronacharya, who became commander-in-chief of the Kaurava army after the fall of Bhishma Pitamaha.
     
  14. W.G.Ewald

    W.G.Ewald Defence Professionals/ DFI member of 2 Defence Professionals

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    Roman infantry tactics - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
     
  15. Vijay Kumar

    Vijay Kumar New Member

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    Alexander used larger spears in his phalanx which are more effective in the battles. Of course few hundreds can never beat thousands. By using intelligence and giving proper training one can win a battle even if they are outnumbered 1:4 or something like that
     
  16. Vijay Kumar

    Vijay Kumar New Member

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    The exact details of padmavyuha( in fact others vyuhas like Garuda, Kurma, Chakra etc) are actually lost or could not be understood now. We can just speculate now just like Vedas which contain many scientific principles but couldn't be understood now.
     
  17. Vijay Kumar

    Vijay Kumar New Member

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    The Garuda Vyuha had a 'beak' where the best elite Kshatriya soldiers would be placed in tight wedge formation. The 'head,' behind the beak had a small contigent of reserves, also of good quality. Often, war elephants would be placed in the beak and head. Two broad 'wings' would sweep out behind the head, with the swiftest troops - the chariots and cavalry at the outside. Behind the wings, the body, would consist of reserves.
     
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  18. H.A.

    H.A. Senior Member Senior Member

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    Line formation

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    The line formation is a standard tactical formation which was used in Early modern warfare. It continued the phalanx formation or shield wall of infantry armed with polearms in use during antiquity and the Middle Ages.

    The line formation provided the best frontage for volley fire, while sacrificing maneuverability and defense against cavalry. It came to the fore during the Age of Reason, when it was used to great effect by Frederick the Great and his enemies during the Seven Years' War.

    An infantry battalion would form "in line" by placing troops in several ranks, ranging in number from two to five, with three ranks being the most common arrangement. Each rank was approximately half a meter apart from the next, and soldiers in a rank were positioned closely to each other (usually within arm's length), with just enough room to present their weapons, fire, and reload. The line formation required that the troops be well-drilled and constantly supervised by officers and non-commissioned officers (NCOs).

    In 17th and 18th century European armies, NCOs were positioned to the rear of the line. They were equipped with long polearms, which they used to "dress" or arrange the ranks, a practice which included pushing down the weapons of any soldier who was aiming too high, as well as ensuring that the rank remained well-organized and correctly placed. Movement in line formation was very slow, and unless the battalion was superbly trained, a breakdown in cohesion was virtually assured, especially in any kind of uneven or wooded terrain. As a result, line was mostly used as a stationary formation, with troops moving in columns and then deploying to line at their destination.

    In addition, the line formation was extremely vulnerable to cavalry charges, from the flanks and rear, and these attacks usually resulted in the complete breakdown of cohesion and even destruction of the unit unless it was able to "form square".

    During the Napoleonic Wars, the British Army famously adopted a thin two-rank line formation. This was adopted to compensate for their lack of numbers and to maximize their fire frontage. The British continued to use a two-rank line until the late 19th century. The famous Thin Red Line of the 93rd (Highland) Regiment at the Battle of Balaklava successfully held against a Russian cavalry attack, a rare occurrence.

    A loose line formation is also used by many modern forces during assaults as it enables maximum firepower to be directed in one direction at once, useful when attacking an enemy position. It also enables the use of fire and movement.
     
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  19. Koovie

    Koovie Regular Member

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    Dont know how historically correct this battle is but I liked this movie when I saw it on Star Movies a year ago.
    Must have been really scary to be in the 1st line :shocked:

     
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  20. H.A.

    H.A. Senior Member Senior Member

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    Leap frogging

    In infantry tactics, leapfrogging (also called The Buddy System) is a technique for advancing personnel and/or equipment on or past a target area being defended by an opposing force. This technique is taught in U.S. Army Basic Training and reinforced with all unit and advanced training throughout a soldier’s career. It can be modified for use with equipment as well as personnel.

    Leapfrogging requires dividing an attacking force into at least 2 parts (for example Team A and Team B). The teams agree on a signal for role assignment; for existing units, the signal is often preset and practiced. Team A will redirect or suppress the enemy by firing munitions upon the target while Team B changes positions. When the signal is given, the teams switch roles. (Team B redirects or suppresses while Team A moves.) Before changing positions, the moving team will usually identify a location that advances them on the target, has adequate cover and line of sight to engage the target. Variations of this technique may employ more than two teams (with as few as one person) in the suppressing or moving roles. A variation may be chosen based on the size and equipment of the defending force, as well as the distance and frequency of available cover. In situations where the defending force is unaware of the attacking force, it may be possible to hold fire and conduct part or all of the movement without being observed.

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  21. H.A.

    H.A. Senior Member Senior Member

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    Center Peel

    Center Peel, or simply "Peel" for short is a type of retreat practiced by modern-day infantry. This particular tactic is more specifically designed for situations where smaller groups of infantry withdraw from an engagement of a much larger force. In general terms, it is a sloped or diagonal retreat from the enemy.

    This tactic was designed with human psychology in mind. It begins with an infantry unit facing off with a larger force of enemies. Once the command is called, the soldiers implement a battle line formation facing into the enemy's midst. The soldiers then begin, or continue, to use suppressing fire to delay the enemy's attack and advance. Depending on the direction of the retreat, the second to last soldier on the farmost end, opposite the retreating direction, calls out, "Peel one". Next, the infantryman next to him, on the end of the line, ceases fire, works his way behind the line towards the other side, takes a position one meter diagonally back from the farthest soldier on this side, and resumes suppressing fire. Then, the process repeats with the commands being simplified to "Peel", the "one" only there to signify the actual start of the tactic, and continues until the party has safely disengaged the target.

    The slanting motion of the tactic gives the impression of increasing numbers of infantry joining the battle, a psychological move designed to deter the opposition. The slanting motion also has the benefit of keeping open one's field of fire. Retreating directly backwards would put the soldier too closely behind his own men, severely limiting his/her field of fire
     
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