PINCER MOVEMENT aka "PINCH" | Military Tactics
Pincer Movement: a military maneuver in which simulataneous flank movements are used to converge upon an enemy force; and cut it off from support and supplies [
8] Pincer Movement
The pincer movement, double envelopment, or simply "pinch", is a basic element of military strategy which has been used for over 2,200 years.
Classic example of the Pincer Movement: as the center
feigns a retreat, the attacking force is forced into a "V" formation, which severly limits it's mobility; only being able to move forward or back.
The manuever is completed when the flanks move forward and hook inward; to encircle the enemy
The pincer movement, like the hand tool to the left, works by using leverage to apply a concentration of force at a specific point. The ultimate goal of the pincer movement is to
encircle the enemy force and cutoff their path of retreat.
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 a battle of annihilation, although the encircled force can attempt a breakout, either by attacking the encirclement from the inside, or by having a external force attack from the outside; with the hopes of opening up an escape route for the encircled force. [ 9]
Uses in History HOW THIS TACTIC HAS BEEN USED • 216BC - Battle of Cannae
At Cannae, in southeastern Italy, Hannibal, leader of the Carthaginian forces, encountered a Roman army much larger than his own. Using his cavalry to destroy the enemy's wings, Hannibal formed his infantry in a hollow crescent, allowing the Romans to gain ground in the center as they advanced. In the meantime, his cavalry defeated the Roman soldiers on the flanks of the formation and then fell upon the Roman rear. The trap was closed as Hannibal's infantry surrounded the enemy on the remaining three sides. The Roman losses were more than 50,000; Hannibal's losses were fewer than 6000.
[ 9¾] • 490BC - Battle of Marathon
The Athenian wings quickly routed the inferior Persian levies on the flanks, before turning inwards to surround the Persian center, which had been more successful against the thin Greek center. The battle ended when the Persian center broke in panic towards their ships, with the Greeks in pursuit. Some, unaware of the local terrain, ran towards the swamps where unknown numbers drowned. Herodotus records that 6,400 Persian bodies were counted on the battlefield, and it is unknown how many more perished in the swamps. The Athenians lost 192 men and the Plataeans 11.
[ 8¾] • 1942-43 - Battle of Stalingrad
On November 19, the Red Army unleashed Operation Uranus. The attacking Soviet units under the command of Gen. Nikolay Vatutin consisted of three complete armies, the 1st Guards Army, 5th Tank Army, and 21st Army, including a total of 18 infantry divisions, eight tank brigades, two motorized brigades, six cavalry divisions and one anti-tank brigade. The preparations for the attack could be heard by the Romanians, who continued to push for reinforcements, only to be refused again. Thinly spread, outnumbered and poorly equipped, the Romanian Third Army, which held the northern flank of German Sixth Army, was shattered. On November 20, a second Soviet offensive (two armies) was launched to the south of Stalingrad, against points held by the Romanian IV Corps. The Romanian forces, made up primarily of infantry, collapsed almost immediately. Soviet forces raced west in a pincer movement, and met two days later near the town of Kalach, sealing the ring around Stalingrad.
[ 9½] • 1944 - Battle of the Bulge
After the Normandy landing, allied forces quickly advanced through France, but stall along the German border. On December 16, taking advantage of weather that kept allied aircraft grounded, the Germans launched their last offensive of the war; through the dense forest of the Ardennes. Their goal was to divide the Americans and the British and retake the vital seaport of Antwerp. They created a "bulge" in the allied lines, but as the weather lifted, the American counteroffensive begins with Hodges' 1st Army in the north and Patton's 3rd Army in the south. Patton is able to reach Bastogne, and the 1st Army attempts to close the "pincers" of the pincer movement. Although the Germans retreat in time to avoid being cut off, they suffer heavy losses, including some 220,000 casualties, which contributed to their final collapse in the following months.
Counter Tactics HOW TO COUNTER THIS TACTIC •
Retreating The easiest way to avoid being "pinched", is to retreat before you are completely cutoff. Maintaining a high level of operational awareness through reconnaissance and communication with your allies is key.
Flanking Maneuver The Pincer Movement can be a risky tactic if not executed properly, as the "pincers" can be vulnerable to being flanked themselves. Use a secondary force to trail behind your main attack force, and if they try to "pinch", "pinch" them back!!
• Reconnaissance It's a good idea to use some form of reconnaissance at all times, so that you have a reasonable degree of intel regarding the size and location of enemy forces. A variety of special ops, a spare supply truck, or a stray regiment can all accomplish this task. If you are informed of battlefield conditions you won't fall for tactics such as the Pincer Movement.
Leapfrogging Leapfrogging is when two or more groups make a slow advance forward; with each taking taking turns advancing and securing a defensive position, before the other advances. It is nearly impossible to flank an opponent that is slowly advancing by leapfrogging; as they always have a defensive force protecting their flank, and ready to aid in their retreat.
Zone of Supply Whenever possible fight within your zone of supply, which not only offers the chance to heal the instant you retreat, but also offers a better view of the battlefield; greatly reducing the chance of being
• Operational Coordination Proper communication regarding enemy troop movements and tactics can help to counter just about any threat.
Terrain Impassable terrain such as mountains and water can make for excellent cover for your flanks.
The Pincer Movement requires an army with strong flanks, if they lose their battle on the corners they are essentially cut-off; and this tactic can easily backfire and become a
breakthru for the enemy •
Breakthru The breakthru is a concentrated attack at one point in the enemy lines, and in that regard is similar to
Blitzkrieg. But intead of continuing forward, the flanks turn outward to widen the gap, and cut off the enemy flanks. If your flanks are strong enough, the breakthru is a very good counter to the pincer movement. •
Blitzkrieg The blitzkrieg is similar to the breakthru, but instead of the flanks hooking outward to widen the gap in the enemy lines; the entire force continues forward to strike into the heart of enemy territory. The blitzkrieg requires a high speed coordinated attack, and basically disregards protecting it's flanks to attempt what can be a risky "all-or-nothing" maneuver. If your force fails to breakthru versus the pincer movement they will be
In Axis and Allies RTS USING THIS TACTIC IN THE FIELD
• Use the "Fog of War" to your advantage The best way to execute any type of flanking maneuver is if your opponent(s) don't see you coming. Use any area that has not been supplied by enemy forces, and catch them by surprise!!
Feint The easiest way to complete a pincer movement is to lure the enemy into a trap with a false retreat or some other type of
Feint. Most commonly seen when the center of your force retreats as both flanks either hold their ground or press forward. "Do not pursue an enemy who simulates flight; do not attack soldiers whose temper is keen." Sun Tzu - The Art of War: Maneuvering "By holding out baits, he keeps him on the march; then with a body of picked men he lies in wait for him." Sun Tzu -
The Art of War: Energy •
Divide & Conquer The pincer movement requires you to divide your forces, putting your strength and most mobile troops on the flanks; while the main body of your force needs only to be strong enough to hold, and prevent a breakthru.
• Operational Coordination Operational Tactics are tactics and maneuvers coordinated with your allies, and when executed successfully, are usually more decisive in terms of victory; than tactics that occur in head-to-head isolation play. Once again communication is key, but play your cards right and you may be able to achieve an operational pincer movement, and destroy an entire enemy division; instead of just a couple regiments.
Terrain Just as terrain can help to protect your forces when used correctly, it can also leave you vulnerable if you aren't aware of your surroundings. Use impassable terrain such as mountains and water to your advantage; which can enable you to complete the encirclement of your enemies with a much smaller force than in open
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REFERENCES | Military Tactics
"All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved."
Sun Tzu, the Art of War
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