Hit and run vs. find, fix, strike

The week long focus on bashing interventionists is obviously gone, mil theory posts are back.

This one is going to be about manoeuvre formation level (battalion battle group to brigade) primarily:

Two different approaches to combat are 
(1) hit, break contact, move, recover, rinse/repeat
(2) fix them, manoeuvre, strike/finish, exploit

Typical descriptions for this are "hit and run"/"shoot and scoot" and for the latter "hammer and anvil", but they're not exactly the same as I meant above.

So I thought some about both, and how I intuitively dislike the "fix" part*. I think I came up with ideas for when to prefer which approach.

The force of inferior size or superior agility should likely prefer quickness ("hit and run"), while the superior size or inferior agility force should prefer to fix the opposing force.

Sounds simple so far, except if keeping the opponents fixed is too expensive. That's what my intuitive dislike is in part about. Contact with hostiles may be very lethal to one's force, and if lethality trumps survivability too much during contacts you better know how to "fix" without exposing your force too much.
The best way to do so is probably to substitute actual confrontation and contact with the fear thereof. 

This is similar to the thoughts about repulsion: It doesn't work well if it's overambitious; you should leave the enemy an enticing course of action which you prefer him to take - be lethal to enemies while they move, not while they cower. An overambitious approach would be to hammer them while cowered**, which will entice them to move and provoke costly contact in an attempt to keep them fixed nevertheless.
They shall fear action more than inaction if you want them fixed. That is, unless your survivability is so strong you can stand their lethality easily (but why would we expect them to not withdraw under such circumstances?).

There is a time for quick and also for prolonged contacts. Even forces with superiority in the region may be inferior at some locations temporarily ("economy of force" - strength was gathered for an important action elsewhere). Prolonged contacts without good survivability during contact should be limited to decisive, high pay-out actions, though. 

For this reason I still don't think "Find, fix, strike, exploit" is a good general doctrine.
Some tactical missions don't require you to find the enemy (such as blocking a route), many don't require to fix them and at times to fix them is even too costly. But I wrote about "Find, fix, strike" much more some time ago already.


*: I dispute that it's a necessity. It's more of a nice-to-have that comes at a price.
**: To be done eventually, but only once you're prepared - not while you fix in order to gain time for preparations.

1 comment:

  1. Exactly, this is part of what shaping the battlefield is about. If you want to keep him under quarantine (and give the conflict some predictability), then give the OPFOR a safe zone which he can marshal around. Otherwise, his center of gravity could focus around any point on the battlefield, including those places where you don't want him.