- Attrition warfare
"This article is about the military strategy. For the Israeli-Egyptian conflict, see
War of Attrition, for the game theoretical model see War of attrition (game). For the Dying Fetusalbum, see War of Attrition (album)".
Attrition warfare is a
military tacticin which a belligerentattempts to win a warby wearing down its enemy to the point of collapse through continuous losses in personnel and material. The war will usually be won by the side with greater such resources. [ [http://www.military-sf.com/typesofwar.htm Types of War] , www.military-sf.com, undated (accessed 20 January, 2007] The Vietnam War is typically used as a prime example of a war of attrition: American strategy was to wear down the enemy until it lost its "will to fight". Another good example is the first world war when Russia and France and Britain and eventually U.S all wore down Germany to the point where they had to start using younger kids and enlisting them, kids down to the age of 12, which eventually led to the armistice.
Most military theorists have viewed attrition warfare as something to be avoided. In the sense that attrition warfare represents an attempt to grind down an opponent through superior numbers, it represents the opposite of the usual principles of war, where one attempts to achieve decisive victories through manoeuvre, concentration of force, surprise, and so forth. On the other hand, a side which perceives itself to be at a marked disadvantage in manoeuvre warfare or unit tactics may deliberately seek out attrition warfare to neutralize its opponent's advantages. If the sides are pretty evenly matched, the outcome of a war of attrition is likely to be a
pyrrhic victory. The difference between war of attrition and other forms of war is somewhat artificial, since war always contains an element of attrition. However, one can be said to pursue a strategy of attrition when one makes it the main goal to cause gradual attrition to the opponent, as opposed to trying to conquer terrain or to isolate large sections of the enemy through manoeuvre. Historically, attritional methods are something one tries when other methods have failed or are obviously not feasible. Typically, when attritional methods have worn down the enemy sufficiently to make other methods feasible, attritional methods are abandoned in favor of other strategies. Attritional methods are in themselves usually sufficient to cause a nation to give up a non-vital ambition, but other methods are generally necessary to achieve unconditional surrender.
The most well-known example of this strategy was during
World War Ion the Western Front. Both military forces found themselves in static defensive positions in trenches running from Switzerlandto the English Channel. For years, without any opportunity for maneuvers, the only way the commanders thought they could defeat the enemy was to repeatedly attack head on, to grind the other down. [ [http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/ww1/bourneessay.htm About World War 1] ,www.english.uiuc.edu, date unknown, (accessed 20 January, 2007)] An example in which one side used attrition warfare to neutralize the other side's advantage in maneuverability and unit tactics occurred during the latter part of the American Civil War, where Ulysses S. Grantpushed the Confederate Armycontinually, in spite of losses, confident that the Union's supplies and manpower would overwhelm the Confederacy even if the casualty ratio was unfavorable, which indeed proved to be the case. [ [http://www.nndb.com/people/966/000023897/ Ulysses S. Grant] , www.nndb.com date unknown (accessed 20 January, 2007)]
Battle of Actiumof 31 BC during the Roman civil wars.
Dai VietEmpire (nowadays Vietnam) 3 repulsions of Kublai Khan(the grandson of Genghis Khan and the last Khan of the Mongol Empire) in 1258, 1285 and 1288.
*The American strategy during the
American Revolutionary War.
Trench warfarein the American Civil War, notably the Siege of Petersburg.
Trench warfarein World War I, including the Battle of the Somme (1916), the Battle of Verdunand many others.
Static battles in World War II, including the first phases of the Battle of Stalingrad.
Loss Exchange Ratio
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