Infantry Tactics


During the movie, I noticed a lot of seemingly tactical errors made by the American forces advancing forward. There was little to no covering fire, troops standing in the open and troops standing very close to each other.

Were these tactics common in WWI, or is it a historical error? Is my perspective colored by World War II and modern infantry tactics?

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I'll try an answer based on my amateur knowledge of history. I think the tactics depicted were fairly close to what all armies used at the time, which is why causalities were so appalling. The problem of how to launch a successful infantry attack was basically unresolved through the entire war. I believe the German Army was trying to develop new tactics near the end (more similar to the modern methods you mentioned.)

Also, the American Army apparently was overconfident when entering the war, and it suffered causality rates that surprised even the British and French.

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The German Sturmtruppen (storm troopers) did use improved infantry tactics. Afaik, they were not the only ones who did, though.

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I think the British and French dealt with it too.

Wouldn't the development of the tank be considered part of the same issue? That I think was an British innovation but the other major powers built them too.

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I would definitely say yes. It was just that the numbers of tanks and troops trained in the new tactics were not large enough to change the overall face of the war yet.

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The war started in August 1914 with the German invasion of France through neutral Belgium. When their initial offensive stall, repeated counter offensives by both sides rapidly evolved into the "race for the sea." This produced the trench line that ran from Switzerland to the North Sea.

I am convinced that most historians, who say that tactics did not keep up with technology have it wrong. The problem was that the technology of battlefield mobility and communication did not keep up with the technology of firepower. The advent of mass produced steel, high explosives, and smokeless powder (directly related to high explosives) provided greater range, greater rate of fire, and greater impact on the target to all weapons. Consequently, the battlefield was several orders of magnitude more lethal at the end of the 19th century than it was at the beginning. However, while railroads to move men and material to the front were plentiful, the primary mode of transportation on the frontline was the feet of soldiers or draft animals. Also, communication was limited to runners or field telephones. Without much better field mobility and communication the tactics employed later, during WW II, were simply not possible.

The only thing that could be applied was frontal assault.

But the modernization of the battle space in WW II amplified the ability of all sides to kill each other. More than twice as many combatants died in WW II than in WW I. It did change war in another way. From Greco - Roman warfare through the Great War the brunt of war fell onto combatants. It was soldiers, sailors, marines, and (later) airmen who killed each other. In WW II industrialization allowed both sides to target their opponent's civilians directly, and they did so. So, in WW II more than twice as many non-combatants died than combatants.


The best diplomat I know is a fully charged phaser bank.

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I would lean towards an error on the part of the movie makers. After all, I believe in the Errors section it notes that the officer of "K" Company fires his gun while holding it w/ both hands (i.e. a very modern stance) whereas the era's tactics would've had him fire it with only one hand.

Plus they've only had X number of actors portraying the Battalion's men. To space them out at proper intervals would've worked against the film since shots of the men would've shown only a handful or less per group shot. Likely, since they want to make it seem like they've got 600+ men, as if a real battalion, they packed the guys close for the camera's sake.

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In WW1, Soldiers would march towards enemy trenches, this resulted in over 50,000 british casualties in 1 day (the first day of the Somme). Though this tactic of marching without artillery cover was somewhat abandoned, more or less, when the Americans joined the war effert. US Doctorine was still a 1914 style of frontal assault. Something which resulted in their massive casualties in just a year an a half of war.

~Thanato

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