A '''blitzkrieg''' is an operational level military doctrine which calls for a quick surprise attack by massive ground and air forces. "Blitzkrieg" is from the German words for lighting ("''blitz''") and war ("''krieg''"). The term was not used by [[Germany|German]] military planners, and had its origins at the Propaganda Ministry of Josef Goebbels. It was used in press accounts to describe the lightning speed of the German military during [[World War II]]. Modern American "Shock and Awe" doctrine is based upon the lessons of blitzkrieg.
==Before World War II==
Blitzkrieg was a maneuver tactic where armored columns would break through the enemy lines, supported by artillery and attack aircraft. Once the columns were through the line, they would not stop but continue into the enemy rear, disrupting their supply lines and cutting off units. The armored columns were followed by infantry units that would exploit the gaps and surround the isolated enemy units. The tactic worked most effectively in Europe against the French and the Netherlands, and in the beginning of the conflict against the Soviet Union. It's success was due to a combination of surprise and favorable terrain.
There was three flaws to the Blitzkrieg tactic. First, it was heavily dependent on good weather and good terrain. If the terrain was hilly, combat was in an urban area, or if the weather turned the ground muddy (as in the Soviet Union), the armored units would slow down and become vulnerable to anti-tank units.
Second, air support was vital. Without it, the tanks were vulnerable to counter-attacks from enemy aircraft. As the war progressed and the Germans lost control of the air, their panzer units suffered heavy losses from Allied air-to-ground aircraft such as the Soviet IL-2 and American [[P-47|P-47 Thunderbolt]]. German success in the Battle of the Bulge depended in part on the existence of cloud cover that would keep Allied air forces grounded.
[[Image:Map of blitzkreig.jpg]]