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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.
==Basic Requirements and Features==
Blitzkrieg or maneuver is based on the idea of "gaps and surfaces" or as
what the Germans called it "Flaechen und Luekentaktik" which means the tactics of surfaces and gaps. The basic intent of blitzkrieg is to avoid those points which are "surfaces" or hard points in the enemy line and target "gaps" or weakly defended areas. This was further developed by Basil Liddell Hart's concept of expanding torrent system tactic. The idea with this was to act as water . In other words you poke and prod at the enemy's lines , and then when a weakpoint is found attack it and expand the breach in the line as flowing water would do to a weak dam thus causing a massive flow through it. In other words rather than focus on throwing strength against strength as what attrition oriented forms of combat would have you do, you focus on throwing your strength against the enemy's weakness.
This requires what is known as recon pull, or another way of saying it is have your reconnaissance assets find the gaps and then they exploit them, bringing more and more assets with them as they go. This is different from more conventional forms of attack where it is focused on the commander of the formations essentially pushing units forward, whether it be a gap or a surface in the enemy lines.
==Before World War II==
Colonel John Fuller, the chief of staff of the British Tank Corps, is credited with developing this tactic after his extreme disappointment with the effect of tanks during World War I. His ideas, which were ignored by the British Army, called for long-range mass tank attacks. He envisioned this attack to be supported by air power as well as motorized infantry and artillery support. He wrote two books in the 1920s which detailed his ideas: ''Reformation of War'' and ''Foundation of the Science of War''. In 1926, the German Army began ordering tanks and vehicles which would allow them to implement Colonel Fuller's ideas. <ref>http://www.lycos.com/info/blitzkrieg--german-wehrmacht.html?page=2</ref><ref>http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/2WWblitzkreig.htm</ref>
In 1937 [[Heinz Guderian]] wrote the book ''Achtung - Panzer!'' describing the combined arms tactics used initially by the Germans in WWII and later on by armies throughout the world. The Germans tested an application of these tactics in 1938 during the [[Spanish Civil War]] and as a result [[German High Command]] formulated plans to dismantle Polish defenses in 1939. <ref>
==During 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 or worse to the enemy being able to react to attacks more effectively.
By 1944, blitzkrieg as a German tactic was finished. The last actual appearance of blitzkrieg in the war
was when [[George Patton | General George S. Patton's]] Third Army broke out of the Normandy Pocket in Operation Cobra. The Allied columns covered 600 miles in just under two weeks.
== Blitzkrieg after the war ==
The first significant use of blitzkrieg tactics in the post-war era was in the 1967 [[Six Day War]] when Israel, after destroying almost the entire Egyptian air force on the ground in a little more than an hour, sent a three pronged tank attack south to seize the [[Sinai peninsula]] and north to occupy the [[Golan heights]].<ref>
The ground phase of the first Gulf War, lasting only four days, followed a blitzkrieg-style attack with US, British, and French tanks that poured deep into southern Iraq in what General [[Norman Schwarzkopf]] termed a "Hail Mary" pass before hooking right and cutting off the escaping Iraqi forces, which were then demolished in detail by tanks and aircraft.
The resumption of hostilities in Iraq that led to the [[Iraq War]] relied upon "Shock and Awe" a derivative of blitzkrieg doctrine
, but also a tactic used since the [[American Civil War]], when massed artillery bombardment was first used to weaken and demoralize enemy forces before an advance.
== References ==
* Citino, Robert Michael. ''Quest for Decisive Victory: From Stalemate to Blitzkrieg in Europe, 1899-1940'' (2002) 372 pages
* Deighton, Len. '' Blitzkrieg: From the Rise of Hitler to the Fall of Dunkirk'' (2000) 295 pages
* Fanning, William J. "The Origin of the Term 'Blitzkrieg': Another View," ''Journal of Military History,'' Vol. 61, No. 2 (Apr., 1997), pp.
283-302 [http://www.jstor.org/stable/2953968 in JSTOR]* Frieser, K.H. ''The Blitzkrieg Legend: The 1940 Campaign in the West'' (2005) [ http://books.google.com/books?id=7Y0MxdP-ws4C&printsec=frontcover&dq=intitle:The+intitle:Blitzkrieg+intitle:Legend+intitle:The+intitle:1940+intitle:Campaign+intitle:in+intitle:the&lr=&as_drrb_is=q&as_minm_is=0&as_miny_is=&as_maxm_is=0&as_maxy_is=&num=30&as_brr=0 excerpt and text search]* Kaufmann, J. E. ''Hitler's Blitzkrieg campaigns: the invasion and defense of Western Europe'' (2002) 382 pages; [ http://books.google.com/books?id=65-v0wkrWYEC&printsec=frontcover&dq=intitle:Blitzkrieg&lr=&as_drrb_is=b&as_minm_is=0&as_miny_is=2000&as_maxm_is=0&as_maxy_is=&num=30&as_brr=0 excerpt and text search] * Lind,William S. ''Maneuver Warfare Handbook'' (Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1985) [ http://books.google.com/books?id=yoV8zcCOV8kC&dq=intitle:Maneuver+intitle:Warfare+intitle:Handbook&lr=&as_drrb_is=q&as_minm_is=0&as_miny_is=&as_maxm_is=0&as_maxy_is=&num=30&as_brr=0 excerpt and text search]
[[Category:World War II]]