Shock and Awe

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Shock and Awe ( S & A ) ( English "terror (shock) and fear") refers to a tactic , whose goal is, by one or more designed for shock value military action (s) to confuse the enemy so that there will be no significant defenses comes. The mass media spread the term largely because of its use by the United States Armed Forces in the Iraq war .

As a military tactic

As a military tactic, S&A is always used to prepare a ground attack, as a strategic concept (such as in the Iraq war by the US Army) the purpose is a general demoralization of the entire defense readiness (e.g. area bombing, barrage, flamethrower deployment or Pressure bombs).

The term itself was coined by the General Staff during the Iraq war, but the use of the tactic is much older. The preparation for an assault in the First World War was always initiated by massive barrage . This was primarily intended to drive and demoralize the enemy from the actual defensive positions of the trenches and into the shelters providing protection. Furthermore, were flamethrowers used to intimidate targeted bunker crews and force them to task.

An example of a failure of the strategic approach can be found in the bombing of England by the German Air Force during World War II . The English civilian population was intended to be demoralized by these attacks. Apart from a few individual cases, this did not succeed, but only strengthened the will to resist. In the same way, the moral bombing of the British was unsuccessful, it was also intended to demoralize the German civilian population, but it was only strengthened.

Similar methods were used earlier to terrify the opponent and weaken his will to fight, but these were limited by the possibilities at the time. Teutons and Gauls drummed on their shields , samurai wore masks and helmets intended to arouse fear.

The German lieutenant colonel Georg Bruchmüller can be described as the father of “shock and awe” . He had been brought out of retirement at the beginning of the First World War and said: “The decisive factor for the effectiveness of artillery fire is not so much the number of shells thrown at the enemy as the short time in which it takes place.” On the Western Front "Durchbruchmüller" had an average of 100 guns per kilometer deployed over a front length of 80 kilometers.

Basically it is a matter of giving the enemy the feeling through massive use of artillery, tanks, soldiers, etc., that he is inferior, the situation is hopeless. By confronting a seemingly invincible war machine, the enemy is said to lose hope and flee. Ideally, a combat mission is no longer necessary.

In the Iraq war , the US-led coalition used massive tank attacks for this purpose, which were supported by equally massive air strikes. The Iraqi soldiers were faced with such an overpowering army, against which they apparently could not do anything.

From a military point of view, the "shock-and-awe" tactic is preferable, as it ideally causes fewer own and enemy deaths, as the enemy soldiers flee or surrender instead of fighting. However, area bombing, which is an essential part of the tactic, causes many civilian deaths despite modern homing missiles.

See also


Individual evidence

  1. We'll cut a hole in it . Mirror online