How Strategies and Tactics in WWI Shaped Modern Warfare

Ahmed M. Hernandez
Subject: World History 2
Section: 9.1
How Strategies and Tactics in WWI Shaped Modern Warfare
In the grim years of 1914-1918 many concepts of a great war emerged. This was the beginning of a World War. This global war was considered “The War That Will End All War”. Though not the most destructive in history it shaped modern warfare as we see in present day. This idea was conceived based on three things; weapons, war plans, and tactics. The first “Great War” had new technology and outdated tactics which led to many casualties. With the evolution of the musket to the rifle, canon to artillery, cavalry to mechanized mobile units, the standard column to column with a space in between, to the same thing with trenches and all new weapons.(Green)
War Plans and tactics is an art and science of organizing a military force and using strategic techniques to combine weapons and men to engage and defeat an enemy as quickly and efficiently as possible in battle. Strategic moves in battle have been in use since the beginning of war itself, there is always a plan. A commonly known war plan set out to be put in effect in World War I by Germany called the Schlieffen plan. The Schlieffen plan was a plan to hit two birds with one stone. The Schlieffen plan was to take out the French army and the plan was to march through Belgium sweep through the French and march back to the eastern front avoiding the Swiss alps to defend against and attack Russia. This did not work due to the heavy French resistance and Britain’s involvement which created the trench stalemate on the western front. (Schlieffen) (pic)

A tactic used in the First World War was sniping. Snipers in WWI did not operate specifically like the ones we know today. In WWI “German snipers did not normally work from their own trenches. The main strategy was to creep out at dawn into no-man’s land and remain there all day. Wearing camouflaged clothing and using the cover of a fake tree, they waited for a British soldier to pop his head above the parapet. A common trick was to send up a kite with English writing on it. Anyone who raised his head to read it was shot.” (snipers) Infiltration tactics were also used “Infiltration tactics was an idea developed by General Oskar von Hutier in 1917. Instead of following Preliminary Bombardment with a massed infantry attack, small forces of experienced troops were sent forward to slip between enemy strong-points on the front-line. Once these soldiers were in a position to surprise the defenders, the infantry was ordered forward in a mass attack across No Man’s Land.” (Tactics) This caused less casualties and an element of surprise. This can be related to outflanking and isolating enemy forces like stalking. A group would sneak through and around enemies surprising them and then attack with heavier armed groups to take out the target, similar to the Special Operations Unit we use today.
A strategy used by all forces to take out the other was attrition. The war of attrition means to bleed out the other side and wait for one to submit. This meant all involvement in the war effort. This included the massive investment in air power which made its debut in WWI. The allies believed if they could use air power to take out supply lines, industrial cities, and communication lines too bleed out the enemy.
WWI was a pivotal point in history. In “Military Strategy: Change Through Time” it states “World War I began with immense, rapid, national mobilizations and classical offensive maneuvers…” This means that old tactics were used with new technology and the strategies had to evolve to keep up. We know that obviously didn’t happen with the trench stalemate on the western front and the incredible casualties attributed to the war. Many innovative ideas were made to keep up but in the end the war changed the ideas of battle in the people and in military forces. WWI may not have been the biggest or “The War to End All War” but it surely left its mark and changed warfare forever.

Green, John. “Archdukes, Cynicism, and World War I: Crash Course World History #36.” YouTube. YouTube. Web. 29 Oct. 2014. . (Green)
“Schlieffen Plan (2m).” YouTube. YouTube. Web. 29 Oct. 2014. (Schlieffen)
Web. 29 Oct. 2014. . (Pic)

“Snipers.” Web. 29 Oct. 2014. http://spartacus-educational.com/FWWsnipers.htp (Snipers)

“The NEWS behind the NEWS. [Archive] – Page 116 – David Icke’s …” Web. 29 Oct. 2014.
http://spartacus-educational.com/FWWinfiltration.htm (Tactics)

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