How much do you know about military war lingo?


By: John Miller

6 Min Quiz

Image: Shutterstock

About This Quiz

From battlefields to bombing runs, war has a language all its own. Soldiers build fortifications, infiltrate enemy positions and then head off to R&R. How much do you know about warfare terms?

In war, what is an "offensive"?

An offensive is an attack that uses armed men to capture territory. Sometimes, offensives are called invasions or simply "attacks."


If you hide in the bushes and surprise your enemy, what action are you performing?

If you conceal your position and then surprise the enemy, you're conducting an ambush. Ambushes are a good way to quickly rout an unsuspecting and unprepared force.


If a military unit sets out to accomplish something, it has _______.

Soldiers set out on missions to reach objectives. They user smaller objectives to eventually achieve a larger strategic objective.


What is a military "strike"?

A military strike refers to a single attack. A strike typically involves one primary objective, such as destroying an enemy base.


How does a military force create a "blockade"?

A navy uses ships to create a blockade, which prevents goods and people from entering or leaving a blockaded area. This can apply to one small area or an entire country.


What's it called if a smaller force splits off from a larger force for the purpose of pursuing an objective?

A patrol is a smaller unit that heads out to accomplish an objective. Sometimes patrols are meant for reconnaissance, other times they're meant to conduct raids or ambushes.


What is the purpose of "covering fire"?

Covering fire (a type of suppressive fire) means to fire weapons at an enemy to keep him busy … so that your own troops can accomplish an objective.


"Strafing" is an automatic weapons attack that originates from which type of vehicle?

Warplanes armed with machine guns can strafe the enemy's ground forces. Flying low, the planes fire their guns, blasting men and machines into oblivion.


If you send soldiers to attack the enemy from the side, you are conducting a _______ maneuver.

Conducting a direct assault is often unwise -- it's better to attack the sides or rear of your enemy's lines. This is called a flanking maneuver.


What is a "counterattack"?

A counterattack is simply an action taken in response to an attack. Counterattacks typically halt an enemy's offensive then initiate a new attack, one that may reverse the course of the battle.


A "skirmish" is a type of battle with which characteristics?

Skirmishes are minor clashes that generally result in few casualties. They typically involve handfuls of soldiers and light exchanges of fire.


How do soldiers use an "extraction point"?

Extraction points are locations from which soldiers leave a combat area. Often, vehicles like helicopters or transport ships are used to pick up personnel waiting at an extraction point.


What happens during a "charge"?

A charge is a fast advance towards the enemy, and it may happen on foot or in war vehicles. A successful charge can shatter an enemy's lines and send him reeling in retreat.


A "firefight" involves what sort of weapons?

A firefight is a battle involving guns. It's typically an intense (but brief) exchange of gunfire.


An "interdiction" is meant to attack or otherwise disrupt enemy soldiers or supplies bound for which area?

An interdiction force is meant to thwart enemy supplies or men bound for the combat area. Successful interdiction teams can alter the momentum of a battle or of an entire war.


What is a military "engagement"?

Military engagements happen when two opposing forces meet in combat. Both forces are out to accomplish an objective -- only one of them is going to succeed.


What's a "fighting withdrawal"?

A fighting withdrawal is essentially an organized retreat, one in which the withdrawing force maintains contact with the enemy.


Which of the following is a characteristic of a blitzkrieg strike?

Blitzkrieg strikes are very fast military strikes meant to quickly overwhelm enemies. The Germans perfected the blitzkrieg during World War II.


What does it mean if a force is involved in "guerilla warfare"?

If your army is outmanned and outgunned, you'll likely resort to guerilla warfare, in which you conduct ambushes and then flee the scene to regroup. It's also called "hit-and-run" warfare.


What's a common problem of "frontal assaults"?

A frontal assault is a direct assault on an enemy's front lines. They are often very risky, exposing the attacking units to the strongest and deadliest portions of the enemy defensive lines.


What does it mean if a country is fighting a "limited war"?

A limited war is any war that's not conducted for the purpose of a nation's survival. Many smaller scale wars are limited wars.


What is "carpet bombing"?

Carpet bombing means to use many, many bombs on one target to completely destroy it. This tactic is deadly, expensive and often results in widespread collateral damage.


What's the purpose of a "troop surge"?

A troop surge is the deployment of a large number of soldiers to a combat zone in hopes of stifling enemy resistance. Troop surges have been a common (and well-publicized) element of America's forays into the Middle East.


A "breakout" is a type of _______.

A breakout is a counterattack that units perform to "break out" of an encirclement. Breakouts are often the last act of desperate soldiers who are surrounded by a superior enemy.


What's a defining trait of a "static patrol"?

Static patrols are groups of soldiers that stay put, keeping an eye out for enemy activity. They're often deployed in valuable areas that require vigilant defense.


How big is a "fireteam"?

A fireteam is a small subunit of soldiers. Fireteams can quickly advance and react thanks to their small size and localized command structure.


How are military tactics different than military strategy?

Tactics (and tactical operations) are meant to affect local, smaller-scale battlefield conditions. Strategy is higher-level thinking meant to alter the conflict in a broader sense.


What sort of weapon is involved in a "creeping barrage"?

A creeping barrage (or moving barrage) is performed by artillery. Gunners fire artillery shells fires that explode in a long wall of blasts, moving it forward not only to destroy the enemy but also to provide cover for their own advancing troops.


True or false, a "raid" is meant to capture swaths of enemy territory?

Raids aren't invasions. Raids are incursions meant to perform specific objectives (such as capture an enemy soldier or maps) and then return safely to friendly lines.


What the purpose of a "decapitation strike"?

Decapitation strikes target enemy leaders in hopes of derailing resistance. In some cases, a decapitation strike will demoralize or confuse enemy forces.


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