Test Your Knowledge: General Military Tactics

By: Ian Fortey

Test Your Knowledge: General Military Tactics
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About This Quiz

Humans have been fighting wars for about as long as other humans have existed. The winners have gone on to devise effective strategies to keep winning while the losers, well, we know what happened to most of them. Military leaders like Alexander the Great, Hannibal Barca and Julius Caesar developed some of the same strategies that are still in use today. Others like Sun Tzu, Stonewall Jackson and George S. Patton have proven their tactics to be some of the best of all time. Anything that gives you the edge over an enemy force, anything that can catch them off guard or put them at a disadvantage, can be adapted into an effective battle tactic if a skilled tactician employs it.

With a few thousand years of war under our belts at this point in history, there's a good chance you're familiar with some of the more famous tactics. After all, who doesn't understand the basic concept of an ambush? Or maybe a full-frontal assault? Some require a little more finesses, though, and a bit of understanding of warfare and strategy. If you think you have what it takes, why not show off your military tactics knowledge in this quiz? 

Question 1 - Pincer attack Do you know which of these is also called a double envelopment since it involves attacking from two sides?
Pincer attack
A pincer attack is a flanking movement that's extremely old. In fact, Hannibal made this famous at the Battle of Cannae back in 216 BC. It's a fairly simple strategy whereby you split your forces to either flank of an advancing force, effectively surrounding them.
Hedgehog defense
Tank desant
Shoot and scoot

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Question 2 - Divide and conquer Which tactic helped Caesar defeat the Gauls by splitting their forces?
Envelopment
Frontal assault
Divide and conquer
Divide and conquer is very heavy on strategy and less so on military maneuvers. Caesar used this to fracture the strong Gaul armies as the Romans had long held trade, particularly of wine, with the Gauls and had developed alliances with Chieftains that allowed Caesar to make inroads in learning their strategies and abilities.
Taking the high ground

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Question 3 - Crossing the T This tactic is used during naval battles when one side intercepts a line of enemy vessels. What is it?
Charge
Carpet bombing
Crossing the T
Crossing the T is an effective strategy in naval battles whereby the vessels of one force cross perpendicularly in front of the enemy vessels in a line. This renders the enemy vessels at the back useless as they can't fire without hitting their own forces, and allows the vessels crossing the T to all have an opportunity to fire.
Raiding

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Question 4 - Blitzkrieg Which of these strategies became well-known during World War II as one of Germany's most famous high-speed and aggressive tactics?
Shock and awe
Blitzkrieg
The Germans popularized blitzkrieg during World War II. The word means "lightning attack," and it's characterized by any fast, aggressive, powerful attack that comes unexpectedly and essentially runs over an enemy force.
Guerilla warfare
Perfidy

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Question 5 - Trench warfare Which of these defensive tactics used on the Western Front in World War I allowed forces to be well-shielded from small arms fire?
Trench warfare
World War I was historically one of the most effective uses of trench warfare. Your forces dig trenches that allow your troops to be protected during assaults from the enemy as they're remarkably limited targets when hidden in trenches. Even artillery becomes less effective in this case.
Scorched earth
Hammer and anvil
Siege

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Question 6 - Exploit the weather Do you know which of these tactics relies on nature to lend a hand and give your side an advantage?
Recon
Feigned retreat
Envelopment
Exploit the weather
Whenever possible, exploiting the weather to an advantage is a great tactic in warfare. Known as a force multiplier, something that gives one side an edge, this was a major factor in the Battle of Waterloo as well as the defeat of the Spanish Armada.

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Question 7 - Recon by fire If you're not sure where an enemy is, you might try this aggressive tactic to lure them out by provoking them. What is it?
Ambush
Decapitation strike
Attack in oblique order
Recon by fire
Recon by fire is a tactic that relies on guesswork and luck to be effective. Rather than attacking a known suspicion, recon by fire works by attacking a suspected position. If it works, enemy soldiers will believe they have been exposed. If no one is there, you simply move on to somewhere else.

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Question 8 - Shoot and scoot Do you know which of these tactics requires you to attack the enemy then move away quickly before you can be counterattacked?
Night combat
Smoke screening
Shoot and scoot
For a shoot and scoot to work properly, you need to fire artillery from your position and then quickly move position so that no effective counterattack can be mounted since you're no longer where you started firing from.
Take the high ground

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Question 9 - Force concentration Using this tactic allows you to overwhelm an enemy force with numbers that you focus on one place. What is it?
Force concentration
Force concentration can be as simple as having more troops on your side than the enemy does, but it can also be used strategically to concentrate your forces in one spot against one portion of the enemy's forces. This allows you to win single battles rather than trying to be dispersed against a larger force.
Charge
Swarming
Siege

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Question 10 - Hedgehog defense Do you know which of these is an all-around defense tactic proposed by General Weygand at the Battle of France in 1940?
Guerilla warfare
Hedgehog defense
The hedgehog defense was named as such for a reason. if you've ever seen a hedgehog in distress, they curl up into a ball and expose their little spines at all sides. This defense works on that principle, allowing the defenders to defend from a potential attack on all sides from a central, fortified position.
Indirect approach
Pincer

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Question 11 - Night combat Which tactic takes advantage of decreased visibility and maybe the use of special goggles?
Smoke screening
Single envelopment
Feigned retreat
Night combat
Night combat is another tactic that uses natural elements as a force multiplier, in this case, the lack of light. Of course, your side needs to be appropriately prepared for night combat which will likely involve the use of something like night-vision technology.

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Question 12 - Raiding Effective use of this tactic prevents an enemy from accessing resources, frees POWs, or just demoralizes an enemy. Do you know what it's called?
Blitzkrieg
Swarming
Raiding
Raiding, also known as resource denial, involves either destroying or stealing the resources of an enemy force, freeing POWs from a camp, or just quick in-and-out style attacks to shake the enemy's confidence.
Choke point

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Question 13 - Flying wedge Do you know which of these strategies that involves moving in a specific formation is also deployed by riot police?
Flying wedge
The flying wedge involves a group of soldiers moving forward in a V-formation towards a defending force. It allows them to smash through the enemy lines. It has proven to be a reasonably effective strategy for hundreds of years, and even Alexander the Great made use of it in battle.
Shock and awe
Hammer and anvil
Deception

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Question 14 - Perfidy This bad faith tactic employs duplicity and outright lying about your intentions. It's actually a war crime. What is it?
Perfidy
Perfidy is when you agree to one thing, like a truce or surrender, and then attack your enemy anyway. It's basically a bad faith maneuver and, in so many words, a lie. It's a breach of the rules of war and constitutes a war crime if you do it.
Siege
Domination by sea
Scorched earth

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Question 15 - Swarming Overwhelming a target from all sides like insects do is called what?
Penetration of the center
Attack from defensive position
Swarming
Swarming is a popular tactic for forces that are traditionally at a disadvantage technologically. Attacking from every side at once can confuse and overwhelm an enemy force. The Vietcong were famous for doing this in the Vietnam War.
Divide and conquer

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Question 16 - Taking the high ground Air superiority or attacking from atop a hill are versions of this tactic which relies chiefly on the advantage of elevation. What is it?
Taking the high ground
When you take the high ground, you take control of the fight from on high. On the ground, this can be fighting from an elevated position, but even in the air, this can be done by maintaining air superiority and swooping down to carpet bomb an enemy position.
Fabian strategy
Bait and bleed
Rapid dominance

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Question 17 - Tank desant Which of these tactics involving machinery is rare today but was prominent in World War II?
Decapitation strike
Smoke screening
Tank desant
Desant means "disembark" and a tank desant tactic involves infantry soldiers entering combat on tanks before dismounting to engage ground forces. Desant minus the tank part is also a term used for paratroopers that drop into combat in a similar fashion.
Frontal assault

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Question 18 - Hammer and anvil This is one of the oldest tactics in all of warfare and was even used by Alexander the Great. It involves catching an enemy between two sides of your forces. Can you name it?
Hammer and anvil
For the hammer and anvil to work, you need two separate forces under your command. Infantry forces will engage a frontal assault while cavalry forces will attack from the rear, forcing the enemy into the infantry. The cavalry becomes the hammer, the infantry is the anvil.
Shock and awe
Bait and bleed
Shoot and scoot

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Question 19 - Smoke screening Which tactic is designed to conceal movements and confuse the enemy by effectively blinding them?
Ambush
Recon
Smoke screening
Smoke screening means you're using smoke to screen what you're doing, so the name is pretty fitting. Smoke grenades are a common method of pulling this off, and they produce large clouds of thick smoke to conceal movements and even block laser targeting.
Charge

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Question 20 - Carpet bombing Warsaw and the Rotterdam Blitz are two examples of the use of this extremely destructive tactic from World War II. What is it?
Blitzkrieg
Carpet bombing
Carpet bombing gets its name from the fact you're laying bombs to cover an area like a carpet, meaning everything is saturated and destroyed. The Geneva Convention prohibits this in any civilian area.
Turtling
Human wave

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Question 21 - Recon Scouting and checking out an enemy's position or movements is another name for what tactic?
Recon
Recon, or reconnaissance, is the act of gaining information about the path ahead, enemy movements and forces, or whatever other information might be pertinent to your plans moving forward. This was traditionally done by sending out actual scouts but can now often be done electronically.
Exploit the weather
Ambush
Bombardment

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Question 22 - Charge Rushing headlong into an enemy force as a shock tactic, one historically done by cavalry, is known by what name?
Charge
Charging is an ancient maneuver that dates back to the days of cavalry charges and even earlier. Confronting an enemy force at speed is meant to overwhelm them physically and put them off guard mentally as well.
Shock and awe
Scorched earth
Encirclement

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Question 23 - Guerilla warfare Some people refer to this as "unconventional warfare." It's often associated with paramilitary forces. Do you know what it is?
Deception
Guerilla warfare
While traditional warfare involves organized troop deployment, guerrilla tactics are meant to be disruptive and tend to rely on much smaller groups. Insurgencies, infiltrations and targeted strikes are often part of guerrilla tactics.
Attrition
Penetration

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Question 24 - Attrition Which strategy involves wearing an enemy down over a long period of time, like at the Battle of Verdun?
Annihilation
Attrition
Attrition is what you call a fairly long, drawn-out strategy to wear your enemy down until there's nothing left to them. It also acknowledges that you're going to suffer losses on your side as well; they just won't be as bad as the enemy's losses.
Pincer
Flying wedge

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Question 25 - Bait and bleed Do you know which strategy involves making two other forces combat each other while you wait them out as Russia to Austria and Prussia after the French Revolution?
Bait and bleed
Bait and bleed is sometimes called camping and is essentially pitting two enemies against each other. This allows your force to maintain strength while your enemies diminish each other's forces.
Hedgehog defense
Smoke screening
Ambush

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Question 26 - Area denial One of the main tools for accomplishing this tactic that stops enemies and others from using portions of land or getting too close to your position has been land mines. What is it?
Attrition
Area denial
As the name suggests, area denial is a tactic that cuts off an enemy from an area. Land mines have been the main weapon to accomplish this in modern warfare, rendering large swaths of area too dangerous to enter.
Scorched earth
Shock and awe

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Question 27 - Feigned retreat Sun Tzu warned against falling for this tactic which relies on fakery and lulling the enemy into a false sense of victory. What is it?
Trench warfare
Ambush
Choke point
Feigned retreat
A feigned retreat involves making a display of having your troops run from battle to lure the enemy out in pursuit when you're just tricking them into a vulnerable position for a counterattack.

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Question 28 - Envelopment Do you know this tactic that requires you to take on an enemy's flank rather than hit them head on?
Envelopment
Unlike a frontal assault, an envelopment requires a force to take on the flank of an enemy force. There are several envelopment maneuvers, but a single envelopment would be ignoring the front in favor of a more weakened side defense.
Crossing the T
Indirect approach
Frontal assault

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Question 29 - Decapitation strike Which of these is meant to take out an enemy's leadership, much like when Lincoln was assassinated?
Recon by fire
Penetration
Decapitation strike
Decapitation means losing the head, so a decapitation strike as a tactic is meant to take out the head of an enemy force. By cutting off the leadership, it's hoped that the main force will fall apart or become disorganized. When Lincoln was assassinated, there was a plot to also kill his vice-president and the secretary of state.
Flying wedge

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Question 30 - Scorched earth During the Civil War, General Sherman used this strategy of destroying every resource or asset that could be found. What is this strategy?
Scorched earth
One of the more desperate tactics available, scorched earth relies on one force destroying everything around an enemy, particularly on their path of retreat. That could include any or all assets, from equipment to structures to crops, so that nothing remains to give even a slight advantage.
Shock and awe
Ambush
Blitzkrieg

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Question 31 - Shock and awe Which of these tactics that partially relies on spectacle is also called "rapid dominance" and came to prominence during the Iraq War?
Shoot and scoot
Charge
Shock and awe
Shock and awe is predicated on the use of extreme force that includes displays meant to strike fear into the enemy such that they lose focus or even give up fighting altogether. Ideally, you would destroy the enemy's will and perception of the battle.
Carpet bombing

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Question 32 - Ambush Do you know which of these strategies uses the element of surprise and was favored by forces like the Vietcong?
Ambush
An ambush is arguably one of the oldest tactics in combat. The basic idea is to conceal your force until an enemy has entered an area where they would be at a tactical disadvantage before revealing your forces in a surprise maneuver to catch the other force off guard.
Penetration
Feint
Smoke screening

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Question 33 - Siege You'd use this strategy to take on enemies held up in a city or fortress. What is it?
Siege
Siege warfare is warfare against an enemy in a fortified position. This is also the kind of warfare that gave rise to the term "siege weapons" which are things like ballista and trebuchets designed to attack walls, cities and castles.
Attack from defensive position
Area denial
Recon by fire

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Question 34 - Chokepoint This tactic which puts a smaller force at an advantage over a larger one was made famous in the movie, "300." Do you know it?
Indirect assault
Flanking
Chokepoint
Using a chokepoint is an environmental tactic that makes the terrain fight with you against an enemy, forcing them into a narrow position that you defend. This kind of tactic can even the odds between a large force and a much smaller force.
Swarming

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Question 35 - Battle of annihilation Which of these is a decisive, take-no-prisoners battle often associated with Napoleon?
Recon
Frontal attack
Siege
Battle of annihilation
A battle of annihilation is a kind of all or nothing battle that spurns the drawn-out campaign in favor of ending everything in one single, brutal assault. These kinds of battles typically end in massive casualties numbering in the tens of thousands.

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