Operational Maneuver Group [OMG]

In the 1980s, the Soviets began to form new corps-type structures. These corps are divisions expanded to almost twice the size of a tank division [TD]. They are ideally suited to act as an operational maneuver group (OMG) for the front, conducting high-speed operations deep in an enemy’s rear area. These NAC formations contain around 400 tanks, 750 infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs)and armored personnel carriers (APCs),and 300 artillery pieces and multiple rocket launchers (MRLs). Additional units of this type may appear once testing and operational evaluation end.

Soviet maneuver divisions are continuously undergoing a reorganization that significantly upgrades their combat capability. This manual includes the main features of the most current organizational changes. The addition of new sub-units and the upgrade of existing elements have expanded both motorized rifle divisions [MRDs] and TDs. The greatest changes are in the TDs.

The BTR-and BMP-equipped motorized rifle battalions (MRBs) have expanded the mortar battery from six to eight tubes. They have added a machine gun/antitank platoon to each company in the BTR-equipped MRB. The BMP-equipped MRB has added machine gun platoons, with no extra antitank weapons. Also, the Soviets have now consolidated the automatic grenade launcher and antiaircraft (AA) squads in platoons at the battalion level of both BTR-and BMP-equipped MRBs.

In order to support the fast-moving maneuver units envisioned for future battlefields, the Soviets have formed materiel support units within combined arms units from tactical to front levels. Within divisions and regiments, respectively, materiel sup-port battalions and companies combine formerly fragmented motor transport, supply, and service functions. The new rear area units will provide a 30-percent increase in motor transport assets and a streamlined command structure. A similar re-organization at army and front levels has created materiel support brigades with centralized control for ammunition, fuel, and other supplies.

The airborne division is now a fully mechanized combined arms organization. Airborne divisions now consist of three regiments equipped with the air-droppable BMD, affording these units greater firepower and mobility. The Soviets have also produced a new 120-millimeter 2S9 airborne self-propelled (SP) howitzer with a mortar capability for airborne and air assault units.

Since the late 1970s, the Soviets have developed the tank regiment (TR) into a combined arms team (tank, motorized rifle, and artillery) that promises to be as flexible in its employment as the motorized rifle regiment (MRR). (The MRR already had a tank battalion (TB) and an artillery battalion.) The addition of an MRB to the TR of a TD eliminates the necessity for the TD commander to reinforce each of his TRs with MRR assets. This leaves the TD with four maneuver regiments. The addition of an artillery battalion to the TR places a great deal more firepower under direct control of the regimental commander. The division commander then has greater flexibility in the use of his artillery resources to influence the battle. Hence, the capability of the TR and TD to conduct largely self-supported combined arms combat has increased greatly.

Large-caliber SP guns and mortars and long-range MRLs have increased the artillery available to army and front commanders. Additionally, some army-level regiments have grown to brigade size with the addition of a fourth artillery battalion. These battalions are currently expanding from 18 to 24 tubes, primarily in units opposite NATO. All of the Soviet’s SP and towed guns/howitzers (152-millimeter and larger) are nuclear-capable. The Soviets are also adding newer nuclear-capable pieces such as the 203-millimeter SP gun 2S7 and the 240-millimeter SP mortar 2S4. They are deploying the BM-22 220-millimeter MRL, which can fire deep into the enemy’s rear. These improvements greatly enhance area coverage and counter-battery support to subordinate divisions. The new T-64/72/80-seriestanks feature improved firepower, with a 125-millimeter main gun and an improved fire control system. Both the T-80 and a variant of the T-64 can fire an ATGM through the main tube. The T-80 can mount reactive armor which further protects against the West’s antitank capabilities. At the same time, the establishment of army aviation has given ground forces a vertical dimension. The helicopter now provides CAAs and TAs with a highly maneuverable and versatile platform for reconnaissance, command and control (C2), and fire support. General-purpose and attack helicopter units can move with armies and divisions at the high rates of advance they will need to conduct combined arms operations in depth.


Soviet maneuver divisions are well-balanced, powerful, and mobile fighting units. They have a combined arms structure as well as a comprehensive array of combat support (CS) and combat service support (CSS) elements. In early 1987, there were 211 active Soviet maneuver divisions: 150 MRDs, 52 TDs, 7 airborne divisions, and 2 static defense divisions. The totals did not include 2 new army corps (NAC) and 5 mobilization divisions.

The basic structures of the three types of divisions (motorized rifle, tank, and airborne). While this presents “type” Soviet divisions, different configurations and different categories of readiness exist among actual divisions.

Divisions receive new items of equipment according to the priorities established by the MOD. High-priority formations, such as the Soviet forces in the Western TVD, are usually the first to receive modern equipment. When they replace older material, the Soviets send that older equipment to lower-priority units in the interior of the USSR or to reserve stocks. Late-model T-64/72/80 tanks constitute about one-third of the USSR’s tanks. While older T-55 and T-62 tanks constitute moat of the remainder, over 1,500 T-80s are currently deployed opposite NATO and nearly 75 percent of the 19,000 Soviet tanks in the Western Theater are T-64/72/80 models.

By MAJOR B. M. Young’s, USMC
April 6, 1984

“Rear area security has been a continuing problem for armies throughout history. Today is no different; the capability of the Soviet Union to inflict damage to our rear areas is a serious threat. Those threats and actions within the . . . rear area which impede or deny the orderly flow of supplies and services to the forward maneuver elements affect directly the ability of those maneuver elements to accomplish their mission.

The U. S. Army’s FM 100-5, Operations, considered to be the capstone publication for U. S. maneuver warfare, specifically warns:
‘Just as we plan to fight in the enemy’s rear area, so he plans to fight in ours. The enemy will carefully coordinate his attack in our rear area with his actions in the main battle area….the object of these rear area attacks is to destroy critical links, to cause disruption, and to degrade the capability of forces dedicated to support or reinforce the main effort.’
. . .

Perhaps at the outset, some terms should be defined. The rear area is the area in the rear of the combat and forward areas. Rear area security (RAS) is defined as those measures taken prior to, during, and/or after an enemy airborne attack, sabotage action, infiltration, guerrilla action, and/or initiation of psychological or propaganda warfare to minimize the effects thereof. Rear area protection (RAP) includes all measures taken to prevent interruptions of combat support (CS) and combat service support (CSS) operations.

A historical review of rear area operations reveals that the Soviet Union has traditionally been successful in employing forces in the enemy’s rear area. These rear area operations were conducted to disrupt or destroy enemy combat support and combat service support operations and as economy of force measures to force enemy commanders to divert tactical or frontline units in defense of their rear areas. Successful rear area operations in military history serve to emphasize the importance and magnitude of the rear area security problem.

. . .

The Soviet Army has had tremendous experience with rear area operations and is cognizant of their effectiveness.

Having stated the historical significance of rear area operations, it is now appropriate to examine briefly the threat impose by our most likely enemy in futur3e conflicts.

The lessons of World War II are still vivid in the minds of the Soviet military hierarchy. The two principles of war which seem to dominate Soviet military doctrine are: offensive and mass. Western strategists and tacticians are continuously working on methods to defeat or counter these
Soviet capabilities.

The immediate question should be, “What is the threat today?” The principles of war, economy of force (the reciprocal of mass) and the offensive are the driving factors in the importance of rear area operations as a force multiplier in Soviet doctrine today.

The evolution of Soviet doctrine for the employment of ground forces developed rapidly in post World War II. Soviet conventional ground forces were trained and equipped to maneuver motorized rifle and tank units in seizing objectives deep in the enemy rear areas. Soviet doctrine continues to emphasize the offensive and high-speed penetration of enemy defenses and combat formations to seize deep objectives.

The Soviet desant concept advocates employing forces in the enemy rear areas or flanks. This concept is a consolidation of Soviet thinking in the employment of airborne, heliborne, and amphibious forces in economy of force operations to disrupt the enemy rear area. The desant concept is an accessory to the principle of the offensive because its primary purpose is to support the advance of the Soviet regular ground forces.

The Soviet forces involved in rear area operations would be drawn primarily from three sources: airborne units, long-range reconnaissance units from tank and motorized rifle units, and designated combined arms units (also called forward detachments) from tank and motorized rifle units.

The Soviet Union maintains the world’s largest airborne force which is organized into seven active divisions. The most important feature of these airborne divisions and their subordinate units is that, once landed, they are a light-armor mechanized force. The BMD is the airborne equivalent of the Soviet Infantry combat fighting vehicle BMP, and, as such, provides Soviet airborne forces a significant mobility and firepower capability.

Soviet doctrine assigns three basic missions to airborne forces: (1) strategic; (2) operational; and (3) tactical.

The primary difference in these missions is the depth of operation and the nature of the objectives. Of importance to this paper are the operational and tactical missions. Operational missions in support of the Front (largest Soviet fighting organization) are executed under the control of the Front commander. These missions include seizing bridgeheads, airfields, road junctions, as well as destruction of enemy logistical facilities. Operating in the enemy rear areas, these units prevent the effective and timely employment of reserve forces and generally disrupt the enemy’s offensive and defensive posture. Standard procedure for operational missions of this nature would involve dropping a regimental sized unit up to 300km beyond the FEBA in support of a Front offensive. Ground forces linkup would occur within two to three days with the airborne forces.

The tactical mission concept includes battalion to regimental-sized operations up to 100km beyond the FEBA in support of an Army offensive. Linkup in these operations is planned within 48 hours. The tactical mission has objectives similar to operational missions, but on a smaller scale.

Tactical long-range reconnaissance units are found in reconnaissance battalions of motorized rifle and tank divisions, the mission of these units is to conduct ground reconnaissance of the enemy rear area up to 100km beyond the FEBA. These battalions are capable of operating in an area of 50-60km wide on three or four axes. Six to eight armored reconnaissance squads, each consisting of two to three BRDM’s and/or BMP-R’s and motorcycles, are used. Their primary mission is reconnaissance, but they may attack small targets of opportunity or even conduct sabotage operations against logistic units. In addition, long-range reconnaissance patrols are often flown by helicopter. They can operate throughout a rear area to locate both reserve force and command post locations and to recon possible avenues of approach.

The special combined arms unit, also called a forward detachment, is typically composed of a motorized rifle battalion with tanks, self-propelled artillery, and air defense weapons. This detachment is a small, highly mobile and firepower intensive unit. These forward detachments take advantage of a gap in the enemy front and penetrate deep into the enemy rear area. The objectives of these small independent units vary according to the situation. These detachments are key elements in the successful linkup with airborne and helicopter forces. How valid a threat is a forward detachment? According to Victor Suvorov, author of Inside the Soviet Army, one battalion in each Soviet regiment is held ready to assume the mission of a forward detachment at all times.

In conjunction with the Soviet forces previously mentioned three additional organizations have been recently identified as having the primary mission of operating in an enemy’s rear area. The three organizations are: the Spetsnaz; Air Assault Brigades; and the Operational Maneuver Group (OMG).

The Spetsnaz are the special purpose or unconventional warfare forces of the Soviet Union. Each Combined Arms Army and Tank Army has a Spetsnaz Company totaling approximately 105 personnel. Depending upon its assigned mission, the company can operate as an entity or it can be fragmented into smaller groups and teams. In addition, each Front has a Spetsnaz Brigade of approximately 1300 highly-skilled, elite troops. Spetsnaz troops are all volunteers and are superbly trained to operate in a clandestine manner behind enemy lines. The Soviets consider that Spetsnaz operations can only be successful if they take place simultaneously on a massive scale with other operations. Spetsnaz units are placed in areas where there are numerous high-value targets (i.e., command posts, logistical facilities).

The Soviet Air Assault Brigades represent a significant increase in the Front level combat capability. These brigades have a combination of battalions which are parachute and BMD-equipped. The air assault brigade is capable of undertaking a myriad of missions because of its unique structure, mobility, and firepower. The brigade consists of three battalions with approximately 2,500 personnel; the battalions are employed by airborne drop or by helicopter. The missions assigned the heliborne battalions include neutralization of command posts, seizure of key terrain, and destruction of logistics sites. Soviet doctrine for the employment of heliborne forces states that those forces can be inserted anywhere in the tactical depth of the enemy’s defense or combat formations up to 50km from friendly forces.

The Operational Maneuver Group (OMG) appears to be a large one-way raiding force, composed of infantry, tanks, artillery, air defense and a heavy air assault component. The Soviets believe that successful OMG operations could severely disrupt the enemy rear area, thereby increasing the chances of maintaining the rapid advance of Army and Front level forces. The OMG is a specially tailored combat force with no fixed structure. The OMG has three main missions, all of which are directed at the enemy’s rear area: (1) destruction of enemy weapons systems; (2) destruction of the enemy’s in-depth defense or offensive combat formation (actions by the OMG would include destruction of command and control positions, logistics assets and surprise attacks on flank and rear area units); (3) seizure of deep key terrain and critical objectives.

It should be readily apparent that the Soviet threat to rear area security is quite significant. Soviet operations in the rear area will not of themselves be of sufficient scale to bring about a Soviet victory. One major function of all the forces mentioned is to reduce the enemy’s capacity to resist, thus making it easier for the main attacking forces to accomplish their missions.

Having described the Soviet threat to rear areas, it would be appropriate to review what current doctrine provides the conduct of rear area security operations.

U. S. Army doctrine is found in FM 31-85, Rear Area Protection (RAP) Operations. Though issued in 1970, it does provide a basic philosophy of RAS and eight principles which are still valid: austerity, command, and economy of force, integrated protection, offensive, responsiveness, supervision, and priority of risks.

The cornerstone of Army doctrine is FM 100-5, Operations, which provides information on Rear Area Protection and gives a concise and meaningful resume of the threat as it is projected and adequately outlines responsibilities for rear and combat operations (RACO).”


British Infantry at Dettingen

King George II at the Battle of Dettingen, with the Duke of Cumberland and Robert, 4th Earl of Holderness, 27 June 1743.

King George II at the Battle of Dettingen, with the Duke of Cumberland and Robert, 4th Earl of Holderness, 27 June 1743.

The first battle of the War of the Austrian Succession – Dettingen 1743 – was also the last occasion upon which British troops were commanded in the field by their monarch, in this case George II. The British with their Hanoverian and Austrian allies were outmanoeuvred by the French and found themselves trapped between the river Main and forest-covered hills with the French in front, behind and across the river. Fortunately, errors by the French gave the British and their allies a chance to fight their way out when the French force blocking their march launched an unnecessary attack.

It is generally stated that the platoon firing of the infantry pretty much fell apart with every man firing in his own time, despite which the British and their allies were able to achieve a notable victory over the French. The main source for this assertion is a letter from Lieutenant Colonel Russell of the Guards in letters to his wife.

That the Austrians also behaved well is also true; that except one of their battalions which fired only once by platoons, they all fired as irregular as we did; that the English infantry behaved like heroes, and as they were the major part of the action, to them the honour of the day was due; that they were under no command by way of Hide Park firing, but that the whole three ranks made a running fire of their own accord, and at the same time with great judgement and skill, stooping all as low as they could, making almost every ball take place is true; that the enemy when expecting our fire, dropped down, which our own men perceiving, waited till they got up before they would fire, as a confirmation of their coolness as well as bravery, is very certain; that the French fired in the same manner, I mean like a running fire, without waiting for words of command, and that Lord Stair did often say he had seen many a battle and never saw the infantry engage in any other manner is as true.

Russell is clearly stating that the British infantry did not fire by platoons as practised in Hyde Park. The London-based Guards’ regiments drilled in Hyde Park and the term Hyde Park became synonymous with doing things strictly according to regulations. In another letter Russell wrote: ‘our men and their regimental officers gained the day; not in the manner of Hyde Park discipline, but our foot almost kneeled down by whole ranks, and so fired upon ’em a constant running fire.’ He goes on to say that each man fired as an individual, and that Lord Stair stated that was what always happened in a battle. The extent to which this sweeping statement, which could be read as applying solely to the French, can be relied upon is open to question. Lord Stair had been the army’s commander-in-chief until his position was usurped when George II took personal command and there is little doubt that Stair was sulking. Similarly Russell was in no mood to pay compliments to the line battalions as the Guards had been with the rearguard of the army and saw no action. In fact Russell wrote to his wife that his view of the battle was from a hill two miles away. More reliable are the accounts of those in the infantry who were directly involved, including a young James Wolfe with Duroure’s regiment. He is clear on the point that his battalion and several others opened fire at far too great a range. Colonel Duroure, acting as adjutant general, wrote that the British infantry fired ‘not by Platoons but with perpetual Volleys from Right to Left, loading almost as fast as they fired without ceasing, so that the French were forced to retreat’. La Fausille described how, once some battalions began to fire, firing broke out right along the line of British infantry even though in places the French were even out of cannon shot. He also recounted how, when a battalion commander asked a general whether he should order his battalion to fire by platoons or ranks the general advised him to keep his men in good order, try to hold their fire to a very close range and he would be delighted to see either fire by platoon or ranks as he ‘never did yet but on a Field day or at a Review’. However, at least one British infantry battalion seems to have managed to fire correctly, by platoons, in firings. An officer in the Royal Welch Fusiliers described how they advanced to within sixty paces of the French before firing:

Our people imitated their predecessors in the late war gloriously, marching in close order, as firm as a wall, and did not fire till we came within sixty paces, and still kept advancing; so that when we had soon closed with the Enemy, they had not retreated: for when the smoak blew off a little, instead of being among their living we found the dead in heaps by us; and the second fire turned them to the right about, and upon a long trot.

This describes the battalion continuing to advance after giving the first firing and on emerging from the smoke of their fire finding the French had taken heavy casualties. The battalion’s second firing then caused the enemy to run. This feat was then repeated against three other French regiments, including a Guard’s regiment that retreated before the fusiliers could fire. This officer was clear in his views about the reasons for the success of his regiment, emphasising the importance of getting close to the enemy before firing: ‘What preserved us was keeping close order, and advancing near the enemy ere we fir’d. Several that popp’d at one hundred paces lost more of their men, and did less execution, for the French will stand fire at that distance, tho’ ’tis plain they cannot look men in the face.’

In his official report Colonel Duroure not only gave his account of what happened, but also made mention of how the infantry had been ordered to fight. It was ‘judged that the whole fire had been given without Orders, against the Directions to preserve ours, and first to receive the Enemy’s, then giving ours and charging with Bayonets’. A clear statement that if Dettingen had been won by firepower alone that had not been the intention.

At Dettingen the French cavalry enjoyed an initial success against the British infantry. The French Household cavalry broke through the first line of British infantry, but did not cause it to retreat. Rather the words of Bland about the superiority of infantry over cavalry were vindicated when the grenadier company of Huske’s 32nd, in the second line, held off the cavalry while the battalion finished forming. Then, trapped between the first and second line of infantry, the cavalry were shot to pieces.

For events at Fontenoy in 1745 there is a French account of cavalry attacking British infantry. ‘Our Cavalry, which advanced before them immediately, could not sustain the terrible Fire made by that Line of Infantry . . . Several of our Squadrons rallied, but were again repuls’d by the prodigious Fire of the Enemy’s Infantry.’ Although Fontenoy was a defeat for the allied army under the Duke of Cumberland the British infantry more than held their own against both French cavalry and infantry.

Following Dettingen the infantry had trained hard in their battalion firings, as shown by an order of 1 December 1744: ‘The Regt which fired ball against the wall of ye Capuchin’s near the Nonnen Bosh, are to do so no more, but to find some other place, if they have occasion to fire anymore.’ Whilst not a great deal of detail of the infantry battle at Fontenoy has come down to us, the notable exception to this is the firefight between the British and French Guards early on in the battle, when the benefits of such training were clear. Three battalions of British Guards were on the right of the first line of the British infantry attacking the French position. In an incident immortalised by Voltaire they came face to face with the French Guards, the Swiss Guards and the Regiment Courten. According to Voltaire, Lord Hay, a captain in the First Guards, stepped forwards and invited the French to fire first. A French officer responded, saying that they never fired first. The truth, as related by Lord Hay, was more prosaic. He saluted the French, toasted them from his hip flask and told the French he hoped they would not swim the nearby Scheldt as they had the Main at Dettingen, a reference to their rout at that battle. It is unclear who did fire first. Voltaire suggests that the French infantry were so stunned by the British fire that they did not fire at all. An account in a British newspaper stated that the French fired first. Whether they fired first or second the effect of the British fire was devastating. Voltaire says that the fire was by platoons and it seems most likely that the Guards fired twice by firings at a range of less than thirty yards. The total strength of the three guard’s battalions at Fontenoy was approximately 1,970 rank and file, meaning that the French received approximately 3,900 rounds of musket fire. Voltaire records this fire as causing a total of 912 killed and wounded, giving the Guards a hit rate of about 23 per cent. By contrast the three battalions of Guards suffered a total of 736 killed and wounded for the whole battle.

The British Guards Brigade in the War of the Austrian Succession, 1740–1748

The peace was broken by the outbreak in 1740 of the War of the Austrian Succession. The origins are complex and the campaign only concerns us because the expeditionary force sent to the Continent in 1742 included a Guards Brigade consisting of the 1st Battalions of all three regiments of Foot Guards.

In 1743 King George II not only joined the army in Flanders but also assumed command. On 27 June 1743 he fought the Battle of Dettingen, well known as the last occasion on which a King of England personally led his troops into action. He led them, in fact, into a dangerous trap, carefully prepared by the French, and the situation was only saved by several gallant charges made by the cavalry, including, for the first time, a Household Cavalry Brigade.

The Guards Brigade formed the rearguard and so was not involved in the battle until the later stages. The French finally suffered a severe defeat, losing 5,000 men, and Dettingen became the Regiment’s sixth Battle Honour.

In 1745 the King handed over command to his 25-year-old son, The Duke of Cumberland, whose first action as a commander was the Battle of Fontenoy on 11 May 1745. Things did not go well and the Allied army was forced to make a frontal assault against the enemy centre, which involved an advance of half a mile across flat, open country under intense fire from their front and also from French strongpoints on both flanks.

The Guards Brigade was on the right of the leading line, with the regiments in their customary positions, that is the First Guards on the right, the Coldstream on the left and the Third Guards in the centre. The brigade was commanded by Colonel George Churchill, Coldstream Guards. With shouldered arms the three battalions marched steadily forward, despite the fierce fire from three sides. Finally, as they topped a slight ridge, now seriously reduced in numbers, they found, thirty yards in front of them, four complete battalions of French Guards, as yet unscathed.

It was the first time that the British and French Guards had met in battle and it was a dramatic confrontation. The French fired first, but to little effect. Then the Guards replied and their first volley laid low nineteen French officers and 600 men. Steadily they reloaded, firing in disciplined sequence six platoons at a time, so that the volleys never ceased. Finally the French gave way and the Guards advanced. But they did not receive any support and found themselves isolated; for three hours they had to hold their positions against both infantry and cavalry attacks, but finally were forced to withdraw, having lost around half their strength. It had been a bloody and bitter defeat, and was not allowed to count as a Battle Honour, though it was perhaps deserved.

On obtaining the summit of the ridge the allied column found itself facing the French infantry line. The French guards rose and advanced towards the crest, whereupon the two forces confronted each other at a distance of 30 paces.[85] The moment was immortalised by Lord Charles Hay of the 1st Regiment of Guards who later wrote that he stepped forward, took out a hip flask and drank with a flourish, shouting out to his opponent, “We are the English Guards, and we hope you will stand till we come up to you, and not swim the Scheldt as you did the Main at Dettingen.” He then led his men in three cheers. Voltaire’s version of this famous episode has become proverbial. He wrote: “The English officers saluted the French by doffing their hats … the French, returned the greeting. My Lord Charles Hai, captain in the English Guards, cried, ‘Gentlemen of the French Guards, fire.’ The Comte d’Auteroche, then lieutenant of Grenadiers, shouted, ‘Gentlemen, we never fire first; fire yourselves.'” The French were the first to fire, the volley was somewhat ineffective but threw the Third Guards into some confusion and wounded George Churchill, the commander of the guards brigade. Captain Lord Panmure led the unbroken companies of the Third Guards to the flank of the First Guards. Up to this point the British column had not fired a single musket shot, but now the allied infantry poured a devastating discharge into the French. The volley of musketry with the battalion guns delivering numerous rounds of grape-shot, swept away the front rank of the ten battalions of the French first line, killing and wounding between 700–800 men, breaking the Gardes Françaises, while the Gardes Suisses and the four battalions of the Brigade Aubeterre were driven back by the British advance.

Historian David Chandler writes that upon the order “first firing, take care”, in the British platoon firing system, the six platoons of the first firing with the whole of the front rank of each British battalion fired together – explaining the efficacy of the British first volley. Additionally, Chandler describes the advance as also a British development of the platoon firing system in which troops mounting an attack continue to advance to give fire by stepping out ahead of the rest of the marching battalion, when they are done and reloading the other platoons advance ahead of them and give fire in turn. This explains the slow advance of the column noted in many first hand accounts.

RAND Corporation

Independent, nonprofit think tank founded jointly by the U. S. Army Air Forces and the Douglas Aircraft Company in 1945 to ensure the continuation of technological advancements begun during World War II. Since its foundation, the RAND Corporation (RAND is short for “Research and Development”) has served both the public and private sectors. Although it mostly addressed the defense concerns of the U. S. Air Force during its initial years, it was later expanded to tackle social problems as well. RAND played a significant role in the advancement of technology during the Cold War.

Project RAND, precursor to the RAND Corporation, began in October 1945 as the brainchild of Henry “Hap” Arnold, commanding general of the U. S. Army. He worked in collaboration with a number of influential individuals from both the public and private sectors-including Edward Bowles, Donald Douglas, and Major Generals Lauris Norstad and Curtis LeMay-to establish an institution that could successfully coordinate efforts among the military, government, industry, and academe to promote the development of science and technology.

In March 1946, Project RAND was inaugurated as a division of the Douglas Aircraft Company. RAND reported to the U. S. Army Air Forces’ deputy chief of air staff for research and development, which was established in December 1945 and headed by LeMay. The RAND staff grew to include several fields including mathematics, engineering, aerodynamics, physics, chemistry, economics, and psychology. RAND produced its first study in May 1946 and has since produced many volumes of original research.

Project RAND split from Douglas Aircraft in May 1948 and thereafter became the RAND Corporation, a nonpartisan research and design enterprise. Both its goals and purpose are explicitly set forth in its articles of incorporation, which seek “to further and promote scientific, educational and charitable purposes, all for the public welfare and security of the United States.”

The exigencies of the Cold War, more than anything else, dictated RAND’s research agenda during its first years. Its directors’ insistence on cross-fertilization and free inquiry culminated in innovative approaches to defense problems that included systems analysis and game theory. Essential to RAND’s innovation was its interdisciplinary approach to problem solving. RAND is also responsible for having created a number of precursors to modern-day technologies that were essential to both the space age and the computer age. These innovations ranged from infrared detection, missile targeting, and reentry technology to video recording, computers, and the Internet.

In the 1960s, RAND began to move beyond defense matters, addressing domestic policy issues as well. This was in part because of a decrease in U. S. Air Force contracts as other research and design organizations emerged. Moreover, the armed forces had learned much about how to conduct their own research from years of collaboration with RAND. Aside from science and technology, RAND began to specialize in education, civil and criminal justice, the environment, population studies, terrorism, and transportation. Despite this shift, however, in the 1990s two-thirds of RAND’s research focused on national security issues.

Gaither Report

(November 1957)

Top secret report issued by a panel of U. S. defense and military experts in November 1957. President Dwight D. Eisenhower commissioned the so- called Gaither Committee, chaired by the RAND Corporation’s H. Rowan Gaither, to study the nation’s defenses and strategic posture after the launching of the Soviet spacecraft Sputnik 1 earlier that same year. The rather alarmist report spurred opposition to Eisenhower’s New Look defense posture and called for a $44 billion program to bolster conventional U. S. forces and the further development of missile and rocket capabilities.

Eisenhower tasked the Security Resources Panel primarily with studying the nation’s civil defense needs. But the hawkish committee members went far beyond their mission and considered all aspects of the nation’s defenses. The report was coauthored by Paul Nitze, anticommunist hard-liner and principal author of National Security Council Report NSC-68, and retired Colonel George Lincoln, a West Point professor and respected military planner and strategist.

The report argued that the Soviet Union harbored expansionist intentions and highlighted the alleged widening disparity between American and Soviet weapons programs. It concluded by proposing a $44 billion program of military spending in order to close the unproven gap. The report’s proposals were similar to those advocated in NSC-68. But just as Eisenhower had rejected some of the strategic doctrines of NSC-68, he also rejected the Gaither Committee’s findings. He objected to the high costs of its proposals and did not believe, as the panelists had argued, that such a dramatically expanded national security program would have no harmful effect on the nation’s economy. Moreover, he tended to view the report as an unnecessary knee-jerk reaction to Sputnik, which had created panic among some that the United States was not only losing the space race but was also losing ground to the Soviets on the scientific and military fronts.

Although Eisenhower objected to many tenets of the Gaither Report, he did not simply dismiss the recommendations out of hand. In fact, during the late 1950s, he presided over a substantial expansion of the U. S. nuclear arsenal. This effort was overlooked by contemporary observers.

Despite Eisenhower’s directive that the Gaither Report be kept secret, the contents were widely leaked. The release of this information fed the growing perception of a technological gap between the Soviet Union and the United States, contributing to increased anxiety among the American public and a loss of confidence in Eisenhower’s national security policies. Some contemporary observers interpreted President John F. Kennedy’s November 1960 election victory as a repudiation of Eisenhower’s policies and an affirmation of the Gaither Committee’s findings. Indeed, Kennedy’s campaign rhetoric, which repeatedly cited a missile gap between the two superpowers, was an important part of his campaign strategy, although such a gap never did exist in reality.

References Campbell, Virginia. “How RAND Invented the Postwar World.” Invention and Technology (Summer 2004): 50-59. Collins, Martin J. Cold War Laboratory: RAND, the Air Force, and the American State, 1945-1950. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Press, 2002. Herken, Gregg. Counsels of War. New York: Knopf, 1985. Kaplan, Fred. The Wizards of Armageddon: Strategists of the Nuclear Age. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1983. Snead, David L. The Gaither Committee, Eisenhower, and the Cold War. Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1999.

Bocage Fighting – the British Experience Part I

In another time!

The summer of 1793 the Revolution faced its greatest crisis. Violent internal rejection of the Revolution became more widespread and menacing than the short-lived counter-revolutionary gatherings at the ‘Camp de Jalès’ in the south in 1790–92. The Convention had responded to the expanded military crisis by ordering a levy of 300 000 conscripts in March. In some regions the levy was implemented without difficulty, but in the west it provoked massive armed rebellion and civil war, known, like the region itself, as ‘the Vendée’. This was a region where the seigneurial regime had weighed relatively lightly and where a numerous, locally recruited and respected clergy had played a pivotal social role in communities of dispersed habitat. The Revolution had caused most people here little but trouble, forcibly removing the mass of non-juring clergy, increasing taxes and now conscripting young men. Erupting at a critical time for the young Republic, the rebellion evoked a visceral, punitive response. The rebels had begun by seizing the small town of Machecoul, where they had singled out, tortured and killed at least 160 ‘patriots’. The vicious cycle of killing and reprisals convinced both sides of the treachery of the other, and this was exacerbated by the nature of the fighting in the bocage of high hedgerows and narrow paths suited to guerilla-type ambushes and retreat. The ‘Catholic and Royal Army’ established headquarters at Châtillon-sur-Sèvre (today Mauléon), and on 5 July 1793 inflicted a heavy defeat on republican troops under the command of François Westermann. Only 300 of his 7000 troops survived. Westermann would not forget the need for revenge. Ultimately, the civil war was to claim perhaps as many lives as the external wars in 1793–94, with deaths of possibly 170 000 Vendéans and 30 000 soldiers.


During June 10th–12th,  the 51st Highland Division pushed inland from the ‘airborne bridgehead’, menacing Cagny but never threatening to reach it in the teeth of 21st Panzer Division’s opposition, while the 7th Armoured Division struggled southward from Tilly towards Villers-Bocage. It was the first serious venture into that difficult and most characteristic Norman countryside. ‘Pleasantly shaded woodland’, says Larousse for ‘bocage’. The woodland stands between small, thickly banked hedgerows, enclosing fields first won from the waste by Celtic farmers who tilled the land before the coming of the Romans, and separated by narrow and winding lanes. Through over a thousand years of growth the roots of the hedgerows have bound the banks into barriers ‘which will rebuff even bulldozers’, while winter rains and the hooves of Norman cattle have worn the surface of the roadways deep beneath the level of the surrounding fields. The countryside is thus perfectly adapted to anti-tank defence. Tank crews which will brave it must expect a bazooka shot from every field boundary or risk ambush in lanes so constricted that they cannot traverse their turret. And if, in the hope of faster progress, they cling to the larger roads, they will be brought every few hundred yards to strong, stone-built villages in which every house forms an infantry fortress, every barn a hiding place for an anti-tank gun. Bocage, for all the soldiers of the Liberation armies, swiftly lost its pleasant sylvan undertones. Bocage came to mean the sudden, unheralded burst of machine-pistol fire at close quarters, the crash and flame of a panzerfaust strike on the hull of a blind and pinioned tank.

Unlike the US sector where the hedgerow country extended for over thirty miles south of Carentan, in the British sector patches of small embanked and hedge topped fields and orchards were to be found, normally around villages and in valleys. One of the more extensive areas of bocage was to be found on the ridge between the sea at Franceville and the Bois de Bavent to the south.

Training in East Anglia was no preparation for the dangerous hazards of fighting in the unique Norman bocage country. A paradise for the defenders, there were woods, copses, rivers and streams, winding, undulating narrow country lanes and, notably, the huge thick hedgerows around most of the small rectangular fields. Up to 12 ft of hedge atop an earth rampart perhaps 4 or 5 ft high meant that snipers, bazookamen, A/Tank guns, even tanks, could hide in the midsummer foliage. Artillery barrages and Typhoon cab-ranks could not pinpoint targets. The only advantage to the Allied marauders was a negative one! The long distance killing power of Tiger, Panther and 88mm gunners was rarely invoked. For the tank man ‘life depended very often’, Norman Smith, 5th RTR, recalled, ‘on a fast and accurate target identification, sighting, loading and firing. Truly it is said that there are the quick and the dead.’

The German defenders employed superb camouflage tactics, whether they were infantry or armour. Anyone who fought in the bocage country in June, July and August 1944 will never forget it.

For the next two and a half weeks – until 31 June – the division took up a mainly defensive role in the Norman bocage. 22nd Armoured Brigade were in reserve around Ste Honorine-de-Ducy, 4 miles north of Caumont. The Queens Brigade and 1st RB held a line 2 miles south-east at La Palmerie, Livry and Le Pont-Mulot. 8th Hussars had a mobile role covering the eastern flank, La Butte north to St Paul-du-Vernay, which 50th Division were holding.

The enemy front west and east of Anctoville was strongly held with their tanks also in reserve. Both sides patrolled strongly and Nebelwerfer and artillery fire harassed the Queens by day and night. ‘Stand to’ was always at 0415 hrs and 2215 hrs. Regular shelling, mortaring and sniping took its daily toll. On 17 June two battalions of 304th Panzer Regiment attacked 1/6th Queens in the evening. 8th Hussars and the MGs of Northumberland Fusiliers helped break up the attack on Briquessard, but the Hussars lost five Cromwells and suffered twenty casualties. The RHA regiments fired DF targets, which finally drove the PZ back. But desert veterans of the Queens became casualties. Lieutenant-Colonel Forrester was wounded by a shell, Major R. Elliott and Major Borret and sixteen others were killed or wounded. Derrick Watson recalled the PZ attack:

Major Elliott o/c A Coy asked for a tank to be sent up in support of his men pinned down in slit trenches. I was ordered to direct the tank up to his position, so I climbed up, gave orders to the tank commander through the turret. We crashed through the hedges in great style and charged up to the trenches with engines roaring and me clinging to the turret.

The men raised a great cheer in greeting. Shortly afterwards the CO visited A Coy and was heard to tell [Major] Russell Elliott ‘You will defend this position to the last man and the last round.’ The CO returned to Bn HQ and was greeted with the radio message. ‘Major Elliott has just been killed.’ Spontaneously the CO said ‘He can’t be – I’ve just spoken to him.’ Russell had been killed by a shell bursting overhead in a tree. He had led his company across 2,000 yards of mine fields at Alamein, survived the drive to Tunis, the landing at Salerno, the drive across the Volturno and the Normandy landings. As they said in the First World War ‘His number was on it.’ [A roving Tiger tank was causing problems and] Brigade whistled up an M4 – a self-propelled 17-pounder on a tank chassis commanded by a rather jolly lieutenant (Norfolk Yeomanry) – a weapon which looked most impressive and turned out to be so. Some 20 minutes later the lieutenant, even jollier, described how he had stalked the Tiger up and down the hedge and knocked it out. Sure enough I went to inspect it – a grisly sight, burnt out with the tank commander’s body draped over the turret, minus the jacket.

On 19 June the BBC Home Service broadcast a radio programme about the division, and on the 22nd Lieutenant-Colonel Rankin arrived to take over command of the unlucky Sharpshooters.

Jack Geddes of the 4th CLY wrote:

I have worn the same clothes for seven days running as have we all but I know they must take us out of battle soon, for we are beginning to reach the limit of our endurance. We must come out of battle to lick our wounds and re-equip. God! … but in Normandy the days are long. It is still summer – the long evenings stretch for ever and the nights are too short.

The imperturbable Brigadier ‘Looney’ Hinde announced that ‘no further purely armoured breakout was contemplated, that 7th AD was in reserve and a hard-slogging infantry battle lay ahead, supported by armour’. He was quite wrong. When Operation Goodwood took place the armour and infantry – desert fashion – fought their own separate battles.

Meanwhile Bill Bellamy, filling a dead man’s shoes like so many other twenty-year-olds that June, became a troop leader in ‘A’ Squadron 8th Hussars. The gunner and wireless operator in the Cromwell were also aged twenty. His troop sergeant was Bill Pritchard:

a solid and capable man who had previous experience in the desert. He was philosophical about it all and was very welcoming and supportive of me. Piff Threlfall, my Squadron Leader, had fought throughout the desert campaign with great distinction. To me he was a demi-god, totally unflappable and I was always prepared to listen to him. I trusted him implicitly and was quite prepared to risk my life for him if he should demand it.

Bill distinguished himself by berating his colonel, Colonel ‘Cuthie’, and Brigadier Hinde, when they visited his front-line troop, because they carelessly strolled diagonally across the fields and thus gave away the 8th Hussars’ positions!

A new arrival to 1/5th Queens from the Ghurkhas, and more recently an instructor with the Army Small Arms Training School, was Major ‘Jack’ Nangle. Brigade Intelligence wanted a fighting patrol sent out to bring back a prisoner for identification:

I was leading the patrol along the hedgerow when I heard the click of a bolt being drawn back, so using my ‘Instinctive Pointing Sense’, I fired a burst from my Sten gun in the direction of the sound. There was a groan and a rush of feet. On investigation we found a German lying dead behind a Spandau. My burst had hit him between the eyes. This showed the value of the IPS!! … so the patrol hoisted the corpse and I grasped his hands round my neck in front of me.


The word “jihad” comes from the Arabic root jahada, meaning “to exert an effort” or “to strive” toward a goal, and the term is often used in the Muslim world in several different ways. Indeed, in the Middle East, “jihad” is often used in social or economic contexts, similar to the West where politicians or newspapers speak about waging a crusade against poverty, homelessness, or illiteracy. The Muslim use of the word “jihad,” however, is often misunderstood in the West, and the common English translation of it as “holy war” is overly simplistic and emphasizes only one of several different aspects of this word.

In its most basic sense, there are two different kinds of jihad: al-jihad al-akbar (the greater struggle or effort) and al-jihad al-asghar (the lesser form of struggle). The greater jihad refers to the internal struggles that all people deal with on a daily basis to be good and honest and to obey the laws of God. The difficulties of living a morally upright life when faced with the world’s constant temptations is the most common use of the term “jihad” in the Islamic world; such a struggle between doing good and avoiding evil is a concept common to all religious traditions and is not unique to Islam.

On the other hand, the lesser jihad refers to the outer, and at times military, struggle in de fense of the true religion, Islam. Just as often, if not more so, the outer, or lesser, jihad can involve simply preaching the faith to unbelievers. But when jihad involves military action, not just anyone can declare what can also be referred to as a jihad of the sword, and there are strict rules for waging such military efforts. At times, the term has been used freely by individuals in the Muslim world who have no authority to declare a jihad but attempt to use religious terminology as a rallying point in furtherance of their own secular political or military agendas, such as Sad dam Hussein’s declaration of a jihad against coalition forces invading Iraq in 1991. In addition, suicide bombers often describe themselves and are reported by the media as waging jihad; however, taking one’s life is forbidden in Islam, just as in Christianity, and thus such incidents should not be considered within the context of struggle for the sake of the religion but rather as an expression of political, social, and/or economic disenfranchisement.

A jihad of the sword can only be declared or sanctioned on the basis of a religious authority, such as a widely recognized Muslim scholar or judge. Modern-day scholars in both the Sunni and Shia traditions agree that such a jihad is only permissible for the purposes of defense. In addition, the lesser jihad is never waged to force conversion to Islam, for Surah (Chapter) 2:256 of the Quran allows for freedom of religion and is translated as saying that “There is no compulsion in religion.”

The religion of Islam spread throughout the Arabian Peninsula and far beyond in the seventh and eighth centuries, eventually extending from Spain and Morocco in the West to as far as north west India in the East by roughly 750. These early centuries witnessed frequent warfare, and the rules established by the religion in governing the conduct of warfare became an effort to exercise some control over these ongoing conflicts. These same rules apply to the exercise of jihad and can be found not only in the Quran but also in the Hadith (the recorded sayings and actions of the Prophet Muhammad) and eventually were incorporated into the corpus of Islamic law. For example, warfare is to be limited to combatants only, and it is not permissible for Muslims involved in any kind of warfare to kill women (except when they take up arms against Muslim armies), children, the elderly, or the injured; to torture or otherwise humiliate prisoners of war (although they can be killed in certain circumstances); or to destroy places of worship, crops, trees, or livestock. In addition, there is a code of honor and behavior that all Muslims must follow that clearly outlines treatment and exchange of prisoners, avoidance of blind revenge or retaliation, and insistence on mandatory peace negotiations at the enemy’s request. Moreover, the jihad must be openly declared, and the enemy must first be given the opportunity to convert to Islam before an attack can be launched.

An example from Islamic history when the lesser jihad, or jihad of the sword, was properly employed for the defense of the religion and pro claimed openly through the appropriate channels can be seen in the wake of the First Crusade. Refugees from Jerusalem, which had been captured and sacked in 1099, fled to Damascus and appeared before the grand qadi (religious judge) of Damascus, Abu Saad al-Harawi, to relate what had happened to the third-holiest city in Islam. The grand qadi then traveled to Baghdad to inform the Abbasid caliph, al-Mustazhir Billah (r. 1094-1118), of these events, and the proclaiming of a jihad against the European invaders soon followed. Although it would take approximately another 50 years for Muslim armies to begin to mount an effective counterattack against the European crusaders, this call for jihad is considered to be the first act of resistance in defense of Islam and its holy sites in Jerusalem during this period.

Rules of the Lesser Jihad

An account demonstrating the rule that jihad of the sword is not allowed for the sake of hatred or blind revenge is found in Book I of the Mathnawi by the Sufi mystical poet Jalal al-Din Rumi (d. 1273) and relates the actions of Ali ibn Abi Talib (d. 661), the nephew and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad. In hand-to-hand combat during a battle in the early days of Islam, Ali overpowered his enemy and threw him to the ground. As a last act of hatred, the opposing soldier spat in Ali’s face. At that point, Ali got up, put away his sword, and refused to kill the man. The enemy soldier expressed surprise and asked Ali why he did not kill him. Ali answered that previously he had been fighting for the truth (al-Haqq) of Islam, but when the soldier spat in his face, he had become angry. Remembering the rule that fighting for the sake of hatred or revenge is not allowed, Ali stopped himself and refused to kill the soldier. The account concludes by saying that Ali’s actions so impressed the enemy warrior that he immediately converted to Islam.

The Greater Jihad

Hadith records that upon returning from a military expedition against Mecca, the Prophet Muham mad told his companions: “We have returned from the lesser Jihad to the Greater Jihad.” In his Masnevi-i Manavi (also known as the Mathnawi), a massive work of spiritual stories and poems in Persian whose title translates as Rhyming Couplets of Profound Spiritual Meaning, Rumi explains the meaning of this story.

“O kings, we have slain the outward enemy, (but) there remains within (us) a worse enemy than he.

To slay this (enemy) is not the work of reason and intelligence; the inward lion is not subdued by the hare.

This carnal self is Hell, and Hell is a dragon (the fire of) which is not diminished by oceans. . . .

When I turned back from the outer warfare, I set my face towards the inner warfare.

We have returned from the lesser Jihad, we are engaged along with the Prophet in the greater Jihad. . . .

Deem of small account the lion (champion) who breaks the ranks (of the enemy): the (true) lion is he that breaks. . . himself.”

The Mathnawi of Jalalu’din Rumi, 8 vols., translated by Reynald A. Nicholson (London: Printed by Cambridge University Press for the Trustees of the “E. J. W. Gibb Memorial,” 1925-1940), 2:76.

Bibliography Cook, David. Understanding Jihad. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2005. Firestone, Reuvan. Jihad: The Origin of Holy War in Islam. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. Johnson, James Turner. The Holy War Idea in West ern and Islamic Traditions. University Park, PA: Penn State University Press, 1997. Khadduri, Majid. War and Peace in the Law of Islam. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1955.

State Armed Forces – Later Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries

In early 1645 Field Marshal Lennard Torstensson led a Swedish army of 9,000 cavalry, 6,000 infantry, and 60 cannon against a Habsburg-Imperial army of 10,000 cavalry, 5,000 infantry, and 26 cannon commanded by Melchior von Hatzfeld. Both armies were com posed of regiments commanded by international colonel-proprietors, who had used their funds or credit to raise and maintain military units. Many of the soldiers in both armies had been in service for ten years or more. The colonel-proprietors and generals in both armies regarded the recruitment of their experienced veterans as a long-term investment, and both were supported in their enterprises by an international network of private credit facilities, munitions manufacturers, food suppliers, and transport contractors. In both cases this elaborate structure was funded through control of the financial resources of entire territories, largely extracted and administered by the military high command. the armies clashed at Jankow in Bohemia, and the Imperial forces, though superior in cavalry, were held and eventually defeated by the Swedes, in part thanks to their artillery.

At the battle of Prague in May 1756, Frederick II of Prussia also faced an Austrian Habsburg army. In this case the Prussians fielded 65,000 troops and 214 cannon against Austrian forces of 62,000 and 177 cannon. While both armies contained mercenary units, the bulk of the forces were raised under the authority of the state. Prussia’s rulers had adopted conscription early in the eighteenth century, as had the Austrian Habsburgs following the military disasters of the 1730s and 1740s. The state had assumed direct responsibility for the training, upkeep, and support of the armies, and in both the officers now served less as entrepreneurs, more as employees of the state. As at Jankow the result was a defeat for the Austrians, but the battle was extraordinarily costly, a pyrrhic victory for the Prussians, who suffered even heavier casualties than their opponents.

These two battles might be used as case studies to demonstrate the evolution of armed forces in the long century separating the end of the Thirty Years War from the Revolutionary Wars of the 1790s; they frame a style of warfare and of military force which may readily be identified with the dynastic states of the Ancien Régime. Yet while it is true that changes in scale, organization, technology, and tactics certainly took place both within land forces and at sea over this long century, it is important to avoid both oversimplifying the causes and exaggerating the extent of change. Above all, this period was not simply a story of the rise of modern forces controlled by the state overcoming a backward and ineffectual semi private military system whose origins stretched back to the condottieri of renaissance Italy. The fierce and protracted fighting at Jankow provides a characteristic demonstration of the military qualities of privatized military forces, while the broader conduct of the 1645 campaign revealed operational skills of a high order. This effectiveness reflected the organizational and operational priorities of the military enterprisers themselves: small, high-quality, and extremely mobile campaigning armies-hence the very large proportions of cavalry- sustained on a broad base of territorial occupation and tax extraction, whose operations were carefully linked to an assessment of logistical and other support systems funded by these war taxes or `contributions’. The same was true of navies, shaped by a combination of private and public initiatives in which a number of the largest warships were built and maintained by the ruler at direct charge to the state, but many more ships were built by subjects at their own cost and risk, commanded by captains whose main contribution to the war effort would be privateering activity, loosely integrated into collective naval operations. Such systems delivered impressive military results; they were also well-adapted to the needs and character of the early modern state. Military organization reflected a relationship between relatively weak central state power and the willingness of elites within and outside of particular societies to mobilize resources to provide military force on behalf of those states. It offered substantial incentives-financial, political, and social-to those members of the elites prepared to involve themselves in military activity, and who could mobilize resources considerably more effectively than rulers and their limited state administrations.

That said, the coming of peace at Münster and Osnabrück in 1648, then finally a settlement between France and Spain in 1659, did mark a turning point, and the emergence of a set of organizational and political compromises that defined the distinctive character of Ancien Régime armed forces. It was not, in general, that military enterprise was considered to have been a failure, but rulers nonetheless turned self-consciously back towards an ideal of direct control and maintenance of their armed forces. Tis was partly a matter of ideology: the ruler’s self-projection as a roi de guerre, whose sovereignty was explicitly linked to personal control of his armed forces and the waging of war, made military enterprise appear an undermining of that sovereign authority. Moreover, while necessity in time of war could justify the collection of heavy taxes by the military itself, with the coming of peace it was less disruptive for the state and its agents to resume tax collection, especially as many rulers came out of the Thirty Years War with a clearer awareness of the taxable potential of their subjects. In France in the 1660s, despite the return of peace and a modest retrenchment of the main land tax, overall tax levels were kept at wartime levels.

Initially the objective of establishing military force under the direct control of the ruler, paid for from tax revenues collected and distributed by his administration, seemed attainable. The military reforms of Louis XIV’s France in the decade after 1660 provide the paradigm for this reassertion of state control. More effective management of state finances and tax collection-considerably easier in a period of external peace and internal order-provided the basis on which a permanent army of around 55,000 troops could be created and funded, and allowed for the development of a virtually new navy and its support facilities. The army, in particular, was characterized by a much more intrusive administration under the aegis of the war ministers Michel Le Tellier and his son, the Marquis de Louvois. Codified regulations that were actually enforced, reasonable standards of discipline, especially with regard to civilian populations, and an insistence on external oversight of recruitment quality, equipment, and drill, all transformed the army into what was widely seen as an adjunct of royal authority and sovereignty. Such military initiatives were not merely the prerogative of the major powers: a similar bid to maintain and increase tax levels to sustain the army of Brandenburg Prussia had created a peacetime army of 14,000 men under the direct control of the Elector by 1667.

This ideal of armies which were closely linked to the direct financial resources of the state, and of a manageable scale where central administration-a Bureau de la guerre or a Kriegskommissariat-could exercise a high degree of control and supervision over troop and officer recruitment, provisioning, discipline, and deployment, was a realistic target for the Ancien Régime state. Moreover, the forces that could be fielded through such direct systems of control and support were not necessarily limited to the comparatively small bodies assembled in the aftermath of the Thirty Years War; these were frequently envisaged as a nucleus of larger forces that would be raised in wartime, whether through recruitment at home or foreign mercenaries. The growth of state administration, both in numbers of personnel and the range of their activities and procedures, is an all-but universal phenomenon of the later seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. So, to some extent, is a steady increase in the burden of taxes that rulers could impose on their-usually unprivileged-subjects. Hemmed in by dependence on parliamentary grants for extraordinary tax revenues, even Charles II and James II of England were able to use their direct control over the growing and better-administered revenues from customs and excise to fund a standing army which grew from 15,000 in 1670 to something over 30,000 men in late 1688. So post-1650, rulers could in theory look to maintaining and controlling armies and navies that were compatible with their growing share of state resources and the developing range and sophistication of their administrations.

However, this was not how the armies of the Ancien Régime developed in practice. What occurred instead was a process in which the demands of armies and navies, and especially their costs, outstripped the capacity of the state to meet them. It was not, in most cases, a consciously-sought development, and its impact was largely counterproductive in terms of the effectiveness of armed forces. As so often in military history, the waging of war was driven forward by its own dynamic; once the self-regulatory and self-limiting style of entrepreneurial warfare had been abandoned, the road was opened to a type of armed force and style of combat which overwhelmed the resources of the state and led to military stagnation and a variety of political and social tensions through the later seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

One factor in this transformation was military technology. The gradual introduction from the 1680s of muskets equipped with a cheap but reliable flintlock mechanism replaced the older weapons in which the charge in the musket’s breech was ignited by applying a piece of lighted, slow-burning match. Virtually simultaneous with this was the development of the ring-bayonet, providing the musketeer with both an offensive and defensive weapon. The traditional infantry elite, the pikemen, whose solid presence had both served to protect reloading and vulnerable musketeers from the shock of cavalry or charging infantry, and had themselves proved a formidable offensive arm, were almost entirely phased out by the early eighteenth century. Although a standardized, flintlock- and bayonet-armed infantry may be thought to usher in an era of warfare dominated by the massed firepower of infantry, in fact musketry remained grossly ineffective: poor production qualities, limited range, and minimal accuracy were com pounded by a rate of fire that by the standards of industrialized warfare remained cripplingly slow even in the best-drilled units. In fact, firepower did transform the battlefield, but it was developments in artillery which were the key. Tough the basic technology of the muzzle-loaded field gun remained unchanged through this period, better casting, lighter barrels and carriages, more mobility, and standardization led to a huge increase in the numbers of artillery deployed on the battlefield: perhaps most significant, these improvements led to the proliferation of more mobile medium-weight guns, the nine- to twelve-pound field pieces which dominated the battlefields of Europe until the mid-nineteenth century. From the Thirty Years War with a couple of dozen guns on either side, though to an engagement like Malplaquet (1709) with 100 Allied guns against 60 French, to Torgau (1760) where 360 Austrian field guns were deployed against 320 Prussian, the role of the artillery was ever more central to the battlefield and the siege. Massive concentrations of artillery fire, equipped with a fearsome range of anti-personnel missiles, blasted infantry and cavalry formations alike.

These changes had some paradoxical consequences for tactics and deployment on the battlefield. The effectiveness of artillery led to a further increase in the numbers of gun crews and officers, but an obvious response to this greater lethality was an attempt to get larger forces, principally more infantry, onto the battlefield. Yet the infantry massed on the battlefield were not merely subject to slaughter by opposing artillery; the thinning out of the infantry line, which by the mid-eighteenth century was three rows deep and whose only defence after a handful of musket rounds was the bayonet, also made them much more vulnerable to cavalry. As many astute commanders recognized, the battle-winning arm, given that the artillery could not exploit the advantages that its firepower created, remained the cavalry. Yet cavalry as a proportion of armies declined steadily in the century from 1660 to 1760, from around one-third to around one-quarter of the total combatants. Military logic might have suggested a great increase in the proportions of cavalry, especially light forces of the sort that had been typical of eastern European warfare for centuries, but military budgets ensured that the cavalry remained underdeveloped.

The proliferation of artillery also had a drastic impact on siege warfare, seen since the late sixteenth century as the most typical form of combat, and another reason why the battlefield advantages brought by more cavalry could be downplayed. After decades in which artillery-resistant fortifications had proved an intractable challenge to besieging armies, the numbers of guns that could be assembled for a siege in the later wars of Louis XIV finally tipped the balance in favour of the offensive. Sieges of major fortified places in the sixteenth and earlier seventeenth century had been won through a haphazard, lengthy, and expensive process of blockade, the defeat of enemy relief forces and occasionally either mining or direct assault, rather than by artillery barrage and breach. This was superseded by methodical prescriptions for conducting a siege by parallel trenches dug progressively closer to the fortifications, and protected from the defenders’ fire by zig-zag communication lines. Using these trenches to move artillery further forward, the fortifications and their defenders would be progressively ground into surrender. The only response was that pioneered by the French fortification-genius Marshal Vauban, whose pré carré provided a massive proliferation of state-of-the-art fortifications in a deep defensive barrier stretching along the French frontiers. Individual fortresses could be taken, but as the commanders of the Allied armies, Marlborough and Eugene of Savoy, were to discover in their campaigns after 1708, the time and cost required to take out a sufficient block of such fortified places reduced their invasion of France to a slow, attritional frontier struggle. On the defensive (down)side, the costs of building and then of garrisoning and maintaining such fortification systems was immense. Moreover, experiences such as Maurice de Saxe’s campaign in the Austrian Netherlands in the 1740s cast doubt even on these massive fortress systems as a means to ensure defensive security. The strongest fortifications were unlikely to hold out if it was clear to the fortress commanders that there was no supporting army in the field capable of driving off the besieging forces.

Artillery had the capacity to transform battlefields and sieges into more lethal spaces than hitherto, but one part of this capacity would reflect the rigorous training of artillery crews in maneuvering guns, and above all in loading, firing, and reloading them as rap idly as possible. Tis drew upon a much broader seam of organizational and, to an extent, social change: such effective fire would be best achieved, it was considered, by the imposition of a mechanical sequence of procedures on the gunners, learnt by rote and taught by rigorous practice and discipline. And to an even larger extent this would be the requirement for the infantry. If the musket/bayonet combination was to approach its (limited) maximum potential as a battlefield technology, then rates of fire needed to be optimized, as did the way in which firepower was deployed through a unit of soldiers, and the way that the unit was to maneuver to defend itself or to exploit changing battle field circumstances. The means to achieve this was through drill. Formal drill became the raison d’etre of infantry training, imposed uniformly on cohesive groups of soldiers from the day of recruitment throughout their military careers. For drill to achieve mechanically disciplined, rapidly responsive, and cohesive infantry, more than a few weeks in a training camp were needed. The Marquis de Chamlay commented that whereas it was possible to have good cavalry troopers within a year of their enlistment, it took a minimum of five to six years to produce infantry who could deploy disciplined fire without losing cohesion.

Three consequences stemmed from the development of drill. First, the time and expense involved was too great to allow the soldiers to go back into civilian life after a few years of service. Volunteers, as in France, Britain, and some of the German states, were contracted and compelled to stay in service sometimes for decades. Where conscription was introduced, adult male populations might benefit from relatively enlightened systems such as the Prussian, or the Swedish Indelningsverk, whereby after initial training the men were kept militarily effective by regular drill camps but otherwise allowed to pursue their civilian lives. Elsewhere they could be subject to more brutal demands, as in Peter the Great’s Russia, where a proportion of the servants and tenants of the landowning class were simply conscripted for life. Conscription in its various forms became a characteristic of the Ancien Régime state; by the 1690s even France started to use the compulsory local service of provincial militias as a `feeder-system’ for the regular army. A second consequence was that the very long service required of conscripts and volunteers made soldiers more prone to desert. In consequence, military authorities sought to keep soldiers under close supervision. Typically, segregation from the civilian population was adopted as the most effective means to oversee enlisted soldiers, and when feasible this led to their confinement in purpose-built barracks. Both these factors contributed to a third: service as a common soldier lost any remaining social standing. While in the Thirty Years War veterans had seen themselves, and had been treated, as the equivalent of skilled workers, the Ancien Régime soldiers, often separated from the civil population and subordinated to a harsh military code, were relegated to the lowest status. A vicious circle developed in which low social esteem made recruitment more difficult, and encouraged the NCOs and officers to treat their men with even more brutal discipline and greater contempt.

Yet the transformation most evident in Ancien Régime armed forces was that of numbers and scale. Even the most exaggerated assertions about the size of armies raised in the century before 1650-most of which have no foundation in army rolls or muster details, and all of which ignore fluctuations between and within campaigns-are still dwarfed by the scale of the war effort sustained by armies and navies from the 1690s onwards.

To some extent the technological and consequent organizational change indicated above could account for an upward pressure on the scale of armed forces, and perhaps especially the size of forces concentrated on the battlefield. But it would not of itself have generated the growth in military establishments on the scale seen in the decades from the 1680s to the eighteenth century. The great increases in this period were not primarily driven by military factors and their implications, but were a consequence of the conduct of international politics. Louis XIV’s inept and threatening diplomacy throughout the 1680s drew France inexorably towards a war against a coalition of every other major west-central European power. Holding her own against this alliance after 1688 required an unparalleled military effort. France’s enemies responded with a scale of mobilization which would collectively match and surpass the 340,000 soldiers and 150,000 tonnes of naval force that France managed to throw into the struggle. Military expansion moved eastwards in the mid-eighteenth century, where the triangular contest between Prussia, Austria, and Russia in the decades after 1740 had the same effect on army growth. Frederick II inherited an army of 80,000 in 1740, but the wars over Silesia pushed this up to 200,000. Austrian military expansion following the disasters of the 1740s was no less impressive, while exploitation of lifetime conscription ensured that Russia overtook all other European states in military manpower. The final driver of military-this time naval-expansion was European colonial and trade rivalry and warfare, and above all the determination of the British to maintain oceanic naval supremacy over any other European power. The Royal Navy, which reached a peak of 196,000 tonnes in 1700, underwent progressive increases through the 1750s when the total rose through 276,000 tonnes up to 473,000 tonnes by 1790. This increase in the size of British naval force was not surpassed by any other European power, but the attempt to build forces that were at least comparable stimulated naval growth throughout the eighteenth century. Whether this reflected the ambition of combined French and Spanish Bourbon fleets to challenge the British in the Atlantic, or concerned the exercise of naval power by Russia and the Scandinavian powers in the Baltic, the net effect was a steady growth in the size of naval forces, and for most states this naval growth moved in step with demands for massive land forces.

Yet European powers in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries proved able to sustain these increases; states did not collapse under the burden of maintaining armed forces. It is not easy to explain this in terms of rising prosperity, demographic, or economic growth. For in west-central Europe the biggest military increases coincided with a long period of economic stagnation from 1650 to 1720/30. In this later seventeenth and early eighteenth century, Britain and the United Provinces were exceptional in achieving broad-based economic growth. France and the German or Italian states saw ever-more troops and revenues being extracted from peoples barely able to meet these demands. In contrast, it was certainly the case that from the 1730s European rulers began to benefit from economic and demographic growth. Economic progress fostered technological improvement and cheaper production of military goods such as reliable cast-iron cannon for both navies and land armies. A mid-century transformation of agriculture allowed more efficient land-use, which had effects on military operations through a steady growth in the populations which provided army and navy personnel. But the largest military expansion had occurred before these advantages came into play, in states whose economies remained depressed and limited.

Because the huge growth in military force achieved by rulers like Louis XIV, Charles XI of Sweden, Frederick-Wilhelm I of Prussia could not be attributed to expanding economic and demographic potential, a traditional and now easily-derided response was to shroud the process in a mysterious and frequently circular set of assertions about the personal power and capability of `absolutist’ monarchs. A slightly more plausible interpretation argued that this military growth was the result of growing bureaucratic and governmental effectiveness. Better-assessed taxes collected under the threat of military coercion allowed further tax increases, which in turn made possible further growth in the armed forces. Armed forces and central authority are assumed to grow in a single, internally-cohesive process. It is indisputable that the character of Ancien Régime armies would have been very different without the developing administrative competence and greater coercive power of the states concerned. The Austrian military reforms of the 1740s were the result of military experience working within an increasingly effective administration, while Frederick II’s comments on the differences between Prussia and (unreformed) Austria stress the importance of administrative capacity: `I have seen small states able to maintain themselves against the greatest monarchies, when these states possessed industry and great order in their affairs. I find that large empires, fertile in abuses, are full of confusion and only are sustained by their vast resources, and the intrinsic weight of the body.’

Nevertheless, improvements in administration, better accountability, and more efficient collection and use of tax revenues would not alone have allowed Louis XIV in the early 1690s to support an army of 340,000 men and a navy of at least 30,000 sailors, any more than in 1740 would it have allowed Frederick William I of Prussia to maintain a standing army of 80,000 troops. Substantial elements of the costs of war were still met by extorting war taxes from occupied lands and from foreign subsidies such as those provided by Britain to Frederick William I. Both helped to maintain larger forces than could have been supported from native resources, but for the most part they were factors that operated only in wartime. And as the Swedes discovered to their cost in the aftermath of 1648, supporting troops at the cost of neighbouring states or through subsidies from powerful, self-interested paymasters, could involve a heavy political and military price.

Phalanx vs Legion: Battle of Cynoscephalae

The earliest Roman ventures across the Adriatic had occurred before the Second Punic War. The First and Second Illyrian Wars (229–228 and 221–219 BC) had been fought ostensibly to suppress piracy, but the interference with a minor state in Macedonia’s backyard had alarmed King Philip V sufficiently for him to form an alliance with Hannibal in 215 BC. The First Macedonian War (215–205 BC) proved a damp squib, however: Philip never sent support to Hannibal in Italy, and the Romans left their Aetolian allies to fight alone in Greece. But this reflected not pusillanimity on Philip’s part so much as his preoccupation with the Aegean – where his war with Pergamum and Rhodes provided a pretext for Roman intervention against him in 200 BC. The alliance with Hannibal, and his wars against fellow Greeks, including Roman allies, made it easy enough to portray Philip’s Macedonia as a dangerous ‘rogue state’.

In fact, Philip was no threat to Roman interests. The very fact that he did not send troops to Italy in the wake of Cannae is proof enough of that; Philip’s fighting front was to the south and the south-east, not towards the Adriatic. The Roman decision to back Pergamum and Rhodes and intervene in an eastern war was an act of aggression. Significantly, when the consul to whom responsibility for Macedonia had been given proposed a declaration of war, the Assembly of the Centuries turned it down. When he next summoned the assembly, he deployed a new concept: that of pre-emptive aggression against a would-be (and in fact imaginary) enemy. The decision was not ‘whether you will choose war or peace; for Philip will not leave the choice open to you, seeing that he is actively preparing for unlimited hostilities on land and sea. What you are asked to decide is whether you will transport legions to Macedonia or allow the enemy into Italy; and the difference this makes is a matter of your own experience in the recent Punic Wars … It took Hannibal four months to reach Italy from Saguntum; but Philip, if we let him, will arrive four days after he sets sail from Corinth.’ The Assembly now voted for war. A real hatred of the draft had been overcome by an invented fear of invasion. For invented it was, the speciousness of the consul’s argument apparent from the most superficial review of the events of the Second Macedonian War (200–196 BC). The largest Roman army sent to Greece was only 30,000 strong – a mere 2.5 per cent of Rome’s total military manpower, or 7 per cent of her maximum mobilized strength in the Second Punic War. Yet this small army was sufficient to bring Macedonia to defeat – a defeat Philip anticipated judging by his interim peace offers and initial avoidance of battle. Hannibal, by contrast, had destroyed a Roman army of 80,000 – and still lost the war. These simple calculations demonstrate how suicidal a Macedonian invasion of Italy would in reality have been: doubly so, since not only would the invaders have been crushed, but Philip’s kingdom would meantime have been overrun by his enemies in Greece.

The first two years of the war were inconclusive, but in the spring of 197 BC Titus Quinctius Flamininus invaded Thessaly, and Philip, finally resolved to risk battle rather than prolong a war of attrition he knew he could not win, marched towards him with 25,000 men. The ground was unsuitable for battle where the armies first met, and both withdrew along parallel routes separated by low hills, each soon unaware of the other’s progress. A messy encounter battle then developed unexpectedly at Cynoscephalae when Macedonian and Roman detachments clashed in the mist on the heights overlooking a pass between the main armies. As more units were drawn into the fight for the high ground, a general engagement began. The Macedonian right reached the top of the pass before the Romans. When Philip saw this, he ordered the right phalanx to close up into a deep formation, increasing its shock power, and then to charge. Flamininus, seeing the desperate struggle that had begun on the Roman left, ordered in turn an attack by his right, which struck the left phalanx before it was properly deployed and routed it. The battle divided into separate halves, with the Macedonian right pushing down one slope, the Roman right down the other, such that a wide gap opened. At this point, a Roman military tribune seized the initiative. Taking the 20 maniples of triarii forming the rear line of the legions on the right, he reformed them and charged into the rear of the phalanx attacking the Roman left. The effect was devastating. The right phalanx was also routed. The battle had been hard-fought but decisive. About 8,000 Macedonians had been killed and 5,000 captured for a loss of 700 Romans. Philip V’s only army had been destroyed and he was compelled to make peace.

The battle of Cynoscephalae in 197BC was also fought up and over high ground which Plutarch describes as ‘the sharp tops of hills lying close beside each other’. Polybius calls the ridge ‘rough, precipitous and of considerable height’. Pietrykowski calls the ridge upon which the battle was fought ‘a true liability’ to the ‘ponderous phalanx’. Morgan, on the other hand, points out that the terrain does not seem to have been a deciding factor in the outcome of the battle.⁶⁰ Both of these claims seem to be only partially correct as, depending upon the exact nature of the ground on certain parts of the ridge, the phalanx was either hindered (which ultimately led to its defeat) or not.

The Macedonian army of Philip V, and the Roman army of Titus Flaminius, were both encamped on either side of the ridge at Cynoscephalae. Philip is said to have considered the ground unsuitable and unfavourable for a major engagement but, following initial contact and skirmishing between advance units from both sides, and the receipt of favourable reports from the ridge above which stated that the Romans were in retreat, Philip began to commit more troops to the action including elements of his pike-phalanx. Units of Philip’s right-wing phalanx surmounted the ridge at a run: a manoeuvre which must have necessitated their pikes being held vertically. Livy says that, once in position and arranged in double depth, the phalangites were ordered to drop their pikes and fight with swords because the length of the weapons was a hindrance. Both Polybius and Plutarch, on the other hand, state that the phalanx engaged with its pikes lowered. Indeed, there are several reasons why Livy’s account should be considered incorrect in this matter. Firstly, Livy later states that the phalanx was unable to turn about to face an attack from the rear. While this is true of a phalanx with its pikes lowered, it can be easily accomplished by one just fighting with swords. This suggests that the Macedonians were using the sarissa. Secondly, Livy also states that, at the end of the battle, parts of the phalanx signalled their surrender by raising their pikes. It is unlikely that the members of the phalanx had put away their swords, picked up their pikes – which would have been somewhere uphill behind them as the sources all state that the Macedonian right wing pushed the Romans down the slope – and then used them to signal their surrender. It is more likely that the phalanx had been using their pikes all along.

The phalanx units on the Macedonian right wing effectively engaged the Romans using the advantages of the high ground to their fullest. Plutarch states that the Romans facing these units could not withstand their attack. It was a different story on the Macedonian left, however, and it was in this quarter that the nature of the terrain may have hampered (and eventually defeated) the pike-phalanx. Livy says that additional pike units were brought up in column – a formation he says is better suited to a march than a battle – rather than in extended line. The ground here may have been more broken than on the right and this caused large gaps to open in the phalanx as it deployed: gaps which the more mobile Roman maniples were able to exploit to defeat the Macedonian left and then swing around to attack the remaining units on the Macedonian right. Polybius states that this fracture of the phalanx on the left was due to some units already being engaged, others only just making the top of the ridge, while others were in position but were not advancing down the hill. Interestingly, none of these factors have much to do with the nature of the terrain itself and, as such, the extent to which the ground caused the fragmentation of the Macedonian line at Cynoscephalae cannot be conclusively determined. However, it seems clear that it is not the incline of the battlefield which is a hindrance to the operation of the pike-phalanx, but whether or not the line can be maintained on the terrain that the battle is fought upon. This again goes against Polybius’ claim that the phalanx could only operate on ‘flat’ ground.

Polybius was fascinated by the clash between phalanx and legion. The whole fate of the Hellenistic world – his world – had seemed to hinge on it. The outcome appeared paradoxical, for the compact formation and projecting pikes of the phalanx meant that in close-quarters combat each Roman legionary, fighting in a much more open formation, faced no less than ten spear-points. ‘What is the factor which enables the Romans to win the battle and causes those who use the phalanx to fail? The answer is that in war the times and places for action are unlimited, whereas the phalanx requires one time and one type of ground only in order to produce its peculiar effect.’ Broken ground disordered the phalanx, creating fatal gaps in the hedge of pikes. To be effective, it had to operate in a large block, making it slow, cumbersome and unresponsive to a changing battlefield situation. The Roman formation, by contrast, was flexible and mobile. While part could pin a phalanx frontally, other parts could manoeuvre to attack flank and rear. ‘Every Roman soldier, once he is armed and goes into action, can adapt himself equally well to any place or time and meet an attack from any quarter. He is likewise equally well-prepared and needs to make no change whether he has to fight with the main body or with a detachment, in maniples or singly.’ Cynoscephalae illustrated these dictums. It showed that the legions were coming of age, that a complex evolution of the Roman military tradition under Etruscan, Greek, Samnite, Gaulish, Punic and Spanish influence was now producing the finest fighting formations in the ancient world.