Infantry is the branch of an army that engages in military combat on foot, distinguished from cavalry and tank forces. Known as foot soldiers, infantry traditionally relies on moving by foot between combats as well, but may use mounts, military vehicles, or other transport. Infantry make up a large portion of all armed forces in most nations, bear the largest brunt in warfare, as measured by casualties, deprivation, or physical and psychological stress; the first military forces in history were infantry. In antiquity, infantry were armed with an early melee weapon such as a spear, axe or sword, or an early ranged weapon like a javelin, sling, or bow, with a few infantrymen having both a melee and a ranged weapon. With the development of gunpowder, infantry began converting to firearms. By the time of Napoleonic warfare, infantry and artillery formed a basic triad of ground forces, though infantry remained the most numerous. With armoured warfare, armoured fighting vehicles have replaced the horses of cavalry, airpower has added a new dimension to ground combat, but infantry remains pivotal to all modern combined arms operations.
Infantry have much greater local situational awareness than other military forces, due to their inherent intimate contact with the battlefield. Infantry can more recognise and respond to local conditions and changing enemy weapons or tactics, they can operate in a wide range of terrain inaccessible to military vehicles, can operate with a lower logistical burden. Infantry are the most delivered forces to ground combat areas, by simple and reliable marching, or by trucks, sea or air transport, they can be augmented with a variety of crew-served weapons, armoured personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles. In English, use of the term infantry began about the 1570s, describing soldiers who march and fight on foot; the word derives from Middle French infanterie, from older Italian infanteria, from Latin īnfāns, from which English gets infant. The individual-soldier term infantryman was not coined until 1837. In modern usage, foot soldiers of any era are now considered infantrymen. From the mid-18th century until 1881 the British Army named its infantry as numbered regiments "of Foot" to distinguish them from cavalry and dragoon regiments.
Infantry equipped with special weapons were named after that weapon, such as grenadiers for their grenades, or fusiliers for their fusils. These names can persist long after the weapon speciality. More in modern times, infantry with special tactics are named for their roles, such as commandos, snipers and militia. Dragoons were created. However, if light cavalry was lacking in an army, any available dragoons might be assigned their duties. Conversely, starting about the mid-19th century, regular cavalry have been forced to spend more of their time dismounted in combat due to the ever-increasing effectiveness of enemy infantry firearms, thus most cavalry transitioned to mounted infantry. As with grenadiers, the dragoon and cavalry designations can be retained long after their horses, such as in the Royal Dragoon Guards, Royal Lancers, King's Royal Hussars. Motorised infantry have trucks and other unarmed vehicles for non-combat movement, but are still infantry since they leave their vehicles for any combat.
Most modern infantry have vehicle transport, to the point where infantry being motorised is assumed, the few exceptions might be identified as modern light infantry, or "leg infantry" colloquially. Mechanised infantry go beyond motorised, having transport vehicles with combat abilities, armoured personnel carriers, providing at least some options for combat without leaving their vehicles. In modern infantry, some APCs have evolved to be infantry fighting vehicles, which are transport vehicles with more substantial combat abilities, approaching those of light tanks; some well-equipped mechanised infantry can be designated as armoured infantry. Given that infantry forces also have some tanks, given that most armoured forces have more mechanised infantry units than tank units in their organisation, the distinction between mechanised infantry and armour forces has blurred; the terms "infantry", "armour", "cavalry" used in the official names for military units like divisions, brigades, or regiments might be better understood as a description of their expected balance of defensive and mobility roles, rather than just use of vehicles.
Some modern mechanised infantry units are termed cavalry or armoured cavalry though they never had horses, to e
Cavalry or horsemen are soldiers or warriors who fight mounted on horseback. Cavalry were the most mobile of the combat arms. An individual soldier in the cavalry is known by a number of designations such as cavalryman, dragoon, or trooper; the designation of cavalry was not given to any military forces that used other animals, such as camels, mules or elephants. Infantry who moved on horseback, but dismounted to fight on foot, were known in the 17th and early 18th centuries as dragoons, a class of mounted infantry which evolved into cavalry proper while retaining their historic title. Cavalry had the advantage of improved mobility, a man fighting from horseback had the advantages of greater height and inertial mass over an opponent on foot. Another element of horse mounted warfare is the psychological impact a mounted soldier can inflict on an opponent; the speed and shock value of the cavalry was appreciated and exploited in armed forces in the Ancient and Middle Ages. In Europe cavalry became armoured, became known for the mounted knights.
During the 17th century cavalry in Europe lost most of its armor, ineffective against the muskets and cannon which were coming into use, by the mid-19th century armor had fallen into disuse, although some regiments retained a small thickened cuirass that offered protection against lances and sabres and some protection against shot. In the period between the World Wars, many cavalry units were converted into motorized infantry and mechanized infantry units, or reformed as tank troops. However, some cavalry still served during World War II, notably in the Red Army, the Mongolian People's Army, the Royal Italian Army, the Romanian Army, the Polish Land Forces, light reconnaissance units within the Waffen SS. Most cavalry units that are horse-mounted in modern armies serve in purely ceremonial roles, or as mounted infantry in difficult terrain such as mountains or forested areas. Modern usage of the term refers to units performing the role of reconnaissance and target acquisition. In many modern armies, the term cavalry is still used to refer to units that are a combat arm of the armed forces which in the past filled the traditional horse-borne land combat light cavalry roles.
These include scouting, skirmishing with enemy reconnaissance elements to deny them knowledge of own disposition of troops, forward security, offensive reconnaissance by combat, defensive screening of friendly forces during retrograde movement, restoration of command and control, battle handover and passage of lines, relief in place, breakout operations, raiding. The shock role, traditionally filled by heavy cavalry, is filled by units with the "armored" designation. Before the Iron Age, the role of cavalry on the battlefield was performed by light chariots; the chariot originated with the Sintashta-Petrovka culture in Central Asia and spread by nomadic or semi-nomadic Indo-Iranians. The chariot was adopted by settled peoples both as a military technology and an object of ceremonial status by the pharaohs of the New Kingdom of Egypt as well as the Assyrian army and Babylonian royalty; the power of mobility given by mounted units was recognized early on, but was offset by the difficulty of raising large forces and by the inability of horses to carry heavy armor.
Cavalry techniques were an innovation of equestrian nomads of the Central Asian and Iranian steppe and pastoralist tribes such as the Iranic Parthians and Sarmatians. The photograph above left shows Assyrian cavalry from reliefs of 865–860 BC. At this time, the men had no spurs, saddle cloths, or stirrups. Fighting from the back of a horse was much more difficult than mere riding; the cavalry acted in pairs. At this early time, cavalry used swords and bows; the sculpture implies two types of cavalry. Images of Assyrian cavalry show saddle cloths as primitive saddles, allowing each archer to control his own horse; as early as 490 BC a breed of large horses was bred in the Nisaean plain in Media to carry men with increasing amounts of armour, but large horses were still exceptional at this time. By the fourth century BC the Chinese during the Warring States period began to use cavalry against rival states, by 331 BC when Alexander the Great defeated the Persians the use of chariots in battle was obsolete in most nations.
The last recorded use of chariots as a shock force in continental Europe was during the Battle of Telamon in 225 BC. However, chariots remained in use for ceremonial purposes such as carrying the victorious general in a Roman triumph, or for racing. Outside of mainland Europe, the southern Britons met Julius Caesar with chariots in 55 and 54 BC, but by the time of the Roman conquest of Britain a century chariots were obsolete in Britannia; the last mention of chariot use in Britain was by the Caledonians at the Mons Graupius, in 84 AD. During the classical Greek period cavalry were limited to those citizens who could afford expensive war-horses. Three types of cavalry became common: light cavalry, whose riders, armed with javelins, could harass and skirmish.
Defensive fighting position
A defensive fighting position is a type of earthwork constructed in a military context large enough to accommodate anything from one soldier to a fire team. Tobruk type positions are named after the system of defensive positions constructed by the Italian Army at Tobruk, Libya. After Tobruk fell to the Allies in January 1941, the existing positions were modified and expanded by the Australian Army which, along with other Allied forces, reused them in the Siege of Tobruk. A foxhole is one type of defensive strategic position, it is a "small pit used for cover for one or two personnel, so constructed that the occupants can fire from it". It is known more within United States Army slang as a "fighting position" or as a "ranger grave", it is known as a "fighting hole" in the United States Marine Corps, a "gun-pit" in Australian Army terminology, a "fighting pit" in the New Zealand Army. In British and Canadian military argot it equates to a range of terms including slit trench, or fire trench, a sangar or shell scrape, or simply—but less accurately—as a "trench".
During the American Civil War the term "rifle pit" was recognized by both U. S. Army and Confederate Army forces. A protected emplacement or concealed post in which one or several machine guns are set up is known in U. S. English as a machine gun nest. During the fighting in North Africa, U. S. forces employed the shell scrape. This was a shallow excavation allowing one soldier to lie horizontally while shielding his body from nearby shell bursts and small arms fire; the slit trench soon proved inadequate in this role, as the few inches of dirt above the soldier's body could be penetrated by bullets or shell fragments. It exposed the user to assault by enemy tanks, which could crush a soldier inside a shallow slit trench by driving into it making a simple half-turn. After the Battle of Kasserine Pass, U. S. troops adopted the modern foxhole, a vertical, bottle-shaped hole that allowed a soldier to stand and fight with head and shoulders exposed. The foxhole widened near the bottom to allow a soldier to crouch down while under intense artillery fire or tank attack.
Foxholes could be enlarged to two-soldier fighting positions, as well as excavated with firing steps for crew-served weapons or sumps for water drainage or live enemy grenade disposal. The Germans used hardened fortifications in North Africa and in other fortifications, such as the Atlantic Wall, that were in essence foxholes made from concrete; the Germans knew them as Ringstände. The Germans put a turret from an obsolete French or German tank on the foxhole; this gave the gunner protection from shrapnel and small arms. Modern militaries publish and distribute elaborate field manuals for the proper construction of DFPs in stages. A shallow "shell scrape" is dug, much like a shallow grave, which provides limited protection; each stage develops the fighting position increasing its effectiveness, while always maintaining functionality. In this way, a soldier can improve the position over time, while being able to stop at any time and use the position in a fight. A DFP is a pit or trench dug deep enough to stand in, with only the head exposed, a small step at the bottom, called a fire step, that allows the soldier to crouch into to avoid fire and tank treads.
The fire step slopes down into a deeper narrow slit called a grenade sump at the bottom to allow for live grenades to be kicked in to minimize damage from grenade fragments. When possible, DFPs are revetted with star pickets and wire or local substitutes. Ideally, the revetting will be dug in below ground level so as to minimise damage from fire and tank tracks; the revetting helps the DFP resist cave-in from near misses from artillery or mortars and tank tracks. Time permitting, DFPs can be enlarged to allow a machine gun crew and ammunition to be protected, as well as additional overhead cover via timbers. In training, DFPs are dug by hand or in some cases by mechanical trench diggers. On operations, explosives shaped charges, may be used to increase the speed of development. Developing and maintaining DFPs is a constant and ongoing task for soldiers deployed in combat areas. For this reason, in some armies, infantry soldiers are referred to as "gravel technicians", as they spend so much time digging.
Because of the large expenditure in effort and materials required to build a DFP, it is important to ensure that the DFP is sited. In order to site the DFP, the officer in charge should view the ground from the same level that the intended user's weapons will be sighted from; the OIC will need to lie on his belly to obtain the required perspective. This ensures. Pillbox Sangar Spider hole Shell scrape Tett turret Trench warfare All-around defense/Perimeter defense Entrenching tool Westrate, Edwin V.. Forward Observer. New York City: Stratford Press. U. S. WWII Newsmap, "Foxholes are Life Savers", hosted by the UNT Libraries Digital Collections
Military deception refers to attempts to mislead enemy forces during warfare. This is achieved by creating or amplifying an artificial fog of war via psychological operations, information warfare, visual deception and other methods; as a form of strategic use of information, it overlaps with psychological warfare. To the degree that any enemy that falls for the deception will lose confidence when it is revealed, he may hesitate when confronted with the truth. Deception in warfare dates back to early history; the Art of War, an ancient Chinese military treatise, puts great emphasis on the tactic. In modern times military deception has developed as a fledged doctrine. Misinformation and visual deception were employed during World War I and came into greater prominence during World War II. In the buildup to the 1944 invasion of Normandy the Allies executed one of the largest deceptions in military history, Operation Bodyguard, helping them achieve full tactical surprise. Broadly, military deception may take both tactical forms.
Deception across a strategic battlefield was uncommon until the modern age, but tactical deception dates back to early history. In a practical sense military deception employs visual misdirection and psychology to make the enemy believe something, untrue; the use of military camouflage on a large scale, is a form of deception. The Russian loanword maskirovka is used to describe the Soviet Union and Russia's military doctrine of surprise through deception, in which camouflage plays a significant role. There are numerous examples of deception activities employed throughout the history of warfare, such as: Feigned retreat Leading the enemy, through a false sense of security, into a pre-positioned ambush. Fictional units Creating fictional forces, fake units or exaggerating the size of an army. Smoke screen A tactical deception involving smoke, fog, or other forms of concealment to hide battlefield movements or positions. Trojan horse Gaining admittance to a fortified area under false pretences, to admit a larger attacking force.
Strategic envelopment A small force distracts the enemy while a much larger force moves to attack from the rear. A favoured tactic of Napoleon. Deception has been a part of warfare from the dawn of history. At first it fell to individual commanders to develop tactical deception on the battlefield, it was not until the modern era that deception was organised at a high strategic level, as part of entire campaigns or wars. Early examples of military deception exist in the ancient dynasties of China. Hannibal recognised as one of the finest military commanders in history, made extensive use of deception in his campaigns; the Ancient Greeks were noted for several forms of tactical deception. They invented smoke screens during the Peloponnesian War and stories refer to the famous Trojan horse which allowed them to defeat Troy. In his 52 BC conquest of Gaul, Julius Caesar used tactical deception to achieve a crossing of the Allier river, his opponent, shadowed Caesar's force from the opposite bank, contesting any attempted crossing.
Caesar camped overnight in a wood. Once the coast was clear, the hidden forces established a bridgehead. One volume of Roman aristocrat Frontinus's Stratagems, written in the first century AD, deals with deception. Ancient Rome professed to despise the tactic. Opinion on military deception was divided following the fall of the Roman empire; the chivalrous countries in western Europe considered the tactic to be underhanded, whilst Eastern armies considered it a key skill: the Byzantine general Belisarius was noted for using deception against overwhelming odds. For example, during the Gothic War, Belisarius exaggerated his troop sizes first by advancing them in three directions, at night by having his troops light a long chain of campfires; as a result, the much larger army of Goths fled in panic on his approach. The Normans embraced the concept of a feigned retreat. William the Conqueror appears to have used this tactic during the Battle of Hastings, but the actual events are disputed by scholars.
Whatever the truth, the battle has at least been used as a famous example of the tactic. Mongol armies used the feigned withdrawal. Mongol warlords made use of disinformation tactics, spreading rumours about the size and effectiveness of their forces, they made use of visual deception. On the battlefield, the Mongols used many tactical deceptions, from lighting fires as a smokescreen to luring opponents into traps. Other examples of deception occurred during the Crusades. In 1271, Sultan Baybars captured the formidable Krak des Chevaliers by handing the besieged knights a letter from their commander, ordering them to surrender, it was, of course, but the knights duly capitulated. At around the same time, in England, the Welsh Tudors were seeking a revocation of the price that Henry Percy had placed on their heads, they decided to capture Percy's Conwy castle.
Area denial weapon
An area denial weapon or Anti Access/Area Denial weapon system is a device or a strategy used to prevent an adversary from occupying or traversing an area of land, sea or air. The specific method used does not have to be effective in preventing passage as long as it is sufficient to restrict, slow down, or endanger the opponent; some area denial weapons pose long-lasting risks to anyone entering the area to civilians, thus are controversial. In medieval warfare and sturdy stakes were buried at the bottom of long lines of ditches, pointed end up diagonally, in order to prevent cavalry charges in a given area. If the stakes were spotted, soldiers would be forced to dismount and give up their advantage as cavalry as well as becoming easier targets; the correct layout of these extensive lines of ditches and the quality control of stake size and placement was part of the craft of war. A more modern version, allowing quicker dispersal and providing the advantage of being hidden more are caltrops, though items bearing close similarity had been in use for most of antiquity.
Many variants were used, such as boards with metal hooks, as described during battles of Julius Caesar. Passive fortification—ditches and obstacles such as dragon's teeth and Czech hedgehogs—were used as anti-tank measures during World War II. Simple rows or clusters of sharpened sticks, the use of small caltrops have been a feature of anti-infantry warfare since antiquity. However, due to the difficulty of mass-producing them in the pre-modern age, they were used except in the defense of limited areas or chokepoints during sieges, where they were used to help seal breaches. Increasing ease of production still did not prevent these methods from falling out of favor from the late Middle Ages onward. Caltrops are still sometimes used in modern conflicts, such as during the Korean War, where Chinese troops wearing only light shoes, were vulnerable. In modern times, special caltrops are sometimes used against wheeled vehicles with pneumatic tires; some South American urban guerrillas such as the Tupamaros and Montoneros, who called them "miguelitos," have used caltrops to avoid pursuit after ambushes.
The most common planted by hand or dispersed by artillery. Some modern prototypes experiment with automatic guns or artillery-delivered ammunitions that are fired only after remote sensing detects enemies. Booby traps or improvised explosive devices in sufficient concentration qualify as area denial weapons, though they are much easier to clear and pose less long-term danger. During an armed conflict there are several methods of countering land mines; these include using armoured vehicles to negate the effects of anti-personnel land mines. Land mines can be cleared either by hand, or by using specialised equipment such as tanks equipped with flails. Explosives can be used to clear mine fields, either by artillery bombardment, or with specialised charges such as Bangalore torpedoes, the Antipersonnel Obstacle Breaching System and the Python Minefield Breaching System. 156 states are parties to the Ottawa Treaty under which they have agreed not to use, produce or transfer anti-personnel mines. Anti-ship missiles are a modern method of stopping a potential adversary from attacking by sea.
China, North Korea and Iran all have developed or imported such weapons in an effort to develop a modern anti-access or A2/AD strategy to counter modern United States weaponry. In response to China’s pursuit of such A2/AD capabilities, the United States has developed the AirSea Battle doctrine. Amitai Etzioni of the Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies has suggested that AirSea Battle is an escalatory military posture that entails restructuring United States military forces and ordering additional weapons systems, that AirSea Battle could “lead to an arms race with China, which could culminate in a nuclear war.”Other methods of area denial at a strategic level include aircraft carriers, surface-to-air missiles, ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, electronic warfare and interceptor aircraft. Various CBRNE weapons can be used for area denial, as long. Fallout from nuclear weapons might be used in such a role. While never employed in this form, its use had been suggested by Douglas MacArthur during the Korean War.
Anthrax spores can contaminate the ground for long periods of time, thus providing a form of area denial. However, the short-term effects are to be low - the psychological effects on an opponent would be more significant; the massive use of defoliants such as Agent Orange can be used as an interdiction measure because they leave areas empty of any form of vegetation cover. In the desert-like terrain that ensues, it is impossible for the enemy to travel without being seen, there is little cover in case of an attack from the air. Many chemical weapons produce toxic effects on any personnel in an affected area. However, this has no tactical value, as the effects of indirect exposure do not develop fast or enough - though again, the psychological effect upon an enemy aware of the chemical usage may be considerable. There are however some chemical agents that are by design non-degrading, such as the nerve agent VX. Sulfur mustard was extensively used by both German and allied forces on the west front in World War I as an effective area-denial weapon through contaminating large land stripes by extensive shelling with HD/Gelbkreuz ordnance
Deep operation known as Soviet Deep Battle, was a military theory developed by the Soviet Union for its armed forces during the 1920s and 1930s. It was a tenet that emphasized destroying, suppressing or disorganizing enemy forces not only at the line of contact, but throughout the depth of the battlefield; the term comes from Vladimir Triandafillov, an influential military writer, who worked with others to create a military strategy with its own specialized operational art and tactics. The concept of deep operations was a national strategy, tailored to the economic and geopolitical position of the Soviet Union. In the aftermath of several failures or defeats in the Russo-Japanese War, First World War and Polish–Soviet War, the Soviet High Command focused on developing new methods for the conduct of war; this new approach considered military strategy and tactics, but introduced a new intermediate level of military art: operations. The Soviet Union was the first country to distinguish the third level of military thinking which occupied the position between strategy and tactics.
Using these templates, the Soviets developed the concept of deep battle and by 1936 it had become part of the Red Army Field Regulations. Deep operations had two phases. Deep battle envisaged the breaking of the enemy's forward defenses, or tactical zones, through combined arms assaults, which would be followed up by fresh uncommitted mobile operational reserves sent to exploit the strategic depth of an enemy front; the goal of a deep operation was to inflict a decisive strategic defeat on the enemy's logistical abilities and render the defence of their front more difficult, impossible—or, irrelevant. Unlike most other doctrines, deep battle stressed combined arms cooperation at all levels: strategic and tactical. Russian military thinking had changed little over the course of three centuries prior to the 1920s; the Russian Empire had kept pace with its enemies and allies and performed well in its major conflicts in the run-up to the 19th century. However, despite some notable victories in the Napoleonic Wars and in various Russo-Turkish Wars, Russian defeats in the Crimean War, Russo-Japanese War and First World War, together with a series of Soviet defeats at the hands of Poland in the Polish–Soviet War, highlighted the inferiority of Russian methodology in organisation and training.
After the Russian Revolution of 1917, the new Bolshevik regime sought to establish an new military system that reflected the Bolshevik revolutionary spirit. The new Red Army combined the new methods, it still relied on the country's enormous manpower reserves. Once this had been achieved, the Soviets turned their attention to solving the problem of military operational mobility. Primary advocates of this development included Alexander Svechin, Mikhail Frunze, Mikhail Tukhachevsky, they promoted the development of military scientific societies and they identified groups of talented officers. Many of these officers entered the Soviet Military Academy during Tukhachevsky's tenure as its commandant in 1921–1922. Others came particularly Nikolai Varfolomeev and Vladimir Triandafillov, who made significant contributions to the use of technology in deep offensive operations. In the aftermath of the wars with Japan and Poland several senior Soviet Commanders called for a unified military doctrine; the most prominent was Mikhail Frunze.
The call prompted opposition by Leon Trotsky. Frunze' position found favour with the officer elements that had experienced the poor command and control of Soviet forces in the conflict with Poland during the Polish-Soviet War; this turn of events prompted Trotsky's replacement by Frunze in January 1925. The nature of this new doctrine was to be political; the Soviets were to fuse the military with the Bolshevik ideal. This would define the nature of war for the Soviet Union; the Soviets believed their most enemy would be the capitalist states of the west they had to defend themselves against before and that such a conflict was unavoidable. The nature of this war raised four major questions: Would the next war be won in one decisive campaign or would it be a long struggle of attrition? Should the Red Army be offensive or defensive? Would the nature of battle be fluid or static? Would mechanized or infantry forces be more important? The discussion evolved into debate between those, like Alexander Svechin, who advocated a strategy of attrition, others, like Tukhachevsky, who thought that a strategy of decisive destruction of the enemy forces was needed.
The latter opinion was motivated in part by the condition of the Soviet Union's economy: the country was still not industrialized and thus was economically too weak to fight a long war of attrition. By 1928 Tukhachevsky's ideas had changed: he considered that, given the nature and lessons of the First World War, the next major war would certainly be one of attrition, he determined, that the vast size of the Soviet Union ensured that some mobility was still possible. Svechin allowed for the first offensives to be fast and fluid; this would require a strong economy and a loyal and politically indoctrinated population in order to outlast the enemy. The
Medieval warfare is the European warfare of the Middle Ages. Technological and social developments had forced a dramatic transformation in the character of warfare from antiquity, changing military tactics and the role of cavalry and artillery. In terms of fortification, the Middle Ages saw the emergence of the castle in Europe, which spread to Western Asia. Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus wrote De re militari in the late 4th century. Described by historian Walter Goffart as "the bible of warfare throughout the Middle Ages", De re militari was distributed through the Latin West. While Western Europe relied on a single text for the basis of its military knowledge, the Byzantine Empire in Southeastern Europe had a succession of military writers. Though Vegetius had no military experience and De re militari was derived from the works of Cato and Frontinus, his books were the standard for military discourse in Western Europe from their production until the 16th century. De re militari was divided into five books: who should be a soldier and the skills they needed to learn, the composition and structure of an army, field tactics, how to conduct and withstand sieges, the role of the navy.
According to Vegetius, infantry was the most important element of an army because it was cheap compared to cavalry and could be deployed on any terrain. One of the tenets he put forward was that a general should only engage in battle when he was sure of victory or had no other choice; as archaeologist Robert Liddiard explains, "Pitched battles in the eleventh and twelfth centuries, were rare."Although his work was reproduced, over 200 copies and extracts survive today, the extent to which Vegetius affected the actual practice of warfare as opposed to its concept is unclear because of his habit of stating the obvious. Historian Michael Clanchy noted "the medieval axiom that laymen are illiterate and its converse that clergy are literate", so it may be the case that few soldiers read Vegetius' work. While their Roman predecessors were well-educated and had been experienced in warfare, the European nobility of the early Medieval period were not renowned for their education, but from the 12th century, it became more common for them to read.
Some soldiers regarded the experience of warfare as more valuable than reading about it. While it is uncertain to what extent his work was read by the warrior class as opposed to the clergy, Vegetius remained prominent in the literature on warfare in the medieval period. In 1489, King Henry VII of England commissioned the translation of De re militari into English, "so every gentleman born to arms and all manner of men of war, soldiers and all others would know how they ought to behave in the feats of wars and battles". In Europe, breakdowns in centralized power led to the rise of a number of groups that turned to large-scale pillage as a source of income. Most notably the Vikings raided significantly; as these groups were small and needed to move building fortifications was a good way to provide refuge and protection for the people and the wealth in the region. These fortifications evolved over the course of the Middle Ages, the most important form being the castle, a structure which has become synonymous with the Medieval era in the popular eye.
The castle served as a protected place for the local elites. Inside a castle they were protected from bands of raiders and could send mounted warriors to drive the enemy from the area, or to disrupt the efforts of larger armies to supply themselves in the region by gaining local superiority over foraging parties that would be impossible against the whole enemy host. Fortifications were a important part of warfare because they provided safety to the lord, his family, his servants, they provided refuge from armies too large to face in open battle. The ability of the heavy cavalry to dominate a battle on an open field was useless against fortifications. Building siege engines was a time-consuming process, could be done without preparations before the campaign. Many sieges could take months, if not years, to demoralize the defenders sufficiently. Fortifications were an excellent means of ensuring that the elite could not be dislodged from their lands – as Count Baldwin of Hainaut commented in 1184 on seeing enemy troops ravage his lands from the safety of his castle, "they can't take the land with them".
In the Medieval period besieging armies used a wide variety of siege engines including: scaling ladders. Siege techniques included mining in which tunnels were dug under a section of the wall and rapidly collapsed to destabilize the wall's foundation. Another technique was to bore into the enemy walls, however this was not nearly as effective as other methods due to the thickness of castle walls. Advances in the prosecution of sieges encouraged the development of a variety of defensive counter-measures. In particular, Medieval fortifications became progressively stronger – for example, the advent of the concentric castle from the period of the Crusades – and more dangerous to attackers – witness the increasing use of machicolations, as well the preparation of hot or incendiary substances. Arrow slits, concealed doors for sallies, deep water wells were integral to resisting siege at this time. Designers of castles paid particular attention to defending entrances, protec