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
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.
For much of history, humans have used some form of cavalry for war and, as a result, cavalry tactics have evolved over time. Tactically, the main advantages of cavalry over infantry troops were greater mobility, a larger impact, a higher position. Chariot tactics had been the basis for using the horse in war; the chariot's advantage of speed was outdone by the agility of riding on horseback. The ability of horsemen to pass more difficult terrain was crucial to this change. Horsemen supplanted most light chariots. In Celtic warfare, light chariots persisted among mounted troops, for their ability to transport armoured warriors and as mobile command platforms. At first it was not considered effective to use weapons on horseback, but rather to use the horse as transport. "Mounted infantry" would ride to battle, dismount to fight. For a long time and charioteers worked alongside each other in the cavalry; the first recorded instance of mounted warriors are the mounted archers of the Iranian tribes appearing in Assyrian records from the 9th century BC.
Mongolian troops had a Buryat bow, for showering the enemy with arrows from a safe distance. The aim on horseback was better than in a jiggling chariot, after it was discovered that the best time to shoot was while all the hooves of the horse were in the air. An archer in a chariot could shoot stronger infantry bows. Javelins were employed as a powerful ranged weapon by many cavalries, they were easy to handle on horseback. Two to ten javelins would be carried, depending on their weight. Thrown javelins have less range than composite bows, but prevailed in use nevertheless. Due to the mass of the weapon, there was a greater armour-piercing ability, they thus caused fatal wounds more frequently. Usage is reported for both light and heavy cavalry, for example, by Numidia and the Mongol's light cavalry and the heavy cataphracts, Celtic cavalry and the Mamluks during the Crusades; the Celtic horsemen's training was copied by the Roman equites. A significant element learned from the Celts was turning on horseback to throw javelins backwards, similar to the Parthian shot in archery.
Stirrups and spurs improved the ability of riders to act fast and securely in melées and manoeuvres demanding agility of the horse, but their employment was not unquestioned. Modern historical reenactors have shown that neither the stirrup nor the saddle are necessary for the effective use of the couched lance, refuting a widely held belief. Free movement of the rider on horseback were esteemed for light cavalry to shoot and fight in all directions, contemporaries regarded stirrups and spurs as inhibiting for this purpose. Andalusian light cavalry refused to employ them until the 12th century, nor were they used by the Baltic turcopoles of the Teutonic Order in the battle of Legnica. An example of combined arms and the efficiency of cavalry forces were the Medieval Mongols. Important for their horse archery was the use of stirrups for the archer to stand while shooting; this new position enabled them to use stronger cavalry bows than the enemy. Armies of horse archers could cover enemy troops with arrows from a distance and never had to engage in close combat.
Slower enemies without effective long range weapons had no chance against them. It was in this manner that the cavalry of the Parthian Empire destroyed the troops of Crassus in the Battle of Carrhae. During their raids in Central and Western Europe during the 9th and 10th centuries, Magyar mounted archers spread terror in West Francia and East Francia; the Sassanid Persians and the Mamluks were the chief proponents of the idea, although Muslim cavalry in India had been known to use it in battle. It involved a line of well-armoured cavalrymen standing in a massed static line, or advancing in an ordered formation at the walk while loosing their arrows as as possible, it was effective against unsteady enemies who could be unnerved by the sight of a vast cloud of arrows raining down upon them. A case in point is Procopius's accounts of Belisarius's wars against the Sassanids where he states how the Byzantine cavalry engaged in massed archery duels against their Persian counterparts; the Persians loosed their arrows with far greater frequency, but as their bows were much weaker, they did not do much damage compared to the stronger Roman bows.
The great weakness of mounted archers was their need of their light equipment. If they were forced to fight in close combat against better armoured enemies, they lost. Furthermore, they were not suited for participating in sieges. For example, although victorious in the field the Mongols had been unable to take the fortified Chinese cities until they managed to capture and enlist the services of Islamic siege engineers; the Mongols subsequently failed to retake Hungary in 1280 after the Hungarians became more focused on Western European heavy cavalry and castle building. Good cavalry troops needed lots of training and good horses. Many peoples who engaged in this form of classical cavalry, such as the Hungarians and Mongols lived on horseback; the Battle of Dorylaeum during the First Crusade shows the advantages and disadvantages of mounted archers.
War is a state of armed conflict between states, governments and informal paramilitary groups, such as mercenaries and militias. It is characterized by extreme violence, aggression and mortality, using regular or irregular military forces. Warfare refers of wars in general. Total war is warfare, not restricted to purely legitimate military targets, can result in massive civilian or other non-combatant suffering and casualties; the scholarly study of war is sometimes called polemology, from the Greek polemos, meaning "war", -logy, meaning "the study of". While some scholars see war as a universal and ancestral aspect of human nature, others argue it is a result of specific socio-cultural or ecological circumstances; the English word war derives from the 11th century Old English words wyrre and werre, from Old French werre, in turn from the Frankish *werra deriving from the Proto-Germanic *werzō'mixture, confusion'. The word is related to the Old Saxon werran, Old High German werran, the German verwirren, meaning “to confuse”, “to perplex”, “to bring into confusion”.
War must entail some degree of confrontation using weapons and other military technology and equipment by armed forces employing military tactics and operational art within a broad military strategy subject to military logistics. Studies of war by military theorists throughout military history have sought to identify the philosophy of war, to reduce it to a military science. Modern military science considers several factors before a national defence policy is created to allow a war to commence: the environment in the area of combat operations, the posture national forces will adopt on the commencement of a war, the type of warfare troops will be engaged in. Asymmetric warfare is a conflict between belligerents of drastically different levels of military capability and/or size. Biological warfare, or germ warfare, is the use of weaponized biological toxins or infectious agents such as bacteria and fungi. Chemical warfare involves the use of weaponized chemicals in combat. Poison gas as a chemical weapon was principally used during World War I, resulted in over a million estimated casualties, including more than 100,000 civilians.
Civil war is a war between forces belonging to political entity. Conventional warfare is declared war between states in which nuclear, biological, or chemical weapons are not used or see limited deployment. Cyberwarfare involves the actions by a nation-state or international organization to attack and attempt to damage another nation's information systems. Insurgency is a rebellion against authority, when those taking part in the rebellion are not recognized as belligerents. An insurgency can be fought via counter-insurgency warfare, may be opposed by measures to protect the population, by political and economic actions of various kinds aimed at undermining the insurgents' claims against the incumbent regime. Information warfare is the application of destructive force on a large scale against information assets and systems, against the computers and networks that support the four critical infrastructures. Nuclear warfare is warfare in which nuclear weapons are the primary, or a major, method of achieving capitulation.
Total war is warfare by any means possible, disregarding the laws of war, placing no limits on legitimate military targets, using weapons and tactics resulting in significant civilian casualties, or demanding a war effort requiring significant sacrifices by the friendly civilian population. Unconventional warfare, the opposite of conventional warfare, is an attempt to achieve military victory through acquiescence, capitulation, or clandestine support for one side of an existing conflict. War of aggression is a war for gain rather than self-defense. War of liberation, Wars of national liberation or national liberation revolutions are conflicts fought by nations to gain independence; the term is used in conjunction with wars against foreign powers to establish separate sovereign states for the rebelling nationality. From a different point of view, these wars are called insurgencies, rebellions, or wars of independence; the earliest recorded evidence of war belongs to the Mesolithic cemetery Site 117, determined to be 14,000 years old.
About forty-five percent of the skeletons there displayed signs of violent death. Since the rise of the state some 5,000 years ago, military activity has occurred over much of the globe; the advent of gunpowder and the acceleration of technological advances led to modern warfare. According to Conway W. Henderson, "One source claims that 14,500 wars have taken place between 3500 BC and the late 20th century, costing 3.5 billion lives, leaving only 300 years of peace." An unfavorable review of this estimate mentions the following regarding one of the proponents of this estimate: "In addition feeling that the war casualties figure was improbably high, he changed "approximately 3,640,000,000 human beings have been killed by war or the diseases produced by war" to "approximately 1,240,000,000 human beings...&c."" The lower figure is more plausible, but could be on the high side, considering that the 100 deadliest acts of mass violence between 480 BCE and 2002 CE claimed about 455 million human lives in total.
Primitive warfare is estimated to have accounted for 15
Artillery is a class of heavy military weapons built to fire munitions far beyond the range and power of infantry's small arms. Early artillery development focused on the ability to breach defensive walls, fortifications during sieges, led to heavy immobile siege engines; as technology improved, more mobile field artillery cannons developed for battlefield use. This development continues today. In its earliest sense, the word artillery referred to any group of soldiers armed with some form of manufactured weapon or armour. Since the introduction of gunpowder and cannon, the word "artillery" has meant cannon, in contemporary usage, it refers to shell-firing guns, howitzers and rocket artillery. In common speech, the word artillery is used to refer to individual devices, along with their accessories and fittings, although these assemblages are more properly called "equipments". However, there is no recognised generic term for a gun, mortar, so forth: the United States uses "artillery piece", but most English-speaking armies use "gun" and "mortar".
The projectiles fired are either "shot" or "shell". "Shell" is a used generic term for a projectile, a component of munitions. By association, artillery may refer to the arm of service that customarily operates such engines. In some armies one arm has operated field, anti-aircraft artillery and anti-tank artillery, in others these have been separate arms and in some nations coastal has been a naval or marine responsibility. In the 20th century technology based target acquisition devices, such as radar, systems, such as sound ranging and flash spotting, emerged to acquire targets for artillery; these are operated by one or more of the artillery arms. The widespread adoption of indirect fire in the early 20th century introduced the need for specialist data for field artillery, notably survey and meteorological, in some armies provision of these are the responsibility of the artillery arm. Artillery originated for use against ground targets—against infantry and other artillery. An early specialist development was coastal artillery for use against enemy ships.
The early 20th century saw the development of a new class of artillery for use against aircraft: anti-aircraft guns. Artillery is arguably the most lethal form of land-based armament employed, has been since at least the early Industrial Revolution; the majority of combat deaths in the Napoleonic Wars, World War I, World War II were caused by artillery. In 1944, Joseph Stalin said in a speech that artillery was "the God of War". Although not called as such, machines performing the role recognizable as artillery have been employed in warfare since antiquity. Historical references show artillery was first employed by the Roman legions at Syracuse in 399 BC; until the introduction of gunpowder into western warfare, artillery was dependent upon mechanical energy which not only limited the kinetic energy of the projectiles, it required the construction of large engines to store sufficient energy. A 1st-century BC Roman catapult launching 6.55 kg stones achieved a kinetic energy of 16,000 joules, compared to a mid-19th-century 12-pounder gun, which fired a 4.1 kg round, with a kinetic energy of 240,000 joules, or a late 20th century US battleship that fired a 1,225 kg projectile from its main battery with an energy level surpassing 350,000,000 joules.
From the Middle Ages through most of the modern era, artillery pieces on land were moved by horse-drawn gun carriages. In the contemporary era, artillery pieces and their crew relied on wheeled or tracked vehicles as transportation; these land versions of artillery were dwarfed by railway guns, which includes the largest super-gun conceived, theoretically capable of putting a satellite into orbit. Artillery used by naval forces has changed with missiles replacing guns in surface warfare. Over the course of military history, projectiles were manufactured from a wide variety of materials, into a wide variety of shapes, using many different methods in which to target structural/defensive works and inflict enemy casualties; the engineering applications for ordnance delivery have changed over time, encompassing some of the most complex and advanced technologies in use today. In some armies, the weapon of artillery is the projectile, not the equipment; the process of delivering fire onto the target is called gunnery.
The actions involved in operating an artillery piece are collectively called "serving the gun" by the "detachment" or gun crew, constituting either direct or indirect artillery fire. The manner in which gunnery crews are employed is called artillery support. At different periods in history this may refer to weapons designed to be fired from ground-, sea-, air-based weapons platforms; the term "gunner" is used in some armed forces for the soldiers and sailors with the primary function of using artillery. The gunners and their guns are grouped in teams called either "crews" or "detachments". Several such crews and teams with other functions are combined into a unit of artillery called a battery, although sometimes called a company. In gun detachments, each role is numbered, starting with "1" the Detachment Commander, the highest number being the Coverer, the second-in-command. "Gunner" is the lowest rank and junior non-commissioned officers are "Bombardiers" in some artillery arms. Batteries are equivalent to a company in the infantry
A charge is a maneuver in battle in which combatants advance towards their enemy at their best speed in an attempt to engage in close combat. The charge is the dominant shock attack and has been the key tactic and decisive moment of many battles throughout history. Modern charges involve small groups against individual positions instead of large groups of combatants charging another group or a fortified line, it may be assumed that the charge was practiced in prehistoric warfare, but clear evidence only comes with literate societies. The tactics of the classical Greek phalanx included an ordered approach march, with a final charge to contact. In response to the introduction of firearms and Scottish troops at the end of the 16th century developed a tactic that combined a volley of musketry with a rapid close to close combat using swords. Successful, it was countered by effective discipline and the development of defensive bayonet tactics; the development of the bayonet in the late 17th century led to the bayonet charge becoming the main infantry charge tactic through the 19th century and into the 20th.
As early as the 19th century, tactical scholars were noting that most bayonet charges did not result in close combat. Instead, one side fled before actual bayonet fighting ensued; the act of fixing bayonets has been held to be connected to morale, the making of a clear signal to friend and foe of a willingness to kill at close quarters. The shock value of a charge attack has been exploited in cavalry tactics, both of armored knights and lighter mounted troops of both earlier and eras. Historians such as John Keegan have shown that when prepared against and by standing firm in face of the onslaught, cavalry charges failed against infantry, with horses refusing to gallop into the dense mass of enemies, or the charging unit itself breaking up. However, when cavalry charges succeeded, it was due to the defending formation breaking up and scattering, to be hunted down by the enemy, it must be noted, that while it was not recommended for a cavalry charge to continue against unbroken infantry, charges were still a viable danger to heavy infantry.
Parthian lancers were noted to require dense formations of Roman legionaries to stop, Frankish knights were reported to be harder to stop, if the writing of Anna Komnene is to be believed. However, only trained horses would voluntarily charge dense, unbroken enemy formations directly, in order to be effective, a strong formation would have to be kept – such strong formations being the result of efficient training. Heavy cavalry lacking a single part of this combination – composed of high morale, excellent training, quality equipment, individual prowess, collective discipline of both the warrior and the mount – would suffer in a charge against unbroken heavy infantry, only the best heavy cavalrymen throughout history would own these in regards to their era and terrain; the cavalry charge was a significant tactic in the Middle Ages. Although cavalry had charged before, a combination of the adoption of a frame saddle secured in place by a breast-band and the technique of couching the lance under the arm delivered a hitherto unachievable ability to utilise the momentum of the horse and rider.
These developments began in the 7th century but were not combined to full effect until the 11th century. The Battle of Dyrrhachium was an early instance of the familiar medieval cavalry charge. By the time of the First Crusade in the 1090s, the cavalry charge was being employed by European armies. However, from the dawn of the Hundred Years' War onward, the use of professional pikemen and longbowmen with high morale and functional tactics meant that a knight would have to be cautious in a cavalry charge. Men wielding either pike or halberd in formation, with high morale, could stave off all but the best cavalry charges, whilst English longbowmen could unleash a torrent of arrows capable of wreaking havoc, though not a massacre, upon the heads of heavy infantry and cavalry in unsuitable terrain, it became common for knights to dismount and fight as elite heavy infantry, although some continued to stay mounted throughout combat. The use of cavalry for flanking manoeuvres became more useful, although some interpretations of the knightly ideal led to reckless, undisciplined charges.
Cavalry could still charge dense heavy infantry formations head-on if the cavalrymen had a combination of certain traits. They had a high chance of success if they were in a formation, collectively disciplined skilled, equipped with the best arms and armour, as well as mounted upon horses trained to endure the physical and mental stresses of such charges. However, the majority of cavalry personnel lacked at least one of these traits discipline and horses trained for head-on charges. Thus, the use of the head-on cavalry charge declined, although Polish hussars, French Cuirassiers, Spanish and Portuguese conquistadores were still capable of succeeding in such charges due to their possession of the mentioned combination of the traits required for success in such endeavours. In the twentieth century, the cavalry charge was used, though it enjoyed sporadic and occasional success. In what was called the "last true cavalry charge", elements of the 7th Cavalry Regiment of the United States attacked Villista forces in the Battle of Guerrero on 29 March 1916.
The battle was a victory for the Americans, occurring in desert terrain
Cold-weather warfare known as Arctic warfare or winter warfare, encompasses military operations affected by snow, thawing conditions or cold, both on land and at sea. Cold-weather conditions occur year-round at high elevation or at high latitudes, elsewhere materialise seasonally during the winter period. Mountain warfare takes place in cold weather or on terrain, affected by ice and snow, such as the Alps and the Himalayas. Most such operations have been during winter in the Northern Hemisphere; some have occurred above the Arctic Circle where snow and cold may occur throughout the year. At times, cold or its aftermath—thaw—has been a decisive factor in the failure of a campaign, as with Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812 and the German invasion of Russia during World War II. Northern and Eastern Europe were the venues for some well-documented winter campaigns. During World War II several actions took place above the Arctic Circle. Recent cold-weather conflicts have occurred in the Himalayas.
In 1242, the Teutonic Order lost the Battle on the Ice on Lake Peipus to Novgorod. In 1520, the decisive Battle of Bogesund between Sweden and Denmark occurred on the ice of lake Åsunden. Sweden and Denmark fought several wars during the 17th centuries; as a great deal of Denmark consists of islands, it was safe from invasion, but in January 1658, most of the Danish waters froze. Charles X Gustav of Sweden led his army across the ice of the Belts to besiege Copenhagen; the war ended with the treaty of Roskilde, a treaty favorable to the Swedish. During the Great Northern War, Swedish king Charles XII set off to invade Moscow, but was defeated at the Battle of Poltava after being weakened by cold weather and scorched earth tactics. Sweden suffered more casualties during the same war as Carl Gustaf Armfeldt with 6,000 men tried to invade Trondheim. Three thousand of them died of exposure in the snow during the Carolean Death March. During the Finnish War, the Russian army unexpectedly crossed the frozen Gulf of Bothnia from Finland to the Åland Islands and, by 19 March 1809, reached the Swedish shore within 70 km from the Swedish capital, Stockholm.
This daring maneuvre decided the outcome of the war. Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812 resulted in retreat in the face of winter with the majority of the French army succumbing to frostbite and starvation, rather than combat injuries; the Finnish Army used ski troops during the Winter War and the Second World War, where the numerically dominant Soviet forces had a hard time fighting mobile, white-clad ski soldiers. In Operation Barbarossa in 1941, both Russian and German soldiers had to endure terrible conditions during the Russian winter; the German-Finnish joint offensive against Murmansk in 1941 saw heavy fighting in the Arctic environment. Subsequently, the Petsamo-Kirkenes Operation conducted by the Red Army against the Wehrmacht in 1944 in northern Finland and Norway drove the Germans out of there. In late 1944, Finland turned against their former cobelligerents, Nazi Germany, under the Soviet Union's pressure and pressured the Germans to withdraw in the ensuing Lapland War. While use of ski infantry was common in the Red Army, Germany formed only one division for movement on skis.
From June 1942 to August 1943, the United States and Canada fought the Japanese in the Aleutian Islands Campaign in the Alaska Territory. The Battle of Chosin Reservoir was a stark example of cold affecting military operations in the Korean War. There were many cold malfunctions of materiel, both vehicles and weapons; the Siachen conflict is a military conflict between India and Pakistan over the disputed Siachen Glacier region in Kashmir. The conflict began in 1984 with India's successful Operation Meghdoot during which it gained control over all of the Siachen Glacier. A cease-fire went into effect in 2003; the following actions were fought in the Arctic by land and naval forces between 1941 and 1945 in the following theaters of operations: The raid on Kirkenes and Petsamo took place on 30 July 1941 when the British Fleet Air Arm launched an unsuccessful raid from the aircraft carriers HMS Victorious and Furious to inflict damage on merchant vessels owned by Germany and Finland and to show support for Britain's new ally, the Soviet Union.
Operation Rösselsprung was a plan by the German Kriegsmarine to intercept an Arctic convoy in mid-1942, resulting in the near destruction of Convoy PQ 17. Operation Wunderland was a large-scale operation undertaken in summer 1942 by the Kriegsmarine to enter the Kara Sea during the summer thaw and destroy as many Russian vessels as possible; the Winter War was a military conflict between Finland. It began with a Soviet invasion of Finland on 30 November 1939, three months after the outbreak of World War II, ended three and a half months with the Moscow Peace Treaty on 13 March 1940; the Lapland War was fought between Finland and Germany from September 1944 to April 1945 in Finland's northernmost Lapland Province. It included: Operation Birke was a German operation late in World War II in Finnish Lapland to protect access to nickel. Operation Nordlicht was a German scorched-earth retreat operation in Finland during the end of World War II; the Petsamo–Kirkenes Offensive was a major military offensive during World War II, mounted by the Red Army against the Wehrmacht in 1944 in northern Finland and Norway.
The liberation of Finnmark was a military operation, lasting from 23 October 1944 until 26 April 1945, in which Soviet and Norwegian forces wrestled away control of Finnmark, the northernmost county of Norway, from Germany. It started with a major Soviet offensive. Operation Silver Fox was