Test Your Knowledge of Offensive and Defensive Military Tactics


By: Gavin Thagard

6 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

"If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle." - Sun Tzu 

Fighting should be avoided at all cost, but when you have to fight, it is always best to be ready and know exactly what you're doing. Do you know what effective military strategy is? Could you pass a quiz on it? Here's your chance to find out! 

War has waged since the beginning of time, and though much of the style of fighting has changed, particularly in the last 200 hundred years, many of the tactics that were prevalent thousands of years ago still apply today. Over time, those tactics have only been added to or exploited further, as war has become both more efficient and deadly. 

Are you an expert on military tactics, though? Could you lead an army into battle with the confidence of any of the great military leaders? Why not find out with this quiz? 

If you're up for the challenge, get started and prove your knowledge of offensive and defensive military tactics! 

When marching always send what ahead?

Scouts are supposed to travel light and fast. If they cross the enemy, sometimes they'll engage or harass the troops in order to slow them down.


What's it called when one side has complete control over air warfare?

During World War II, the British Air Force was crucial against Germany. They managed to stop Germany from crossing the English Channel to conquer the last of Western Europe.


What's it called when you win a war because you have more resources?

A war of attrition can be damaging to both sides. If the war rages long enough, even the victor will have a tough time recovering when it's over.


What was the German warfare strategy of using force and speed called during World War II?

This strategy allowed Adolf Hitler to quickly conquer Western Europe. It was initially effective in Eastern Europe as well, but the Russian winters eventually slowed it down.


Which strategy is used against insurgents who take control of an area?

Terrorism can be a form of insurgency. Terrorism is usually influenced by an ideology which must be combated as well.


What's another name for a strategy of military ambushes?

Guerrilla warfare​ was commonly used by North Vietnam in the Vietnam War. The guerrilla soldiers would use underground tunnels to help in their escape.


What's it called when part of one army attacks the side of the opposing army?

During the American Civil War, Stonewall Jackson, a southern general, was killed during a flanking attack. This was a crucial blow to the Confederate Army.


This is when all of a country's resources are NOT devoted to a war.

The Korean War was considered a limited war. The goal was not to defeat North Korea, but to protect South Korea.


What's it called when you try to break through the enemy's line of attack?

Penetration can be crucial during a retreat. During the Civil War, General Robert E. Lee failed to penetrate the Union Army while retreating from Petersburg and was forced to surrender at Appomattox Court House.


What's it called when an army flanks both sides of an attacking enemy army?

One of the earliest uses of the pincer movement occurred at the Battle of Marathon in 490 BC. During this battle, the outnumbered Athenian army defeated the superior Persian army.


This is when you cut off an enemy from leaving their fortified position or receiving any resources.

The longest siege in history lasted 22 years. It occurred in the 17th century when the Ottoman Empire placed 60,000 troops around Candia.


What's it called when an entire nation and its resources are dedicated to winning a war?

Germany was committed to a total war in World War II. The entire country had responsibilities related to the war.


Where do you attack the enemy in a turning maneuver?

A turning maneuver helps separate enemies from their defensive positions. This leaves the enemy with nowhere to retreat.


What's it called when you pull your flank back to avoid losing it to the enemy?

Refusing the flank can be a dangerous maneuver. It leaves one side of your formation weak against an enemy attack.


This is when you destroy anything useful to the enemy while you advance through their territory.

William Sherman used this strategy during his "March to the Sea" near the end of the Civil War. The one city he didn't destroy was Savannah, Georgia, which he promised as a gift to Abraham Lincoln.


What's it called when you try to force an enemy into a confined area?

Choke points are created by the natural environment. A valley on land or a strait at sea are two examples.


What's the name of the strategy that tries to wear an enemy down over time instead of launching frontal assaults?

The Fabian strategy is named after Quintus Fabius Maximus Verrucosus. He was a Roman general during the Roman Republic.


What's it called when you try to gain information about the enemy?

Reconnaissance missions rely on stealth. Therefore, the soldiers usually carry very little supplies with them.


This is when part of your forces attack while the others try to gain a more favorable position.

Napoleon Bonaparte believed nothing was more important than time and space in battle. He particularly emphasized time.


What's it called when your flank defeats the enemy's flank then begins to surround the enemy?

The longest war in history was the Hundred Years War fought between Britain and France. The war was actually longer than a 100 years, though.


This is when you make a surprise attack on an enemy who is entrenched.

Trench warfare defined World War I. During the war, thousands of miles of trenches were carved out in Europe.


What is large scale bombing of a select area of land called?

Carpet bombing is meant to shorten a war. However, it can also be very damaging to both the environment and civilians.


What's another name for a triangular formation?

In the United States, the Department of Defense is the largest employer in the country. It has more than 3 million employees.


This is a supporting unit that provides cover fire for an advancing unit.

There are five branches in the United States military. They are the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, and Navy.


Is low ground or high ground a better defensive position?

High ground has many strategic advantages. If the enemy has the high ground, it's best to draw them away from their position.


What is a device set up to kill someone by suprise called?

Land mines are considered booby traps. Land mine fields were commonly used throughout World War II.


What are you trying to avoid in a hit-and-run?

The war between the United States and Russia was known as the Cold War. This was because there was no direct conflict despite economic and political conflict.


What is it called when navy ships surround an enemy's port?

The Union used blockades to put a strangle hold on the Confederacy during the Civil War. The strategy was known as the Anaconda Plan.


This is a term for building several fortifications around an enemy fortification during a seige?

The Siege of Vicksburg was a famous siege during the Civil War. It was executed by Ulysses S. Grant after he failed to capture the city by storm.


What's another name for a deceptive movement where you fake-out your opponent?

During the Civil War, both armies made fake guns to trick the opposing side. These guns were often made of painted logs.


This is when you sneak soldiers inside an enemy fortress.

One famous case of infiltration was during the Trojan War. During the war, the Greeks used a fake wooden horse to sneak inside the city of Troy.


What's it called when you lure an enemy into an attack?

In the video game, Call of Duty, this is known as "camping." It is one of the most hated tactics.


Why fight a battle of annihilation?

The Battle of Cannae is an example of a battle of annihilation. The battle saw the forces of Carthage defeat the Romans in a decisive victory.


This is when you scare the enemy into surrendering.

The dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan is considered an extreme case of shock and awe. After the second bomb, Japan was forced to surrender.


What's NOT a reason for the divide and conquer strategy?

The divide and conquer strategy was often used in the Middle East. Division was typically easy because of religious differences.


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