Feb18

Maginot Line or Fort Apache?

A recently completed new mess deck (shown here on 4 July 2005) to give Soldiers, Marines, and Sailors a more-fortified structure in which to eat.

Using forts to Shape the Counterinsurgency Battlefield.  

As the 19th century waned and the 20th century dawned, T. Miller-Maguire, a noted, prolific military writer, disparaged the fortification mentality of the French, citing the futility of their northern fortifications during the 1800s. In 1899, he scorned French efforts in the Ardennes well before the failures of those fortifications during World Wars I and II. Maguire was not alone.

 

Fortifications and fortified field works have a bad reputation among casual military historians and experienced generals.The generations after Maguire saw the Maginot Line bypassed and the vaunted Eban Emael taken easily by German paratroops and concluded fortifications are expensive, become obsolete rapidly, and are bypassed easily if not taken. Moreover, troops garrisoning fortifications are prone to defensive mindedness and timidity. Offensive-mindedness and maneuver are preferred to indecisive, protracted fortification warfare.Even so, fortifications have served well in certain strategic contexts and should not be discarded as a contributing element in strategic military planning either in the defense or the offense.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, the forts of continental Europe were deployed in such a way as to promise an invader that, if he did not take them, the forts' garrisons would play havoc on his line of communication (LOC) and retreat. The forts were located not so much for protection of the area where they were built but as part of a greater strategy of defense in depth. They also served expansionist aims by extending and protecting friendly lines during strategic advances. Even Maguire, while generally chiming in with the maneuver generals' more recent contempt for fortifications, included a clear exception when it came to the "works devised by ourselves to meet the exigencies of irregular warfare. . . ."

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Authors: Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey B. Demarest, U.S. Army, Retired, Ph.D., J.D., and Lieutenant Colonel Lester W. Grau, U.S. Army, Retired

Article and Image Source: http://www.au.af.mil

Keywords: Fortifications,Strategy,Counterinsurgency,Warfare,Engineering 

 

Author:
Lieutenant Colonel Geoffrey B. Demarest, U.S. Army, Retired, Ph.D., J.D., and Lieutenant Colonel Lester W. Grau, U.S. Army, Retired
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