World War I and World War II Tactics


After searching for media with relevance to tactics in World War 1 and 2, I have compiled a set of pictures and videos that help give background info on my subject as well as additional information that relates back to said subject. Also, I have inserted my paper under the media and context section.

This video shows a brief overview of how the tactics in World War 1 changed in accordance to the ongoing progress of technology. IMPORTANT: In the video it states that the Germans use of the U-boat to sink British Merchant ship is what caused the U.S to join the war. Although this is an understandable reason for the U.S to join the war, the real reason the U.S was pulled into the war was to rejuvenate Britain and Frances manpower.  Unable to maintain troop strength in the trenches, they ask the U.S for reinforcements.

In this video it shows how they prepared U.S troops for the up coming war by practicing the tactics that they will be using regularly. It is known that the U.S had a large amount of raw manpower. Raw as in completely untrained as well as unprepared for the war. To meet the requested demands of his allies, a vast number of troops had to be trained at the same time in a short amount of time. As seen in this video,

This video gives a brief history of one of the Germans most effective weapons during World War 1(Not so much in World War 2). This Iron coffin(submarine) created by the Germans was extremely effective at stealthily destroying and harming unarmed merchant ships. This tactic was proven to be dangerous and had almost bankrupted and starved Britain, but in the middle of World War 2 the U-boat became outdated from the advancement of planes and discharge bombs.

This film shows how heavy machine guns were used as a versatile defensive weapon. This film also shows various infantry tactics that can be used to make it a potent part of offensive operations as well. The film covers all aspects of offensive machine gun tactics through live action and illustrations, including enfilade and defilade fire, moving and placing your weapon in relation to the line of advance and using a machine gun for indirect fire support. You’ll also get a look at how a heavy machine gun platoon was organized and see how this weapon was used for different missions.

U.S Tactics and Strategy During World Wars

Tactics has been a crucial factor at winning wars. The U.S military during World War 1 is an example of how NOT to effectively use tactics. After joining the battle late into World War 1, the allied forces used U.S troops as reinforcements and relied mainly on their financial resources to beat the German elites. According to Stokesbury, “American money was far more immediate help than American manpower, for that was slow in getting to the war, and untrained when it got there.” (225). Although this fact has been changed in multiple books on whether the Allied Forces relied on America’s financial resources or army more. Even now, tactics plays a crucial role on the lives of many as well as the lives of those on the battlefield. Having a massive army and better technology makes is good and all, but it’s the tactics and strategy used that can change the outcome from losing the battle to winning the war. Strategy is the overall method/gameplan used to complete a desired goal while tactics would go into detail on the methods used to carry out the plan (strategy) (Stokesbury, 239). Basically tactics is the effective use of a strategic advantage. An example of this would be if a country wants to take over another country. If their strategy was to starve the opposing armies, their tactics would explain in detail how they went with carrying out the strategy. No matter the size of the military, tactics and strategy should not be neglected. To show how important tactics is to the aspect of a military, I will focus on how tactics affected Americas experience during the wars, the type of tactics and strategy used by the U.S military during that time, and how tactics and strategy has changed to keep up with the ongoing progress of new military inventions.

The overview of this section will have historical context on on the U.S involvement in the

two wars and how a tactic suggested by an American admiral changed the course of the war over the Germans. The U.S had not officially joined the war until later early 1917. In 1914, the United States was not fighting in the war, but was main supplier of weapons and resources to the Allied Forces. On January 31,1917, it was the Imperial German government and there notification to use unrestricted submarine warfare that caused an uproar which eventually caused president Wilson to vote on a declaration of war “One the afternoon of April 6, (1917) the United States of America was at war with the German empire (Stokesbury,217). The use of submarine warfare was restricted for a reason. The submarine was an effective tool the Germans used to sink merchant ships thus restricting food trade to the Allied Forces. The chances of winning the war was slim for the AF (Allied Forces), but that was until American Rear Admiral Sims suggested that they use a convoy as protection for the merchant ships (222). Once convoys were implemented, the sinking of merchant ships decreased drastically. Although the AF were out matched, the tactic of the U.S Admiral to use convoys was what they needed to change the tide of the war. It’s not that they never thought about it before, it’s just that the time and planning that would have go into making this tactic was thought of as a poor use of resources, but with Britain’s poor state from massive financial losses, they’re becoming desperate. In an experimental attempt to decrease the U-boat sinking’s, the Allied forces successfully created the first convey which arrived safely in Britain from Gibraltar. “By the end of the year a variety of means had mastered the U-boat threat.” (225). Using a mine barrage, The Allied Forces were able to block all channels and routes the Germans used for their U-boat operations. The importance of a tactics in any setting is priceless. As shown in history, a well thought out and implemented tactic was all it took to turn the tide of the war.

There have been numerous tactics used during World War 1 and 2 that have been made

known due to their frequent and effective use in battle. Trench warfare has been one of the most surprising ways wars were fought. When World War 1 first began, it was first thought of that the war was to be fought in short intervals, and that troops would be more mobile. When Trench warfare became a common occurrence in early 1915, it came as a shock to people. Within Trench warfare they use equipment in several ways to change up the tactics of that particular battle.

The progression of tactics throughout this era has been a very important part of why

tactics played a big role in history. The tactics of World War 1 will serve as a start point as the tactics that will be changed, added, and removed during the progression of this era. To begin this section, I will first look into international warfare that being the transmission of troops overseas as well as battles occurring in more recent settings, sea and air. Although most battles in war occur on land, these are times when sea and air forces are equal or of even greater value to land forces. It is the country that commands the sea and air that determines where the battle will be held. Weigley states in his book The American Way of War,

“The ultimate decision of war is gained in the contact of field armies will take place on our own or on foreign territory and also which party will have access to the resources of neutral countries. It is, therefore, of immense importance, it thus becomes an intermediate objective; during the struggle to attain it, naval forces are principal and land forces, for the being, auxiliary.”(193)

Trench Warfare was a commonly used tactic following the 4 years during WW1, but it wasn’t this way at the beginning. According to Ashworth, this changed when there was advancement in the mobility of troops making the tactic not as effective as it once was. The revision of the way infantry fought can be seen in modern day battles, which means that this way of battle has keep its effectiveness throughout the years. Communication is an important tool used both for violence and for peace. It is a universal tactic used by all countries and comes in many forms. Over the course of history we have been finding different ways of communicating as well as well as finding ways of increasing the range of communication. The use of effective communication was both necessary for the creation of truces as well as efficiently commanding units. (Ashworth, Pg. 48). In the book “Trench Warfare” It had been said that the use of truces during trench warfare was a natural occurrence due both sides having similar needs and eating times. As said in the book, “Some evidence suggests that the first understandings were associated with meals, the times and conditions of which were common on each side” (Pg. 24).

That being said, Tactics is one of the most important aspects of the military and the war. From the way tactics has affected the course of history, to the specifics of the certain tactics, to the change and growth of tactics overtime. Tactics have and always will be a part of our lives. Its application in the army is just a small application of its overall use.

Work Citied


SYSTEM. New York: Holmes, 1980. Print


Leed, Eric J. NO MAN’S LAND: Combat & Identity in World War 1. New York:

Cambridge, 1979. Print. URL: CLICK HERE


Stokesbury, James L. A SHORT HISTORY OF WORLD WAR 1.

New York: William, 1981. Print


Weigley, Russell F. The American Way of War: A History of United States Military

Strategy and Policy. Bloomington: Indiana, 1973. Print. URL: CLICK HERE


Zieger, Robert H. America’s Great War: World War 1 and the American Experience.

Lanham: Rowman, 2000. Print. URL: CLICK HERE



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