There are 18 stories in Battleplan. Each story is a 350MB XviD VBR MP3 AVI, 49m48s in length, colour, 25fps, 512x384 with a video bitrate of 845kb/s. The DVD was released on June 4 2007. First-aired date in not known, thought they have been shown on both the Military Channel and UKTV History Channel, plus the Foxtel History Channel in Australia.
Each story looks at a particular military strategy (or "battleplan") used in warfare, through two well-known historical examples and compares them both with the military requirements needed in order to conduct that "Battleplan". All the stories use examples from modern warfare, dating from the First World War (1914–18) up to the recent Iraq War (2003).
" 01. Blitzkrieg
" 02. Assault from the Sea
" 03. Deception
" 04. Assault from the Air
" 05. Counterstrike
" 06. Siege
" 07. Blockade
" 08. Battlefleet Action
" 09. Pre-emptive Strike
" 10. Control Of The Air
" 11. Defensive Battle
" 12. Guerrilla Warfare
" 13. Urban Warfare
" 14. Breaking a Fortified Line
" 15. Raiding Operations
" 16. Strategic Bombing
" 17. Flank Attack
" 18. Special Operations
Blitzkrieg literally means Lightning War, a combat strategy that is hard, fast and merciless. The idea of defeating your enemy using shock tactics to break his line, and fast-moving forces to penetrate deeply and throw him back in confusion, is as old as warfare itself. But not until the development of tanks and aircraft did commanders get the power to carry out this Battleplan to perfection.
This programme examines the factors which are essential for modern Blitzkrieg to work, and the inherent dangers which can threaten disaster.
Each aspect is then looked at in relation to two brilliant examples:
Operation 'Yellow' in May 1940, when German Panzer forces sliced almost 250 miles behind the main French and British armies and trapped them against the sea around Dunkirk in fifteen days.
Operation 'Iraqi Freedom' in March 2003, when American mechanised forces went even further and faster, racing over 350 miles through Iraq in 15 days to overthrow Saddam Hussein's regime.
Never before had the Battleplan pioneered in combat by Hitler's Panzers been used so effectively.
ASSAULT FROM THE SEA
Seas and oceans cover almost two-thirds of the Earth's surface, and provide one of the most flexible ways in which a major power can deploy its military muscle around the world.
Assaults from the sea range from massive invasions to seize whole continents - such as the D-Day landings - to spectacular raids and counterattacks.
But landing on a hostile shore from a potentially very hostile environment has always given military planners particular problems - how do we get ashore? How do we secure our beachhead and keep it supplied? And how do we get off and move forward?
The programme looks at these key factors in relation to three classic examples:
The disaster at Gallipoli in World War I which exemplifies almost every error in planning and execution which the Battleplan could show.
The extraordinary American island-hopping campaign across the Pacific during Word War II, with particular focus on Iwo Jima. This is the story of how the US had to develop a new form of warfare which would allow it to fight thousands of miles from its fixed bases in order to defeat an implacable enemy.
And the surprise landing by the Americans at Inchon during the Korean War which showed how a well-judged assault from the sea can totally transform a campaign.
Even before the Greeks used the Wooden Horse to capture Troy, deception was a critical part of warfare. Key to any Battleplan is not simply working out what your enemy is going to do and planning against it, but trying to convince him that you are going to do one thing - while planning to do something totally different.
Deception can take many forms. Intelligence can manipulate your enemy's idea of what you are going to do, by using double agents, false radio traffic, media distortion - or even planting fake plans. Physical effects, like camouflage, can make armies disappear, while dummy weapons and other tricks can make them appear to be where they aren't.
The programme looks at the historical background to Deception and the ways it was used in two outstanding modern examples of the Battleplan for Deception in action:
Operation 'Fortitude', the extraordinary range of deception plans used by the Western Allies to disguise the timing and location of the D-Day Landings. This can fairly claim to be the greatest-ever use of military deception.
US General Norman Schwarzkopf's use of deception in Operation 'Desert Storm' to hide where his main attack was coming from. This is compared with the way General Tommy Franks disguised the timing of his offensive during 'Iraqi Freedom' in 2003.
ASSAULT FROM THE AIR
Assault from the Air introduces a third dimension to a battlefield. It allows you to go over the top of the enemy - what military planners call 'vertical envelopment'. It is a high risk Battleplan, one which should only be used if there is absolutely no alternative.
This type of Battleplan only became possible in the 20th century - with the invention of the aircraft, then the glider and parachute, and finally the helicopter.
The programme focuses on the key requirements in a Battleplan for Assault from the Air, the changes which technology has brought, and examines their effect on the battlefield through two classic examples - one using paratroops and gliders, the other using paratroops and then helicopters:
Operation 'Market Garden' the Allied plan to bypass Germany's main defensive line in September 1944, involved using three airborne divisions to capture the bridges over the major Dutch waterways. This would lay 'an airborne carpet,' down which an armoured corps could thrust. All went well despite desperate German resistance and the first bridges were seized. But just short of the last bridge at Arnhem the advance was halted, and what could have been a great success became a gallant failure.
Operation 'Junction City' in Vietnam in 1967, when US and South Vietnamese forces used paratroops to block the enemy's line of retreat, and then helicopter-borne forces to clear the area ahead of them. It was an outstanding example of the use of Air Assault to achieve a swift and specific objective.
Counterstrike can take many forms: the sudden inspirational seizing of an unexpected opportunity at a critical moment in a battle; a carefully-planned reaction as the battle develops and the enemy's intentions can be predicted; and the whole basis of for Battleplan when an enemy assault is anticipated and planned for.
The programme looks at three occasions when different types of Counterstrike worked superbly, and examines why these were so effective:
The classic Counterstrike at Tannenberg in 1914 which shattered two massive Russian armies. Masterminded by Generals Paul von Hindenburg and Erich Ludendorff, it showed both meticulous planning and brilliant improvisation.
The Russian Counterstrike against Hitler's Operation Barbarossa, which saved Moscow in winter 1941.
These are then compared with the extraordinary case in 1973, when Israel ignored some of the basic rules for the Battleplan for Counterstrike after the totally predictable Egyptian assault across the Suez Canal on Yom Kippur. The nation was only saved when an unexpected opportunity could be seized to launch an inspirational second counterattack.
The Battleplan for Siege can have several aims:
… To frustrate an enemy's offensive Battleplan, by successfully holding a critical fortress or city … to seize victory by capturing a key position … or to help achieve a victory by tying down a critical element of the enemy's forces.
But in every case, the besieging commander has to bear in mind certain key requirements, without which victory cannot be achieved.
The programme looks at three different sieges which illustrate the different aspects of the Battleplan, and show how the basic requirements played a vital role:
The German siege of Leningrad, from 1941-43, which Hitler simply wanted to cut off and starve into surrender.
The Viet Minh victory at Dien Bien Phu in 1953, when the French deliberately landed deep in hostile territory, and totally underestimated the strength and resourcefulness of their enemy
And the Viet Cong siege of the US base at Khe Sanh in 1968, when US commanders deliberately drew their enemy into an exhausting confrontation and used their air power to win.
The Battleplan for Blockade is directed not against an army or navy, or an individual town or city, but against a nation as a whole. It is designed to destroy or at least damage a country's ability to wage war.
Blockade is a Battleplan which has a major political dimension - it can have unexpected and unwelcome consequences such as turning neutral nations into enemies.
It is also a Battleplan which can last for years and whose progress depends crucially on the weapons available and the way they are used.
The programme looks at two major cases, both of which involved island nations fighting for their survival:
The German attempt to blockade of Britain during World War II which was the longest-running campaign of the war, and offered Hitler his best chance of winning.
And the US campaign submarine campaign against Japan in 1943-45, which showed how a major nation could be brought to its knees.
The use of one's battlefleet to establish control of the sea, or to frustrate an enemy's attempt to do so, has been a key aspect of naval warfare for two and a half thousand years.
For sea power is different to land warfare - it takes place over great distances; the enemy can be unlocated for months; and then suddenly the clash of battle happens in an instant.
This programme analyses the fundamentals of this very different type of Battleplan and looks at two very different examples of fleet action; and shows how although the weapons were changing rapidly, the aims of the commanders remained much the same:
At Midway, in June 1942, the whole course of the Pacific War was transformed in less than five minutes, when US divebombers devastated Japan's vital aircraft carriers - the pride of its battlefleet and the key to its future Battleplan for survival.
And at Leyte Gulf in October 1944, when the Japanese Imperial Navy staked everything on an assault by its battleships against the US landings on the Philippines, but was finally shattered by US naval air power.
Winning a swift victory by catching the enemy unawares, is one of any commanders' great dreams.
Sometimes it can be a dramatic reaction to an opportunity. Or it can be designed to remove a potential threat from the enemy's arsenal.
Whatever the reason, the Battleplan for Pre-emptive Strike is ruthless and brutal. But its use carries enormous risks - if it goes wrong it can mean national annihilation.
The programme sets out the parameters for the Battleplan for Pre-emptive Strike; examines why leaders - often political rather than military - decide on this particular type of action; and applies these fundamentals to two notorious examples:
December 6th,1941, the 'day of infamy', the most infamous Pre-emptive Strike of all, when a Japanese surprise attack on the US fleet base at Pearl Harbor, brought the United States into World War 2 - and ultimately doomed Japan to utter catastrophe.
The Israeli Pre-emptive Strike which began the Six-Day War of June 1967. The classic example of how a much smaller, but well-equipped and highly-motivated force can use this Battleplan to defeat much larger enemies.
CONTROL OF THE AIR
Control of the Air is an essential prerequisite of most modern military Battleplans - blitzkrieg, assault from the sea, pre-emptive strike…
On occasions, the struggle to control the air has been so crucial it has become a Battleplan in its own right.
But it is a military concept which is sometimes misunderstood.
Early theorists in the 1920s and '30s, looking at the effect of strategic bombing, thought that Control of the Air would become a war-winner on its own - that armies and navies would become irrelevant.
But as the 21st Century began, the development of precision-guided remotely-launched weapons seemed to promise that the old dream might be achievable - that air power alone could police operations and win wars.
So this programme looks at the requirements for Control of the Air, and the limitations of the Battleplan which commanders have to be aware of. These lessons are then applied to two major cases:
The Battle of Britain in Summer 1940. The world's first purely aerial battle, when the German Luftwaffe's failure to vanquish the Royal Air Force, meant that a Nazi invasion could not be launched.
The opening air campaign of Operation Desert Storm in January 1991 when coalition air forces destroyed the sophisticated Iraqi air defence system, and then so isolated and battered the Iraqi forces which had invaded Kuwait that they collapsed with barely a fight.
The Defensive Battle is often seen as the most dangerous of Battleplans. It involves letting the enemy come at you, and allowing him to exhaust himself before you counterattack.
The Battleplan for a Defensive Battle can either be part of a pre-planned strategy, or a tactic forced on a commander by the early success of the enemy, and the need to react to this.
The programme looks at the conditions in which a commander might choose to fight a Defensive Battle, and the special requirements which he needs to consider. It then applies these to two very different examples:
The deliberate German withdrawal to the Hindenburg Line on the Western front in the spring of 1917, and the series of defensive battles they then fought while waiting for the collapse of Russia in the East.
The Battle of Kursk, 1943, where the Red Army knew that the Germans were determined to take the offensive again and that they would make the attempt on the great salient around the city of Kursk. From the start, they dug in with line after line of formidable defences, and it was not until the German Panzers had worn themselves out in days of increasingly futile attacks that a counterattack was ordered.
From the earliest days of organised warfare, it has been apparent that a numerically and technologically superior force can be ground down by irregular tactics. But it is rare that this Battleplan alone can win unless there is either a failure of political will on the other side, or eventually defeat by a conventional force.
The programme looks at the history and principles of guerrilla warfare, analyses the requirements of its Battleplan from two perspectives - those waging guerrilla warfare, and those opposing it - and then applies these to two modern examples:
Afghanistan 1979-88. The classic example where guerrilla warfare won the military campaign and then went on to political victory - only to be followed by massive post-war complications.
Vietnam 1961-73. Another classic study in which the Vietcong guerrillas were steadily ground down by superior American firepower and mobility, but were able to recoup the situation politically.
All the US military successes were forfeited when the sight of their forces apparently bogged down during the Tet Offensive, caused such revulsion in the United States, that the political will to continue the war collapsed.
Urban Warfare is the most vicious form of fighting. In an era dominated by technology, it takes a soldier back to the most primitive type of warfare: hand-to-hand, knife against knife. Street-by-street, house-by-house, even down to room-by-room. It gives and expects no quarter.
Urban Warfare can suck troops into a bloodbath. Even the most technologically sophisticated army is vulnerable, and the casualties which can be sustained while moving against an unseen enemy can be horrific.
Most soldiers are desperate to avoid this type of Battleplan, but there are occasions when it becomes unavoidable. Then commanders must be particularly clear about the special requirements and the dangers to which their forces will be exposed.
This programme assesses these with regard to two very costly urban battles:
Stalingrad, winter 1942-43. The unnecessary urban confrontation which was fought largely for ideological reasons, and resulted in utter defeat for Hitler's forces.
The Tet Offensive 1968. The desperate last throw by the Vietcong to win the political initiative against the United States, even though they lost the military campaign.
BREAKING A FORTIFIED LINE
Breaking a fortified line is the Battleplan every soldier fears, and every commander's last resort. It means attacking defences head-on that are dug in and protected. The enemy is ready for it and expecting it. It's going to be a bloodbath - win or lose. This programme considers the factors that a commander must consider when deciding to use this Battleplan, and then looks at two classic case studies: Meuse-Argonne. September 1918. The attack on the formidable Hindenburg German Hindenburg Line by US armies under General 'Black Jack Pershing, which began the victorious offensive which ended World War 1. North Africa, October 1942. The Battle of El Alamein when Allied forces under British General Bernard Montgomery broke through a line which could not be outflanked, and finally defeated the German General Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps.
A raid is an offensive military operation that aims to achieve a specific objective and then get out. It is a Battleplan which can be used against human or military targets. Military targets can be to gather high-value intelligence or destroy crucial fortifications. Human targets can involve rescue, kidnapping or assassination. Raiding uses elite special forces and can have a strategic or tactical effect out of all proportion to the numbers involved. This programme considers the factors that a commander must consider when deciding to use this Battleplan, and then looks at two classic case studies: Vietnam, November 1970. The helicopter-borne raid to spring US prisoners-of-war from the Son Tay POW camp. Brilliantly-executed, it only failed because the POWs had been moved shortly before. Italy, September 1943. The daring rescue of deposed Italian dictator Benito Mussolini from a mountain-top prison by German Special Forces led by Otto Skorzeny.
The ultimate aim of Strategic Bombing is to win wars without fighting on the ground ... It takes war to the heartland of the enemy, striking not just at military targets, but at industry, infrastructure, and civilians. It seeks to destroy not only an enemy's ability to wage war, but also its will to fight on at all. As World War 2 began, the potential of Strategic Bombing alone to win a war was still just a theory.
This programme examines the two great campaigns which put it to the test: The British and US 'round-the-clock' assault on Nazi Germany which devastated its cities; and the US fire bombing which burnt out Japan's. Both campaigns seriously reduced the enemy's ability to resist, but the awful truth is that they were never enough to bring them to surrender. Only the atomic bomb could do that. New technologies such as GPS and 'Smart Weapons' have brought renewed attempts to prove that Strategic Bombing can win wars on its own, but the reality remains that while a conflict cannot be won without air superiority, the Battleplan cannot achieve victory on its own.
Whenever possible, commanders prefer to go round an enemy rather than having to fight straight through a heavily-fortified defensive line. Flank attack - going around the side of the enemy instead of taking him head-on - is one of the most basic of Battleplans. Key victories, decided by a flanking manoeuvre, fill military text books. And the ultimate goal, which only a few generals ever achieve, is encirclement - sealing off and destroying the enemy.
Today, Flank Attack is more important than ever. Under the scrutiny of modern media, commanders need to find ways of outwitting their enemy swiftly and with the minimum loss of life, for public opinion will not allow a nation's troops to be thrown head-on against hi-tech weapons and modern defenses. This programme looks at two classic examples of this Battleplan: the Allied breakout from the Normandy beachhead led by US armored forces under General George Patton in August 1944, and the classic left-hook mounted by Norman Schwarzkopf in February 1991 during the first Gulf War. It ends by assessing how far each commander came to achieving his ultimate goal.
Special Operations are the cutting edge of modern warfare. Behind-the-lines, usually unseen, undertaken by small numbers of elite personnel, they can cover everything from intelligence gathering or raiding to the achievement of major strategic objectives. This programme looks at two of the most significant Special Operations Battleplans yet undertaken; both of which had an effect out of all proportion to the numbers involved.
The first is the three-year British and US campaign to build-up the French resistance and support the D-Day landings by preventing German reinforcements from overwhelming Allied forces before they had established their beachhead. The second is the crucial operation in northern Iraq in 2003 when US Special Forces leading Kurdish Peshmurga irregulars stood in for a full mechanized infantry division, opened a second front and defeated substantial Iraqi forces. Normandy 1944 was the occasion on which Special Operations showed how they could be integral to the success of a campaign. Gulf War 2 in 2003 was the occasion when modern technology and weaponry brought a major change in the way special forces operate. When used with precision air support, they can now replace rather than just support conventional forces.
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