Whereas influences such as adherence to the principles, air superiority, relative strengths, selection, training, equipment, doctrine, communications, leadership, terrain, operational design, and so forth play a crucial role in determining the outcome of any combat operation, I believe the most important criterion for ground forces to attain victory on the battlefield are:
- Timing: The timing of any attack or strike is crucial to throwing an enemy off balance and seizing the initiative, especially if the enemy’s intentions and routine are known and the forces are able to conduct both day and night operations. Climatic conditions and variations, along with terrain, must be considered to enable the timing of the attack or strike to place the enemy at a distinct disadvantage. The timing for lifting stand-off bombardments and air delivered fire must enable the ground forces to close with the enemy and annihilate him. Timing can increase operational and tactical surprise and result in increased momentum and tempo.
- Synchronicity: The manoeuvre of forces along with direct and indirect fire must be synchronised with close air support to achieve the best effect to degrade and destroy the enemy and his materiel. This requires the force to have good communications at all times. Similarly, swarm attacks must be synchronised to coincide with other operations in the enemy’s deployment area.
- Surprise: Surprise is a force-multiplier and is the result of agility, speed, shock action, operational security and deception. Its aim is to throw the enemy off balance, regain and maintain the initiative and momentum, and disrupt and exploit the enemy’s confusion. The enemy must be forced to defend over multiple fronts against both conventional and unconventional direct and indirect approaches. Surprise must always be exploited.
- Tempo: Tempo is the result of momentum combined with speed of action/reaction. Aimed at forcing the enemy into a defensive or reactive posture, it enables the attacking forces to increase momentum, pressure and shock action and thereby force the enemy into a disadvantage. High-tempo operations must give the enemy no respite but must be logistically sustainable.
- Manoeuvre: Horisontal and vertical envelopment/manoeuvre options are dictated by terrain and the manoeuvre assets a force has at its disposal. Rapid manoeuvre, ever-increasing momentum and tempo, and synchronised firepower is essential to annihilate the enemy.
- Firepower: Focused firepower is required to overwhelm and annihilate the enemy. All direct, indirect and air-delivered fire must be coordinated and synchronised to achieve maximum effect. Uncoordinated firepower will not achieve a decisive result.
- Speed: Speed of action/reaction is required to disrupt the enemy’s intentions, increase momentum and tempo, place additional pressure on the enemy and buckle his defences or disrupt his intentions. Speed of action and reaction can seize the initiative from the enemy and surprise him. Manoeuvre assets add to speed.
- Logistics: An efficient and functional logistical system is required to sustain operations. A failure in logistics will reduce momentum, tempo, manoeuvre, firepower and speed and thereby cede initiative to the enemy. A force lacking in logistics will lose momentum and become a vulnerable force that is unable to withstand enemy attacks.
However, the manner in which the armed forces are organised, structured, trained, equipped, and led will determine the manner in how they will fight to achieve victory—or flee the battlefield in disarray.