shock tactic

Shock tactics

Shock tactics, shock tactic or Shock attack is the name of an offensive maneuver in battle in which the attacking forces engage into close combat with extreme action and massive force. The shock tactic is a fully committed attack designed as a sledgehammer blow against the enemy and aimed to break their formations, shatter their morale and eventually rout their soldiers.


Shock tactics were usually performed by heavy cavalry, but was sometimes achieved by heavy infantry. The most famous shock tactic is the medieval cavalry charge. This shock attack was conducted by heavily armoured cavalry armed with lances, usually couched, galloping at full speed against enemy formation.


After the introduction of firearms the use of the cavalry charge as a common military tactic waned. Infantry charges armed with firearms became more common. The culmination and downfall of the infantry charge was at World War I, when masses of soldiers made frontal attacks on the trenched enemy. The machine gun made this tactic a futile one and only with the invention of the tank did shock tactics become viable once more.

At World War II the Germans adapted the shock tactics to modern mechanized warfare. The Blitzkrieg was a shock tactic based on tanks which gained considerable achievements during the war and was afterwards adopted by most modern armies.

The US tactic of Shock and Awe at the Second Gulf War is a shock tactic based on a combination between land and aerial warfare.

Famous shock attacks

Shock units




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