Soldiering War

The Poor Bloody Infantry from Chant du Depart

Soldiers of The 3rd (East Kent) Regiment of Foot (The Buffs) defending the Colours at Albuera, 1811

When humans first took up arms against other humans, the infantry were there. They weren’t known as infantry then, that term came later, but nevertheless, they were infantry. Equipped with rocks, sticks, clubs, whatever was to hand. The mission was simple: close with the enemy and drive them off, or kill them, whichever came first.

With the current war in Ukraine I’ve seen a number of references to the obsolescence of various combat arms. Is the tank obsolete? Are surface warships obsolete? One thing to always bear in mind is that a war isn’t over until the infantry have seized the ground, and held it against all comers.
Tanks cannot seize and hold ground, in fact, as the Russo-Ukrainian War of 2022 demonstrates, tanks are virtually helpless against steadfast infantry. Tanks need their own infantry to protect them. So why bother with tanks?
Well, they are far more mobile than a man on foot, they are heavily armed and armored. It takes a set of brass ones to go up against a tank if you’re an infantryman. But they do and with the proper training tanks lose much of their mystery.
The tanker is blind inside his buttoned up machine, to expose yourself leaves you open to all the nasty things flying through the air in a combat environment. But with the right support, the tank can punch holes in an enemy line and roll it up from within. As long as the infantry supports are nearby, the tank is a formidable foe.
Combined arms – infantry, armor, and artillery working together are an absolute must in modern warfare. Artillery is the man-killer extraordinaire, it’s how an army reaches out and touches someone.
Aircraft are important, both fixed wing and rotary wing, to control the air above your own forces. Let the enemy control the air and your soldiers are just so many targets burrowing into the soil. Rooted in place, they will soon starve as enemy air deprives them of food, fuel, and ammunition.
The only weapon of war which will never be obsolete is the infantryman. The infantryman is the guy you have to beat on the ground to win battles and eventually the war. Everything else is support for that person on the ground with his personal weapon. All are important, but the infantry is indeed, the queen of battle.
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The Infantry School
Fort Benning, GA

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