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Decisive point

Definition A decisive point in military operations refers to an element or a location on the battlefield which, when acted upon, significantly alters the course of the conflict in favor of a particular side. It’s a point in which a certain action must occur for there to be a significant impact on the operation or […]

Definition

A decisive point in military operations refers to an element or a location on the battlefield which, when acted upon, significantly alters the course of the conflict in favor of a particular side. It’s a point in which a certain action must occur for there to be a significant impact on the operation or strategy. The decisive point is often considered a critical element or vulnerability that can dramatically influence the outcome of the operation.

Key Takeaways

  1. Decisive point in military operations refers to a geographic place, specific key event, critical factor, or function that, when acted upon, allows commanders to gain a marked advantage over an adversary or contribute materially to achieving success.
  2. This term is fundamentally a component of the planning process in military operations. It helps in determining both the military strategy and tactics used for the operation by aiding in the understanding of the enemy system and the operational environment.
  3. A decisive point is not a desired end state or an objective itself, but its identification and exploitation can greatly determine the success of a military operation. It provides focus for efforts and assists in resource allocation, enabling military forces to achieve their strategic goals effectively and efficiently.

Importance

The military operations term “decisive point” is significant because it refers to a specific geographical location, event, critical factor, or function that, when acted upon, allows commanders to gain a marked advantage over an adversary or contribute materially to achieving their objective.

The identification and control of decisive points are a fundamental aspect of military strategy and tactics.

These points are directly linked to achieving the mission’s objective, and their control can considerably impact the course of the battle or operation.

Hence, their importance lies in the potential to leverage strategic control and to dictate the terms of engagement in favor of friendly forces.

Explanation

The term “decisive point” in military operations refers to a geographic place, specific key event, critical factor, or function that allows commanders to gain a marked advantage over an adversary when seized, retained or controlled. The purpose of a decisive point is fundamentally to provide a clear focal point towards which military action can be directed to achieve a desired end state or objective.

In simpler terms, if a battle or campaign can be swung in favor of one side simply by controlling a particular decisive point, it can potentially change the course of the entire conflict. In terms of utilization, decisive points are used to help military strategists and commanders conceptualize the battlespace in a way that gives them the ability to see the critical factors that could possibly determine the outcome of an operation.

Identifying decisive points allows for more surgical and effective application of military force, rather than spreading efforts too thinly across the entire battlespace. Commanders use decisive points to allocate resources efficiently and to maximize the likelihood of achieving their strategic objectives, as well as minimize the risks and costs involved.

In essence, the concept of a decisive point is essential to the strategic, operational and tactical planning processes in the military.

Examples of Decisive point

Battle of Stalingrad (1942-1943): The battle was a decisive point in World War II as it marked the turning point of the war in favor of the Allies. The defeat of the German army marked the start of a series of victories for the Allies, changing the course of the war.

Battle of Gettysburg (1863): This is another example of a decisive point in a military operation. The Union victory ended General Robert E. Lee’s second invasion of the North during the American Civil War. It marked a significant point in the war, since it halted the Confederates’ advance and gave the North a much-needed confidence and morale boost.

D-Day Invasion (1944): The Normandy landings were a decisive point in World War II. By successfully invading, the Allies established a stronghold in Europe which helped in pushing Nazi forces back. This large-scale operation marked the beginning of the end of World War II in Europe.

FAQ: Decisive Point Military Operations

1. What is a decisive point in military operations?

A decisive point is a strategic concept in military operations often considered as the precise location or target that should be captured or destroyed in order to achieve a significant advantage over the adversary. The successful engagement with or manipulation of a decisive point can give one side a significant benefit in the battle, either by negatively impacting the enemy’s capability or by enhancing one’s own position.

2. How is a decisive point identified?

The identification of a decisive point is strategic and may vary depending on the situational circumstances. Elements such as geographical features, key infrastructure, the morale of the troops, or the enemy’s supply lines can all become decisive points. Commanders identify possible decisive points through a thorough analysis of the enemy’s capabilities and intentions, own troop capabilities, terrain, and other relevant factors.

3. What is the role of a decisive point in battle planning?

In planning for a battle or a military operation, commanders use the concept of decisive points to prioritize their efforts, allocate resources, and guide the implementation of their strategies. By focusing on a decisive point, a commander can potentially disrupt the enemy’s plans, weaken their defensive/offensive capabilities, or significantly shift the balance of power in one’s favor.

4. Can a decisive point change during an operation?

Yes, a decisive point can change over the course of an operation. As the situation evolves, new decisive points may emerge or previously identified decisive points may become less relevant. This drives the need for continuous assessment and adjustment of strategies during an operation.

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Sources for More Information

  • United States Army Official Website: This is the official website of the US Army. It contains information from the Army’s doctrine, which includes concepts like decisive points.
  • Marine Corps University: The Marine Corps University’s website often has in-depth articles and papers about military concepts and strategies, including the idea of a decisive point.
  • Joint Chiefs of Staff: The official website of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, which represents all branches of the US military, often has information on their strategic doctrines and concepts.
  • United States Air Force Academy: As an institution that educates future Air Force leaders, the USAFA website often contains articles and discussions about military strategies and concepts.

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