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an organized armed struggle between various sized units of belligerents. Combat can take place on land, air, or sea. The art of combat belongs in the sphere of tactics, in contrast to operations, which lies in the field of operational skill and strategy. The aim of ground combat is the routing of the enemy tactical groupings that are confronted and the capture (retention) of important areas (lines) of terrain.

Throughout the history of war the forms and methods of combat have changed under the influence of the development of combat matériel and changes in the qualitative composition of troops, which in turn depended on the development of the socioeconomic and political structure of the belligerent countries . Before the invention of gunpowder, combat consisted of throwing arrows, spears, javelins, and stones and hand-to-hand skirmishes of the infantry and cavalry. With the appearance of firearms in Europe in the 14th century, combat began to include artillery and shotgun fire, concluding with infantry hand-to-hand combat with bayonets. Combat proceeded on limited territory, since the range, rate, and accuracy of fire from smoothbore rifles and cannon were not great. In these conditions combat was the only means to destroy the enemy.

The spread of the rifled weapon in the middle of the 19th century increased the rate, range, and accuracy of fire. Linear and column tactics were replaced by extended formation tactics. At the end of the 19th century rapid-fire artillery and machine guns appeared; later there came airplanes, tanks, submachine guns, the radio, the telephone, automobiles, and other equipment. All of this led to an increase in the extensiveness and a change in the forms and methods of combat that found its clearest expression in the theory of deep combat, worked out by Soviet military science in the 1930’s. All combat arms began to be used in combat with the aid of aviation and sometimes of the navy. This marks the beginning of combined-arms combat.

In the course of World War II (1939–45) combat methods underwent further development. The appearance in the 1950’s of totally new means of war—nuclear weapons and rocketry—created new conditions in which combat could be waged with or without the use of nuclear weapons. If nuclear weapons and other fire means are employed, combat will be characterized by even greater maneuverability, dynamism, rapid and extreme changes in the situation, unevenness of development along the front and in depth, great extensive-ness, and high rates of advance.

The mass character and diversity of matériel employed in combat demands a large expenditure of supplies, especially of ammunition and fuel. The basic principles of modern combat include the coordination of units and subunits of various combat arms and the various branches of the armed forces, the element of surprise in combat operations, aggressiveness and persistence in the achievement of a given objective, the skillful distribution of forces and means for executing combat operations, the continuousness of troop activity, and multisided combat security.

Combat operations are classified according to type of combat, depending on the goals and the methods by which the troops achieve them, such as a meeting engagement, offensive, defense, and withdrawal.

Air and naval combat proceed under different conditions than ground combat and employ their own methods of combat.


Taktika. Moscow, 1966.
Petrus, P. M., P. V. Shemanskii, and N. K. Chul’skii. Iadernoe oruzhie i razvitie taktiki. Moscow, 1967.
Organizatsiia i vporuzhenie armii i flotov kapitalisticheskikh gosudarstv, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1968.




one of the largest bourgeois organizations of the Resistance in France. It sprang up in late 1941 in Lyon (territory controlled at the time by the Vichy authorities) and was composed primarily of former officers, members of the intelligentsia from the middle and petite bourgeoisie, and government officials. Combat was founded by A. Frenay, an officer in the French Army; its Leadership Committee also included such Catholic leaders and journalists as F. de Menthon, C. Bourdet, and G. Bidault. It supported the movement headed by General de Gaulle. In May 1943 a representative of Combat was included in the Council of National Resistance.


Le Parti communiste français dans la Résistance. Paris, 1967.
Granet, M., and H. Michel. Combat. Paris, 1957.
References in classic literature ?
Virtue against fury shall advance the fight, And it i' th' combat soon shall put to flight: For the old Roman valour is not dead, Nor in th' Italians' brests extinguished.
will engage four tiger whelps in combat, armed with no other weapon than his little spear!
The quivers were soon exhausted; and though blood had been drawn, it was not in sufficient quantities to impair the energy of the combat.
It is true there were short and fleeting moments, when the fiery eyes of Magua were seen glittering, like the fabled organs of the basilisk through the dusty wreath by which he was enveloped, and he read by those short and deadly glances the fate of the combat in the presence of his enemies; ere, however, any hostile hand could descend on his devoted head, its place was filled by the scowling visage of Chingachgook.
But if the shield was touched with the sharp end of the lance, the combat was understood to be at outrance, that is, the knights were to fight with sharp weapons, as in actual battle.
Don Quixote was mightily provoked by this answer, and seizing the mule by the bridle he said, "Halt, and be more mannerly, and render an account of what I have asked of you; else, take my defiance to combat, all of you.
Under two conditions only, however, may you be killed by us without orders from Tal Hajus; in personal combat in self-defense, should you attack one of us, or were you apprehended in an attempt to escape.
Immediately eight swords glittered in the rays of the setting sun, and the combat began with an animosity very natural between men twice enemies.
Let me persuade you--for it will be better thus--stay the combat for to-day, but let them renew the fight hereafter till they compass the doom of Ilius, since you goddesses have made up your minds to destroy the city.
It is worthy the observing, that there is no passion in the mind of man, so weak, but it mates, and masters, the fear of death; and therefore, death is no such terrible enemy, when a man hath so many attendants about him, that can win the combat of him.
For a moment they rolled upon the ground in the fierce frenzy of combat.
By purifying and regenerating our members we try, thirdly, to improve the whole human race, offering it in our members an example of piety and virtue, and thereby try with all our might to combat the evil which sways the world.