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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.