Since ancient times, various different types of units have been in use in warfare, each one supplementing the other in various roles assigned to them. But they seldom acted as one unit and were used as individual units. For example, the cavalry was composed of only riders and acted as an individual unit on the battlefield, devoid of any infantry unit attached to it.

But all this was about to change in due time.


Back in medieval times, armies used to fight in huge formations, formed of lines of riflemen carrying muzzle-loading muskets. The reason is that a line of riflemen could fire hundreds of bullets at the enemy at the same time. This tactic became difficult with the advent of mobile artillery ad early machine guns towed by horses or other beasts of burden. Cavalry was still deadly and could devastate infantry lines and less mobile towed artillery if used wisely. But with time, it became more and more difficult and infantry was forced to dig in and move inside trenches to save itself from relentless artillery barrages.

Muzzle Loading - YouTube
World War I in Photos: Animals at War - The Atlantic


World war 1 saw extensive use of trench warfare to mitigate the effectiveness of artillery. This began to end in stalemates on all fronts in all the theatres. To break this morass, tanks were introduced into the battlefield to charge through the trenches. As long as tanks were slow, no drastic changes were required, but after sometime tanks became much faster and infantry was simply unable to keep up with them on foot.

The Tank Was First Used 100 Years Ago Today | Time


World war 2 saw extensive use of armor warfare and various mobile tactics were deployed by all the sides involved. Germany was first to use the now much famous Blitzkrieg which involved a rudimentary form of combined arms warfare involving armor and infantry rapidly moving in sync (still not as one tactical unit)to destroy the enemies under the cover of air support. It was still on a corps-level though.

Watch World War II: Blitzkrieg - Lightning War | Prime Video

The real change came with the US Army adopting divisional level syncing of not only infantry and armor but also mixing in artillery, tank destroyers, and scout elements under the cover of air support. The reason being that armor was found to be vulnerable to anti-tank mines, ambushing tank destroyers, and even infantry, without an infantry unit attached to it.

German Junkers Ju 87 bombers in the Polish sky

Soviets adopted a different approach with their artillery centric deep battle doctrine with the syncing of their motor rifle units with armor and artillery but in a very different manner than the Germans and Americans.

This method of mobile warfare would have far reaching effects and would give birth to self propelled howitzers and AFV/APC during the cold war.


The Vietnam War posed a very different type of challenge to the US Military. This terrain with hills and dense forests rendered armor useless. Logistics chain also became difficult to maintain due to the lack of even basic infrastructure and difficult terrain. This was the first time helicopters were used extensively, not only as tactical lifters but also as gunships and air ambulances. Their ability to operate without runways and drop supplies in the thick of battle along with providing air support in places thought impossible before made them indispensable in warfare after that. Helicopters will further evolve to give birth to different categories among themselves, each specializing in different roles. The advent of helicopters would also force a new development, mobile air defense units, especially the MANPADS, VSHORADS, SPAAG, and short-range SAMS.

Helicopters of the Vietnam War |
Australia's Vietnam War Navy helicopter veterans recognised in ceremony 50  years on - ABC News
Where Huey Pilots Trained and Heroes Were Made | History | Air & Space  Magazine


In modern times various elements of combined arms warfare are being used by armies to conduct warfare.

  1. Armour Element – comprising tanks and infantry fighting vehicles along with mechanized infantry units with APCs used for rapid thrusts and flanking of the enemy.
Indian Army conducts major military exercise Hamesha Vijayee in deserts of  Rajasthan - News Nation English
  1. Tactical Airlift Element- Generally comprises medium to light rotor aircraft like Dhruv and Mi17 but can also include tactical fixed-wing air lifters like C130. Used to provide supplies to the frontline units.
Aero India 2019 Timeline: From Rafale, Hawk-i to Tejas, how the event  unfolded | Zee Business
  1. Air Defence Element – It comprises mobile air defence units having SPAAG, SRSAM, MRSAM, VSHORADS. Primarily tasked with providing air defence against gunships, tactical air strikes, missile strikes and drone strikes.
Almaz-Antey Corporation at AERO INDIA 2017 show - Asian Military Review
  1. Mobile Infantry Units- Comprising infantry units on LSV, armoured trucks and various other vehicles for fast transportation. Also can include Heliborne and Airborne infantry units.
  1. Surveillance And EW Element – Comprising Battlefield surveillance radars, weapons locating radars and jamming equipment.Examples are Rajendra(BSR),Swathi(WLR),Krasukha-4(EW).
SWATHI Weapon Locating Radar – India's $40 Million Export To Armenia |  Delhi Defence Review
  1. Air Support Elements – It has CAS aircraft like A10, SU25, Super Tucano, and helicopter gunships It also includes the anti-tank element and may or may not include tactical strike aircraft like Su34, Jaguars etc, depending upon operational requirements.
The Air Force just finished putting new wings onto the A-10 Warthog -  Business Insider
  1. Logistics And Engineering Element- It comprises heavy to lift all-terrain trucks and other engineering vehicles like bridge layers and armor recovery vehicles.
Outlook India Photo Gallery - Republic Day 2018
Ritesh Kumar

I like “politics” with the prefix “geo” in it.
Favorite quote: “Strategy requires thought, tactics require observation.”


By Alpha Defense

Alpha Defense initially a solo venture but now a defense group by people from various demographics of India covering defense news and updates. We believe in unbiased analysis of every subject in hand. Our mission is to provide simplfiied defense information to the public.

One thought on “COMBINED ARMS WARFARE (PART 1):”
  1. Well at start of ww2 hitlers whermacth was just running apart western Europe and the Soviet union . In initial days he just concentrated his forces towards just one front in France and just smashed apart the whole front . But during ussr he could not I guess because he could not achieve required concentration of forces along 1000s of km streched front and also logistical issues . Hence ussr got plenty time to recover other wise they were doomed.
    Hitler was somewhat a millitary genious and had his soldires were well equipped with latest weapons .
    He had extremely powerful artillary gun (schewerer Gustav ) which you mentioned in your one video . It could penitrate thikest concrete and was used at Leningrad and majinot line. Also his tiger tanks were inpenitratable.
    But instead of conventional he should have invested in nuclear weapons ( yes nuclear science was originated in Germany) . But he considered it Jewish physics due to Einstein’s involvement. If he built the bomb before the us he might have won. He could have dropped one at moscow ; Stalingrad ;LONDON. Thank god he didn’t payed attentation to this things

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