The Pincer Manoeuvre (Offensive, Counter Attack), or the Pincer movement, is a military
tactic which is executed when an assaulting force is split in two and flank an opposing enemy body, usually advancing in formation, in a similar fashion to a pincer, giving the counter attacking force an early advantage. Although less useful in the modern world's ground forces, it is still a viable assault tactic and is used extensively by fighter aircraft to this day.

The idea of the pincer manoeuvre is to completely surround and destroy an attacking body by linking up the 'pincers' behind the enemy, cutting off any escape route. However many tacticians, Sun Tzu included, have advised against completely surrounding an enemy, as they will fight harder and dig in deeper if they realise there is no escape route.


. A well timed and executed pincer manoeuvre can damage the integrity of an enemy formation before the first shots are fired.

. Flanking troops have the obvious advantage of being able to attack from the lightly defended side.

. Any enemy movements past the beginning of flanking will require a great deal of discipline and organisation, something many forces don't have.

. Ground Officers will often call a retreat if they see a pincer being executed, while others will order their men to dig in and open fire, causing havoc in the enemy army.

. Faster ground units such as cavalry and tanks will be able to engage and destroy retreating units with minimal casualties.

. Completely surrounding an enemy force requires a lot of men to pull off, but once trapped the enemy have no way out save surrender or death.

. Leaving a small, but visible opening in your forces is arguably better than completely surrounding an enemy, as it combines the benefits of very few soldiers escaping with a greater chance the enemy will rout and make a dash for it rather than stay and fight to the death.

. Once trapped, massed ground forces are extremely susceptible to air strikes and artillery, as well as more distant MG's, Tanks and Air units.

. Strike Teams can be used to gun down routers from if you partially surround the enemy army, so you will take as few casualties as possible.

. If the enemy have fully dug in, simply surround them and wait for them to make a break for it/run out of supplies/mutiny/die.


. Before even planning what's going to happen, a large number of men will be needed to pull the flanking manoeuvre off.

. When a pincer manoeuvre is initiated, it is fairly obvious what they are planning when they move their force into a pincer shape.

. Whilst moving, ranged attacks are inaccurate and hasty, allowing return fire from a dug in position.

. Whilst flanking, the 'pincers' are suceptible to carpet bombing, napalm strikes etc.

. If surrounded, an enemy force can quite easily dig in and cause massive casualties on encircling troops.

. If partially surrounded, a well organised counter attack will break through a cordon, bringing everything back to square one.

. A circling army is susceptible to air strikes.


The Pincer Manoeuvre is a reliable tactic and relies on numbers and the discipline of an enemy. For example, a force would have a great deal easier of a time using the pincer on a rebel force than the USMC. Air support won't help much in larger skirmishes, so make sure there is a back up plan for if the shit hits the fan.

Historical References

Battle of Marathon

Battle of Cannae

Battle of Stalingrad

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