Envelopment is the military tactic of seizing objectives in the enemy's rear with the goal of destroying specific enemy forces and denying them the ability to withdraw. Rather than attacking an enemy head-on, as in a frontal assault, an envelopment seeks to exploit the enemy's flanks, attacking them from multiple directions and avoiding where their defenses are strongest. A successful envelopment lessens the number of casualties suffered by the attacker while inducing a psychological shock on the defender and improving the chances to destroy them.[1] An envelopment will consist of one or more enveloping forces, which attacks the enemy's flank(s), and a fixing force, which attacks the enemy's front and "fixes" them in place so that they cannot withdraw or shift their focus on the enveloping forces.[2] While a successful tactic, there are risks involved with performing an envelopment. The enveloping force can become overextended and cut off from friendly forces by an enemy counterattack, or the enemy can counterattack against the fixing force.[3]

According to the United States Army there exist four types of envelopment:[1]

A special type is the cabbage tactics that has been used by the Chinese Navy around disputed islands. Its goal is to create a layered envelopment of the target.[5]

See also


  1. ^ a b US Army, FM 3-90 (Tactics), July 2001, 3-12
  2. ^ US Army, FM 3-90 (Tactics), July 2001, 3–13
  3. ^ US Army, FM 3-90 (Tactics), July 2001, 3–15
  4. ^ vertical envelopment, encyclopedia.com, Retrieved 2009-12-03. Quotes The Oxford Essential Dictionary of the U.S. Military.
  5. ^ Chan, Eric. "Escalating Clarity without Fighting: Countering Gray Zone Warfare against Taiwan (Part 2)". globaltaiwan.org. The Global Taiwan Institute. Retrieved 21 June 2021.