Ernst Jünger on the Speed of Attacks (Part II)
A translation of Über Angriffsgeschwindigkeit
The following post continues the serialization of a translation of an article written by Ernst Jünger soon after the end of the First World War. It was published, under the title On the Speed of Attacks [Über Angriffsgeschwindigkeit] in the issue of the Military Weekly [Militärwochenblatt] published on 15 May 1923.
This training and the questions upon which it rests are of great importance. Unraveling these fundamentals means more for the battle of the future the than the question of weaponry, for weapons can be created more quickly than the logical framework for their proper use. This requires clarification.
At present, there is a lot of debate about the speed of penetration. This discussion revolves around the way advocates and opponents define the “hasty attack” [Angriffshetze].
It must be admitted that methodical battle (which we cannot reject out of hand, if only because of the emphasis that the French regulations place upon it) requires a great deal of time, whether to proceed from one sector to another, one set of preparations to another, or one systematic reduction of resistance to another. When, moreover, the leader sits in the center of his task-organized formation, like a spider in its web, with a thread connecting him to every element of his combat power, then there will be delays in the arrival of fire and shock on any given objective.
Partisans of the hasty attack rightly claim that the need for continual liaison slows down the pace of the attack “from objective to objective.” They advocate the cultivation of implicit liaison [geistigen Verbindung], that is, the cooperation between all elements that emerges from a shared vision of the combat task at hand. This means that the assaulting infantry finds itself supported by artillery and heavy weapons units that, seemingly guided by an invisible hand, quickly make sense of the demands of the situation and improvise suitable harmonies for the melody of the attack.1
As much as we should seek to realize this ideal, which reduces to a moment the time required for liaison, we cannot forget that doing this despite the smoke of battle and the difficulty of recognizing hot spots [Brennpunkte] in the back and forth of battle will require such a high degree of training that the method can only be used in exceptional cases.