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To 'reduce' a location


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I seek advice on the military usage of the word 'reduce'.

The term appears in Great War and WW II literature but I have been unable to find a definitive meaning .

I presume it means what it says: to bring a fortification or similar to a reduced state.

But does the term equally apply to say, bombardment into obliteration, overrunning an objective, occupying it or merely reducing its defensive status?

Another one is 'invest': I presume this refers specifically to the process of occupation of an objective.

Are there other terms, like 'reduce' and 'invest' that the interested researcher may find the meanings for in a specific publication?

Any advice would be appreciated,

Michael

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I think you're in danger of going in too deeply.

Reduce is to lessen, therefore to reduce a battalion, by losses or transferring men, reducing a stronghold so it no longer poses a threat, by capture or bombardment.

Invest is to surround to prevent it being a threat.

Do you have more specific instances that are clouding these interpretations?

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Michael,

In modern parlance, these would almost be “mission verbs” (such as disrupt, fix, destroy, delay, et al) that would determine what exactly you want your forces to do. There are probably exact definitions in an old staff book, unless they are taken directly the old Oxford English Dictionary definition. As far as I understand, and in the military sense, invest would mean to encircle (a town, city, fortress, etc.) and put into a state of siege. To reduce would be to bring about the destruction of.

Aye,

Tom McC

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Michael,

As I suspected, you’ll find a large piece about ‘investment’ in Field Service Regulations, Chapter VIII, Siege Operations, page 158 onwards. I include a small piece from pages 159-160.

The Investment

  1. As the sole means of capturing a fortress, investment is slow and should be employed only when the number or the training of the troops available for the siege is insufficient to admit an active attack, or when time is of no importance…
  2. Some form of investment, however, forms an important part of every regular siege (Sec. 124), since an active attack is rarely carried out on more than a small part of the circumference at any one period…

I hope this is of use,

Aye,

Tom McC

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Reduce is 18th/19th Century military terminology - essentially it means to neutralise or take a fortified place. In one peace treaty it is specified that the fortifications at Dunkirk are to be reduced - ie neutralised - made infective (in this particular case by removing the guns and blowing up the key strongpoints)

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When, during the Crimean War) Cochrane (Lord Dundonald) came up with a plan to use poison gas against the Russian fortress at Cronstadt he referred to 'reducing' the fortress (ie neutralising it) by either asphyxiating the gunners or driving them away from their guns. So in this case reducing did not mean obliterating

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Gentlemen,

First, my apologies for being so late in acknowledging your replies. Events overtook me.

Second, thank you for some very constructive contributions, all of you, and especially Tom for the extra digging into the FSR.

Michael

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When, during the Crimean War) Cochrane (Lord Dundonald) came up with a plan to use poison gas against the Russian fortress at Cronstadt he referred to 'reducing' the fortress (ie neutralising it) by either asphyxiating the gunners or driving them away from their guns. So in this case reducing did not mean obliterating

So like many things we the British have an idea and the Germans are the first to make it efficient. :hypocrite:

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Bill,

I have to disagree with you there :rolleyes: . It would be most unusual for a bunch of administrators like us Brits to not have a British Army definition of reduce. It’s probably in another staff publication, or in a Field Engineering / Siege Artillery publication.

Aye,

Tom McC

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  • 2 weeks later...

A even older term is 'slight' i.e. reduce. If you know the area, think Corfe Castle slighted after the civil war.

Old Tom

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So like many things we the British have an idea and the Germans are the first to make it efficient. :hypocrite:

In fact Cochrane's plan was rejected (after a report by Faraday suggesting some technical flaws) for the following reasons

  • Considerations of humanity
  • Uncertainty of wind
  • Lack of any gas masks for those making the attack
  • Cost
  • Possible retaliation

The papers were shown to Churchill on the outbreak of WW1. A memo on file reports that his answer was that we were "confined to a limited sphere of international law until Germany forced us to take reprisals in the matter of poisonous gas" - in other words a no first use policy.

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A even older term is 'slight' i.e. reduce. If you know the area, think Corfe Castle slighted after the civil war.

Old Tom

Or if you live in the North West (rather than the West) Beeston Castle

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So following a successful siege by a Royalist army Bolton was "slighted" and the population "Reduced" by the massacre of much of the population.

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