Offensive (military)

military operation that seeks through an aggressive projection of armed forces to occupy territory, gain an objective or achieve some larger strategic, operational, or tactical goal

An offensive is an aggressive military operation usually aimed at an enemy force. It is also called an attack, an advance or an invasion. An offensive can be conducted on land, at sea or in the air.[1] A common goal of an offensive is to engage the enemy in a battle. It can also be used to get an enemy to withdraw and avoid a battle.[2]

A tactical offensive is an operation that is usually smaller or more limited. It often involves the use of special forces (or specialized forces).[3] It often has a limited task such as the capture of a bridge or stronghold.[3] A strategic offensive usually involves larger forces and usually has long-range goals.


  1. Quincy Wright, A Study of War (Chicago; London: University of Chicago press, 1983), p. 8
  2. Sun Tzu; Bin Sun, The Art of War: Sun Tzu: In Plain English (Lincoln, NE: Writer's Club Press, 2002), p. 15
  3. 3.0 3.1 Colmar Goltz, The Conduct of War: A Brief Study of Its Most Important Principles and Forms (Kansas City, MO: Hudson-Kimberly Publishing, 1896), p. 45