Scorched-Earth Tactics

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German Chancellor recently said that Russia is using ‘scorched-earth tactics’ in Ukraine.

About Scorched-Earth Tactics:

  • Scorched earth tactics form part of a military strategy which seeks to destroy anything that could be of use to the enemy, including energy supplies, bridges, provision stores, agricultural fields, road and railway links, etc.
  • The destruction could be carried out by the enemy, or by the retreating army of a country which does not want invaders to use its resources.
  • Harming civilians as part of this strategy has been banned under the 1977 Geneva Convention.
  • The strategy seeks to deplete the enemy’s resources to sustain warfare, and also break their morale by inflicting heavy hardships on combatants and non-combatants alike.
  • According to the Oxford Reference, the “term was first used in English in 1937 in a report of the Sino-Japanese conflict, and is apparently a translation of Chinese jiāotŭ”.

Past Instances:

  • Scorched earth policy has been part of warfare since ancient times, with the nomad Scythians using the tactics in their war against the Persian Achaemenid Empire led by King Darius the Great (who ruled 522 BCE to 486 BCE).
  • A notable example of the use of this tactic came during the American civil war in 1864, when Union General William Tecumseh Sherman and his soldiers burnt everything in sight as they marched through Confederate areas.
  • In India, the armies of Maratha leader Chhatrapati Shivaji were known for their scorched earth tactics.


Source : Indian Express