Counter-offensive

Counter-offensive

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A counter-offensive is the term used by the military
Military
A military is an organization authorized by its greater society to use lethal force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country by combating actual or perceived threats. The military may have additional functions of use to its greater society, such as advancing a political agenda e.g...

 to describe large-scale, usually strategic offensive operations by forces that had successfully halted an enemy's offensive
Offensive (military)
An offensive is a military operation that seeks through aggressive projection of armed force to occupy territory, gain an objective or achieve some larger strategic, operational or tactical goal...

, while occupying defensive
Strategic defence
A Strategic defence is a type of military planning doctrine and a set of combat activities used for the purpose of deterring, resisting and repelling a strategic offensive, conducted as either a territorial or airspace invasion, or a naval offensive to interrupt shipping lane traffic as a form of...

 positions.

The counter-offensive is executed after exhausting the enemy's front line troops and after the enemy reserves had been committed to combat and proven incapable of breaching defences, but before the enemy has had the opportunity to assume new defensive positions. Sometimes the counter-offensive can be of a more limited operational maneuver nature, with more limited objectives rather than those seeking attainment of a strategic goal
Strategic goal (military)
A strategic military goal is used in strategic planning to define desired end-state of a war or a campaign. Usually it entails either a strategic change in enemy's military posture, intentions or ongoing operations, or achieving a strategic victory over the enemy that ends the conflict, although...

. A counter-offensive as considered by Clausewitz to be the most efficient means of forcing the attacker to abandon offensive plans.

Counter-offensives can be executed not only on land, but also by the naval forces and air forces. Strategic counter-offensives have been recorded by military historians in many wars throughout military history
Military history
Military history is a humanities discipline within the scope of general historical recording of armed conflict in the history of humanity, and its impact on the societies, their cultures, economies and changing intra and international relationships....

, although not always known as such because they are usually described by historians in conjunction with the defensive phase, such as the Battle of Moscow
Battle of Moscow
The Battle of Moscow is the name given by Soviet historians to two periods of strategically significant fighting on a sector of the Eastern Front during World War II. It took place between October 1941 and January 1942. The Soviet defensive effort frustrated Hitler's attack on Moscow, capital of...

.

A counterattack
Counterattack
A counterattack is a tactic used in response against an attack. The term originates in military strategy. The general objective is to negate or thwart the advantage gained by the enemy in attack and the specific objectives are usually to regain lost ground or to destroy attacking enemy units.It is...

 is the tactical
Military tactics
Military tactics, the science and art of organizing an army or an air force, are the techniques for using weapons or military units in combination for engaging and defeating an enemy in battle. Changes in philosophy and technology over time have been reflected in changes to military tactics. In...

and sometimes smaller operational equivalent of the counter-offensive.