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A raid (also called depredation) is a military tactic or operational warfare mission which requires the execution of a plan where surprise is the principal desired outcome of the attack.

The largest of raids in history can be considered that of the series of raids during and following the Mongol invasion of Central Asia, while at lower level raids had been staged by the Cossacks of the Zaporizhian Sich, the Grande Armee, and the cavalry raids during the American Civil War such as the Morgan's Raid[1], and numerous examples of small group raids behind enemy lines from all periods in military history.

Within a tactical mission, a raiding group may consist of personnel specially trained in this tactic (such as commandos or guerrilla fighters), regular soldiers, or any organized group of combatants. Raids have a specific purpose and are not normally intended to capture and hold terrain, but instead finish with the raiding force quickly retreating to a previous defended position prior to the enemy forces being able to respond in a co-ordinated manner or formulate a counter-attack.

The purposes of a raid may include:

  • to demoralize, confuse, or exhaust an enemy
  • to ransack or pillage a location
  • to obtain property or capture people
  • to destroy goods or other things with an economic value
  • to free POWs
  • to kill or capture specific people
  • to gather intelligence.

In the operational level of war, raids were the precursors in the development of the Operational Manoeuvre Groups in the Soviet Army as early as 1930s.[2]

The Royal Air Force first used the term "raid" in the Second World War when referring to an air attack. It included those by one aircraft or many squadrons, against all manner of targets on the ground and the targets defending aircraft. "Raid" was different than "battle", which was used for land, sea, or amphibious conflict. An aircraft "raid" was always planned ahead of time. Aircraft patrols (against U-Boats) and defensive launches of carrier aircraft (against recently detected enemy ships) are differentiated from raids.

See also


  1. ^ Black, Robert W., Cavalry raids of the Civil War
  2. ^ p.72, Simpkin and Erickson, Deep Battle: The brainchild of Marshal Tukhachevskii


  • Simpkin, Richard and Erickson, John, Deep Battle: The brainchild of Marshal Tukhachevskii, Brassey's Defence Publishers, London, 1987
  • Black, Robert W., Col., Cavalry raids of the Civil War, Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, PA, 2004


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