The Fortress, a modern day possibility?

Humanoid

New Member
Hello all,
I was paging through some old sites that I used to visit regularly, and the thought came to me, is it still a viable tactic to build a fortress? One that could be deemed impregnable to today's technology just as castles of the dark ages were to the siege weapons of the day?

If it were possible, what would it need for a supply cache(food, water, arms) Would the presence of airfields be viable? What would it need for structures to maintain a garrison, especially of large proportions, i.e. 75,000.

Just looking for some imput, apologies if this isn't the right thread...though I would be curious if we were able to design one, just how would an opponent go about breaching the compound and destroying it?
 

Wooki

Defense Professional
Verified Defense Pro
Yes, its called NORAD. You can look it up on the history channel website IIRC with the relevant info.

cheers

w
 

Will

New Member
W questions

What do you want to defend? Who do you want to defend it against? Why do you think a "fortress" is the best way to defend it?
The US did not expect any of the domestic underground command centers built during the Cold War to suffer ground attacks in strength, so none had so much as a battalion as a garrison. If you're talking about a 75K man garrison, then you must have a specific enemy(s) in mind with a set of capabilities you have to defend against as well as shortcomings that you can disregard.
 

OPSSG

Super Moderator
Staff member
What do you want to defend? Who do you want to defend it against? Why do you think a "fortress" is the best way to defend it?
The US did not expect any of the domestic underground command centers built during the Cold War to suffer ground attacks in strength, so none had so much as a battalion as a garrison. If you're talking about a 75K man garrison, then you must have a specific enemy(s) in mind with a set of capabilities you have to defend against as well as shortcomings that you can disregard.
Maybe Wooki wasn't referring to NORAD as a fortress in the way of Fort Eben-Emael (the strongest fortress in the world prior to the start of WWII). Please see post #88 in another thread for more details and a video link on the defences of Fort Eben-Emael and how it was breached by the Germans.
 

Humanoid

New Member
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #5
To clarify, 75K was a general figure, what I am proposing, is a 'super-base' of sorts. One that could be strategically placed somewhere on the opposite side of the world that could not only act as a military base, but also as the secondary command center for military brass. Also serving as an airbase to effectively be able to project a large number of troops over an even larger area in a much reduced time compared to that of having troops shipped across oceans. So I am referring to a fortress in the literal sense, walls, air defence, bunkered ground defence, etc. I'm wondering how such a base could be constructed, and if it could be, how would you breach such a stronghold?
 

Will

New Member
A modern "fortress" with a 75,000 man garrison would not be a single structure or even several structures. It would be many underground shelters of a variety of types, spread over a wide area & connected by both a network of underground tunnels & a network of paved roads. It would include at least 1 airfield, because the 1st line of defense against most attacks will be at least 1 fighter wing/group. If you have access to 1st rate troops equipped with 1st rate munitions, it would take a much larger army with lots of air support to take you down. Or nukes.
If you're looking for the modern equivalent of a medieval castle, the garrison would be much smaller - more like 750 than 75,000. Even then, you're looking at many underground shelters.
 

Waylander

Defense Professional
Verified Defense Pro
Maybe one should have a look at what the Swiss constructed during cold war (and before).
Their mountains are like swiss cheese with loads of bunkers, depots, aircraft shelters, garrisons, hardened firing positions, mortars, MGs and gun turrets.
Many of them connected to big defense systems covering a certain area.

When called up to war they would have moved into these defense systems with the majority of their forces while a smaller mechanized force would have been ready to run some counterattacks and with mountain infantry covering the high passes.
And with the milita they would have been able to call up a lot of young men.

Every attacker, even one that highly outnumbers the swiss, would have taken really high casualties because of this.
 

kato

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
The Swiss model was "dynamic" (due to the counterattacks), the Austrian version was far more static. Neither model took a real "fortress stance" though.

Hungary supposedly calculated a company of tanks, two companies assault guns and field guns and two battalions worth of artillery, mortars and grenade launchers for every kilometer of front line in a "less defended" Austrian Defense Zone to ensure advancing 25-30 km a day.
Defenses included static positions, prepared barrier zones, battalions fighting in the enemy's back. One of the key things about the concept was also to keep own troops very close to hostile troops within Defense Zones to prevent the use of tactical nukes and cluster munitions.
 

Humanoid

New Member
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #9
A modern "fortress" with a 75,000 man garrison would not be a single structure or even several structures. It would be many underground shelters of a variety of types, spread over a wide area & connected by both a network of underground tunnels & a network of paved roads. It would include at least 1 airfield, because the 1st line of defense against most attacks will be at least 1 fighter wing/group. If you have access to 1st rate troops equipped with 1st rate munitions, it would take a much larger army with lots of air support to take you down. Or nukes.
If you're looking for the modern equivalent of a medieval castle, the garrison would be much smaller - more like 750 than 75,000. Even then, you're looking at many underground shelters.
Thank you, just out of curiosity, how many underground structures(and how large would they have to be?) to house say, even 50K troops? And how large of an airbase?
 

Will

New Member
Thank you, just out of curiosity, how many underground structures(and how large would they have to be?) to house say, even 50K troops? And how large of an airbase?
There's so many variables the possibilities soon become mind-boggling. You can't narrow things down until you ID the players. What's coming after you, in terms of aircraft, missiles, artillery, armor, etc? Or to look at it from the other direction, what troops & munitions do you have access to? In addition to the Swiss example, the Swedes base subs & missile boats in caves dug into cliff sides. Everything from a concealed pillbox for a 2 man OP or sniper team upwards.
 

kato

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
how many underground structures(and how large would they have to be?) to house say, even 50K troops?
Depends on the type of structure?

A German late-Cold-War MZA typically can hold between 2.000 and 5.000 people. The 1960s military nuclear bunkers, interconnected, were sized to hold standard bases, e.g. with around 1.500 soldiers placed in bunker units of 50.

It's all a matter of willpower. Albania built enough bunkers to put the entire population of then 3 million inside - so many that the number isn't even certain, anywhere from 250.000 to 750.000. In any size and shape, from standardized 2-man pillboxes to coastal bunkers as pens for 3-4 submarines.
 

cavalrytrooper

New Member
Hello all,
I was paging through some old sites that I used to visit regularly, and the thought came to me, is it still a viable tactic to build a fortress? One that could be deemed impregnable to today's technology just as castles of the dark ages were to the siege weapons of the day?

If it were possible, what would it need for a supply cache(food, water, arms) Would the presence of airfields be viable? What would it need for structures to maintain a garrison, especially of large proportions, i.e. 75,000.

Just looking for some imput, apologies if this isn't the right thread...though I would be curious if we were able to design one, just how would an opponent go about breaching the compound and destroying it?
Fortresses are ancient history. They were in world War II. The French had the Maginot Line and all the Germans did was go around it. I don't care how tough you make it, it will still be defeated.
 

riksavage

Banned Member
The Maginot Line may not have been breached, but it was rendered totally useless and contributed to France's defeat. 'Maginot mentality' impregnated the French high-command's strategic thinking and left them totally impotent once the German offensive penetrated the Ardenne.

Mobile warfare renders target hardened fixed structures a complete waste of time - cost, man-power, lack of flexibility. Worst case scenario they will be reduced to rubble by bunker-busters, best case scenario they will be bypassed and the garrison / population starved into submission.

Soviet Doctrine treated major urban areas as 'fortresses'. They were to be bypassed and isolated to be dealt with at the higher-commands leisure. The only time an urban area would be considered for a head-on assault is if it straddled a major MSR and there was no other option, or it was the primary seat of Government.
 

Palnatoke

Banned Member
Defensive lines were used throughout the war by all sides, and later on as well.

The germans constructed the Atlantic wall and the west wall to mention the major ones.

The De Laitre line in the first war of Indochine was a huge succes and greatly helped to stabilise the french situation, though the fortress at Dien Bin Phu was an unfortunate "incident". And The french did have tactical succeses with their Hedgehog positions.

The problem with a fortress is that the enemy can analyse it and when and if they attack, they attack in power sufficiently to overcome the defense.
 

Ananda

Well-Known Member
Tropical junggle even with current advance technology still considered a respectable fortress if being used properly. That's why, personally I'm a bit sad that we in reducing our tropical forrest, since that (as much as our fast teritorial sea and disperse islands) is the best defence we got.

Off course it's also means a logistical nightmare..

Point is in my oppinion, on modern warfere, seems the most efficient fortress is to blend with your surounding geographics and bleed your opponents while entering your natural fortress..

Kind of what the russian do with German and off course Napoleon before that. Afterall fortress is only used because we assume that the enemy forces that oppose us has outnumbered or better armed.
If we got superiority, in my sense then just go out and face them in the open right ?
 

Ozzy Blizzard

New Member
The Maginot Line may not have been breached, but it was rendered totally useless and contributed to France's defeat. 'Maginot mentality' impregnated the French high-command's strategic thinking and left them totally impotent once the German offensive penetrated the Ardenne.
Actually I disagree with that statement. The Maginot line was not only intended to defend France, but force any war with Germany to be fought off French soil. Thousands of square miles of France's finest and most productive countryside was turned into a giant mud bath by the battles fought in the great war. The land was utterly broken. The French intended to prevent that from happening again by fighting any war with Germany in Belgium and the Maginot defenses were designed to force the German push into the low countries. Additionally the fortifications could be manned and held by poor quality troops, allowing the best french divisions to move north.

Without the Maginot forts high quality French divisions would have to defend the German frontier. On both counts the Maginot line was extremely effective, the only problem was the Allies were utterly outmaneuvered and outfought in Belgium. It was the outdated tactical doctrine and superior German general staff that led to France's defeat, not the Maginot line. If the 1940 war had been fought along the lines of the previous war and the lines had settled down in the low countries the Maginot line would have been considered a shining success. If the allies had won the WW2 style battle that eventuated in Belgium, and the Somme had not in fact been re-enacted, the Maginot line would have been considered a success. It is only considered a failure because France fell.
 

riksavage

Banned Member
Ozzy - Having read a very informative biography written in the 1950's by a British Francophile General attached to the French General Staff from 1939 to the fall of France I have to totally disagree with your comment. The total and utter reliance on the Maginot Line crippled French military thinking and seriously depleted their operational capabilities. Once the line was circumvented the high-commands morale totally collapsed and they became unable to think inventively. They didn't even have a staff officer system in place and their ability to communicate between divisions was next to nonexistent, again this was because they put all their eggs in the Maginot basket. The French army of 39 was a shadow of its former self (1914-18). The casualties of WWI turned them form a highly inventive army driven by elan to that of a defensive army plagued by uncertainty.

Fortresses where originally designed to defend the populous against attack, with the advent of gun-powder these became far more complex in design culminating in the highly inventive star-forts with complex enfilade and defilade fire positions. High-explosive developed by Nobel rendered most high-walled forts obsolete and forced designers to turn to concrete and deep bunkers for protection.

20th Century fortresses such as the Atlantic Wall were designed to delay the enemy and inflict high casualties whilst the reserves could be brought forward to drive the enemy back into the sea before he could get a logistical foothold. Hence in WWII the huge deception plan (Operation Fortitude) designed to keep Germany's elite Panzer Divisions away from the beaches for as long as possible (they finally arrived to fight the Brit's and Canadians in and around Caen).

Traditional forts have been largely replaced by defence in depth, the outer ring of target hardened positions providing warning as to where the enemies spear point is striking. Again allowing for reserves / fire-power to be brought to bare to stunt any invasion of national territory.

In some respects we are witnessing the setting up of fortified strong-points or FOB's in A-STAN now. the idea being they will form the centre of an expanding ink-spot as the troops contained therein spread their influence and suppress insurgent activity. Unfortunately this plan has not worked became the FOB's have been under such sustained fire / attack the troops haven't been able to expand their influence, they are too tied up in continuous fighting to save their own skin's.
 

Firn

Active Member
Fortifications are still a bread and butter issue and far from outdated. They just keep morphing and changing shape. What do you think that "Firebases", "Camps", "Bunkers" and so on are? Kato already pointed to the great and complex network of often interlocking bunkers and fortifications. Sometimes I really think that people to often look at them in isolation... :unknown

As an intrinsic part of the stronger form, the defence they are invaluable in combination with the other arms of combat. From Guerilla to mobile armored groups in the depth they can assist the defence in a myriad ways. Especially effective they are in the mountains and cities.

So one can put too much troops and ressources in the wrong system of fortification, but are they as a whole useless? No, not at all.
 
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