Stormtroopers on Germany's World War One Western Front
The German solution to the attritional problem on the western front came through reestablishing a war of movement by relying first on military tradition and existing doctrine, and second; allocating greater firepower at the platoon and squad level. This allowed tactical level combat officers to create combined arms units capable of independent action on the battlefield. These stoss, or assault, battalions helped the Germans break through the Allied trenches and the Western Front's stalemate. By concentrating firepower in mobile weapons such as submachine guns, grenades, flamethrowers and light artillery pieces - employed in the direct fire role - German Stoss soldiers, or stormtroopers, took advantage of the weaknesses exposed by defensive doctrines that seemingly had solved the battlefield's lethality.
The German emphasis on mobile small units directing overwhelming local fire superiority in a concentrated fashion against spread out allied positions allowed Germany to begin breaking the deadlock on the Western Front. The stormtroopers regularly avoided allied strongpoint's and infiltrated deep into allied positions to attack crucial command and control centers, supply depots, and artillery positions; restoring tactical mobility to the battlefield. Infiltration tactics did not arise out of a vacuum; the Prussian and German army had laid the groundwork for such tactics during prior centuries by pushing the idea that lower ranking officers should be free to find their own solutions to tactical problems. Germany's late First World War effort at breaking the stalemate, however, proved too late. The Allies also had developed a mobile solution to trench warfare, but through a new technology employed en masse as a shock weapon; the tank - ironically the vehicle later used by the German Army to previously unimaginable success in 1939-1941.
Picture in Public Domain