Two-front war

Two-front war

In military terminology, a two-front war is one in which fighting takes place on two geographically separate fronts. It is usually executed by two or more separate forces simultaneously or nearly simultaneously, in the hope that their opponent will be forced to split their fighting force to deal with both threats, therefore reducing their odds of success.


Ancient Times

One of the earliest examples of a two-front war occurred in the third century B.C. when the Roman Republic fought the First Macedonian War contemporaneously with the Second Punic War against Carthage.

Napoleonic Wars

During the Napoleonic Wars, France repeatedly fought on multiple fronts. For example, France fought the Spanish and British in the Peninsular War while fighting the Russian Empire at the same time during the French invasion of Russia.

The British were simultaneously at war with France and the United States during the War of 1812.

World War I

During World War I, Germany under Kaiser Wilhem II fought a two-front war against French, British, Belgian, and (later) American forces on the Western Front while simultaneously fighting the Russians on the Eastern Front, until the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 took Russia out of the war. Germany had foreseen such a scenario, and developed the Schlieffen Plan in order to counteract being surrounded by its enemies.Fact|date=November 2007 Under the Schlieffen Plan, German forces would invade France via Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands (the idea to go through the Netherlands was abandoned because of the country's neutrality), quickly capturing Paris and forcing France to sue for peace. The Germans would then turn their attention to Russia in the east before the Tsar could mobilize his massive forces. Due to several factors however, the Germans failed to achieve the plan's aims.

World War II

Perhaps the most famous example of a two-front war was the European theatre during World War II, when Hitler's Nazi Germany had to deal with the Western Allies on the west and the Soviet Union to the east. The Nazis were unable to repel either of the two front's advances and eventually lost the war. While there were other contributing factors, such as the insufficiency of the Wehrmacht for a long war, and the abandonment of blitzkrieg tactics due to fuel shortages and a rising need to defend territory, the two-front war was an important factor in deciding when the German military would be forced to surrender.

The Allies, especially the United States, also fought a two-front war, splitting their forces between the European theatre against Nazi Germany and the Pacific War against Japan. It should be noted that the Axis Powers had the opportunity to force the Soviet Union into a two-front war by means of a Japanese attack on the Pacific Coast of the Soviet Union, but the Japanese declined to do so, having signed the Soviet-Japanese Neutrality Pact. Soviet military operations against Japan began on August 9, 1945 with Operation August Storm.

Israeli-Arab Wars

In the 1948 Israeli-Arab War, the Israelis fought the Egyptians to the south and the Jordanians and Syria in the east and north. Israel again fought two-front wars in the Six-Day War of 1967 and the Yom Kippur War of 1973.

Cold War

A major rationale for the American 600-ship Navy plan in the 1980's was to threaten the Soviet Union with a two-front war (in Europe and the Pacific Ocean) in the event of hostilities.Fact|date=November 2007


Additionally, the term is often used metaphorically. An example is when a moderate politician faces political "attacks" from those to his left and those to his right.

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