Delaying action

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A delaying action is a military "maneuver in which a defensive force delays the advance of a superior enemy force by withdrawing while inflicting the maximum destruction possible without engaging in decisive combat."[1]

It is employed to avoid being beaten by a superior hostile force and/or to gain time or to improve the situation with reference to:[2]

- Request and obtain additional friendly forces in order to better defend against an attacker

- Conducti military intelligence to batter assess the situation

- Obtain cover

- Maneuver the enemy into a position in which he may be more effectively attacked. Delaying actions can involve drawing an enemy deeper into a territory and then employing scorched earth policies (burning crops, killing livestock, destroying supplies/buildings) in order to weaken the attacker as the opponents supply lines are stretched thinner and thinner. The Russians employed this strategy against Napoleon Bonaparte during a winter attack on Russia.

Delaying actions combined with guerrilla warfare (hit-and-run tactics, ambushes, sabotage, etc.) can wear down an enemy's resolve to keep on fighting a war.