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Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. Four OS2U Kingfisher airplanes flying in right echelon formation. The name of the formation comes from the French word échelon, meaning a rung of a ladder, which describes the shape that this formation has when viewed from above or below. One of the earliest uses was at the Battle of Leuctra when the Thebans attacked the Spartan right with a column 48 men deep while their weaker center and right were refused.
The tactic persists up to the present day, where it is regularly employed by all branches of the modern armed forces. Tactically, echelon formations are used because of the excellent range of vision offered to each participant in the formation. In particular, it is commonly employed by armored cavalry because of the large, overlapping fields of fire that it gives to each tank in the formation, and by combat aircraft, allowing them to communicate visually and maneuver as a single unit.
Echeloning” is the name of a tactic in use by the United Kingdom’s Armed forces, mainly the infantry. It consists of using a company to attack a set of positions.
The tactic is similar to leapfrogging. Echelon formations are also commonly used by civic, or riot police to move crowds either to the left or right.