In the two and a half years following their entry into the war, the Italian army launched a total of eleven battles along the Isonzo. Throughout, the Austro-Hungarian forces would follow the maxim of their commander Boroevic, ‘build positions, place obstacles in front of them and stay there’. Bar a counteroffensive in the Trentino in 1916, this defensive stance did not vary until, with German support, they launched the decisive battle of Caporetto in October 1917. The Italians, under Marshal Cadorna, had a similarly limited repertory; in the first five battles the Italian attacks were too dispersed to make a critical breakthrough. Finally, in September 1916, Cadorna decided upon a concentrated attack. The change of tactic worked, with the Italians capturing and holding the city of Gorizia, thus cementing a bridgehead on the eastern banks of the Isonzo. However, succeeding attacks were bloody and inconclusive, sapping Italian morale.
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