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A bridgehead (also 'Bridge-head'; French tête-de-pont) is a military fortification that protects the end of a bridge that is closest to the enemy. The term has been generalized in colloquial usage to refer to any kind of defended area that is extended into hostile territory – also called a foothold or, incorrectly, a beachhead – in particular the area on the farside of a defended river bank or a segment of a lake or riverine coastline, such as the Bridge at Remagenmarker. The term is especially applied when such a territory is initially seized by an amphibious assault with the tactical intent of establishing a supply line across the geographic barrier feature to allow further operational manoeuvring.

As the process of moving an army over bridges is slow and complicated, it is usually necessary to secure it from hostile interruption, and the works constituting the bridge-head must therefore be sufficiently far advanced to keep the enemy's artillery out of range of the bridges. In addition, room is required for the troops to form up on the farther bank. Formerly, with short-range weapons, a bridge-head was often little more than a screen for the bridge itself, but modern conditions have rendered necessary far greater extensions of bridge defences.

Bridgeheads typically exist for only a few days, the invading forces either being thrown back or expanding the bridgehead to create a secure defensive lodgement area, before breaking out into open country – as happened when the U.S. 9th Armored Division seized the Ludendorff Bridgemarker at Remagenmarker in 1945 during World War II. In some cases, such as during the Gallipoli Campaign in World War I, a bridgehead may exist for months.

The term is also in general usage in a figurative sense to describe any advantageous position which will facilitate future expansion into new territories, especially in business, where, for instance, a marketing "bridgehead" might be a specialized use of a new product in a particular market segment, in preparation for selling it against entrenched competitors across an entire market.

Also, in Information Technology (IT) a bridgehead is a server that represents one network in another network. For example, in directory services, a bridgehead server is a domain controller that replicates directory information into a local site from a remote site .

See also



  1. Bridgehead The Free Dictionary
  2. Microsoft Support - Description of Bridgehead Servers in Windows 2000
  3. uCertify - What is a Bridgehead Server?


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