Have The mechanics of War Changed?

Discussions on the equipment used by the Axis forces, apart from the things covered in the other sections. Hosted by Juha Tompuri
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Have The mechanics of War Changed?

Post by Chiddicks » 14 Dec 2019 15:01

Is today’s modern warfare any different to the way in which we previously fought wars?

Absolutely for me thats a Yes! Today’s war, if you want to even call it war, is vastly different to previous wars such as WW1 or WW2. Trying to fight against the threat of global terror, or wars in Afghanistan or the two gulf wars are a completely different fight to what was encountered in both the previous World Wars.

No previous wars have been fought in the media spotlight like we see today and with a so called hidden enemy. I guess the Vietnam war was maybe the first of this kind, with media spotlight and a hidden enemy.

Until the widespread use of firearms and guns, war was pretty much a matter of throwing men and metal, artillery and shells, at the enemy. The army with the most men and weaponary would generally win. That’s a very crude and simplistic way of looking at things.

ww1 ww1 navy ww1 trench
Since the advent of modern weaponry, it has become more complicated. Numbers are no longer as critical as the power of weapons and their accuracy and range. With long range accurate weapons vs an enemy that has no counter measures and lacks similar weapons, destruction of military forces is pretty much certain. However, destruction of enemy forces is not sufficient to ensure victory. Wars can thus in essence last forever.

russian-cruise Aircraft-Carrier-USS-John-C-Stennis
The more powerful force cannot be defeated and the less powerful force , if it is resilient, will simply not admit defeat (e.g. Afghanistan). Nothing really new here, in the middle ages some wars lasted for decades.

The main difference between the wars of today and the wars of bygone eras is that you no longer have to be able to see the enemy to kill them.

British and Afghan Soldiers Together in Afghanistan

Which brings me to my next question………….

Where do we see the future of modern warfare and to a lesser degree the structure of modern Armies, Air Forces and Navy’s? Can anybody who witnessed the First World War have envisaged how the mechanics of war have changed??

What do you think?????

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Re: Have The mechanics of War Changed?

Post by SES » 19 Dec 2019 08:22

YES. And it is a question of doctrine. To-day many military forces use the indirect approach. They engage for effect, not death and destruction. Attacks on civilians are absolutely prohibited. Parts of the civilian structure are excempt from attack. Conversly one attempt to influence the leadership (military and civilian). And please note an engagement need not be by kinetic means. Given more time you deserve a more comprehensive answer.

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Re: Have The mechanics of War Changed?

Post by Sheldrake » 19 Dec 2019 11:19

I am not so sure that the fundamentals have changed. Each war has its own characteristics, but the underlying nature of warfare contains some fundamental truths. These are not my ideas, but the core concept behind the British Army OP Reflect Staff rides to extract relevant lessons form WW1.

The Great War against Terror looks different to WW2, but only from the Allied perspective. The Germans faced insurgencies in many of the countries they occupied. Caldwell's Small Wars written over a hundred years ago still has much to say about counter insurgency - and what was known in those days as fighting an uncivilized enemy. There is a splendid book called "Lessons in Imperial Rule: Instructions ofr British Infantrymen on the Indian Frontier" Policing." The author was General Sir Andrew Skeen and four editions were published between 1932 and 1939, It was based on instructions written by Henry Lumsden who raised the corps of Guides and introduced Khaki and fought in the first afghan war... It warns of IEDs and suicidal assassins.

There is still a distinction between fighting a civilized enemy, protected by the Geneva convention, and "uncivilized" opponents whose combatants have few rights, and whose civilians can be eliminated as collateral damage in pursuit of suspected enemies. Much is made of non kinetic attacks and information warfare. But, the World Wars featured cyber in the form of code breaking, fake news on a massive scale (The bigger the lie the more it will be believed - J Goebbels), including the fake attack on a German radio station. There is nothing new in political assassination or even random attacks on civilians. C19th Europe harboured plenty of bomb throwing anarchists. The Nazis made extensive use non kinetic effects such as enhancing the noise made by a diving Stuka and the threat of fifth columnists.

The internet enabled forces of the modern armies with their drones, modern body armour and individual communications gives western troops the kind of edge that the machine gun and bolt action rifle gave over indigenous peoples in the C19th. But what will happen if or when they face an equivalent force?

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