Warfare, use of force on the part of two or more nations or other organized groups for the purpose of deciding questions at issue that cannot be settled by diplomatic means. Warfare takes a variety of forms besides organized military confrontations—among them insurrections, revolutions, coups d'état, guerrilla warfare, and terrorism. A state of war can also exist without actual recourse to arms, such as the cold war.
|II||THE CONDUCT OF WARFARE|
The military institutions of a nation and the way it wages war are determined principally by its form of government, social structure, economic strength, and geographical position. Before World War II, the United States, taking advantage of its isolated geographical positions, maintained only a small standing army and depended on its navy and that of Britain.
|A||Causes of Warfare|
Warfare is employed to bring about or to resist political, social, or economic changes. History provides evidence of such tangible, and frequently interrelated, causes as religious conflict, protection of dynastic succession, or acquisition of territory. War for acquisition of land is directly related to the necessity of providing food for a nation or a group; thus, pioneer settlers in the U.S. waged war against the Native Americans for land on which to grow their crops and graze their cattle. In antiquity and during the Middle Ages, wars were often based on the desire to subjugate other peoples and to increase wealth by exacting taxes and tributes from them. Wars are also often linked to a desire for security, on the theory that a so-called first strike prevents an enemy from carrying out threats. According to some much disputed theories, such as those of the Austrian zoologist Konrad Lorenz, innate aggressive drives are responsible for human beings' frequent recourse to warfare.
|B||Planning and Organization of Warfare|
The overall plan devised to defeat an enemy is called strategy. The actual techniques carried out against the enemy are tactics, which consist of the procedures for winning on the battlefield, in naval battle, and in aerial combat. Once the overall strategic plan has been approved, planning cycles at lower echelons are implemented. The execution of plans, making possible the attainment of military objectives, involves functions carried out by a field commander whose tactical judgment and leadership are critical. Logistics, which involves transporting troops and furnishing continuous supplies in support of military operations, is essential to the success of the mission. Mobilizing industry, utilities, and medical service, as well as scientific research facilities and propaganda sources, are also part of the logistics planning function.
Offensive actions involve operations that will force the defeat of armed forces and destroy an enemy's will to fight. Offensive action permits initiative—the choice of immediate objectives and direction of attack, and the organization and timing of attack.
The changes in types of operation—from ancient hand-to-hand combat to modern deployment of nuclear missiles—are linked to changes in technology. The integration of the horse into military organization proved to be of great tactical and logistical value on land, just as the development of sailing vessels (replacing oared vessels) revolutionized naval warfare. The introduction of gunpowder, and the invention of the steam engine, the telegraph, and the internal-combustion engine, completely changed land and sea warfare and added a third type—air warfare. Modern warfare relies on such devices as tracklaying vehicles, radio and radar, rocket propulsion, laser-guided weaponry, and the developments of space technology.
Defense entails the employment of all means and methods to prevent, resist, or destroy an enemy attack. Its purpose may be twofold: to gain time pending the development of more favorable conditions to take the offensive, or to concentrate forces in one area for decisive offense elsewhere. Security, through technological means or through intelligence, is an integral part of defense—to prevent surprise attack, preserve freedom of action, and deny the enemy information. Technological means of ensuring security include such devices as radar, which greatly contributed, for example, to alerting the Royal Air Force's Fighter Command of impending German bomber attacks during the Battle of Britain (1940). Intelligence is the end result of information that has been collected, analyzed, and distributed to the appropriate agencies or individuals. See Espionage.
Civilians play a role in defensive action, primarily on the home front, by organizing and carrying out maneuvers designed to protect human lives, natural resources, and means of production from the effects of enemy action.
Psychological warfare aims at destroying an enemy's will to resist. It includes the use of propaganda (printed, broadcast, or in the form of films) and aerial bombardment employed for its demoralizing effect on the enemy civilian population as well as on combatant forces. A development of 20th-century warfare has been the use of so-called brainwashing techniques, by which behavior can be modified after first weakening a captured enemy's mind and body through prolonged fatigue, discomfort, malnutrition, and anxiety.
|F||Results of and Responses to Warfare|
Increasingly, as total warfare has evolved, wars affect not only the combatants but noncombatant civilian populations who may be left homeless, destitute, and subject to disease. Since 1864 the International Red Cross (see Red Cross) has worked to alleviate such suffering. Warfare also results in population shifts as masses of refugees seek asylum—for example, after World War II, most of the remnant of European Jewry who survived the Holocaust migrated to North and South America and to Israel.
The effects of warfare can also be measured in changes to the land itself. Ecological damage has become more evident with the use of modern weaponry and combat aids. Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan, bear witness to the use of the atom bomb in World War II. The use of chemical defoliants in the Vietnam War resulted in marked changes to the topography of the regions sprayed. See Chemical and Biological Warfare.
Responses to these effects range from expressions of philosophical opposition to warfare as a means of settling human differences, to efforts at establishing and maintaining peace after the cessation of hostilities: armistice and peace treaties, disarmament conferences and pacts, the establishment of such international peace organizations as the League of Nations in 1920 and the United Nations in 1945, and détente (suggested for scaling down the cold war). See Arms Control.
Modern antiwar sentiment and organized peace movements are derived in large part from the beliefs of religious sects such as the Society of Friends and the Mennonite Church. The first peace societies in history were established in the U.S. in 1815, and since then pacifists have actively opposed wars and conscription, and promoted the cause of conscientious objectors. See Pacifism.
For additional information, see such entries as see Air Warfare; Army; Navy; see also separate articles on the armed forces of the U.S., for example, see United States Navy..
|III||WARFARE THROUGH THE AGES|
Organized warfare began, along with Western civilization, in the Fertile Crescent between the Persian Gulf and the Mediterranean Sea. The peoples of that area were nomadic until the discovery of grass seeds that could be cultivated and animals that could be domesticated led to the establishment of settled communities. Initially, military forces were organized to defend these communities from marauders; then, because of the pressures of increased population and proliferating herds, community boundaries were pushed outward at the expense of neighboring peoples. Beginning about 3500 bc, the Middle East from Mesopotomia to Egypt was in constant turmoil as empires rose and fell.
|A||The Ancient Middle East|
The most powerful of these empires were the Assyrian and the Persian. The Assyrians, a warrior people whose army was the state, controlled most of western Asia by the 9th century bc. Swift-striking cavalry was the major arm of both the Assyrian and Persian armies, but they both used archers and heavy infantry armed with spears to engage the enemy force before the chariots and the horsemen delivered the decisive assault. The Assyrians also used terror as a weapon, sacking cities and killing all prisoners.
|B||Greece and Rome|
The Assyrian and Persian armies—like those of the ancient empires of India and China—were basically professional forces. The Greek city-states, on the other hand, relied on a civilian militia. The backbone of the Greek army was the hoplite, or armored spearman, massed in a phalanx or square eight to ten ranks deep. Slingers, archers, and dart throwers swarmed out from between the infantry squares to discharge their weapons and then retired through the intervals. The chariots charged and the cavalry tried to sweep around the enemy's flank. Finally, the masses of infantry met in ponderous collision with sword, spear, and shield. The phalanx was almost irresistible in frontal assault, but it lacked maneuverability. As time went on, the Greek armies became more professional. This was particularly true of the light infantry, which had originally been composed of the poorer classes. Philip II of Macedonia, who conquered Greece in the 4th century bc, deepened the phalanx to 16 men and developed artillery—mobile machines that catapulted missiles at the enemy. Philip's son, Alexander the Great, used the army created by his father to conquer the Persian Empire.
The Romans, like the Greeks, initially relied on a citizen-soldiery, but the legion—the largest unit in their army—was more maneuverable than the phalanx. In the course of the Punic Wars (3rd and 2nd century bc), the Roman army became a professional force. Drill and discipline were the keystones of Roman military power; the individual foot soldier was skilled in the use of heavy javelins and the short sword. Roman siege techniques were highly developed and the supply service well organized. After the 2nd century ad the Romans began to rely increasingly on mercenaries. This reduced their military effectiveness and made them vulnerable to attacks by the Germanic peoples of northern Europe.
|C||The Middle Ages|
After the breakup of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century ad, military organization fell into a decline. Europe lay open to invasion—by Avars and Bulgars from the east, the Vikings from the north, and the Moors from the south. The Franks, a Germanic tribe that occupied present-day Germany and France, adopted a crude version of the Roman system and managed to halt the invading Moors at the Battle of Tours in 732, but their tactics were primitive when compared with those of the Greeks and Romans.
At the same time, the armies of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire had considerable success in adopting the fast-moving, hard-hitting tactics of their enemies. One of the major innovations of Byzantine warfare was the horse-archer, a cavalryman able to shoot arrows to either side while riding at full speed.
Western Europeans attempted to deal with the persistent raids of the Vikings by creating a feudal system in which the aristocracy performed mandatory military service in return for its privileges. The mounted knight, who owed allegiance to one noble rather than to a national state, dominated medieval warfare. Fighting out of a spirit of adventure or for spoils, the Christian knight was in the forefront of the periodic Crusades mobilized to liberate the Holy Land from Muslim control. In the 14th and 15th centuries feudalism began to give way to nation-states, and kings began to form their own armies. The English longbow, the pike employed by massed infantry, and the introduction of gunpowder finally forced the armored knight from the field. Once again, armies became professional and military organization underwent a renaissance.
The Thirty Year's War (1618-1648) marked the beginning of modern warfare. During that conflict King Gustav II Adolph of Sweden greatly improved army organization and discipline, introducing more powerful artillery and a lighter infantry musket that permitted soldiers to load and fire faster. During the wars of the English Revolution (1640-1649), Oliver Cromwell raised an extremely effective fighting force by conscription. Pay, supplies, and discipline were fixed by law, and for the first time the scarlet coat became the badge of English troops.
|D1||The 18th and 19th Centuries|
In the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714), the British commander John Churchill, duke of Marlborough, made good use of mobility and firepower against the armies of Louis XIV of France. Frederick the Great of Prussia introduced strict discipline to maneuvers on the field of battle and won brilliant victories by using massed artillery in the Seven Years' War (1756-1763).
At the end of the 18th century the wars of the French Revolution produced a revolution in the conduct of warfare. Revolutionary France mobilized huge armies by universal conscription and won victories by sheer human resources. Napoleon Bonaparte welded this force into a sword of empire. He organized the French army into corps—self-contained, fast-moving, and hard-hitting formations, each consisting of two or three divisions of 6000 to 9000 men with its own cavalry and artillery. Each corps was, in effect, a miniature army capable of pinning down vastly superior forces until other corps would come up and engage the enemy on the flank. Trained as an artillery man, Napoleon utilized massed cannons and deployed them with a skill never before seen. Boldness, the hallmark of the Napoleonic tactics, influenced warfare for a century.
The American Civil War (1861-1865) was the first conflict in which the technology produced by the Industrial Revolution—railroads, the telegraph, rifled weapons, and armored ships—was used extensively. The doctrine of total war was introduced by the Union general William T. Sherman, who laid waste to the industrial and agricultural base that supported the armies of his Confederate opponents.
|D2||The World Wars|
World War I (1914-1918) began as a war of movement, but a stalemate developed after the first few weeks. Each side suffered enormous casualties in vain efforts to breach the other's defenses; new weapons such as the airplane and the tank were introduced, and sea warfare was revolutionized by the submarine. World War II (1939-1945) marked a return to the war of movement. The Germans won initial success by employing massed tanks with a Napoleonic boldness in Poland and France, but the Allies were eventually able to defeat them by virtue of superior numbers and industrial strength. Armor was used to great advantage in Russia, North Africa, and, in the final campaigns, in Western Europe. In the Pacific war, which was fought over a wide expanse of ocean, amphibious operations played an important role. Naval aviation and the aircraft carrier became the major weapons of the war at sea, and battles such as Midway were fought without the opposing fleets drawing within sight of each other. A major feature of most conflicts since World War II has been the reliance on guerrilla tactics to engage the enemy in a total (or “people's”) war. For more on this, see Guerrilla Warfare; Vietnam War.
|IV||WAR IN THE NUCLEAR AGE|
Since 1945 the development of powerful nuclear explosive devices capable of destroying targets ranging in size from large cities to entire battlefields has changed the nature of modern warfare (see Nuclear Weapons). The possible employment of tactical nuclear weapons on the battlefield has made it extremely hazardous to mass conventional air, sea, or land forces in any one locale. For example, aircraft carriers, large formations of heavy bombers, or concentrations of armored units could all be destroyed by a single nuclear explosion. Even more vulnerable are civilian populations and economic centers that could be devastated by nuclear warheads launched from a distance of several thousand kilometers via intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). As a result, total warfare between nations equipped with nuclear weapons has become unacceptable as a sane option.
|A||Strategic Balance of Power|
From the 1950s through the 1980s, two superpowers, the U.S. and the USSR, each sought to develop and maintain an offensive strategic nuclear force sufficient to deter the other from launching a first-strike attack. These efforts produced a strategic balance of power that proved reasonably comfortable to both sides. The first consequence of this unusual community of interest was that each side tried to confine regional conflicts by limiting the type and employment of military forces. In Southeast Asia, for example, U.S. airpower in North Vietnam was carefully controlled, and in Angola, the Soviet Union made extensive use of Cuban troops rather than committing its own force. Both the U.S. and the USSR were also careful to limit the type of military equipment sold or lent to friendly powers. In certain areas such as central Europe and the North Atlantic, however, the close proximity of powerful conventional military forces equipped with tactical nuclear weapons greatly increased the risk that a local conflict might escalate into a global nuclear war. In such areas, both powers sought to operate with great restraint, each wary of provoking the other unnecessarily.
A second important aspect of the nuclear balance of power was an effort to restrict the proliferation of nuclear weapons through bilateral and multilateral treaties limiting the further development and production of nuclear weapons and the devices, such as guided missiles, that deliver them to their targets. The Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT), between the U.S. and the USSR led to an agreement in 1971 fixing the number of ICBMs that could be deployed by the armed forces of the two nations. One year later, a second treaty discouraged the continued development of antiballistic missile systems that might have made the existing ICBM forces obsolete. Other agreements prohibited nuclear weapons in neutral areas (such as outer space, Antarctica, and the ocean floor), or sought to prevent the development of nuclear weapons by other nations. The impetus behind these measures was not any desire to end for all time the use of nuclear weapons; rather, it was to perpetuate the existing balance of nuclear power and to avoid the ruinous economic competition of a full-scale nuclear arms race.
Today most nations have assigned a special status to nuclear, biological, and certain kinds of chemical weapons. All are indiscriminate weapons that can devastate wide areas by killing and injuring soldiers and civilians alike; their use cannot be justified by battlefield necessity alone. The authority to unleash such weapons is thus reserved for the highest levels of the national government.
In the U.S., the president, as head of the armed forces, retains sole authority over their employment, but even the president has to answer to the legislative branch except in cases of the greatest national emergency such as a surprise strategic missile attack. In such an event many safeguards may still reduce the chances of launching an accidental nuclear counterattack. Early-warning space satellites, for example, can identify the start of a missile attack. Sensitive advance radar stations are able to plot the number of missiles involved and their probable destinations. Airborne and coastal radar can provide similar notice of hostile bombers or sea-launched missiles (see Defense Systems). These warning systems give the president and the presidential advisers time to analyze the threat and issue orders for appropriate responses. Threatened U.S. missile sites, for example, might be ordered to launch their own ICBMs as soon as possible; U.S. military aircraft, especially the strategic bomber force, could become airborne; and U.S. warships and naval aircraft could provide protection for the launching of ballistic missiles by submarines. In addition, to preserve the national decision-making power, the president and other key leaders would be transported rapidly to remote, ground-based command centers. Presidential authority and control can be maintained during this move from aboard an airborne mobile command center—a large jetliner that is equipped with elaborate communications gear.
No less important is civilian (that is, presidential) control of tactical nuclear weapons and nuclear weapons on loan to allied military forces; in each case, presidential approval is needed before a weapon's employment. These procedures not only increase civilian control over nuclear weapons but also enhance their special status, making their use by either side in a conflict less likely.
Despite these efforts to control nuclear weapons, continuous developments in nuclear technology and sophisticated delivery systems have made the task of restricting their future use more difficult. The rapid spread of nuclear energy for commercial use throughout the world has given many smaller nations the technological capability and the raw materials needed to construct nuclear bombs. Another major development in nuclear weapons technology has been the construction of ever more powerful nuclear explosives with much greater areas of radioactive contamination.
Perhaps more significant in the long run, however, has been the reduction in size of nuclear weapons and a corresponding decrease in their lethal yield, which to some military planners makes the devices seem more acceptable for use on the battlefield. Today nuclear warheads can be delivered to their target by ordinary field artillery pieces, small nuclear bombs can be dropped by almost any type of aircraft, and nuclear-tipped depth charges can be used to destroy submarines.
The enhanced radiation fusion bomb, also called the neutron bomb, has been termed a “clean” weapon because it produces less residual radioactivity than the so-called dirty thermonuclear devices carried by ICBMs. Because the neutron bomb produces massive destruction, especially to human life, within a relatively confined area and because it can penetrate armor, it is considered a good weapon for possible battlefield use.
Improvements in nuclear weapons delivery systems have been even more rapid. Long-range bombers were supplemented by land-based ICBMs in the late 1950s, and in the following decade ICBM launching sites were built underground. The liquid propellants that fueled the missiles were replaced by solid fuels, and large nuclear-powered submarines were built to serve as mobile missile bases, almost impossible to detect and capable of launching their weapons underwater. See Submarine.
In the U.S., debate on defense issues centers on adopting airborne missile-launching facilities and developing new ways to hide land-based missile sites. Other recent developments include multiple independently targeted reentry vehicles (MIRV), warheads capable of releasing several nuclear devices in sequence against widely spaced targets. Great advances have also been made in ICBM accuracy, in deploying devices that can detect missiles and missile sites, and in developing delivery systems such as low-flying cruise missiles and “stealth” bombers that can penetrate defending radar networks undetected. Such technological advances, along with developments in command and control capability, have also revolutionized conventional warfare, providing a decisive advantage, for example, to the U.S.-led coalition in the Persian Gulf War.