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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Fundamentals of War

Key Concept of Conventional Warfare

This post is for the beginners who wish to pursue  a hobby in military science. Back then when I started my hobby about military science it took days to understand some of these concepts. So I hope this post will be helpful for the newbies.

At the very core of the warfare is the idea of gaining an advantage over the enemy. That means maintaining the integrity of your own war effort while disrupting that of your adversary.
War consists of military, economic, political as well as social means. However we are interested in the military aspect of the welfare, so we will discuss some core concepts of the traditional military conflicts.
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Hold your line: The very basic concept of battle is to build a formation with your military units. There are lots of different types of formations to use in different situations. We will come to that later. Basically the formation makes sure that your enemy remains at your front where you can attack them. But the most important thing is that by creating a formation you are effectively synchronizing the fighting ability of an individual soldier with the fighting ability of his team.
War is not about fighting alone, it's about fighting together for a common goal.
The formations serve the purpose of attacking the enemy, as well as defending against any enemy attack. The traditional way of wining a battle has been to disperse the enemy formations. once a formation is broken the fighting capability of individual soldiers reduces to almost nil and most of them are as good as dead.
Attack vs Defense: The course of warfare is determined by success and failure of attacks against the defenders. Traditionally the defenders has mostly been on the advantageous side and usually takes a considerable amount of numerical superiority for the attackers to win.
If the defenders can use the geographical features of the battlefield to their advantage it may be possible for them to hold back massively superior number of attackers for a prolonged period of time.
The best example is the Battle of Thermopylae where King Leonidas and his relatively small spartan army managed to hold the massive Persian army for days. The only way the Persians managed to defeat them was to outflank them through another path.
Weapons and Technology: Weapons and technology has determined the fate of warfare throughout the history. Strategy and tactics of warfare hugely depend on the available technology.
For example in old Greece the main weapon was shield and spear. That required a dense formation of soldiers holding the ground together. But in today's era of firearms, such a dense formation would be suicidal. So a relatively sparse formation with smaller units is generally used in these days.
Chain of Command: War is not just few men fighting each other. In order to fight a war, a sophisticated coordination is required between the soldiers. To do so the soldiers are grouped into several units with a corresponding unit leader. Such units are combined together to form larger units and so forth. The highest command is usually handed to a General who is responsible for the whole army. A various degree of autonomy is attributed to the individual unit leaders. This is called the chain of command which has been one of the key feature of warfare in different ages.
The chain of command has been evolved radically from one era to another and today an extremely sophisticated form is prevalent in most of the armies throughout the world.
Communication in the chain of command has always been a priority problem to solve. Different forms of communications has been used including voice command, banners, radio communications etc. according to the available technologies in different ages.
Supply lines: Perhaps the most important thing in warfare is the supply lines. An army can't fight without food, water, ammunition and other necessary equipment.
An army marches on it's belly.
The supply line ensures that your army can get what it needs from a source under your control. If you get outflanked and lose your supply lines the battle is almost as good as lost to you, unless you can manage to find another supply route.
This is the five basic concepts of warfare which has determined the course of military history throughout ages and will continue to do so in foreseeable future. if you are interested you can find links to some fine articles in the Links page.