War is one of the oldest activities of human civilization. Archaeology finds ample evidence for battles during the early neolithic. The violence of hominid on hominid could be theorized to have occurred even in the paleolithic, when there was more than one species of humans on the planet.
In the modern world we study war as several disciplines. The anthropologist studies war as the behavior of tribal societies. The archaeologist studies the wars and battles of the ancient past. Historians study battles and wars in the written records of military history. Psychologist study the behavior of modern humans to understand the impulses and cost of organized violence. And the modern military study war as an everyday reality to defend the interest and sovereignty of their nation. All of this shows that war is a reality of the past and the present, and likely the future.
My own interest in war came from listening to war stories from older family members. I heard stories of both World Wars, the Korean War, and Vietnam. I was also told stories of family who had served in the American Civil War and the wars of the old West. Twenty years of service in the US military during both peacetime and war, only enhanced that interest. When mixed with a lifelong fascination with history, my interest has become a desire to approach the topic with a scholar’s scrutiny.
Aviation redefined essential elements of warfare starting with the Great War up through the present day. It has gone through many transitions from propeller driven aircraft to jet planes. Now a new era of robotic aircraft is entering the fray.
In the afternoon of 31 May 1916, the British Grand Fleet and the German High Seas fleet meet in the largest clash of big gun ships from the steel fleet era. The British hoped for a battle in the tradition of Trafalgar, while the Germans hoped to cripple major elements of the Grand Fleet. Admiral Scheer that day hoped to destroy a battlecruiser squadron under Admiral Beatty; he never expected to encounter the whole British Grand Fleet under Admiral Jellicoe. The end result was a German tactical victory, but it did them little good on the strategic balance. The question is were there alternatives of a tactical or strategical nature that would have allowed the German’s to gain the strategic victory over the Grand fleet they needed to change the course of the war?
One of the first projectile weapons invented by Humanity was the bow & arrow. Only the spear thrower and the sling created lethality out to the same range as the primitive bows. For most of its use in history the bow was an instrument for hunting, but some time in the mesolithic it was turned into an instrument of war. It remained one of the principle forms of missilry in conflict till the invention of firearms. Through that long era the bow took many forms, being invented by almost every culture and society on Earth, and always used in warfare.
Constitution, commissioned 21 Oct 1797, and USS Olympia, commissioned 5 Feb 1895; between them lay a century of growth for the US Navy. Both served the American Republic in battle and peace, yet the technology moved forward steadily. By comparing the two ships technology and history, drastic changes of history can be seen.
From the 1st century BC to the 5th century AD, Rome fought to defend the territories she would conquer against tribal migrations of people. Throughout this six hundred year period she face constant pressure on her borders from tribes highly capable in battle. It took every resource of cunning and resolve for Rome to hold her ground, eventually failing but not without great successes along the way.
Across the centuries tactics have changed based upon economic viability and tactical capacities, but strategy remains constant with many of its factors. The 21st century will be no different in this regard.