Change is the only constant we know. Each and everything in the world has evolved over time. In the ever-evolving world, the quest for survival is eternal. When survival is threatened, unfortunate wars break out. The world has witnessed wars from long ago for a myriad of causes. War has been an integral part of humankind. Warfare has evolved as well in tune with time. From the ancient wars characterized by chariot or cavalry warfare between states, communities, and feuds to the constant threats of nuclear or space wars in recent times, warfare has come a very long way.
Warfare has gone through seismic shifts due to immense technological prowess. The sharpened sticks and spades were the instruments of warfare in ancient ages. Now, wars are fought with automated machine guns, snippers aided by a superior surveillance system. The warfares were designed for means of self- protection, defensive, or offensive approaches according to the needs of the time. The availability of resources and the amount of technological prowess shape the styles of warfares.
In the Stone Age, stones were used as weapons to protect oneself. The basic strategies of war- offensive and defensive approaches have remained more or less the same. In War Before Civilization, Lawrence H. Keeley said that approximately 90–95% of known societies had been involved in wars. Despite the seismic shifts in warfare techniques, conventional wars changing to hyper war, fourth-generation wars, etc, core strategies remain unchanged since eras.
The wars that took place during the beginning of recorded history were between different farmer and hunter-gatherer communities who were aiming to protect their food surpluses. In prehistoric ages, hunter-gatherer societies would use chiseled stones and sharpened sticks to hunt animals. Later when these societies grew it took the form of settlements like Mesopotamia and Indus Valley Civilization. Once these communities produced surplus grains, they diverted their attention towards town building and focussed on expansion. This led to the formation of specialized armies. Armies used bows and arrows as in prehistoric times.
Archaeological evidence in Kenya points towards the use of spades. Artillery was the main organ primarily because stirrups and saddles had not been developed. The invention of the chariot was a chief feature of warfare during this period was instrumental. Around 1800 BC, these chariots developed as modes of transportation that could be used in plain terrains and were hugely destructive. Chariots required extremely skilled craftsmanship and the usage of chariots gave rise to a feudal system where specialists were employed in the army.
Ancient weapons included a javelin, light spear or similar projectile, bow and arrow, and a sling with a finger; Javelin, hawk, and spear; Hand-made weapons like knives, spears, clubs, mace, axes, and knives. Catapults, siege towers, and battering rams were used during sieges. The Ancient Greek archaeological evidence points out the use of swords. Alexander’s army was equipped with a metal helmet, greaves, and a shield covered with bronze.
Technological, social, and cultural changes transformed medieval warfare. The fortification was an important feature of medieval warfare. Forts and castles were constructed in India and Europe respectively to prevent sieges and provided high security. Another important feature of this period was documentation of the wars and literature on war techniques. In the Middle Ages, feudalism was the most prevalent order and it required kings to depend on nobles who recruited and formed the armies. Cavalry assumed more importance than the artillery signaling the decline of chariots.
The infantry was subdivided into spearmen, archers, and unmounted soldiers. Heavily armored mounted knights are a classical depiction of medieval warfare. Sieges to the forts were the most important war technique utilized during these times. Sieges often took more than months and sometimes years. It led to the development of an industry based on ferrous metallurgy which allowed for the mass production of metal weapons and thus the equipment of large standing armies. The first military power to benefit from these discoveries was the Neo-Assyrian Empire, which gained control over the Fertile Crescent.
Introduction of the gunpowder in the medieval ages was another significant feature. The introduction of cannons- long tubular guns that could throw objects at longer distances was invented in China and later spread to Europe and other parts of Asia. They were considered to be the most important weapon of that time.
Modern warfare is warfare that in contrast to previous military concepts, methods, and technologies, emphasizing how a combat warrior must modernize in order to maintain their combat capabilities. As such, it is a developing subject, appearing differently at different times and places. In its narrowest sense, it is simply synonymous with contemporary warfare. The following are the examples: World War I, World War II, Korean War, Vietnam War, India- China war, India- Pakistan war, etc.
With the advent of the Industrial Revolution, warfare went under huge changes. The introduction of railways and other vehicles emphasized rapid mobility. The usage of machine guns, aircraft, and tanks signaled the advent of technological prowess. The aerial force was first used in 1911 for combating aerial and ground strikes. In the Second war, aerial machinery was used for strategic bombarding. Mechanized infantry is the chief feature of modern warfare. Artillery is equipped with machine guns, to shell-firing guns, howitzers, mortars, rocket devices, and snipers. This period witnessed the decline of cavalry. Mechanized tanks became an instrument of combat and they could provide mobility in difficult terrains.
The second world war witnessed the use of the most destructive weapons: nuclear bombs. A handful of countries have developed this technology of fission and fusion to generate tremendous energy. Chemical and biological warfare have been completely prohibited after the Chemical Weapon and Biological Weapon Conventions. These wars are combined with intelligence requirements, surveillance, and networking leading to specialized divisions for each of them. The Gulf War was dubbed as the ‘Video Game War’ as the live coverage allowed television viewers to watch the wars in their homes. Radar and sonar systems have been developed to keep the track of enemies.
Records of naval warfare have been found in ancient period texts. Warships further developed during medieval times. The modern period witnessed the introduction of warrior class ships equipped with modern artillery. The examples of nuclear and armed submarines can also be taken in this regard as these submarines have “torpedoes” which can easily damage other submarines which are there to “spy”. Another rising field of warfare is space. Recent attempts at the militarization of space is a worrisome situation. Anti-satellite machinery has been developed which could emerge as a source of potential threat.
Warfare has transformed entirely, with the sophistication reaching absurdly high levels. For those who devise war strategies, they should keep in tune with changing times. It is always better to adapt to the changing atmosphere to stay on the surviving side. “Survival of the fittest” is the adage that best suits the warfare techniques.
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Belonging to Gurgaon, he is currently a student at Kirori Mal College pursuing Economics Hons. Ishaan is a fun loving person, soft at heart and a confident and dedicated soul. You can typically find him working for his endeavours or attending a Model United Nations conference. He likes to keep himself aware about the happenings around the world!