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War is the reciprocal and violent application of force between hostile political entities aimed at bringing about a desired political end-state via armed conflict. In his seminal work, On War, Carl Von Clausewitz calls war the "continuation of political intercourse, carried on with other means."[1] War is an interaction in which two or more militaries have a “struggle of wills”.[2] When qualified as a civil war, it is a dispute inherent to a given society, and its nature is in the conflict over modes of governance rather than sovereignty. War is not considered to be the same as mere occupation, murder or genocide because of the reciprocal nature of the violent struggle, and the organized nature of the units involved.

War is also a cultural entity, and its practice is not linked to any single type of political organisation or society. Rather, as discussed by John Keegan in his “History Of Warfare”, war is a universal phenomenon whose form and scope is defined by the society that wages it. [3] The conduct of war extends along a continuum, from the almost universal tribal warfare that began well before recorded human history, to wars between city states, nations, or empires. A group of combatants and their support is called an army on land, a navy at sea, and air force in the air. Wars may be prosecuted simultaneously in one or more different theatres. Within each theatre, there may be one or more consecutive military campaigns. A military campaign includes not only fighting but also intelligence, troop movements, supplies, propaganda, and other components. Continuous conflict is traditionally called a battle, although this terminology is not always fed to conflicts involving aircraft, missiles or bombs alone, in the absence of ground troops or naval forces.

War is not limited to the human species, as ants engage in massive intra-species conflicts which might be termed warfare. It is theorized that other species also engage in similar behavior, although this is not well documented. [4][5][6]



[edit] History of war

Main article: History of war

Some believe war has always been with us; others stress the lack of clear evidence that war is not in our prehistoric past, and the fact that many peaceful, non-military societies have and still do exist.

Originally, war likely consisted of small-scale raiding. Since the rise of the state some 5000 years ago, military activity has occurred over much of the globe. The advent of gunpowder and the acceleration of technological advances led to modern warfare.

Since the close of the Vietnam War, the ideas expounded by the Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) have come to thoroughly permeate American military writing, doctrinal, theoretical, and historical. His book On War, first published (as Vom Kriege) in 1832, was adopted as a key text at the Naval War College in 1976, the Air War College in 1978, the Army War College in 1981. It has always been central at the U.S. Army's School for Advanced Military Studies at Leavenworth (founded in 1983). The U.S. Marine Corps's brilliant little philosophical field manual FMFM 1: Warfighting (1989) is essentially a distillation of On War, and the newer Marine Corps Doctrinal Publications (MCDPs, c.1997) are equally reflective of Clausewitz's basic concepts.*1

This is not the first time Clausewitz has been in fashion. Indeed, On War has been the bible of many thoughtful soldiers ever since Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke attributed to its guidance his stunning victories in the wars of German unification (1864, 1866, 1870-71). Nor is it the first time that individual American soldiers and military thinkers have been attracted by his ideas: George Patton, Albert Wedemeyer, and—especially—Dwight Eisenhower were intensely interested in what he had to say.

It is, however, the first time that the American armed forces as institutions have turned to Clausewitz. While the philosopher had insisted that war was "simply the expression of politics by other means," the traditional attitude of American soldiers had been that "politics and strategy are radically and fundamentally things apart. Strategy begins where politics end. All that soldiers ask is that once the policy is settled, strategy and command shall be regarded as being in a sphere apart from politics."*2 The sudden acceptability of Clausewitz in the wake of Vietnam is not difficult to account for, for among the major military theorists only Clausewitz seriously struggled with the sort of dilemma that American military leaders faced in the aftermath of their defeat. Clearly, in what had come to be called in scathing terms a "political war," the political and military components of the American war effort had come unstuck. It ran against the grain of America's military men to criticize elected civilian leaders, but it was just as difficult to take the blame upon themselves. Clausewitz's analysis could not have been more relevant:

The more powerful and inspiring the motives for war,... the more closely will the military aims and the political objects of war coincide, and the more military and less political will war appear to be. On the other hand, the less intense the motives, the less will the military element's natural tendency to violence coincide with political directives. As a result, war will be driven further from its natural course, the political object will be more and more at variance with the aim of ideal war, and the conflict will seem increasingly political in character.*3

When people talk, as they often do, about harmful political influence on the management of war, they are not really saying what they mean. Their quarrel should be with the policy itself, not with its influence.

Vom Kriege (IPA[fɔm ˈkʁiːgə]) is a book on war and military strategy by Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz, written mostly after the Napoleonic wars, between 1816 and 1830, and published posthumously by his wife in 1832. It has been translated into English several times as On War. On War is actually an unfinished work; Clausewitz had set about revising his accumulated manuscripts in 1827, but did not live to finish the task. His wife eventually compiled all the work and the final two chapters Clausewitz never finished.

On War is one of the first books on modern military strategy. This is mainly due to Clausewitz' integration of politics and social and economic issues as some of the most important factors in deciding the outcomes of a war. It is one of the most important treatises on strategy ever written, and is prescribed at various military academies to this day.



[edit] History

Carl von Clausewitz was a Prussian officer among those baffled by how the armies of the French Revolution and Napoleon had changed the nature of war through their ability to motivate the populace and thus unleash war on a greater scale than had previously been the case in Europe. Clausewitz was well educated and had a strong interest in art, science, and education, but he was a professional soldier who spent a considerable part of his life fighting against Napoleon. There is no doubt that the insights he gained from his experiences, combined with a solid grasp of European history, provided much of the raw material for the book. On War represents the compilation of his most cogent observations.

Note: Clausewitz states that Napoleon's tactics were not revolutionary at all and that Napoleonic Warfare did not change anything greatly in military history. The technology of weaponry for the most part remained static, and new strategies weren't developed, but rather Napoleon refurbished old ones, mixing them into one grand strategy.

[edit] Synopsis

The book contains a wealth of historical examples used to illustrate its various concepts. Frederick II of Prussia (the Great) figures prominently for having made very efficient use of the limited forces at his disposal. Napoleon also is a central figure.

Among many strands of thought, three stand out as essential to Clausewitz' concept:

  • War must never be seen as a purpose to itself, but as a means of physically forcing one's will on an opponent ("War is not merely a political act, but also a real political instrument, a continuation of political commerce, a carrying out of the same by other means."[1]).
  • The military objectives in war that support one's political objectives fall into two broad types: "war to achieve limited aims" and war to "disarm” the enemy: “to render [him] politically helpless or militarily impotent."
  • The course of war will tend to favor the party employing more force and resources (a notion extended by Germany's leaders in World War One into "total war"—the pursuit of complete military victory regardless of the political consequences).

Military strategy is a national defence policy implemented by military organisations to pursue desired strategic goals.[1] Derived from the Greek strategos, strategy when it appeared in use during the 18th century[2], was seen in its narrow sense as the "art of the general"[3], 'the art of arrangement' of troops.[4] Military strategy deals with the planning and conduct of campaigns, the movement and disposition of forces, and the deception of the enemy. The father of modern strategic study, Carl von Clausewitz, defined military strategy as "the employment of battles to gain the end of war." Liddell Hart's definition put less emphasis on battles, defining strategy as "the art of distributing and applying military means to fulfil the ends of policy" Hence, both gave the pre-eminence to political aims over military goals, ensuring civilian control of the military.



[edit] Fundamentals

"You must not fight too often with one enemy, or you will teach him all your art of war." Napoleon Bonaparte

Military strategy is the plan and execution of the contest between very large groups of armed adversaries. It involves each opponent's diplomatic, informational, military, and economic resources wielded against the other's resources to gain supremacy or reduce the opponent's will to fight. It is a principle tool to secure the national interest. A contemporary military strategy is developed via military science. [5] It is as old as society itself. It is a subdiscipline of warfare and of foreign policy. In comparison, grand strategy is that strategy of the largest of organizations which are currently the nation state, confederation, or international alliances. Military strategy has its origins before the Battle of the Ten Kings and will endure through the space age. It is larger in perspective than military tactics which is the disposition and maneuver of units on a particular sea or battlefield.[6]

[edit] Background

Military strategy in the 19th century was still viewed as one of a trivium of "arts" or "sciences" that govern the conduct of warfare; the others being tactics, the execution of plans and manœuvering of forces in battle, and logistics, the maintenance of an army. The view had prevailed since the Roman times, and the borderline between strategy and tactics at this time was blurred, and sometimes categorization of a decision is a matter of almost personal opinion. Carnot, during the French Revolutionary Wars thought it simply involved concentration of troops.[7]

The Battle of Siffin, illustration from a 19th century manuscript by Muhammad Rafi Bazil.

Strategy and tactics are closely related and exist on the same continuum.



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