Conventional warfare

Conventional warfare

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Conventional warfare is a form of war
War
War is a state of organized, armed, and often prolonged conflict carried on between states, nations, or other parties typified by extreme aggression, social disruption, and usually high mortality. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political...

fare conducted by
using conventional military weapons and battlefield tactics between two or more state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

s in open confrontation. The forces on each side are well-defined, and fight using weapons that primarily target the opposing army. It is normally fought using conventional weapon
Conventional weapon
The terms conventional weapons or conventional arms generally refer to weapons that are in relatively wide use that are not weapons of mass destruction, such as nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. Conventional weapons include small arms and light weapons, sea and land mines, as well as ...

s, not chemical
Chemical warfare
Chemical warfare involves using the toxic properties of chemical substances as weapons. This type of warfare is distinct from Nuclear warfare and Biological warfare, which together make up NBC, the military acronym for Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical...

, biological
Biological warfare
Biological warfare is the use of biological toxins or infectious agents such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi with intent to kill or incapacitate humans, animals or plants as an act of war...

, nor nuclear
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

 weapons.

The general purpose of conventional warfare is to weaken or destroy the opponent's military force, thereby negating its ability to engage in conventional warfare. In forcing capitulation, however, one or both sides may eventually resort to unconventional warfare
Unconventional warfare
Unconventional warfare is the opposite of conventional warfare. Where conventional warfare is used to reduce an opponent's military capability, unconventional warfare is an attempt to achieve military victory through acquiescence, capitulation, or clandestine support for one side of an existing...

 tactics.

Formation of the state



The state was first advocated by Plato
Plato
Plato , was a Classical Greek philosopher, mathematician, student of Socrates, writer of philosophical dialogues, and founder of the Academy in Athens, the first institution of higher learning in the Western world. Along with his mentor, Socrates, and his student, Aristotle, Plato helped to lay the...

, then found more acceptance in the consolidation of power under the Roman Catholic Church
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

. European monarchs then gained power as the Catholic Church was stripped of temporal power and was replaced by the divine right of kings
Divine Right of Kings
The divine right of kings or divine-right theory of kingship is a political and religious doctrine of royal and political legitimacy. It asserts that a monarch is subject to no earthly authority, deriving his right to rule directly from the will of God...

. In 1648, the powers of Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

 signed the Treaty of Westphalia which ended the religious violence for purely political governance and outlook, signifying the birth of the modern 'state'.

Within this statist paradigm, only the state and its appointed representatives were allowed to bear arms
Weapon
A weapon, arm, or armament is a tool or instrument used with the aim of causing damage or harm to living beings or artificial structures or systems...

 and enter into war. In fact, war was only understood as a conflict between sovereign states. King
Monarch
A monarch is the person who heads a monarchy. This is a form of government in which a state or polity is ruled or controlled by an individual who typically inherits the throne by birth and occasionally rules for life or until abdication...

s strengthened this idea and gave it the force of law
Law
Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behavior, wherever possible. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus...

. Whereas previously any noble
Nobility
Nobility is a social class which possesses more acknowledged privileges or eminence than members of most other classes in a society, membership therein typically being hereditary. The privileges associated with nobility may constitute substantial advantages over or relative to non-nobles, or may be...

 could start a war, the monarchs of Europe of necessity consolidated military power in response to the Napoleonic war.

The Clausewitzian paradigm



Prussia
Prussia
Prussia was a German kingdom and historic state originating out of the Duchy of Prussia and the Margraviate of Brandenburg. For centuries, the House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia, successfully expanding its size by way of an unusually well-organized and effective army. Prussia shaped the history...

 was one country attempting to amass military power. Carl von Clausewitz, one of Prussia's officers, wrote On War
On War
Vom Kriege 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...

, a work rooted solely in the world of the state. All other forms of intrastate conflict, such as rebellion
Rebellion
Rebellion, uprising or insurrection, is a refusal of obedience or order. It may, therefore, be seen as encompassing a range of behaviors aimed at destroying or replacing an established authority such as a government or a head of state...

, are not accounted for because, in theoretical terms, Clausewitz could not account for warfare before the state (However, near the end of his life, Clausewitz grew increasingly aware of the importance of non-state military actors. This is revealed in his conceptions of "the people in arms" which he noted arose from the same social and political sources as traditional inter-state warfare).

Practices such as raiding
Raid (military)
Raid, also known as depredation, is a military tactic or operational warfare mission which has a specific purpose and is not normally intended to capture and hold terrain, but instead finish with the raiding force quickly retreating to a previous defended position prior to the enemy forces being...

 or blood feuds
Feud
A feud , referred to in more extreme cases as a blood feud, vendetta, faida, or private war, is a long-running argument or fight between parties—often groups of people, especially families or clans. Feuds begin because one party perceives itself to have been attacked, insulted or wronged by another...

 were then labeled criminal activities and stripped of legitimacy. This war paradigm reflected the view of most of the modernized world at the beginning of the 21st century, as verified by examination of the conventional armies of the time: large, high maintenance, technologically advanced armies designed to compete against similarly designed forces.

Clausewitz also forwarded the issue of casus belli
Casus belli
is a Latin expression meaning the justification for acts of war. means "incident", "rupture" or indeed "case", while means bellic...

. While previous wars were fought for social, religious, even cultural reasons, Clausewitz taught that war is merely "a continuation of politics by other means." It is a rational calculation where states fight for their interests (whether they are economic, security related, or otherwise) once normal discourse has broken down.

Prevalence


The majority of modern wars have been conducted using the means of conventional warfare. Confirmed use of biological warfare by a nation state has not occurred since 1945, and chemical warfare has been used only a few times (the latest known confrontation in which it was utilized being the Iran-Iraq War
Iran-Iraq War
The Iran–Iraq War was an armed conflict between the armed forces of Iraq and Iran, lasting from September 1980 to August 1988, making it the longest conventional war of the twentieth century...

). Nuclear warfare
Nuclear weapon
A nuclear weapon is an explosive device that derives its destructive force from nuclear reactions, either fission or a combination of fission and fusion. Both reactions release vast quantities of energy from relatively small amounts of matter. The first fission bomb test released the same amount...

 has only occurred once with the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 bombing
Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
During the final stages of World War II in 1945, the United States conducted two atomic bombings against the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, the first on August 6, 1945, and the second on August 9, 1945. These two events are the only use of nuclear weapons in war to date.For six months...

 the Japan
Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

ese cities of Hiroshima
Hiroshima
is the capital of Hiroshima Prefecture, and the largest city in the Chūgoku region of western Honshu, the largest island of Japan. It became best known as the first city in history to be destroyed by a nuclear weapon when the United States Army Air Forces dropped an atomic bomb on it at 8:15 A.M...

 and Nagasaki in August 1945.

Decline



The state and Clausewitzian principles peaked in the World War
World war
A world war is a war affecting the majority of the world's most powerful and populous nations. World wars span multiple countries on multiple continents, with battles fought in multiple theaters....

s of the 20th century, but also laid the groundwork for their dilapidation due to nuclear proliferation
Nuclear proliferation
Nuclear proliferation is a term now used to describe the spread of nuclear weapons, fissile material, and weapons-applicable nuclear technology and information, to nations which are not recognized as "Nuclear Weapon States" by the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, also known as the...

 and the manifestation of culturally aligned conflict. The nuclear bomb was the result of the state perfecting its quest to overthrow its competitive duplicates. Ironically, this development seems to have pushed conventional conflict waged by the state to the sidelines. Were two conventional armies to fight, the loser would have redress in its nuclear arsenal.

Thus, no two nuclear powers have yet fought a conventional war directly
Proxy war
A proxy war or proxy warfare is a war that results when opposing powers use third parties as substitutes for fighting each other directly. While powers have sometimes used governments as proxies, violent non-state actors, mercenaries, or other third parties are more often employed...

, with the exception of brief skirmishes between for example, China and Russia in the 1969 Sino-Soviet conflict and between India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

 and Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 in the 1999 Kargil War
Kargil War
The Kargil War ,, also known as the Kargil conflict, was an armed conflict between India and Pakistan that took place between May and July 1999 in the Kargil district of Kashmir and elsewhere along the Line of Control...

.

Replacement


Conventional warfare, waged by the state, has become something not worthy of a declaration of war. Instead, those capable of fighting underneath the nuclear umbrella (supranational terrorists
Terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

, corporate mercenaries, ethnic militia
Militia
The term militia is commonly used today to refer to a military force composed of ordinary citizens to provide defense, emergency law enforcement, or paramilitary service, in times of emergency without being paid a regular salary or committed to a fixed term of service. It is a polyseme with...

s, and so on.) have now come to dominate the majority of conflict in the post-modern era. These conflicts cannot be explained under the statist system.

Samuel Huntington
Samuel P. Huntington
Samuel Phillips Huntington was an influential American political scientist who wrote highly-regarded books in a half-dozen sub-fields of political science, starting in 1957...

 has posited that the world in the early 21st century exists as a system of nine distinct "civilizations," instead of many sovereign state
Sovereign state
A sovereign state, or simply, state, is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. It is also normally understood to be a state which is neither...

s. These civilizations are delineated along cultural lines, for example, Western, Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

ic, Sinic, Hindu
Hindu
Hindu refers to an identity associated with the philosophical, religious and cultural systems that are indigenous to the Indian subcontinent. As used in the Constitution of India, the word "Hindu" is also attributed to all persons professing any Indian religion...

 and so on. In this way, cultures that have long been dominated by the West are reasserting themselves and looking to challenge the status quo. Thus, culture
Culture
Culture is a term that has many different inter-related meanings. For example, in 1952, Alfred Kroeber and Clyde Kluckhohn compiled a list of 164 definitions of "culture" in Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions...

 has replaced the state as the locus of war. This kind of civilizational war, in our time as in times long past, occurs where these cultures buffet up against one another. Some high-profile examples are the Pakistan/India conflict or the battles in the Sudan. This sort of war has defined the field since World War II.

These cultural forces will not contend with state-based armies in the traditional way. When faced with battalions of tanks, jets, and missiles, the cultural opponent dissolves away into the population. They benefit from the territorially constrained states, being able to move freely from one country to the next, while states must negotiate with other sovereign states. The state's spy networks are also severely limited by cultural factors.

See also


Contrast:
  • Asymmetric warfare
    Asymmetric warfare
    Asymmetric warfare is war between belligerents whose relative military power differs significantly, or whose strategy or tactics differ significantly....

  • Low-intensity operations
  • Psychological warfare
    Psychological warfare
    Psychological warfare , or the basic aspects of modern psychological operations , have been known by many other names or terms, including Psy Ops, Political Warfare, “Hearts and Minds,” and Propaganda...

  • Unconventional warfare
    Unconventional warfare
    Unconventional warfare is the opposite of conventional warfare. Where conventional warfare is used to reduce an opponent's military capability, unconventional warfare is an attempt to achieve military victory through acquiescence, capitulation, or clandestine support for one side of an existing...