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Warfare - Essay Example

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What are the characteristics of warfare in the 21st Century? Conflict and strife are as old as mankind itself though its dimensions have been changing as technological advances have impacted it along with other facets of human life. War has gone from the early days of using battle clubs and axes to today where unmanned aircraft controlled from halfway across the world can shoot down moving ground targets…
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Download file to see previous pages This kind of warfare more closely resembles the kind of decentralised wars from the earlier periods of human history (Thornton, 2007). The 4GW system indicates that the nation state structure has had to relinquish its monopoly on well defined combat forces as the nature of conflict often forces them to return to modes of conflict displayed in pre-modern times. The warfare displayed in the 21st century clearly demonstrates the presence and eventual dominance of the non-state actors in theatres of war. Often conflict is characterised as violent struggle between at least one non-state actor and other state actors. This is far more similar to pre-modern times such as the slave uprising against the Roman Republic under Spartacus. Certain elements of the 4GW make it far more different than other modes of conflict and are described in detail below. In general terms the conflicts in the 4GW system are complex and based on long term commitment to violence (Hammes, 2006). As an example, the Second World War which claimed the greatest number of lives on the planet continued for a mere six years while conflicts in the 4GW regime can continue for a decade or more such as the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan, the US campaign in Iraq and Afghanistan etc. Moreover the use of terrorism as a tactic of such prolonged campaigns is a defining feature of 4GW conflicts. Terrorism can be seen continuing even after the expected end of conflicts in the 4GW period and this in turn often sparks the conflict again (Schmid & Jongman, 1988). The presence of terrorist activities makes such conflicts and their ends rather unpredictable. As an example, the rebellion of the Tamils in Sri Lanka continued for decades without respite and the interlaced periods of cease fire between the Tamils and the Sri Lankan military were often disrupted by acts of terrorism that reactivated the state of war. In order to support the activities required to engage in 4GW, it is necessary to use a decentralised presence on the part of the engaged parties. This is often achieved using non-national or trans-national bases that are highly decentralised (Hoffman, 2006). As is often the case in such circumstances, the leadership of the violent non state actor lies in another state while the actual conflict proceeds in another state. The presence and adept handling of communication equipment has enabled the relaying of information over large distances and in such situations with reliability. This ensures that the central leadership can operate from foreign theatres of operation in order to avoid danger near the battlefield. The evolution of recent wars has made this precept of 4GW all the stronger (Juergensmeyer, 2000). More often than not the central leadership is composed of multiple nationalities, ethnic and racial identities working together to achieve common objectives. This enables the leadership to be split up into multiple locations which makes it harder for enemy combatants to close down onto the central leadership and disassemble it (Rodin, 2006). The leadership is often small in size unlike the conventional tactics employed in nation state armies. The leadership is highly varied as mentioned before and so a network of communication must exist in order to manage the theatre of conflict. One important ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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