How have changing technologies affected warfare over time? Consider early warfare fought with swords, bows, portable defensive mechanisms etc. as well as modern weaponry, vehicles, communication...

How have changing technologies affected warfare over time? Consider early warfare fought with swords, bows, portable defensive mechanisms etc. as well as modern weaponry, vehicles, communication etc.

 

Asked on by williamsm02

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boomer-sooner | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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Technology has made warfare less personal, faster and more political.  This has held true on land as well as in the sea.

The early battles were fought using close range weapons such as swords, axes or even hand to hand.  Armies had to meet physically on the battlefield to vie for superiority.  As weapon technology advanced, so did the distance between the two armies.  Smooth bore rifles allowed combatants to be further apart, but still on the same field.  Modern firearms allow for accuracy of 600 yards, dramatically increasing the distance and consequently decreasing the personal involvement with the enemy.  Battles at sea are even more dramatic when it comes to distance.  Early battles required boarding parties and land tactics to take a ship.  Current technology allows ships to launch attacks at enemies well over the horizon and not visible to the naked eye.  Air combat is much more recent regarding historical examinations of warfare, but it perhaps drives the point best of all.  Drone pilots can now sit in the comfort of the United States and still operate aircraft firing on enemy troops.  They only perceive the battle through a television monitor.  This is one of the most impersonal ways to wage combat.

Other non-military technology has greatly influenced combat as well.  The automobile enables armies to move much faster than before, and the scope of a battle is more broad.  Historically, commanders only need worry about how far a man can travel by foot or horse when considering base security.  Now, commanders must broaden their scope to how far a plane can fly.  Communication is another area where technology has aided armies.  Commanders can now functionally utilize greater numbers of soldiers with precise direction due to radio communication.  Likewise, battlefield updates are almost instantaneous allowing a more fluid evolvement to the battle.

However, technology has also brought conflicts to the living rooms of the public.  Atrocities, common for centuries in battle, were no longer acceptable to the public and the modern soldier must operate with the knowledge their actions may be seen by millions of viewers, many unfamiliar with combat.  In some regards, technology has made the modern soldier more ethical and caused them to alter their fighting to accommodate the public opinion of the war.  Some people argue such limitations hurt the armies.  Either way, the reality is the manner of fighting is much more political for the average household than ever before in history.

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