Inquiry: The Basic Understanding of War and its Evolution.

Over history thousands upon thousands of wars have taken place, whether as major as the wars and battles we read about in textbooks and see on the news, or as small as two local businesses fighting over customers. Wars take place everywhere, in all different types of environments, during all periods history, and because of this I have a great interest in the idea of ‘war’. I find no bright liking in war seeing it is usually a very dark and serious topic, however, like one might be interested in volcanoes because of their nature and odd, intriguing form of destruction, I too feel the same towards war. I find the topic rather fascinating since it has evolved over thousands of years but still shares the same natures, just like a volcano.

Before understanding the actual components of war and its evolution over time, one must know the literal definition(s) of the term. War is thought to be defined as many things, however all involve some type of initial conflict. One meaning of war being ‘a fight or competition between two or more people or groups of people for something of value to both sides’. The other meaning and more common definition of war is ‘a long period of time in which two or more groups or countries fight.’ (1) However, both meanings bring a good summary understanding of the large three letter word we tend to bring up when talking about serious events in human history, though there is much more to it outside of fighting. Yes, war tends to be incredibly violent most times but there is really hundreds of variations of war, some involving major destruction and physical damage such as; nuclear, physical, field, water, air, and chemical warfare, or some involving little to no physical damage such as; mental, cyber, biological (depending on how serious it maybe), and verbal warfare. Though don’t be mistaken, for the form of war is not the only thing that comes in variations, the initial conflicts that start warfare vary too- and a lot more than their forms. The major initial wants and conflicts that start wars are usually ones involving greed and politics, for there is battles over leadership, ownership, territory, and resources, though there are also major conflicts that start wars that are rather more reasonable than acts of greed and power such as; self-defence, rights, beliefs and culture. In all there are hundreds, thousands, millions, plenty of different incidents that start international (external), civil and or local (internal) wars, some being large and impactful others not. (2)

Now, when speaking on conflict within war, it is not a new component of this world. Wars have been taking place all over our globe since pre-history and even farther back than then, though it has evolved a lot since then. Our world started off during pre-history with common initial conflicts to now, that were being fought with fists, sounds and the odd rock or two, which then moved to sharp serrated objects such as; arrows, knives, spears and later on swords once man got to the bronze age where craftsmen and blacksmiths were introduced. However now, the weapons used in warfare take a lot less power to wield and usually don’t even require being anywhere near the target. In more current times, soldiers uses heavy machinery such as; rifles, tanks, pistols, drones and missiles, that tend to have much better accuracy and less man to man combat to defeat and eliminate their opponents. The place in which war takes place has also evolved over centuries of battle. In past times war was only fought on land, seeing there was no way for people to fight on water or in air, but over hundreds of years man learned to fight on water and hundreds of years after that man learned to fight in the sky. This obviously pays homage to the developments of technology through human history but it is also an incredibly notable aspect on how war has evolved over time. (3)

Finally, now that the definition, initial conflicts and evolution of war has been skimmed, another notable thing to know when understanding war is the steps they follow. Known as the ‘Art of War‘ there are nine principles related to the ‘playing’ of war that work together and have been followed since the upbringing of ancient China. The first principle being the objective, followed by offensive, mass, economy of force, maneuver, unity of commander, security, surprise, and finally simplicity. The objective is the goal to eliminate the opposing teams/enemies will and ability to fight by directing all forces towards them in order to gain whatever victory may occur when defeating ones opponent. This is then followed by the offensive, which is easily the one of the most important principles, seeing that it is not only about seizing the objective but is also what stains position and what has already been attained by ones forces. The next principle that heavily relates to the offensive principle, is mass. Mass is the size of one’s force and can be very beneficial, though mass doesn’t necessarily relate to a literal size as in weight but more in the numerical aspect. In most cases larger numbers in forces are inferior to those of smaller numbers, seeing there is more equipment for battle and more men and horsepower to put said equipment to use. Now related to mass, the principle, economy of force, is how the force of mass is executed in the most effective way to attain the objected and territory. The fifth principle of war is maneuver, which is the movement taken through mass and economy of force against the enemy in order to any advantage in battle. The sixth principle is one that heavily connects the first five together. Unity of command is the principle that implies that every force on one side of war is under the command of one responsible commander, who may or may not have have high class officers to help assist and enforce his/hers orders. The next principle, security, is opposite of offence, like a defensive position, forces must be sure not to let the opposing force gain any type of advantage. This also means that at all costs forces should try to keep their numbers and men in the field of battle secured in areas as safe as possible for them to go through with their risky orders. The eighth principle, is the principle of surprise. In the best of times and places to attack the enemy are areas that hold the most amount of surprise and are utterly unexpected. With a successful surprise, forces will have an advantage and higher succeeding in gaining in the objective and power. The last and final principle of the art of war is one most don’t acknowledge, that principle being simplicity. This principle refers to forces being ready for the principle of surprise at all times, seeing that not everything in war is to be said and done. (4)

“Everything in war is very simple, but the simple thing is difficult.” (4)






  • – Nova Dupree

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