The Evolution of War

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The first men to go to war with men from another tribe no doubt went to that first battle with the weapons they used to hunt. We have no record of that first battle, but we can safely assume it involved spears, clubs and probably rocks. It is possible that the throwing rock was developed just for these battles, as the thrown rock is much more effective against men than animals. The throwing rock is probably the first weapon developed just for killing other men.

One day a group of men decided to raid the territory of another tribe and they were met with a terrifying new weapon, the bow and arrow. Again, we have no idea when this happened, but logic says there was a first time use for the bow in war. A group sorted out how to launch a small version of their spear at an animal. This was much safer than getting up close and personal. The next logical step was to use this cool new weapon against invaders from another tribe.

Maybe it was the sling or maybe it was the bow, but most likely it was the fear of projectile weapons that led to the shield and the use of it. Shields are useful against spears, but they limit offensive ability. Again, we will never know, but most likely there was a first battle where the shield was used. The guys with bows were stunned to see this new terrifying weapon. Instead of raining death down on their enemy, their enemy was able to advance under the cover of their shields.

We are seeing this playout in Ukraine. The Russians are probably the world’s best at tank strategy. They have a lot of them and they have always been at the top in terms of tank technology. Russia is a land power, so it makes sense that they are the best with the dominant weapons of land warfare. In the Second World War it was the T-34 that beat back the Nazis and drove them back to Berlin. It remains the most popular tank in the world, despite being 80-years old.

The terrifying counter is the anti-tank weapon. The concept is pretty simple. You launch a missile at a tank that can penetrate its armor. The trick is either in hitting the tank from beyond its range or getting close enough to hit it from a blind spot. This is where the modern anti-tank weapons have become so important. The Javelin system allows a team of two to get close, fire from cover and take out a tank. The weapon is cheap and it can be used by the dumbest infantrymen.

The effects of this weapon are clear in Ukraine. Instead of leading with their armor, the Russians have been forced to use artillery and cruise missiles to soften up the line of contact and then use infantry to clear the way for tanks. This has not made the tank obsolete, but it has forced a change in its use. It now has to be deployed initially as a stand-off weapon, like an artillery piece. Instead of being the tip of the spear for ground forces, it is now a follow on weapon.

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