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September 06, 2010


Joseph Fouche

Teleology seems to affect war studies as much as anything. The Generations of Modern War crowd, augmented by a toxic dose of Creveldism, seem to believe there is a beginning and end to "modern warfare" when close examination of the historical record reveals only the messy process of trial and error in military practice. The advent of gunpowder in infantry tactics in the first two decades of the sixteenth century seems less revolutionary than the adoption of the socket bayonet at the end of the seventeenth. There was a shift from dense pike columns like the tercios to the line tactics of Maurice but, when the French revolutionary armies rolled around, suddenly columns were hip again. This despite the fact that Wellington's use of line continued to beat French columns through Waterloo. War is always blooming anew and ending with new revolution this and the death of that. A "revolution in military affairs" may mark little more than one bureaucracy's preferred beginning of one budget cycle and the "death of X" may mark little more than the end of an unfavored bureaucracy's budget cycle.

Everything old is new again.


I think there's oddly a very Soviet influence on contemporary military science in terms of classification and listings.

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