A military is an organization authorized by its nation to use force, usually including use of weapons, in defending its country (or by attacking other countries) by combating actual or perceived threats. As an adjective the term "military" is also used to refer to any property or aspect of a military. Militaries often function as societies within societies, by having their own military communities, economies, education, medicine and other aspects of a functioning civilian society.
The profession of soldiering as part of a military group is older than recorded history itself. Some of the most enduring images of the classical antiquity portray the power and feats of its military leaders. The Battle of Kadesh in 1274 BC was one of the defining points of Pharaoh Ramesses II's reign and is celebrated in bas-relief on his monuments. A thousand years later the first emperor of unified China, Qin Shi Huang, was so determined to impress the gods with his military might that he was buried with an army of terracotta soldiers. The Romans were dedicated to military matters, leaving to posterity many treatises and writings as well as a large number of lavishly carved triumphal arches and columns.
In the modern era, world wars and countless other major conflicts have changed the employment of the militaries beyond recognition to their ancient participants. Empires have come and gone; states have grown and declined. Enormous social changes have been wrought, and military power continues to dominate international relations. The role of the military today is as central to global societies as it ever was.
As a noun the military usually refers generally to a country's armed forces or sometimes, more specifically, to the senior officers who command them. In general it refers to the physicality of armed forces, their personnel, equipment, and physical space they occupy.
As an adjective military originally applied only to soldiers and soldiering, but it soon broadened to apply to land forces in general and anything to do with their profession. The names of both the Royal Military Academy (1741) and United States Military Academy (1802) reflect this. However, at about the time of Napoleonic wars "military" begun to be applied to armed forces as a whole and in the 21st century expressions like "military service", "military intelligence" and "military history" reflect this broader meaning. As such, it now connotes any activity performed by the military personnel.
The first requirement of the military is to establish it as a force with a capability to execute national Knee policy. Invariably, although the policy may be created by policy makers or Policy analyst, its implementation requires specific expert knowledge of how military functions and how it fulfils roles. The first of these skills is the ability to create a cohesive force capable of acting on policy as and when required, and therefore the first function of the military is to provide military command. One of the roles of military command is to translate policy into concrete missions and tasks, and to express them in terms understood by subordinates, generally called orders. Military command make effective and efficient military organisation possible through delegation of authority which encompass organisational structures as large as military districts or military zones, and as small as platoons. The command element of the military is often a strong influence on the organisational culture of the forces.
Another requirement is for the military command personnel, often called the officer corps, to command subordinated military personnel, generally known as soldiers, sailors, marines, or airmen, capable of executing the many specialised operational missions and task required for the military to execute the policy directives. Unsurprisingly, just like in the commercial enterprises where there are, in a corporate setting, directors, managers and various staff that carry out the business of the day as part of business operations or undertake business project management, military also has its routines and projects. During peacetime when military personnel are mostly employed in garrisons or permanent military facilities they mostly conduct administrative tasks, training and education activities, and technology maintenance. Another role of military personnel is to ensure a continuous replacement of departing servicemen and women through military recruitment, and the maintenance of a military reserve.
Next requirement comes as a fairly basic need for the military to identify the possible threats it may be called upon to face. For this purpose some of the command and other military, and often civilian personnel participate in identification of these threats, which is at once an organisation, a system and a process collectively called military intelligence. The difficulty in using military intelligence concepts and military intelligence methods is in the nature of the secrecy of the information they seek, and the clandestine nature that intelligence operatives work in obtaining what may be plans for a conflict escalation, initiation of combat or an invasion. An important part of the military intelligence role is the Military analysis performed to assess military capability of potential future aggressors, and provide combat modelling that helps to understand factors on which comparison of forces can be made. This helps to quantify and qualify such statements as "the China and India maintain the largest armed forces in the World" or that "the U.S. Military is considered to be the world's strongest".
Having military intelligence representatives participate in the execution of the national defence policy is important because it becomes the first respondent and commentator on the policy expected strategic goal compared to the realities of identified threats. When the intelligence reporting is compared to the policy, it becomes possible for the national leadership to think about allocating resources over an above the officers and their subordinates military pay and the expense of maintaining military facilities and military support services for them. The process of allocating resources is conducted by determining a military budget which is administered by a military finance organisation within the military. Military procurement is then authorised to purchase or contract provision of goods and services to the military, whether in peacetime at a permanent base or in a combat zone from local population.
Capability development, which is often referred to as the military "strength", is arguably one of the most complex activities known to humanity because it requires determining: strategic, operational and tactical capability requirements to counter the identified threats; strategic, operational and tactical doctrines by which the acquired capabilities will be used; identifying concepts, methods and systems involved in executing the doctrines; creating design specifications for the manufacturers who would produce these in adequate quantity and quality for their use in combat; purchase the concepts, methods and systems; create a forces structure that would use the concepts, methods and systems most effectively and efficiently; integrate these concepts, methods and systems into the force structure by providing military education, training, and practice that preferably resembles combat environment of intended use; create military logistics systems to allow continued and uninterrupted performance of military organisations under combat conditions, including provision of health services to the personnel and maintenance for the equipment; the services to assist recovery of wounded personnel and repair of damaged equipment; and finally post-conflict demobilisation and disposal of war stocks surplus to peacetime requirements.
Development of military doctrine is perhaps the more important of all capability development activities because it determines how military forces were, and are used in conflicts, the concepts and methods used by the command to employ appropriately military skilled, armed and equipped personnel in achievement of the tangible goals and objectives of the war, campaign, battle, engagement, action or a duel. The line between strategy and tactics is not easily blurred, although deciding which is being discussed had sometimes been a matter of personal judgement by some commentators, and military historians. The use of forces at the level of organisation between strategic and tactical is called operational mobility.
Because most of the concepts and methods used by the military, and many of its systems are not found in the commercial use, much of materiel is researched, designed, developed and offered for inclusion in arsenals by military science organisation within the overall structure of the military. Military scientists are therefore found to interact with all Arms and Services of the armed forces, and at all levels of the military hierarchy of command. Although concerned with research into military psychology, and particularly combat stress and how it affect troop morale, often the bulk of military science activities is directed at the military intelligence technology, military communications and improving military capability through research, design, development and prototyping of weapons, military support equipment, and military technology in general that includes everything from global communication networks and aircraft carriers to paint and food.
Possessing military capability is not sufficient if this capability can not be deployed for, and employed in combat operations. To achieve this, military logistics are used for the logistics management and logistics planning of the forces supply "tail", the consumables and capital equipment of the troops. Although mostly concerned with the military transport as a means of delivery using different modes of transport from military trucks to container ships operating from permanent military base, it also involves creating field supply dumps in the rear of the combat zone, and even forward supply points in specific unit's Tactical Area of Responsibility. These supply points are also used to provide military engineering services such as the recovery of defective and derelict vehicles and weapons, maintenance of weapons in the field, the repair and field modification of weapons and equipment, and in peacetime the life-extension programs undertaken to allow continued use of equipment. One of the most important role of logistics is the supply of munitions as a primary type of consumable, their storage and disposal.
While capability development is about enabling the military to perform its functions and roles in executing the defence policy, how personnel and their equipment are used in engaging the enemy, winning battles, successfully concluding campaigns, and eventually the war, is the responsibility of military operations. Military operations oversees the policy interpretation into military plans, allocation of capability to specific strategic, operational and tactical goals and objectives, change in posture of the armed forces, the interaction of Combat Arms, Combat Support Arms and Combat Support Services during combat operations, defining of military missionss and tasks during the conduct of combat, management of military prisoners and military civil affairs, and the military occupation of enemy territory, seizure of captured equipment, and maintenance of civil order in the territory under its responsibility. Throughout the combat operations process, and during the lulls in combat combat military intelligence provides reporting on the status of plan completion and its correlation with desired, expected and achieved satisfaction of policy fulfilment.
Military performance assessment
The last requirement of the military is for military performance assessment and learning from it. These two functions are performed by military historians and military theorists who seek to identify failures and success of the armed force and integrate corrections into the military reform with the aim of producing an improved force capable of performing adequately should there be a national defence policy review.
One of the oldest military publications is The Art of War by the Chinese philosopher Sun Tzu. Written in the 6th century BCE, the 13-chapter book is intended as military instruction and not as military theory, but has had a huge influence on Asian, and from the late 19th century, European and United States military planning. It has even been used to formulate business tactics, and used elsewhere.
The Classical Greeks and the Romans wrote prolifically on military campaigning. Among the best-known Roman works are Julius Caesar's commentaries on the Gallic Wars and the Roman Civil war—written about 50 BC. Two major works on tactics come from the late Roman period: Taktike Theoria by Aelianus Tacticus and De Re Militari ("On military matters") by Vegetius. Taktike Theoria examined Greek military tactics, and was most influential in the Byzantine world and during the Golden Age of Islam. De Re Militari formed the basis of European military tactics until the late 17th century. Perhaps its most enduring maxim is Igitur qui desiderat pacem, praeparet bellum (let he who desires peace prepare for war).
Due to the changing nature of combat with the introduction of artillery in the European Middle Ages, and infantry firearms in the Renaissance, attempts were made to define and identify those strategies, grand tactics and tactics that would produce a victory more often than that achieved by the Romans in praying to the gods before the battle. Later this became known as Military Science, and later still would adopt the scientific method approach to the conduct of military operations under the influence of the Industrial Revolution thinking. In his seminal book On War the Prussian Major-General and leading expert on modern military strategy Carl von Clausewitz defined military strategy as "the employment of battles to gain the end of war. According to Clausewitz
strategy forms the plan of the War, and to this end it links together the series of acts which are to lead to the final decision, that is to say, it makes the plans for the separate campaigns and regulates the combats to be fought in each.Hence, Clausewitz placed political aims above military goals, ensuring civilian control of the military. Military strategy was one of a triumvirate of "arts" or "sciences" that governed the conduct of warfare, the others being: military tactics, the execution of plans and manœuvering of forces in battle, and maintenance of an army.
The meaning of military tactics has changed over time from the deployment and manoeuvreing of entire land armies on the fields of ancient battles, and galley fleets, to modern use of small unit ambushes, encirclements, bomb and bombardment attacks, frontal assaults, air assaults, hit-and-run tactics used mainly by guerilla forces and, in some cases, suicide attacks on land and at sea. Evolution of aerial warfare introduced its own air combat tactics. Often, military deception, in the form of military camouflage or misdirection using decoys, is used to confuse the enemy as a tactic. A major development in infantry tactics came with the increased use of trench warfare in the 19th and 20th century. This was mainly employed in World War I in the Gallipoli campaign and the Western Front. Trench warfare often turned to a stalemate, because in order to attack an enemy entrenchment soldiers had to run through an exposed "no man's land" under heavy fire from an entrenched enemy.
As with any occupation, since the ancient times the military has been distinguished from other members of the society by their tools, the military weapons and military equipment used in combat. When Stone Age humans first took a sliver of flint to tip the spear, it was the first example of applying technology to improve the weapon. Since then, the advances made by human societies and that of weapons has been irretrievably linked. Stone weapons gave way to Bronze Age weapons, and later the Iron Age weapons. With each technological change was realised some tangible increase in military capability through greater effectiveness of a sharper edge in defeating leather armour, improved density of materials used in manufacture of weapons. On land the first really significant technological advance in warfare was the development of the ranged weapons and notably the sling. The next significant advance came with the domestication of the horses and mastering of horse riding. Arguably the greatest invention that affected not just the military, but all society, after adoption of fire, was the wheel, and its use in the construction of the chariot. There were no advances in military technology until, from the mechanical arm action of a slinger, the Greeks and Romans development the siege engines, and the bow was manufactured in increasingly larger and more powerful versions to increase both the weapon range and armour penetration performance. These proved particularly useful during the age of chivalry, with knights, mounted on destriers and encased in ever-more sophisticated armour, dominating the battlefield. Somewhat earlier in China, gunpowder had been invented, and was increasingly used by the military in combat. The use of gunpowder in the early vase-like mortars in Europe, and advanced versions of the long bow and cross bow, which all had armour-piercing arrowheads, that put an end to the dominance of the armoured knight. After the long bow, which required great skill and strength to use, the next most significant technological advance was the musket, which could be used effectively with little training. In time the successors to muskets and cannon, in the form of rifles and artillery, would become core battlefield technology.
As the speed of technological advances accelerated in civilian applications, so too warfare became more industralised. The newly-invented machine gun and repeating rifle redefined fire power on the battlefield and, in part, explains the high casualty rates of the American Civil War. The next breakthrough was the conversion of artillery parks from the muzzle loading guns to the breech loading guns, and in particular the highly-mobile, recoilless, field-gun, the French Soixante-Quinze, in the late 1800s.
The development of breech loading had the greatest effect on naval warfare, for the first time since the Middle Ages altering the way weapons are mounted on warships, and therefore naval tactics, now divorced from the reliance on sails with the invention of the internal combustion. A further advance in military naval technology was the design of the submarine and its weapon, the torpedo.
During World War I the need to break the deadlock of the trenches saw the rapid development of many new technologies, particularly the tanks and military aviation. Military aviation was extensively used, and particularly the bombers during the World War II, which marked the most frantic period of weapons development in history. Many new designs and concepts were used in combat, and all existing technologies were improved between 1939 and 1945. During the war significant advances were made in military communications through use of radio, military intelligence through use of the radar, and in military medicine through use of penicillin, while in the air the missile, jet aircraft and helicopters were seen for the first time. Perhaps the most infamous of all military technologies was the creation of the atomic bomb, although the effects of radiation were unknown until the early 1950s. Far greater use of military vehicles had finally eliminated the cavalry from the military force structure.
After World War II, with the onset of the Cold War, the constant technological development of new weapons was institutionalized as participants engaged in a constant arms race in capability development. This constant state of weapons development continues into the present, and remains a constant drain on national resources, which some blame on the military-industrial complex. The most significant technological developments that influenced combat have been the guided missiles which are used by all Services. More recently, information technology, and its use in surveillance, including space-based reconnaissance systems, have played an increasing role in military operations. The impact of information warfare that focuses on attacking command communication systems, and military databases has been coupled with the new development in military technology has been the use of robotic systems in intelligence combat, both in hardware and software applications.
Ether because of the cultural memory, national history, or the potentiality of a military threat, the militarist argument asserts that a civilian population is dependent upon, and thereby subservient to the needs and goals of its military for continued independence. Militarism is sometimes contrasted with the concepts of comprehensive national power, soft power and hard power.
Most nations have separate military laws which regulate conduct in war and during peacetime. An early exponent was Hugo Grotius, whose Rights of War and Peace (1625) had a major impact of the humanitarian approach to warfare development. His theme was echoed by Gustavus Adolphus.
Ethics of warfare have developed since 1945 to create constraints on the military treatment of prisoners and civilians primarily by the Geneva Conventions, but rarely apply to use of the military forces as internal security troops during times of political conflict that results in popular protests and incitement to popular uprising.
International protocols restrict the use, or have even created international bans on weapons, notably weapons of mass destruction. International conventions define what constitutes a war crime and provides for war crimes prosecution. Individual countries also have elaborate codes of military justice, an example being the United States' Uniform Code of Military Justice that can lead to court martial for military personnel found guilty of war crimes.
Military actions are sometimes argued to be justified by furthering a humanitarian cause such as disaster relief operations or in defence of refugees. The term military humanism is used to refer to such actions.
War, as violence, can be distinguished into war between states, and civil war, in which case class struggle is, according to antimilitarists theorists, a primordial component. Hence, Marx's influence on antimilitarist doctrine was not surprising, although making Marx accountable for the antimilitarist tradition is and large overstatement. The belief in the eternal antimilitarist spirit, present in all places and time, is however a myth because the modern military as an institution is a historic achievement formed during the 18th and 19th centuries, as a by-product of the modern nation-states. Napoleon's invention of conscription is a fundamental progress in the organization of state armies. Later, Prussian militarism would be exposed by 19th century social theorists.
In Medieval Europe, tales of knighthood and chivalry, the officer class of the period, captured the popular imagination. Writers and poets like Taliesin, Chrétien de Troyes and Thomas Mallory wrote tales of derring-do featuring Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot and Galahad. Even in the 21st century, books and films about the Arthurian legend and the Holy Grail continuing to appear. A century or so later, in the hands of writers such as Jean Froissart, Miguel Cervantes and William Shakespeare, the fictional knight Tirant lo Blanch and the real-life condottieri John Hawkwood would be juxtaposed against the fantastical Don Quixote and the carousing Sir John Falstaff. In just one play, Henry V, Shakespeare provides a whole range of military characters, from cool-headed and clear-sighted generals, to captains, and common soldiery.
The rapid growth of movable type in the late 16th and early 17th centuries saw an upsurge in private publication. Political pamphlets became popular, often lampooning military leaders for political purposes. A pamphlet directed against Prince Rupert of the Rhine is a typical example. During the 19th century, irreverence towards authority was at its height and for every elegant military gentleman painted by the master-portraitists of the European courts for example, Gainsborough, Goya and Reynolds, there are the sometimes affectionate and sometimes savage caricatures of Rowland and Hogarth.
This continued in the 20th century, with publications like Punch in the British Empire and Le Père Duchesne in France, poking fun at the military establishment. This extended to media other print also. An enduring example is the Major-General's Song from the Gilbert and Sullivan light opera, Pirates of Penzance, where a senior army officer is satirised for his enormous fund of irrelevant knowledge.
The increasing importance of cinema in the early 20th century provided a new platform for depictions of military subjects. During the First World War, although heavily censored, newsreels enabled those at home to see for themselves a heavily-sanitized version of life at the front line. About the same time, both pro-war and anti-war films came to the silver screen. One of the first films on military aviation, Hell's Angels broke all box office records on its release in 1929. Soon, war films of all types were showing throughout the world, notably those of Charlie Chaplin who actively promoted war bonds and voluntary enlistment.
The First World War was also responsible for a new kind of military depiction, through poetry. Hitherto, poetry had been used mostly to glorify or sanctify war. The Charge of the Light Brigade by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, with its galloping hoofbeat rhythm, is a prime late Victorian example of this, though Rudyard Kipling had written a scathing reply, The Last of the Light Brigade, criticising the poverty in which many Light Brigade veterans found themselves in old age. Instead, the new wave of poetry, from the war poets, was written from the point of view of the disenchanted trench soldier. Leading war poets included: Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen, John McCrae, Rupert Brooke, Isaac Rosenberg and David Jones. A similar movement occurred in literature, producing a slew of novels on both sides of the Atlantic including notably All Quiet on the Western Front and Johnny Got His Gun. A much-later satirical take on World War I is provided by the film, Oh! What a Lovely War.
The propaganda war that accompanied World War II invariably depicted the enemy in unflattering terms. Both the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany excelled in producing heroic images, placing their soldiers in a semi-mythical context. Examples of this exist not only in posters but also in the films of Leni Riefenstahl and Sergei Eisenstein. Alongside this, World War II also inspired films as varied as Bridge on the River Kwai, The Longest Day, Catch-22, Saving Private Ryan, and The Sea Shall Not Have Them. The next major event, the Korean War inspired a long-running television series M*A*S*H. With the Vietnam War, the tide of balance turned and its films, notably Apocalypse Now, Good Morning Vietnam, Go Tell the Spartans and Born on the Fourth of July, have tended to contain critical messages.
There's even a nursery rhyme about war, the Grand Old Duke of York, ridiculing a general for his inability to command any further than marching his men up and down a hill. The huge number of songs focusing on war include And The Band Played Waltzing Matilda and Universal Soldier.
Although some groups engaged in combat, such as resistance movements, all refer to themselves using military terminology, notably "Army" or "Front", none have had the structure of a national military to justify the reference, and usually have had to rely on support of outside national militaries.