Introduction: understanding land warfare
The purpose of this book is to provide an accessible introduction to the theory and practice of modern land warfare. Understanding Land Warfare provides the reader with a thorough grounding in the vocabulary, concepts, issues and debates associated with modern land warfare. This book is not a history of warfare: it is instead a thematic analysis of what makes land warfare unique; how it interacts with the other environments; the key concepts that shape how it is executed; the trade-oﬀs associated with its prosecution; and the controversies that continue to surround its focus and development. Understanding Land Warfare is designed to provide a foundation of understanding of warfare on land that will better enable the reader to explore the issues further. Particularly with regard to theories and concepts, an examination of land warfare
requires some engagement with military doctrine, especially (but not exclusively) the doctrine of Western land forces. It is important that non-military students understand how modern militaries articulate the problems of land warfare and their solutions, and this book aims to make the vocabulary used by modern militaries digestible, particularly in terms of historical precedents. This will enable the non-specialist to decipher the often opaque vocabulary of modern warfare. This book intends to make the complex theory and obscure language of contemporary military doctrine accessible to the layman, but another objective is to test the assumptions and question the conclusions contained within such doctrine. For military students, often inculcated into ‘presentist’ notions that all of today’s challenges and solutions are unique, it is important to understand that modern concepts are often a recapitulation of long-standing historical themes; that these themes are subject to debate; and, indeed, that they are sometimes spurious. A great deal of military doctrine displays a tendency towards certainty, presenting as objective fact that which is open to debate. Concepts developed by the US military will, inevitably, represent a signiﬁcant part of this analysis, given its leading role in developing new doctrine and technology and the signiﬁcance of current American-led military operations for new thinking on warfare. However, the book also reﬂects on alternative visions and questions whether approaches that ﬁt one set of circumstances will necessarily suit others.