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Military science


Military science concerns itself with the study and analysis of the diverse technical, psychological, andpractical phenomena that encompass the events that make up warfare, especially armed combat. It strives to be an all-encompassingscientific system that if properly employed, will greatly enhance the practitioner's ability to prevail in an armed conflict withany adversary. To this end, it is unconcerned whether that adversary is an opposing military force, guerrillas or otherirregulars, or even knows of or utilizes military science in return.

Military science encompasses six major branches, as follows:

  • Militaryorganization - develops optimal methods for the administration and organization of military units, as well as themilitary as a whole. In addition, this area studies other associated aspects as mobilization / demobilization, and militarygovernment for areas recently conquered (or liberated) from enemy control.
  • Military training - studies the methodology and practices involved in training soldiers, NCOs (non-commissioned officers, i.e. sergeants),and officers. It also extends this to training small and large units, both individually and in concert with one another for boththe regular and reserve organizations. Military training, especially for officers, also concerns itself with general educationand political indoctrination of the armed forces.
  • Military history - Military activity has been a constantprocess over thousands of years, and the essential tactics, strategy, and goals of military operations have been unchangingthroughout history. As an example one notable maneuver is the double envelopment, considered to be the consummate militarymaneuver, first executed by Hannibal in the battle of Cannae in 216 B.C.—over 2,200 years ago. By the study of history, themilitary seeks to not repeat past mistakes, and improve upon its current performance by instilling an ability in commanders toperceive historical parallels during battle, so as to capitalize on the lessons learned. The main areas military history includesare the history of wars, battles, and combats, history of the military art, and history of each specific military service.
  • Militarygeography - Military geography encompasses much more than simple protestations to take the high ground. Militarygeography studies the obvious, the geography of theatres of war, but also the additional characteristics of politics, economics,and other natural features of locations of likely conflict (the political "landscape", for example). As an example, the Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan was predicatedon the ability of the Soviet Union to not only successfully invade Afghanistan, but also to militarily and politically flank theIranian republic simultaneously.
  • Military technology -Military technology is not just the study of various technologies and applicable physical sciences used to increase militarypower. It may also extend to the study of production methods of military equipment, and ways to improve performance and reducematerial and/or technological requirements for its production. An example is the effort expended by Nazi Germany to produce artificial rubbers and fuels to reduce or eliminate their dependence on imported POL(petroleum, oil, and lubricants) and rubber supplies. Military technology is unique only in its application, not in its use ofbasic scientific and technological achievements. Because of the uniqueness of use, military technological studies strive toincorporate evolutionary, as well as the rare revolutionary technologies into their proper place of military application.
  • Military art - Militaryart is in many ways the centerpiece of military science. It studies the specifics of combat, and attempts to reduce the manyfactors to a set of principles that govern all interactions of the field of battle. As such, it directs the planning andexecution of battles, operations, and wars as a whole. Two major systems prevail on the planet today. Broadly speaking, these maybe described as the "Western" system, and the "Russian" system. Each system reflects and supports strengths and weakness in theunderlying society. Generally, "Western" societies have higher levels of education and technology. In contrast, third-world(based on the Russian system) societies have lower levels of education and technology, but have much more raw manpower in theirmilitary than Western societies are willing (or able) to devote.
Modern Western military art is composed primarily of an amalgam of French, German, British, and United States systems. TheRussian system borrows from these systems as well, either through study, or personal observation in the form of invasion ( Napoleon's War of 1812 , and The Great Patriotic War ), and form a unique product suited for the conditions practitioners of thissystem will encounter. The system that is produced by the analysis provided by Military Art is known as doctrine.
Western military doctrine relies heavily on technology, theuse of a well-trained and empowered NCO cadre, and superior information processing and dissemination to provide a level ofbattlefield awareness that opponents cannot match. Its advantages are extreme flexibility, extreme lethality, and a focus onremoving an opponents C3I (command, communications, control, and intelligence) to paralyze and incapacitate rather thandestroying their combat power directly (hopefully saving lives in the process). Its drawbacks are high expense, a reliance ondifficult to replace personnel, an enormous logistic train, and a difficulty in operating without high technology assets ifdepleted or destroyed.
Russianmilitary doctrine relies heavily on masses of machinery and troops, a highly educated (albeit very small) officer corps, andpre-planned missions. Its advantages are that it does not require well educated troops, does not require a large logistic train,is under tight central control, and does not rely on a sophisticated C3I system after the initiation of a course of action. Itsdisadvantages are inflexibility, a reliance on the shock effect of mass (with a resulting high cost in lives and material), andoverall inability to exploit unexpected success or respond to unexpected loss.
Chinesemilitary doctrine is currently in a state of flux as the People's Liberation Army is evaluating military trends of relevance to China. Chinese militarydoctrine is influenced by a number of sources including an indigenous classical military tradition characterized by strategistssuch as Sun Tzu , Western and Soviet influences, as well as indigenous modernstrategists such as Mao Zedong . One distinctive characteristic of Chinesemilitary science is that it places emphasis on the relationship between the military and society as well as views military forceas merely one part of an overarching grand strategy .
Each system trains its officer corps in its philosophy regarding military art. The differences in content and emphasis areillustrative.
The Western principles of military art as follows (derived from U.S. Army Field Manual FM 100-5):
  • Objective - Direct every military operation toward a clearly defined, decisive and attainable objective. Theultimate military purpose of war is the destruction of the enemy's ability to fight and will to fight
  • Offensive - Seize, retain, and exploit the initiative. Offensive action is the most effective and decisive wayto attain a clearly defined common objective. Offensive operations are the means by which a military force seizes and holds theinitiative while maintaining freedom of action and achieving decisive results. This is fundamentally true across all levels ofwar.
  • Mass - Mass the effects of overwhelming combat power at the decisive place and time. Synchronizing all theelements of combat power where they will have decisive effect on an enemy force in a short period of time is to achieve mass.Massing effects, rather than concentrating forces, can enable numerically inferior forces to achieve decisive results, whilelimiting exposure to enemy rife.
  • Economy of Force - Employ all combat power available in the most effective way possible; allocate minimumessential combat power to secondary efforts. Economy of force is the judicious employment and distribution of forces. No part ofthe force should ever be left without purpose. The allocation of available combat power to such tasks as limited attacks,defense, delays, deception, or even retrograde operations is measured in order to achieve mass elsewhere at the decisive pointand time on the battlefield. ...
  • Maneuver - Place the enemy in a position of disadvantage through the flexible application of combat power.Maneuver is the movement of forces in relation to the enemy to gain positional advantage. Effective maneuver keeps the enemy offbalance and protects the force. It is used to exploit successes, to preserve freedom of action, and to reduce vulnerability. Itcontinually poses new problems for the enemy by rendering his actions ineffective, eventually leading to defeat. ...
  • Unity of Command - For every objective, seek unity of command and unity of effort. At all levels of war,employment of military forces in a manner that masses combat power toward a common objective requires unity of command and unityof effort. Unity of command means that all the forces are under one responsible commander. It requires a single commander withthe requisite authority to direct all forces in pursuit of a unified purpose. ...
  • Security - Never permit the enemy to acquire unexpected advantage. Security enhances freedom of action byreducing vulnerability to hostile acts, influence, or surprise. Security results from the measures taken by a commander toprotect his forces. Knowledge and understanding of enemy strategy, tactics, doctrine, and staff planning improve the detailedplanning of adequate security measures.
  • Surprise - Strike the enemy at a time or place or in a manner for which he is unprepared. Surprise candecisively shift the balance of combat power. By seeking surprise, forces can achieve success well out of proportion to theeffort expended. Surprise can be in tempo, size of force, direction or location of main effort, and timing. Deception can aid theprobability of achieving surprise. ...
  • Simplicity - Prepare clear, uncomplicated plans and concise orders to ensure thorough understanding.Everything in war is very simple, but the simple thing is difficult. To the uninitiated, military operations are not difficult.Simplicity contributes to successful operations. Simple plans and clear, concise orders minimize misunderstanding and confusion.Other factors being equal, the simplest plan is preferable.
The Russian principles of military art as follows (derived from ISBN 0-89141-160-7 Soviet AirLand BattleTactics):
  • Preparedness - The ability to fulfill missions under any conditions for starting or the conduct of war.
  • Initiative - Utilizing surprise, decisiveness, and aggressiveness to continuously strive to achieve and retainthe initiative. Initiative, in this sense describes efforts to fulfill the plan in spite of difficulties. This is in contrast tothe western usage of the term which implies problem-solving and improvisation in order to deal with changed circumstances.
  • Capability - Full use of the various means and capabilities of battle to achieve victory.
  • Cooperation - Coordinated application of and close cooperation between major units of the armed forces.
  • Concentration - Decisive concentration of the essential force at the needed moment and in the most importantdirection to achieve the main mission.
  • Depth - Destruction of the enemy throughout the entire depth of their deployment.
  • Morale - Use of political and psychological factors to demoralize opponents and break their will toresist.
  • Obedience - Strict and uninterrupted obedience. Orders are to be followed exactly and without question.Commanders are expected to directly supervise subordinates in a detailed manner in order to ensure compliance.
  • Steadfastness - Subordinate commanders are to carry out the spirit and the letter of the plan.
  • Security - Security complements surprise. All aspects of security, from deception and secrecy, to severediscipline of subordinates who through action or inaction allow information to fall into the hands of the enemy are to bevigorously carried out.
  • Logistics - Restoration of reserves and restoration of combatcapability is of paramount concern of the modern, fast paced battlefield.
Thus it can be seen that in Military art, the Russian and Western systems are similar, but place their emphasis in wildlydiffering places. Western systems allow more control and decision-making at lower levels of command, and with this empowermentcomes a consistent emphasis. Offensive, mass, and maneuver principles for the western commander all place a sense of personalresponsibility and authority to ensure these principles are followed by appropriate action. In contrast the Russian systemstresses preparedness, initiative, and obedience. This places more responsibility at the better prepared and informed centers ofcommand, and provide more overall control of the battle.
Because the military doctrines of the People's Liberation Army are in a state of flux, it is difficult to give a capsulesummary of a single doctrine which is expounded with the PLA. Rather the PLA is currently influenced by three doctrinal schoolswhich both conflict and complement each other. These three schools are
  • People's War - which is derived from the Maoist notion of warfare as a war in which the entire societyis mobilized
  • Regional war - which envisions future wars to be limited in scope and confined to the Chineseborder
  • Revolution in military affairs - which is a school of thought which believes that technology istransforming the basis of warfare and that these technological changes present both extreme dangers and possibilities for theChinese military.

The differences in the specifics of Military art notwithstanding, Military science strives to provide an integrated picture ofthe chaos of battle, and illuminate basic insights that apply to all combatants, not just those who agree with your formulationof the principles.

See Also

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