What is Military History? (What is History?)

What is Military History … ?
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Historians working within academic institu- tions — colleges, universities, and research institutes — are especially prone to specify their areas of specialization for a variety of reasons that include the utility of such divisions for historical research in an age of ever-increasing informa- tion, but are also influenced by academic politics, the inter- ests of sources for funding research, and the workings of academic job markets.

The subfield of military history is further complicated by such dynamics because a significant amount of military history writing, because of its attraction to popular audiences, has always come from outside of aca- demic institutions. Who Studies Military History and Why? The audiences for military history have changed over time, with significant implications for who has written military history and why. First is the popular audience, those readers in the general population who are interested in military history as recreational reading.

This has long been and continues to be a large and therefore economically significant group — a mass market, at least potentially — whose attractions draw writers not just from among academics and professional military personnel but also from professional authors and popularizers who happen to choose military topics for their marketability. We include in this cate- gory both professional academics whose specialty is military history and who read to keep up with developments in the field and in support of their own research and writing, and students at both the undergraduate and graduate levels whose reading of military history is presumably more focused and guided than that of the popular audience and is directly related to advancement of their academic careers.

In this category, the audience and the practitioners, that is those who write military history, are often the same people, though the most influential military history writing usually appeals to both a scholarly or academic audience and to a popular audience. As a result, some of this Professional Military Education PME literature is more technical and practice-oriented though not necessarily less theoretically informed than purely academic military history tends to be, as it is likely to have the most direct impact on the making of military policy and the imple- mentation of military action by states and their armies.

On the other hand, to bring this introductory discussion of prac- titioners and audiences full circle, a traditional sort of mili- tary history author has been the retired military officer who uses the credibility of both his military experience and his advertisable rank as entryways to the mass popular market. Keegan, for example, felt it necessary to explain, in his Introduction to The Face of Battle, what he could bring to military history despite his lack of direct military experience.

The practical uses of military history for professional mili- tary personnel and the civilian governments that direct mili- tary activity today provide the clearest and most direct illustration of an important and general historiographical principle: that the questions historians ask about the past, in this case about past military actions, institutions, and so forth, are crucially shaped by their present concerns and perspectives.

In other words, military history, like all history, is a dialogue between past and present. Because the present is constantly changing, views of the past change constantly as well. In short, the impact of Gulf War I on American military thought, with its emphasis on high technology and tactics, has been overshadowed by T1 Morillo—What is Military History?

This shift has obvious implications for the sorts of histori- cal evidence historians engaged in these debates will bring to bear on their arguments. The relevant historical parallels and examples in the debate over the Revolution in Military Affairs involved other supposed cases of rapid technological and tactical change, especially the spread of gunpowder weap- onry in sixteenth-century Europe again, this is discussed at more length in chapter 4.

Such cases are chosen to gain insight into a contemporary situation in which dis- parities of technology and force do not have the same impact that they have had on the conventional battlefields of the past, including those cases highlighted by the earlier debate, and in which social and cultural factors seemingly outweigh traditional political relationships between states.

In both debates, however, the historical cases chosen as evidence for one argument or another are subject to rejection, reinterpretation, or revision by other historians who either see the problems of the present differently or see the crucial characteristics of the past differently, or both. Both debates, for instance, are much more central to military history pub- lished in the United States than elsewhere, since the concerns of other states that are neither the undisputed leaders in military technology nor likely to be seen as a new global Roman Empire are different from those of the US, which fits both criteria.

Historians who do not share those concerns will bring a different perspective to both debates or will engage in other debates entirely. But more impor- tantly, even if historical data prove incapable of decisively answering a current question history never, after all, exactly repeats itself, though, as Mark Twain once said, it does rhyme , the fact that historians have, as a result of current concerns, asked new questions about the past leads to new understandings of the past. This is in part because not all interpretations of the past are mutually exclusive: most, in fact, are complementary, and the more of them we have, the more nuanced is our understanding of the past.

This is a nice result even if it makes drawing lessons from such complex understandings even harder since lessons often need to be simple to be applicable. In short, history, including military history, can be used to entertain; it can contribute to and advance academic careers, it can even perhaps teach lessons. But above all, given the prevalence of military activity in the past actions of humanity, it can help us understand the past and how we got to where we are today, even if the implications of that route for the future remain necessarily contentious.

Overview of this Book We may summarize the previous two sections of this intro- duction by way of a photographic metaphor. If the past in this case the part of the past connected to military activity is the subject of the picture an historian creates, different approaches to the methodology of military history can be likened to the different lenses a photographer might use. An army looks different through an economic or social lens from the way it appears through a cultural or institutional lens. But the choice of a particular topic or approach depends on the interests of the historian and the interests of the intended audience for the history.

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A history written by and for profes- sional staff officers will differ from one written for popular or academic readers. This can be thought of as the perspec- tive of the photographer, the angle or location from which the picture is taken.

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There is no such thing as omnisciently objective history. But per- spective is not the same as bias. Bias results when an historian uses a particular perspective purposely to distort or exclude from view aspects of the subject necessary for understanding it. Different perspectives can be mutually complementary, building a better overall understanding of the subject.

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Differ- ent biases conflict unproductively, reducing understanding. The changing combinations of lenses and perspective that historians have brought to bear on the military past have produced the characteristics of military history that the rest of this book will explore in more detail. Chapter 2 traces the history of the writing of military history. How did military history come to be the field that it is today? Where did it start, and how has it evolved and changed over time? Chapter 3 explores the key concepts and theories that shape the study of military history currently.

The concept was introduced by Michael Roberts in the s as he focused on Sweden — Roberts emphasized the introduction of muskets that could not be aimed at small targets, but could be very effective when fired in volleys by three ranks of infantry soldiers, with one firing while the other two ranks reloaded. All three ranks march forward to demolish the enemy. The infantry now had the firepower that had been reserved to the artillery, and had mobility that could rapidly advance in the battlefield, which the artillery lacked. Roberts linked these advances with larger historical consequences, arguing that innovations in tactics, drill and doctrine by the Dutch and Swedes — led to a need for more and better trained troops and thus for permanent forces standing armies.

Armies grew much larger and more expensive. These changes in turn had major political consequences in the level of administrative support and the supply of money, men and provisions, producing new financial demands and the creation of new governmental institutions.

The concept of a military revolution based upon technology has given way to models based more on a slow evolution in which technology plays a minor role to organization, command and control, logistics and in general non-material improvements. The revolutionary nature of these changes was only visible after a long evolution that handed Europe a predominant place in warfare, a place that the industrial revolution would confirm. The concept of a military revolution in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries has received a mixed reception among historians.

Noted military historians Michael Duffy and Jeremy Black have strongly criticised it as misleading, exaggerated and simplistic. As weapons—particularly small arms—became easier to use, countries began to abandon a complete reliance on professional soldiers in favor of conscription. Technological advances became increasingly important; while the armies of the previous period had usually had similar weapons, the industrial age saw encounters such as the Battle of Sadowa , in which possession of a more advanced technology played a decisive role in the outcome.

Conscription was notably used by Napoleon Bonaparte and the major parties during the two World Wars.

ilavrathea.tk Total war was used in industrial warfare, the objective being to prevent the opposing nation to engage in war. Napoleon was the innovator.

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Since the s, preparation for a major war has been based on technological arms races involving all sorts of new weapons systems, such as nuclear and biological, as well as computerized control systems, and the opening of new venues, such as seen in the Space race involving the United States, the Soviet Union, and more recently, China.

Modern war also saw the improvement of armored tank technology. Many of the technologies commonly seen on main battle tanks today, such as composite armor , high caliber cannons , and advanced targeting systems , would be developed during this time. A distinctive feature since is the absence of wars between major powers—indeed the near absence of any traditional wars between established countries. Instead actual fighting has largely been a matter of civil wars and insurgencies. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

For the television channel, see Military History TV channel. Historical studies of armed conflict. Prehistoric Ancient Post-classical Early modern Late modern industrial fourth-gen. Blitzkrieg Deep operation Maneuver Operational manoeuvre group. Grand strategy. Military recruitment Conscription Recruit training Military specialism Women in the military Children in the military Transgender people and military service Sexual harassment in the military Conscientious objection Counter recruitment.

Arms industry Materiel Supply chain management. See also: Category:Military and war museums. Further information: Ancient warfare. Further information: Medieval warfare. Further information: Gunpowder warfare. Main article: Military Revolution. Further information: Industrial warfare. Further information: Modern warfare. War portal History portal.

Military history

The Griffon th. Lynn, "The embattled future of academic military history. Pen and Sword. Wars," The History Teacher May, 17 3 pp. New Glory: Expanding America's Supremacy , Hacker, "Military institutions, weapons, and social change: Toward a new history of military technology. Worley, Hippeis: the cavalry of Ancient Greece Morrison, "The Greek Trireme. Accessed on May 17, Buchanan, ed. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society. Princeton University Press. Rogers, A History of Artillery The "Invincible" Armada. Accessed on May 18, California Center for Military History.

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