Talk:Modern warfare

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Article needs extensive editing[edit]

Needs a very large amount of work. I've put up the categories just to give people something smaller to deal with than this mammoth subject. KharBevNor 19:51, 27 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Given that early modern warfare "lasts until the end of the eighteenth century", this article's definition seems to be false in saying modern warfare is that involving first world countries (POV itself) and computers. Can anyone improve the definition? Also, I think this current organization is so detailed it is impractical, and Western-centric. 119 20:19, 27 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Agree on all counts. The term modern is only a time-construction, and does not specify participants (first world). If this term is used academically only to refer to first world, computers, etc., then it should be sourced and stated as such, pointing out that the name used is actually something of a misnomer. That is if.--Dmcdevit 05:26, 28 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I added some information on the three main types of conventional warfare here. I hope it helps.

Needs links inserting to main articles on nuclear warfare, electronic warfare etc. I'm not entirely certain on the format. --KharBevNor 02:15, 1 Apr 2005 (UTC)

This is desperately in need of improvement. Almost everything said is a generalisation; some are of doubtful accuracy. Really needs to put modern warfare development in a historical context. DJ Clayworth 17:20, 29 July 2005 (UTC)

I think one of our problems is the name Early modern warfare to cover the 15th-18th century. I would like to see that article renamed to something like Warfare in the age of gunpowder, with Early modern warfare covering the first part of the twentieth century and another article covering warfare from Waterloo to WWI. This article could then focus on post-WWII (or WWII and after). DJ Clayworth 17:34, 29 July 2005 (UTC)

Or we could just call an article covering the 19th-early 20th centuries Pre-Modern warfare.--Kross | Talk 18:25, 15 November 2005 (UTC)
While everyone figures out how to do this, I created a stopgap period called Industrial Warfare (A working title, which we can easily change) to cover the Nineteenth Century and Twentieth Century (Prior to 1980s). Palm_Dogg 09:24, 25 November 2005 (UTC)

To avoid redundancy, I've got Industrial Warfare running to about the 1980s, so I'm guessing what we would call "Modern warfare" probably started in the 1960s/1970s (There are always a few overlapping decades). Palm_Dogg 21:12, 23 December 2005 (UTC)

Regarding the third paragraph claim "UNICEF reports that civilian fatalities are down from 20 percent prior to 1900 AD to less than 5 percent of fatalities in the wars beginning in the 1990s," UNICEF's actual website suggests this as a grossly inaccurate. In fact, based on a study of the impact of armed conflict on children, the percentage of civilian casualties in war have climbed "from 5% at the turn of the more than 90 per cent in the wars of the 1990s." wuesteej 11:59, April 21, 2013 (UTC)

Expansion and Organisation[edit]

Given the request for expansion, I've tried to expand a few of the introductions (Total war, Naval Warfare, nuclear warfare) on this page. However, Battlefield keeps deleting them. I expanded the 'total war' intro. to include a short amount of total war's historical context (i.e. WWI/2). Battlefield deleted this b/c "This is MODERN warfare not WW1 or WW2". Personally, I figured, as I'm sure every Officer does (I'm in the ARA) that in order to best understand warfare, you must be aware of its history; I'm not saying the introductions should be historically-based, but should simply mention it when advantageous. I redid the intro. again and it was deleted again. What confused me though, is that if this article (Modern warfare) is really solely focused on today's events, then why do we even have 'total war' in it? Total war hasn't existed since WW2 (as the actual article Total war explains). This could also go for intros like 'nuclear warfare'. On top of that, why do other introductions (such as the one for Naval warfare) mention the historical development of that method of war?

So, I'm coming to you to ask this. Do we either: a) completely remove all historical context from introductions like 'Naval warfare' and move anachronistic introductions like 'total war' to other timeframes, or b) allow a little flexibility to these intros, and provide small amounts of historical context when appropriate? (My preferred option) Opiniastrous 03:01, 2 January 2006 (UTC)

WWI and WWII should definitely be included. Modern Warfare goes back a lot further than that, in fact; it begins with first generation warfare in the 17th century. "Modern" is a relative term, and compared with the entire history of warfare, 1648 is pretty recent. Not to mention 1918. Kafziel 12:18, 28 February 2006 (UTC)
Most college courses will teach that the first modern war was World War I with its use of Tanks, Aircraft and Machine Guns. I agree with this definition, and sticking to 20th/21st century war will keep the article from becoming too large. FLJuJitsu 23:15 06 Sept 07


added references in 4gw to propaganda as a means of starting a war, additional references should be added about propaganda during a war- regarding both methods used to justify the war effort at home and demoralize the declared enemy forces in the foreign lands, along with the motivations and moral implications of both aspects. -Outofthebox —Preceding unsigned comment added by Outofthebox (talkcontribs) 08:50, 13 October 2007 (UTC)


Reading through this article, I found two sections which were in desperate need of rewording, and at least one section that looked like it could use cleanup. Should this page be tagged for cleanup or is it good enough to leave it as a start-class project? -Player 03 14:08, 8 March 2007 (UTC)

Useless article[edit]

Modern warfare doesn't mean the use of nukes and satallites. It mean using the most advanced tech of the time. "Modern" is the most meaningless word in the english laguage. This article states "modern warfare" began in the 40's, but here it is Modern Warfare in 1915 and Gas and Flame in Modern Warfare in 1918 and here is article on the evolution of tatics in modern warfare from 1892. This article either needs to forget about all the stuff from the 40's, 50's, 60's, and 70's and focus on only the current cutting edge of technology in warfare or else talk about the continual intergration of new technology into the battlefield throughout history.--BirgitteSB 14:45, 10 June 2008 (UTC)

Yes, got to agree with BirgitteSB here. Every period had its own modernity at least since the word was coined in ancient Rome. I would also like to point out that the article does not define itself, but the widest available definition of what is being described in the article is in fact Post-modern warfare--mrg3105 (comms) ♠♣ 23:47, 11 June 2008 (UTC)

Renewed discussion, and suggestion[edit]

I have restarted a discussion here that may get two articles sorted out in a way, and point to a way forward with their revision and improvement, and would like to invite participation is discussion there--mrg3105 (comms) ♠♣ 13:47, 22 August 2008 (UTC)


Does anyone see the vandalism in this article or is everyone blind? WinterSpw (talk) 21:22, 4 October 2008 (UTC)

The current lead needs a rewrite[edit]

"Modern warfare, although present in every historical period of military history, is generally used to refer to the concepts, methods and technologies that have come into use during and after the Second World War." Who says that is the definition of "Modern warfare"?

"The concepts and methods have assumed more complex forms of the 19th and early-20th century antecedents largely due to the widespread use of highly advanced information technology." Who says? Who says that the majority of wars fought in the last 2 years, such as Sri Lankan Civil War or Pakistan conflict are any more complex than the wars fought in the same regions by the the British Empire?

"Although Total war was thought to be the form of international conflicts from the experience of the French Revolutionary Wars to the Second World War, the term no longer describes warfare in which countries or nations use all of their resources to destroy another country's or nation's organized ability to engage in war." Who says? "The practice of total war which had been in use for over a century, as a form of war policy has been changed dramatically with greater awareness of tactical, operational and strategic battle information." Who says?

--PBS (talk) 12:19, 1 June 2009 (UTC)

World War II[edit]

Why does this article note modern warfare as conflicts after World War II? World War II is the pinnacle of modern warfare, the only example of modern warfare on a global scale. Aircraft carriers, intercontinental ballistic missiles (V-2s), cruise missiles (V-1s) guided missiles, were all part of the war, so were computers, jet aircraft, even simply high speed fighters and long range bombers. Radar was fielded on a large scale, computers were utilized, and the war ended with what has stopped a major war since: nuclear weaponry. The war was entirely mechanized, battles were fought entirely with advanced tanks; is it not modern warfare when a country conquers all of Western Europe in weeks? When entire battles are fought only with battalions of paratroopers?The economy of every major belligerent became mobilized, and the opposing sides had nearly unlimited budgets, and two countries (USA and USSR) also had virtually unlimited resources. World War II included every type of war included in the article, and is why we have not seen modern warfare on a full scale since, due to the sheer onslaught brought with it; one hundred million deaths in WWII's case.

Sorry if I began haranguing there. WWII simply shows the capability of full-scale, and the change I propose is a new section detailing the history and progression of modern warfare, a subsection mentioning a refined version of what I earlier stated, and the inclusion of WWII on the lists.

Thank You. Ryandinho14 (talk) 01:33, 5 February 2010 (UTC)

Addition: Sorry, I just read the earlier section. After doing some check-up on what I believe to be correct and consulting my World, European, and US history professors, they all agreed that industrial warfare, used as a term of dating wars involving the mobilization of industry but not the application of common war technology such as large-scale military aviation and armored warfare ends with World War I, with other notable conflicts being the Napoleonic Wars, War of 1812, American Civil War, Russo-Japanese War, Crimean War, Napoleonic War, Opium Wars, Boer Wars, and the Franco-Prussian War. Authors such as Richard Hofstadter, the recently deceased Howard Zinn, and the standard AP US History textbook, the American Pageant, also agree modern warfare begins with World War II. Conflicts between the two world wars would need to be individually scrutinized. Thus, using industrial war as a term for dating conflicts would put their end at World War I, but using its term to simply describe warfare involving the mobilization of industry could apply to wars dating around early Industrial Revolution time to obviously now. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Ryandinho14 (talkcontribs) 02:25, 5 February 2010 (UTC)


I know that piracy is old, but it is going on off of Somalia. Does that count? (talk) 00:33, 26 January 2011 (UTC)Dan

We agree that piracy still exists. What is your point? -- Fyrefly (talk) 21:08, 4 February 2011 (UTC)

Removal of future warfare section[edit]

It is ridiculous to keep this section in the article. Encyclopedias are not for making guesses about the future, but for documenting reliably sourced accounts of what has already happened. Unless someone can come up with some amazing reason to keep the future warfare section, I'll be deleting it shortly. -- Fyrefly (talk) 21:11, 4 February 2011 (UTC)

The first sentence is either meaningless, or just plain nuts.[edit]

"Modern warfare, although present in every historical period of military history, is generally used to refer to the concepts, methods and technologies that have come into use during and after the Second World War and the Korean War.[citation needed]"

How can something that was "present in every historical period" possibly be "modern"? This simply doesn't make sense. Does anyone have a clue what this is supposed to mean? AndyTheGrump (talk) 19:30, 18 May 2013 (UTC)

I think what they were trying to say that in every period, people think of themselves as "modern". Trouble is, what they mean when they use "modern" is actually "contemporary" - the two are not synonyms. The strictly accurate meaning of "modern" is related to the word "mode" (note the root) - which is why historians use the word "modern" to describe the era that started in the 16th century, since it marked a break with the previous mode of society in Europe and the start of another that lasted, depending on how you see things, either to the present or to the mid-late 20th century (see for instance Early modern period, Early modern Europe, and Modern history).
From an academic, historical perspective, this article should really be titled "Contemporary warfare", since the modern period (differentiated from the early modern period, that is) is usually reckoned to start around the turn of the 18th century, related to the French Revolution and Napoleonic period (in Europe at least - "modern" China is somewhat later, for instance, and is usually connected to the first Opium War).
An article titled "Modern warfare" should actually be about the general shift to total war that began in the French revolutionary wars and culminated in WWII (at least that's how military historians would define the term). Parsecboy (talk) 16:35, 20 May 2013 (UTC)
I see the sentence has been edited, removing the confusion. This has actually been discussed at Wikipedia:Reference desk/Humanities#World War I is missing: which one should it go in, and why?, and the general consensus seems to be that 'modern warfare' was proceeded by 'industrial warfare' (e.g. of the form occurring in WWI). It is entirely possible though that there are differing conventions regarding this - and I'm not sure that it is too much of a problem as long as the article makes its scope clear, which this one does. AndyTheGrump (talk) 17:14, 20 May 2013 (UTC)
Well, no, industrial warfare is "modern" warfare. Modern warfare—total war—started with the armies of the Revolution and Napoleon, and more or less ended with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. What we have seen since then is a kind of post-modernreturn to Frederickian-style limited warfare. This is more or less the standard interpretation amongst military historians. Parsecboy (talk) 20:34, 20 May 2013 (UTC)

Starting over![edit]

As noted in all of the above discussions, this article's lede is very poor. It equates "modern war" with World War I and II, only, without any cite to support that erroneous claim. It then meanders about incorrectly describing total war, implying that's the definition of modern war, again without any cite. It then goes downhill from there.

Well, no more. Per WP:NUKEIT, and my thinking that a lack of info is better than incorrect info, I deleted the lede so we can start over.

I first sought to improve it, looking for sources, but I have found no source that follows any useful definition of "modern war"; each appears to just make up their own as whatever best fits their own narrative. So, I did what they did, and made up my own definition, replacing the whole lede with "it depends"! (Okay, I may have done a little better than that, and actually salvaged a tiny bit of the old lede.)

From here, I plan to go through all the pages that have links to this page to look for how other articles use "modern war", and use their definitions and cites (if any) to add to the lede here. This will be a long process, as I'm not a full-time editor. I may not ever finish.

So, meanwhile, feel free to do anything you want here, including replacing the whole lede again if you've got a better idea.

Of course, once the lede is fixed, there's still the whole rest of the article, which is no way consistent with the lede (old or new) or even itself. But if we get the lede with some sense of reality and cohesion, it should be easier to see what to do with the rest of the article. --A D Monroe III(talk) 15:34, 22 August 2019‎ (UTC)

Ancient warfare covers the Ancient period, and likewise for Medieval warfare, Early modern warfare etc. So is Modern warfare for the Late modern period?? Contemporary warfare (~1945 onwards) has some coverage at Contemporary history. (Hohum @) 17:10, 22 August 2019 (UTC)
I've found sources that define modern warfare as beginning with early modern warfare, and other sources that state it begins with Napoleonic warfare, others state it starts with the American Civil War, others say it starts with industrial warfare (or 20th century) (like the old lede said), and others start it with blitzkrieg, or the Cold War/nuclear power, or with 9/11 (or 21st century), and so on. Since there's no great majority agreement among RSs, I guess the article has to cover all these definitions of modern warfare? So maybe we have a section that covers the big changes that defines each of these beginnings of "modern warfares"? That's all I can suggest. --A D Monroe III(talk) 21:33, 22 August 2019 (UTC)

Update on my (very little) progress:

After spending some hours tediously going over how WP currently uses "modern warfare", via tracing how other articles link here, I find more than 95% of them link here merely as a side-effect of including Template:War. In that template, its History section contains links for the major historical warfare periods, and just after "Early modern" it has what it calls "Late modern" to cover everything afterwards, and that link is to this article. So, the primary definition of "modern warfare" in WP is "everything after early modern warfare", even though it calls it "late modern" instead of "modern". But this definition of modern warfare, of course, has no citation. Also, note that WP does not actually have Late modern warfare as a redirect to this article, and indeed, (at the time I'm writing this) it has no such page in any form. Thus, rather than a thoughtful definition of modern war, I see this merely as a fudge to make the template arrangement of links look more helpful than they really are.

But, I'd have to say it would be kind of helpful for WP to have an article that covered the whole history of warfare following Early modern warfare, that is, to actually have a "Late modern warfare" article. The trouble is, the term "late modern warfare" isn't a thing defined in sources, and so attempts to turn a made-up term into well-sourced article won't start off well. At least the term "modern warfare" is well-sourced, even if its definitions are all over the place. Given how poor this article currently is, starting Late modern warfare seems likely to create an even worse article, while making this one no better.

Of the few percent of articles that have an actual direct link here, so far I've found none that do so with a cite. They also imply definitions that vary as much as the sources I noted above, from all warfare after the bow and arrow, to just things after 9/11.

So, what now?

I'm left with nothing better than what I've suggested above: cover it all. Accept each reliably sourced definition of when modern warfare starts, and create a section that highlights warfare's major changes at that time.

In doing so, that will effectively cover the history of "late modern warfare" as Template:War would prefer, though it will repeat covering early modern warfare, but that's okay, I guess.

The next step in my plan then is to get the best sources defining each of these starting times. If you know of any such sources, please provide them. Any and all additional suggestions are welcome. --A D Monroe III(talk) 21:27, 26 August 2019 (UTC)

I have removed the disputed tag, as the definitions (note the plural) now being used are at least minimally sourced, and no longer promote any one minority view. The lede is far from perfect, but at least it's no longer blatantly incorrect.
I'm still asking for help in finding more and better citations for the definitions. My own sources are minimal. --A D Monroe III(talk) 17:04, 2 September 2019 (UTC)

Follow the lede?[edit]

We can now discuss the other tag, inadequate lede. I added this tag because the body of the article had little or nothing to do with the old lede. Now, it has little or nothing to do with the new lede; nothing's changed in this respect.

The body of the article currently consists of a list of sections -- from Aerial to Space -- as "Types" of modern warfare; I'm not sure what that means. Rather than these being in order of their relative significance or chronology, they are arranged alphabetically, apparently because these "types" have no comparable significance or chronology. I think this is all the result of the old lede giving no foundation to work with. Unfortunately, like the old lede, I feel there is very little of value in all the current body, and we should probably just start over.

What should the new article body be like? As I see it, we have two general choices: either focus on history, or on technology. By "history", I mean that this article should cover warfare by historical eras, essentially becoming a subset of History of warfare#Periods of military history, leaving out everything before early modern warfare. By "technology" I mean cover the times that new weapons changed warfare, essentially becoming a subset of History of warfare#Technological evolution, leaving out everything before gunpowder. (Note that History of warfare has a section on things after Industrial warfare, titled "Modern warfare", that links here. Sigh.)

The "history" style, as I noted above, fits the Template:War use of this article, and is more traditional. The "technology" style better fits most of the common uses of "modern history" that I've found, where the author makes a point that so-and-so just don't get that the introduction of such-and-such weapons has changed "modern warfare", and their old-fashioned armies are on the road to catastrophe.

I suppose we could do both, having a major section for each, like History of warfare does. But that's pretty ambitious, since we have very little to work with in the current article. It's also going to duplicate some info, and eras are at least somewhat tied to technology changes.

Or maybe someone has an idea on how to salvage some or all of the current body?

Comments? --A D Monroe III(talk) 17:48, 2 September 2019 (UTC)

Criteria for "Major modern wars"?[edit]

The list of wars in the section Modern warfare#Major modern wars has been growing rapidly recently, to the point of violating WP:LINKFARM. To be useful, the list must be kept fairly short. The most glaring problem with many of the additions is that they don't appear "major", such as ones with casualties only in the thousands or less, with some hardly qualifying as a "war". I have boldly cut back the list to wars with total military casualties of 50,000 or more.

As to what wars are "modern", I note that several respected military historians have called the American Civil War the "first modern war", due to its use of rifles, railroads, telegraphs, ironclads, etc. Based on that, any later war with similar elements (or better) also qualifies as "modern".

Of course, this criteria is subjective, and merits discussion. But until some consensus is reached, to keep the list from going right back into LINKFARM territory, any addition that doesn't meet this criteria should be removed.

Comments? --A D Monroe III(talk) 00:25, 30 March 2020 (UTC)