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Global Army Modernisation - Changing Nature and Structure

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Although the motives and reasons for going to war have remained constant, the nature of war fighting has changed. War is no longer fought the way it was barely a couple of decades back. The use of air power has changed beyond comprehension. From the screaming dog fights of World War I to the unseen stealth fighters of the 21st century.
And now the advent of unmanned delivery of aerial combat capability, the nature of applying air power has changed exponentially. Naval war fighting is as old as civilisation. From the early mass movement of galleons to the super silent SSBNs of today, naval capabilities have come a long way indeed. The future of ship design is the incorporation of stealth features, much like those in combat aircraft. And that future is already upon us. Modern navies around the world are inducting stealth capable ships, investing in advanced aviation capabilities and new materials to further hide submarines. Application of naval power has, therefore, undergone enormous changes. It remains an essential to being regarded a global power.

In this maelstrom of military changes and evolution of war fighting, the armies are not to be left behind. In fact even in the most unchanging military service there have been significant changes. So much so that the nature and structure of global armies is undergoing a massive change. As the nature of war fighting has evolved in the air and in the seas, it has done so on land as well. And in very drastic ways. The mass slaughter of the First World War are a thing of the past, and thankfully so.

Lives of the mass produced foot soldier are no longer something taken for granted. This is as true for their equipment as it is for their deployment. The change in land war fighting has affected the perception of an army as a modern military means. Even as this change is palpable there is still a constant about an army and its application. This rests on the premise that the ultimate determinant of power is the ability to put boots on the ground. That measure has remained constant through human history and continues to retain its importance. It is the hallmark of power.

How that power is to be projected, however, has determined the changing nature and structure of global armies. Different countries have applied their lessons learnt in various ways to realising their structural visions of their respective armies. Lessons learnt have varied according to different political and military experiences, obviously. This has resulted in drastically differing solutions to the most basic military questions - how much is required, how is it to be used and what are its costs. Around these fundamental queries have revolved the various structural changes implemented across the world. Some have cut down dramatically on manpower, while there has been an increase in other countries. Mechanisation of war fighting has increased in some quarters, while at the same time the foot soldier, the infantry man, has seen a resurgence elsewhere. It all boils down to the self-analysis conducted at the national and strategic levels by the concerned countries. That they have carried out such reviews is testimony to the fact that a constantly changing and challenging global environment is forcing a rethink and a re-look at an institution long regarded as sacrosanct.

In the modern era and especially given the challenges imposed by political dynamics of the 21st century, nothing can any longer be taken as sacrosanct. Long regarded as the most rigid of national institutions, global armies are being armed in a manner that keeps tasks at the forefront. Rather than relying on mass as a force multiplier, armies are now being restructured keeping capability as the cornerstone. Increasing specialisation amongst the enlisted troops today is a far cry from the generalisation of yore. As a result of which there has been an explosion of budgeting for Special Forces worldwide. As the nature of conflict became largely covert and low-intensity so did the need to invest in Special Forces capabilities. Technology followed likewise, growing ever more precise and expensive. Thus the need to undergo a re-look at the nature and structure of armies worldwide. The bedrock has been capacity and the intention of force. All of this is the logical outcome of the rationalisation of force, which after all, is the application of national power.

 

 


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