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Evolution of Warfare and Weapons Research Paper

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Updated: Sep 2nd, 2021

Historically, the human species is known to have waged war-like activities right from the beginning. Archaeological sources have shown war evidence through the discovery of small hand-held weapons curved from hard stones. In that era, the war was more of a small conflict aimed at gaining dominance in the matter related to settlement and food. The aggressive nature of the human species has contributed greatly to his quest to be the most dominant species on earth. The same aggressiveness has resulted in the death of millions of people throughout history as men compete for dominancy and supremacy. It is important to note that major technological advancement that makes everyday life easier, has been a result of Warfare and weapons evolution.

The basic aspects of warfare composition have survived all technological advancements. These aspects stand as the basic point of reference for any warfare. There are three basic aspects of any warfare, namely; the Shock Aspect, fire support, and the Infantry Aspect. Each aspect has undergone various revolutions to what it is today.

The Shock aspect in modern warfare is marked by forces that operate from the air; this is what is largely termed as Air Force. Air force evolved from a Knight mounted on a chariot in the beginning to armored vehicles. Fire support aspects are marked today by long-range missiles and laser-guided missiles. This aspect of war evolved from hand-operated catapults to canons. The Infantry aspect has not changed much and is marked by ground troops who are transported to battle-fields, carrying their assaults on foot.

The creation of kingdoms led to the creation of the first stage of warfare known as the Chariots Age. The dominant Kingdom waged war against weaker kingdoms mostly for recognition and Status or for resources which included land and even labor in form of slaves. Ancient kingdom like Hittites is a good example of such kingdoms which developed armies with the head of the battle being the horse ridden on a chariot. In this case, the battle commander was the most important person in any battle. Bows and javelins were the main weapons used during this warfare stage.

The Legionnaire Age was the second warfare stage. The ground troops were the most dominant in this stage. The troops were more organized, better trained, and disciplined. To be successive, the infantry were better armed and underwent advanced drills. This stage shows the development of spears and spikes. In India and North Africa, chariots were replaced by elephants as the main carriers, while in Britain and China; there was continued use of chariots in warfare.

The Age of the Knight was the third warfare stage. This stage witnessed the creation of warriors or the mounted knight who did much of the work on the battlefield. The use of ground troops was minimized. This stage witnessed the introduction of horse, bow, and arrow fire into the battlefield. Heavy amours were used only as the last resort. With the invention of gun powder, weapons were improved. The ground troops were now able to arm themselves with longbows, crossbows, and firearms. These developments in warfare marked the end of the Knight Age.

With technological advancement, the fourth stage was dominated by more advanced ground troops. This warfare stage is known as the Musket Age and was the period that bridged all other wars with the civil war in America. The Napoleon war took place in this age. This was the age that experienced the creation of uniformed forces. It was the same period that shows young men and women conscripted to the army to defend their nations and territory against external aggression. Rockets and riffle men were developed in this age. There was increased use of armored forces and missiles which could be launched from fixed firing gun range and/or mobile support drawn to the battlefield by horses. This age shows much development of fire support aspect with powerful explosives being developed. It was at this same period that the first set of machine guns was developed.

With the development of machine guns, came the Machine Gun Age. World War I and the civil war in America took place during this period. A lot of ground troops were killed during both wars. There was massive technological advancement with shock and fire support aspects benefiting most. Missiles were more powerful, and could now be used at a longer range than during the Musket Age. The machine guns were now more powerful, flexible and the ground troops could carry them easily. This stage witnessed the introduction of aerial bombing. It was the same period that naval ships and submarines were developed and brought into the war field. The first battle tanks were developed in this same period.

Advanced and rapid technological development resulted in greater individual ground troops capability resulting in the birth of the Mechanized Warfare age. Availability of sub-machine guns and vehicles to transport grounds troops to the battlefield resulted in a small number of troops covering a much wider geographical area. This was a period when for the first time, infantry could be divided into platoons to cover specific areas of the battlefield and to carry out a specific role. It was the same period that Armored Personnel Carriers were developed; the Vietnam War was characterized by the use of such carriers. World War II took place in this period where the battle tank, weighing more than 60 tones became the dominant weapon on the battlefield. At the end of this age, the use of gunship started to emerge with Vietnam taking much heat from Americans.

It was during the Mechanized Warfare age that shows major development and use of bombs on the battlefield. More power bombs that could be dropped from the air with a lot of accuracies were developed. In the Vietnam war, Laser-guided bombs were used for the first time. Long-range powerful missiles could now be launched from far away distances and secure bases. A lot of counterattack weapons were developed in this age.

The Mechanized Warfare age brought another deadly advancement; the development of Nuclear and biological weapons. Such weapons have been used in very limited instances and their development is very restricted as the risk associated with them is of greater magnitude that could wipe the human species of the face of the earth. Any weapon associated with nuclear or biological components is termed today as Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). The warfare today has been geared toward the fight against the development of WMD.

This brings us to the present Warfare Age, known as Post Nuclear Age. There are no major battles or wars to report or talk about apart from those aimed at fighting terrorism. The United Nations is mandated with solving political differences and loss of life through war is not acceptable. Where military intervention is required, the use of ground troops is most preferred. To minimize loss of human life in war, there are plans to introduce military robots which can be used in military intervention, controlled remotely from safe bases.

The use of Laser-guided bombs and long-range missiles is very limited and closely monitored and under the scrutiny of the United Nations Security Council. Powerful nations like the United States and Britain have volunteered their military support to efforts aimed at safeguarding humanity where military interventions have been used on limited occasions to flush out the militia in third world countries and to fight insurgents mostly in the Middle East.

Technological advancement makes it hard for anyone to predict how future warfare will be like. Most nations, including some countries in the third world, have a technological advantage and can easily produce and develop more advanced and powerful weapons within a short time. Technological advancement in transportation makes it possible to deploy armed forces to an area within a very short time. The United States has already built a missile defense shield with the capability to intercept and destroy any long-range missile. Such advancement makes future warfare and weapons unpredictable.


Avner Cohen, Steven Lee (1986) Nuclear Weapons and the Future of Humanity: The Fundamental Question, Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, New York.

Karl F. Friday (2004) Samurai, Warfare & the State in Early Medieval Japan, Rouledge Publishers, United Kingdom.

Richard A. Gabriel, Karen S. Metz (1992) A Short History of War: The Evolution of Warfare and Weapons, U.S. Army War College Publishers, United States.

The Evolution of Warfare, 2008, Web.

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