Military Communications: From Ancient Times to the 21st Century

Military Communications: From Ancient Times to the 21st Century

Military Communications: From Ancient Times to the 21st Century

Military Communications: From Ancient Times to the 21st Century


An alphabetically organized encyclopedia that provides both a history of military communications and an assessment of current methods and applications.

• Over 300 alphabetically organized entries covering all innovations in military communication technology (in the United States and around the world), as well as key people, locations, organizations, and signature battles

• Over 40 expert contributors- both researchers and practitioners of military communications

• An annotated guide to basic reading plus further readings and references for all entries

• Glossary of key terms including acronyms


This volume is the result of a concerted effort by nearly fifty scholars to assemble a historical reference on a topic that stretches over thousands of years. While huge amounts of ink have been devoted to just about every other aspect of military history (commanders, battles, weapons, even fortification), for some reason communications has not been one of them. Yet without effective communication, little can be accomplished, regardless of the scale of the military event. What follows is an attempt to rectify that hole in the military literature.

Taken together, the 322 entries contained in this volume provide an introduction to the vast and fascinating topic of communications in a military context. More specifically, our concern on these pages is with both the tactical and strategic applications of communication technology (and sometimes, as in selected battles, with the impact of those applications) in military organizations in war and peace. The scope is purposely broad rather than deep. Entries range from ancient times and the use of fire, smoke, and couriers, up to present-day digital integrated systems. To the extent that information is available, coverage includes as wide a variety of countries as possible over the years, though our emphasis is on the English-speaking world (material on other countries or regions has been limited by availability of the source material and volunteers to write relevant entries).

As is made clear in the introduction, communication has been central to the process of fighting throughout history. But to a great extent, it seems to have become part of the background context of hostilities—always there, even if not always well applied. Whether we are talking about the use of human runners as couriers or the use of fire or smoke signals—surely the earliest modes of military communication—communications has been vital to victory even if it has rarely been able to stave off defeat. The effective use of modes of communication, of course, is subject to all the limitations of any other human endeavor.

We have provided entries on specific battles where communication played a central part (e.g., the Battle of Midway in 1942), general periods of military history (e.g., Napoleonic), key individuals (military and civilian), commands and other military organizations, specific locations (e.g., chiefly . . .

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