Magazine article Joint Force Quarterly

The Evolution of Joint Warfare. (Joint Warfighting)

Magazine article Joint Force Quarterly

The Evolution of Joint Warfare. (Joint Warfighting)

Article excerpt

Joint warfare is largely a phenomenon of the last century. Yet ever since the 17th century, as Western militaries developed into professional, disciplined institutions responsive to their rulers, many states have sought to project power abroad. Technology has increasingly shaped the conduct of war, forcing the use of military capabilities in concert. That is a complex process, not because of obstacles posed by individual service cultures alone, but because the evolution of joint warfare poses intractable problems. Moreover, such capabilities can require levels of spending that cannot be allocated to the military in peacetime.

The Continental Powers

Of the emerging states in the early 1700s, England had the greatest tradition of cooperation between land and sea forces. That nation originated with the invasion of William the Conqueror which brought the Normans to power. His descendants, particularly Edward III and Henry V, used domination of the English Channel and adjacent waters to invade the Continent, which came close to destroying France. While impressive, one cannot speak of those campaigns as joint warfighting because military institutions of the day were not professional or permanent. Perhaps one exception was the Battle of Sluys in 1340, when Edward III launched a fleet with archers bearing longbows to slaughter the French, leading to an era in which "Edward was lord of the sea." (1)

Nevertheless, it was only with the end of the 16th century that Europeans began thinking in terms of joint cooperation. The destruction of the Spanish Armada in. 1588 underlined the perils in coordinating forces on land and at sea. Planning an expedition in Madrid and moving a fleet in the Channel with armies in the Low Countries proved overwhelming. Such a combination had worked against tribal levies of American Indians, who had stone-age weapons and no knowledge of firearms, while diseases spread by the Spaniards killed those natives who survived combat. But Spain was unprepared for the complexity of land and sea warfare against a European power. Such difficulties were exacerbated by the skillful leadership of British maritime forces, and unfamiliarity with the Channel inevitably turned the great expedition launched by Philip II into a failure.

By the mid-17th century a number of European states, led by Holland and Sweden, created recognizable armies and navies that were responsive to war ministries and admiralties. The major ingredient in the rise of these institutions was intense competition for hegemony on the Continent, a struggle in which growing and disciplined armies grappled for domination. But as the century unfolded Europeans found themselves vying for empire. At first the competition involved navies contending for maritime supremacy, but at the end of the century more significant colonies like the Sugar Islands in the Caribbean boasted grand fortifications and garrisons. France and England emerged as great powers competing for empire by the dawn of the 18th century. At the same time the army of Louis XIV threatened the balance of power. The War of Spanish Succession broke out in 1702 and was the first world war. On the Continent, the Duke of Marlborough, with Dutch and Hapsburg allies, won a number of victories that rocked the French monarchy. London waged war at sea for supremacy over the Atlantic and Mediterranean while contesting control over North America, the Caribbean, and India. English colonists in North America called this conflict Queen Anne's War after the sovereign. Neither nation could project ample power beyond Europe to win decisively, but the war was the opening round in a struggle that lasted the rest of the century.

The New World

The Seven Years War--known as the French and Indian Wars in North America--decided which nation was the dominant power outside Europe. It also resolved that English would become the dominant world language. Moreover, it was the first instance in which naval power projected land forces over great distances, supported them, and prevented an enemy from being reinforced. …

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