THE COLD WAR IS OVER
ENTERED MILITARY SERVICE during the Cold War. Fortunately, we never had to fight the war in Europe that NATO was formed to deter. Nevertheless, we saw a continuing evolution in the conduct of war. Modern war, as defined here, emerged as a function of history and culture, as a result of NATO, the media, and technology. Local factors, such as the environment or the particular characteristics of the enemy forces, had a significant impact as well. From the Korean War of 1950-53, through the American war in Vietnam, and into the United Kingdom's 1982 campaign in the Falklands, the U.S. 1989 intervention in Panama, and the 1991 Gulf War, and into Kosovo in I999, the divergence from the World War II model of warfare has grown more and more pronounced. The evolution hasn't been linear or particularly well understood, even within the armed forces in most Western countries—but it's there.
The divergence began with the Soviet Union's acquisition of nuclear weapons. After the wholesale tragedy of World War II and the advent of the nuclear age, it soon was obvious that many conflicts could not be pushed to "unconditional surrender." It was too risky, or too expensive, or too much in conflict with other goals and priorities.