The Lessons of Modern War - Vol. 3

By Anthony H. Cordesman; Abraham R. Wagner | Go to book overview

1

INTRODUCTION

The two wars analyzed in this volume involve very different types of conflict. In fact, in some ways they span the range of what has come to be called "low-intensity conflict"—although this is a term that would be hard to explain to the Afghan people, who have suffered through nine years of brutal and nationwide war.

The Falklands conflict was an exercise in power projection involving land, air, and naval forces. It involved a conflict between modern forces which were not designed to fight under the conditions they were forced to and whose power projection capabilities were strained to their limits. Although the Falklands conflict involved extensive fighting on the land, its outcome was decided by a duel between the Argentine Air Force and the British Royal Navy. The Falklands conflict was relatively brief, had little impact on the civil population of the nations involved, and had very limited casualties.

The Afghan conflict began with a Soviet military coup d'etat of an unstable but strongly pro-Soviet and pro-Marxist regime. The USSR, however, failed to create a stable replacement for the government it overthrew and soon found its intervention to be perceived as an invasion of conquest. The result was nearly a decade of struggle which became as brutal as the U.S. intervention in Vietnam and which produced hundreds of thousands of casualties and millions of refugees. It was a war that pitted Soviet regular forces and Soviet advanced technology, backed by the forces of the Soviet puppet regime, against small, divided bands of poorly armed guerrillas. Nevertheless, it was a war that the Soviet Union lost.

The contrast between these two wars provides a broad picture of the many different ways in which the tactics and technology of armed forces can be be used in combat. It also shows how easily a war can start and escalate to involve millions of lives.

In the case of the Falklands, the fight for control of the islands was largely a matter of principal and politics; the area was not of vital

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The Lessons of Modern War - Vol. 3
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Tables and Figures xi
  • Preface xiii
  • Acronyms xv
  • 1 - Introduction 1
  • 2 - The Soviet Invasion of Afghanistan 3
  • Notes 219
  • 3 - The Falklands War 238
  • Notes 353
  • 4 - Analysis of the Lessons of Limited Armed Conflicts 362
  • Notes 401
  • 5 - A Strategic Technology Strategy for Limited Force Engagements 402
  • Notes 433
  • Sources and Methods 434
  • Bibliography 437
  • Index 452
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