The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to war:
War - organised and often prolonged armed conflict that is carried out by states and/or non-state actors - is characterised by extreme violence, social disruption, and economic destruction. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political communities, and therefore is defined as a form of political violence or intervention.
Warfare - refers to the common activities and characteristics of types of war, or of wars in general.
An absence of war is peace.
Types of war
Types of warfare
Warfare by objective
Warfare by strategic doctrine
Warfare by terrain
Warfare by equipment or weapon type
Warfare by era
Warfare by stages
- First-generation warfare - refers to battles fought with massed manpower, using line and column tactics with uniformed soldiers governed by the state. It includes the earliest stages of organized, state-controlled armed forces waging war in the modern era.
- Second-generation warfare - tactics of warfare used after the invention of the rifled musket and breech-loading weapons and continuing through the development of the machine gun and indirect fire.
- Third-generation warfare - focuses on using speed and surprise to bypass the enemy's lines and collapse their forces from the rear. Essentially, this was the end of linear warfare on a tactical level, with units seeking not simply to meet each other face to face but to outmaneuver each other to gain the greatest advantage.
- Fourth-generation warfare - conflict characterized by a blurring of the lines between war and politics, soldier and civilian. It includes any war in which one of the major participants is not a state but rather a violent non-state actor. Fourth-generation warfare is characterized by the nation states' loss of their near-monopoly on combat forces, returning to modes of conflict common in pre-modern times.
History of war
Locations of ongoing conflicts worldwide, Update: July 2018
Major wars, 10,000+ deaths in current or past year
Wars, 1,000-9,999 deaths in current or past year
Minor conflicts, 100-999 deaths in current or past year
Skirmishes and clashes, fewer than 100 deaths.
Warfare by era
See: Warfare by era, above
Wars by death toll
Wars by date
Wars by region
Wars by type of conflict
Factions And Forces
Weapons of war
Operational level of war
Types of military operations
Types of military operations, by scope:
- Theater - operation over a large, often continental area of operation and represents a strategic national commitment to the conflict such as Operation Barbarossa, with general goals that encompass areas of consideration outside of the military such as the economic and political impacts.
- Campaign - subset of the theatre operation, or a more limited geographic and operational strategic commitment such as Battle of Britain, and need not represent total national commitment to a conflict, or have broader goals outside of the military impacts.
- Battle - subset of a campaign that will have specific military goals and geographic objectives, as well as clearly defined use of forces such as the Battle of Gallipoli, which operationally was a combined arms operation originally known as the "Dardanelles landings" as part of the Dardanelles Campaign, where about 480,000 Allied troops took part.
- Engagement - tactical combat event of contest for specific area or objective by actions of distinct units. For example, the Battle of Kursk, also known from its German designation as Operation Citadel, included many separate engagements, several of which were combined into the Battle of Prokhorovka. The "Battle of Kursk" in addition to describing the initial German offensive operation (or simply an offensive), also included two Soviet counter-offensive operations Operation Kutuzov and Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev.
- Strike - single attack, upon a specified target. This often forms part of a broader engagement. Strikes have an explicit goal, such as, rendering facilities inoperable (e.g. airports), to assassinating enemy leaders, or to limit supply to enemy troops.
Politics of war
- Casus belli - Latin expression meaning the justification for acts of war. In theory, present international law allows only three situations as legal cause to go to war: out of self-defense, defense of an ally under a mutual defense pact, or sanctioned by the UN.
- Declaration of war
- War effort
- War economy
- Capitulation an agreement in time of war for the surrender to a hostile armed force of a particular body of troops, a town or a territory.
- Strategic surrender - surrender to avoid a last, chaotic round of fighting that would have the characteristics of a rout, allowing the victor to obtain his objective without paying the costs of a last battle.
- Unconditional surrender - surrender without conditions, except for those provided by international law.
- Debellatio - when a war ends because of the complete destruction of a belligerent state.
- No quarter - when a victor shows no clemency or mercy and refuses to spare the life of the vanquished when they surrender at discretion. Under the laws of war "... it is especially forbidden ... to declare that no quarter will be given".
- Pyrrhic victory - victory with such a devastating cost that it carries the implication that another such victory will ultimately lead to defeat.
Philosophy of war
Philosophy of war - examines war beyond the typical questions of weaponry and strategy, inquiring into such things as the meaning and etiology of war, the relationship between war and human nature, and the ethics of war.
- Militarism - belief that war is not inherently bad but can be a beneficial aspect of society.
- Realism - its core proposition is a skepticism as to whether moral concepts such as justice can be applied to the conduct of international affairs. Proponents of realism believe that moral concepts should never prescribe, nor circumscribe, a state's behaviour. Instead, a state should place an emphasis on state security and self-interest. One form of realism - descriptive realism - proposes that states cannot act morally, while another form - prescriptive realism - argues that the motivating factor for a state is self-interest. Just wars that violate Just Wars principles effectively constitute a branch of realism.
- Revolution and Civil War - Just War Theory states that a just war must have just authority. To the extent that this is interpreted as a legitimate government, this leaves little room for revolutionary war or civil war, in which an illegitimate entity may declare war for reasons that fit the remaining criteria of Just War Theory. This is less of a problem if the "just authority" is widely interpreted as "the will of the people" or similar. Article 3 of the 1949 Geneva Conventions side-steps this issue by stating that if one of the parties to a civil war is a High Contracting Party (in practice, the state recognised by the international community,) both Parties to the conflict are bound "as a minimum, the following [humanitarian] provisions." Article 4 of the Third Geneva Convention also makes clear that the treatment of prisoners of war is binding on both parties even when captured soldiers have an "allegiance to a government or an authority not recognized by the Detaining Power."
- Absolutism - holds that there are various ethical rules that are absolute. Breaking such moral rules is never legitimate and therefore is always unjustifiable.
- Pacifism - belief that war of any kind is morally unacceptable and/or pragmatically not worth the cost. Pacifists extend humanitarian concern not just to enemy civilians but also to combatants, especially conscripts. For example, Ben Salmon believed all war to be unjust. He was sentenced to death during World War I (later commuted to 25 years hard labor) for desertion and spreading propaganda.
- Right of self-defence - maintains (based on rational self-interest) that the use of retaliatory force is justified against repressive nations that break the zero aggression principle. In addition, if a free country is itself subject to foreign aggression, it is morally imperative for that nation to defend itself and its citizens by whatever means necessary. Thus, any means to achieve a swift and complete victory over the enemy is imperative. This view is prominently held by Objectivists.
- Consequentialism - moral theory most frequently summarized in the words "the end justifies the means," which tends to support the just war theory (unless the just war causes less beneficial means to become necessary, which further requires worst actions for self-defense with bad consequences).
Laws of war
Prisoners of war
Effects of war
Effects of war
War and culture
Persons influential in war
Inventors of Military Technology
During the Classical Period
Listed by date of approximate lifetime
Ancient Near East
During the Early Modern Period
Early Modern Europe
During World War I
During World War II
This is divided between political Leaders, field commanders and other influential people
- Lists of wars in World (by date, region, type of conflict)
- Africa :
- Americas :
- Asia :
- Europe :
- Others :
- Ongoing conflicts in World (Commons Maps) :
- Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod: Encyclopedia of Wars. Facts On File, Inc., 2005, ISBN 0-8160-2851-6. (With about 1,800 wars, this is probably the most complete overview in English language).
- R. Ernest Dupuy, Trevor N. Dupuy: The Harper Encyclopedia of Military History. From 3500 B.C. to the Present. 4th Edition, HarperCollins Publisher, 1993, ISBN 978-0062700568. (With about 1,300 wars this is probably the second most complete overview in English language, with the added value to summarize about 4,500 battles).
- Vittorio Ferretti: Weltchronik der Kriege und Demozide - Ein Abriss der Ursachen, Abläufe und Folgen von über 5.000 gewalttätig ausgetragenen Konflikten bis zum Jahr 2000. Amazon, 2014, ISBN 978-3000403538. (With over 5,000 conflicts, this German book is by far the most complete overview published in any language till now. Its added value is to include democides into its scope).