Outline of war

Last updated

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 or non-state actors – is characterised by extreme violence, social disruption, and economic destruction. [1] [2] 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. [1] [3]

Warfare refers to the common activities and characteristics of types of war, or of wars in general. [4]

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


History of war

Locations of ongoing conflicts worldwide, Update: January 2023
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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.
See also: Category:Lists of wars by date Ongoing conflicts around the world.svg
Locations of ongoing conflicts worldwide, Update: January 2023

  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


Wars by death toll

Wars by date

Wars by region

Wars by type of conflict


Military theory

Military organization

Operational level of war

Military operations
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.

Military strategy

Grand strategy

Military tactics

Politics of war

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.

Laws of war

Prisoners of war

Effects of war

War and culture

War publications

War films

Persons influential in war

Inventors of Military Technology

During the Classical Period

Listed by date of approximate lifetime

Ancient Egypt

Ancient Near East

Ancient Greece

Ancient India

Ancient China and its enemies

Ancient Rome and its enemies

Late Antiquity

During the Post-classical Period

Early Middle Ages

High Middle Ages

Islamic Golden Age

Medieval India

Medieval China

Medieval Southeast Asia

Mongol Conquests

Hundred Years War

During the Early Modern Period

Japanese Wars

Islamic Empires

European Colonization of the Americas

Early Modern Europe

Chinese Qing dynasty

American Revolutionary War

Napoleonic Wars

Modern Period

American Civil War

During World War I

During World War II

This is divided between political Leaders, field commanders and other influential people

Political Leaders

See also



Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Battle</span> Military engagement

A battle is an occurrence of combat in warfare between opposing military units of any number or size. A war usually consists of multiple battles. In general, a battle is a military engagement that is well defined in duration, area, and force commitment. An engagement with only limited commitment between the forces and without decisive results is sometimes called a skirmish.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Guerrilla warfare</span> Form of irregular warfare

Guerrilla warfare is a form of irregular warfare in which small groups of combatants, such as paramilitary personnel, armed civilians, or irregulars, use military tactics including ambushes, sabotage, raids, petty warfare, hit-and-run tactics, and mobility, to fight a larger and less-mobile traditional military.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tatmadaw</span> Armed forces of Myanmar

Tatmadaw is the official name of the armed forces of Myanmar. It is administered by the Ministry of Defence and composed of the Myanmar Army, the Myanmar Navy and the Myanmar Air Force. Auxiliary services include the Myanmar Police Force, the Border Guard Forces, the Myanmar Coast Guard, and the People's Militia Units. Since independence, the Tatmadaw has faced significant ethnic insurgencies, especially in Kachin, Kayin, Kayah, and Shan states. General Ne Win took control of the country in a 1962 coup d'état, attempting to build an autarkic society called the Burmese Way to Socialism. Following the violent repression of nationwide protests in 1988, the military agreed to free elections in 1990, but ignored the resulting victory of the National League for Democracy and imprisoned its leader Aung San Suu Kyi. The 1990s also saw the escalation of the conflict between Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims in Rakhine State due to RSO attacks on Tatmadaw forces.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Asymmetric warfare</span> War between belligerents whose relative military power differs significantly

Asymmetric warfare is a type of war between belligerents whose relative military power, strategy or tactics differ significantly. This is typically a war between a standing, professional army and an insurgency or resistance movement militias who often have status of unlawful combatants.

A resistance movement is an organized effort by some portion of the civil population of a country to withstand the legally established government or an occupying power and to disrupt civil order and stability. It may seek to achieve its objectives through either the use of nonviolent resistance, or the use of force, whether armed or unarmed. In many cases, as for example in the United States during the American Revolution, or in Norway in the Second World War, a resistance movement may employ both violent and non-violent methods, usually operating under different organizations and acting in different phases or geographical areas within a country.

Military strategy is a set of ideas implemented by military organizations to pursue desired strategic goals. Derived from the Greek word strategos, the term strategy, when it appeared in use during the 18th century, was seen in its narrow sense as the "art of the general", or "'the art of arrangement" of troops. Military strategy deals with the planning and conduct of campaigns, the movement and disposition of forces, and the deception of the enemy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Urban warfare</span> Combat conducted in urban areas

Urban warfare is combat conducted in urban areas such as towns and cities. Urban combat differs from combat in the open at both the operational and the tactical levels. Complicating factors in urban warfare include the presence of civilians and the complexity of the urban terrain. Urban combat operations may be conducted to capitalize on strategic or tactical advantages associated with the possession or the control of a particular urban area or to deny these advantages to the enemy.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Low-intensity conflict</span> Military conflict below the intensity of conventional war

A low-intensity conflict (LIC) is a military conflict, usually localised, between two or more state or non-state groups which is below the intensity of conventional war. It involves the state's use of military forces applied selectively and with restraint to enforce compliance with its policies or objectives.

Attrition warfare is a military strategy consisting of belligerent attempts to win a war by wearing down the enemy to the point of collapse through continuous losses in personnel and materiel. The word attrition comes from the Latin root atterere, meaning "to rub against", similar to the "grinding down" of the opponent's forces in attrition warfare.

An insurgency is a violent, armed rebellion against authority waged by small, lightly armed bands who practice guerrilla warfare from primarily rural base areas. The key descriptive feature of insurgency is its asymmetric nature: small irregular forces face a large, well-equipped, regular military force state adversary. Due to this asymmetry, insurgents avoid large-scale direct battles, opting instead to blend in with the civilian population where they gradually expand territorial control and military forces. Insurgency frequently hinges on control of and collaboration with local populations.

Jungle warfare is a term used to cover the special techniques needed for military units to survive and fight in jungle terrain.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Summary execution</span> Execution immediately after being accused of a crime, without trial

A summary execution is an execution in which a person is accused of a crime and immediately killed without the benefit of a full and fair trial. Executions as the result of summary justice are sometimes included, but the term generally refers to capture, accusation, and execution all conducted within a very short period of time, and without any trial. Under international law, refusal to accept lawful surrender in combat and instead killing the person surrendering is also categorized as a summary execution.

Fourth-generation warfare (4GW) is conflict characterized by a blurring of the lines between war and politics, combatants and civilians.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">New People's Army</span> Armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines

The New People's Army, abbreviated NPA or BHB, is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), based primarily in the Philippine countryside. It acts as the CPP's principal organization, aiming to consolidate political power from what it sees as the present "bourgeois reactionary puppet government" and to aid in the "people's democratic revolution". Founded on March 29, 1969, by the collaboration of Jose Maria Sison and former members of the Hukbalahap led by Bernabe Buscayno, the NPA has since waged a guerrilla war based on the Maoist strategy of protracted people's war. The NPA is one of the key figures in the ongoing Communist rebellion in the Philippines, the longest ongoing conflict in the country.

Modern warfare is warfare that is in notable contrast with previous military concepts, methods, and technology, emphasizing how combatants must modernize to preserve their battle worthiness. As such, it is an evolving subject, seen differently in different times and places. In its narrowest sense, it is merely a synonym for contemporary warfare.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Counterinsurgency</span> Military operation aimed at defeating insurgent forces

Counterinsurgency (COIN) is "the totality of actions aimed at defeating irregular forces". The Oxford English Dictionary defines counterinsurgency as any "military or political action taken against the activities of guerrillas or revolutionaries" and can be considered war by a state against a non-state adversary. Insurgency and counterinsurgency campaigns have been waged since ancient history. However, modern thinking on counterinsurgency was developed during decolonization. Within the military sciences, counterinsurgency is one of the main operational approaches of irregular warfare.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mountain warfare</span> Combat in mountains or rough terrain

Mountain warfare is warfare in mountains or similarly rough terrain. Mountain ranges are of strategic importance since they often act as a natural border, and may also be the origin of a water source.

Irregular warfare (IW) is defined in United States joint doctrine as "a violent struggle among state and non-state actors for legitimacy and influence over the relevant populations." Concepts associated with irregular warfare are older than the term itself.

The main strategy and tactics of guerrilla warfare tend to involve the use of a small attacking, mobile force against a large, unwieldy force. The guerrilla force is largely or entirely organized in small units that are dependent on the support of the local population. Tactically, the guerrilla army makes the repetitive attacks far from the opponent's center of gravity with a view to keeping its own casualties to a minimum and imposing a constant debilitating strain on the enemy. This may provoke the enemy into a brutal, excessively destructive response which will both anger their own supporters and increase support for the guerrillas, ultimately compelling the enemy to withdraw. One of the most famous examples of this was during the Irish War of Independence. Michael Collins, a leader of the Irish Republican Army, often used this tactic to take out squads of British soldiers, mainly in Munster, especially Cork.

The history of guerrilla warfare stretches back to ancient history. While guerrilla tactics can be viewed as a natural continuation of prehistoric warfare, the Chinese general and strategist Sun Tzu, in his The Art of War, was the earliest to propose the use of guerrilla warfare. This directly inspired the development of modern guerrilla warfare. Communist leaders like Mao Zedong and North Vietnamese Ho Chi Minh both implemented guerrilla warfare in the style of Sun Tzu, which served as a model for similar strategies elsewhere, such as the Cuban "foco" theory and the anti-Soviet Mujahadeen in Afghanistan. While the tactics of modern guerrilla warfare originate in the 20th century, irregular warfare, using elements later characteristic of modern guerrilla warfare, has existed throughout the battles of many ancient civilizations.


  1. 1 2 "American Heritage Dictionary: War". Thefreedictionary.com. Retrieved 2011-01-24.
  2. "Merriam Webster's Dictionary: War". Merriam-Webster. 13 August 2010. Retrieved 2011-01-24.
  3. "War". Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University. 2017.
  4. "Warfare". Cambridge Dictionary. Retrieved 1 August 2016.
  5. Staff of the Catholic Peace Fellowship (2007). "The Life and Witness of Ben Salmon". Sign of Peace. 6.1 (Spring 2007).
  6. "'Just War Theory'" vs. American Self-Defence Archived 2012-12-09 at archive.today , by Yaron Brook and Alex Epstein