In this podcast series we tackle these issues and others, mapping the origins of the term, and why the current discussions are perhaps misguided and immature.
This podcast series is kindly sponsored and enabled by Raytheon UK, a subsidiary of Raytheon technology, a British company that creates jobs in England, Wales and Scotland, contributing over 700 million pounds to the UK economy.
The term 'British Way of Warfare' emerged from a speech given by Sir Basil Liddell Hart at RUSI in 1931, and later immortalised in the RUSI Journal in 1932. Liddell Hart was discussing British grand strategy after the First World War, specifically the level to which Britain should materially and politically invest in the European continent (as opposed to prioritising maritime interests in the rest of the world).
Liddell Hart, and those who critiqued his paper, used the terms 'war' and 'warfare' as interchangeable. Carl von Clausewitz differentiated them: war as the grand strategic choices of policy, and warfare the practise of armed coercion and violence used to implement political strategy. Whilst academically pure, the reality is an overlap between these two spheres. While scholars pose important, grand strategic questions, those engaged in the profession of arms need to understand the Western approach to warfare (How we fight, and how adversaries respond) as a critical military question.
In dealing with how we fight, it is acknowledged that by the 19th century there were several historical schools of military theory: Prussian, French, British, Russian, Italian and Japanese to name but a few. These had been identified as peculiar to those states, imbued with some of the core cultural phenomena of their own indigenous people, and the deliberate changes made to their military practices and institutions on the basis of their own discrete experiences in conflict, campaigns, personalities, and warfare as lived. Arguably, these merged into a single school by 1990: An American led doctrine and concept of fighting emerged from the Cold War that was centred on a belief that technological superiority could overcome the mass of the Warsaw Pact forces. Much of the previous lessons and individual schools of military theory all but disappeared.
That US school of warfare has been applied against all aggressors in roughly similar manners: counter-terrorism, counter insurgency, high intensity conflict, civil wars, conventional deterrence, partnering and unlimited warfare. The core question of this project examines whether this single Western Way of Warfare is fit for task.
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Welcome to Season 3 of the Western Way of War sponsored by Raytheon UK. Access the latest episodes.
Episode 60: Rory Stewart: Failure, and the Villains of the Western Campaign in Afghanistan
Welcome to Season 2 of the Western Way of War sponsored by Raytheon UK. Access the latest episodes.
Welcome to Season 1 of the Western Way of War sponsored by Raytheon UK.