Why Military History

I ran across this piece by Jay Luvaas again today and it got me thinking about why I like Military history and if it is a worthwhile pursuit.   My short answer is that I don’t know why I like it and yes it is.

The long answer is that I guess I like military history because war is the most extreme pursuit man engages in.   Extreme sports such as base jumping, free diving, mountain climbing, etc have nothing on the sheer rush and danger of engaging in the single most dangerous thing man has come up with; hunting our fellow man.   I have personally been to combat but I studied military history long before I joined the military.   I started reading military history in grade school and the first military history book I ever read was about D-day in 1944 and I still have it.

As to whether military history is worthwhile, I have to say yes here as well.   Weapons, equipment, and systems may change but one element has remained a constant throughout the history of war and that is men.   Men are at the heart of war and it men and their reactions to the stresses of combat and command that dominate the study of war.   I would even hazard to wager good money that a Roman Legionnaire would react the same way in combat today if given the same training as today’s soldiers and vice-versa.   The study of war is at heart the study of human nature in its most elemental form.   There are lessons to be learned from the way Crassus fought at Carrhae that are relevant on the modern battlefield because the nature of men has not changed to nearly the degree that the nature of the weapons we employ has.   That is why I believe that the study of military history is still relevant and why it will remain so for the foreseeable future.

1 thought on “Why Military History”

  1. I think one can also say that military history is important because it is closely related to some fundamental issues of the human experience – life and death, bravery and cowardice, honor and dishonor. This is why we can look back and see artifacts depicting soldiers on their own or engaged in battle in some of the earliest representations produced in Western civilization. Military history aids our understanding of what is depicted in these artifacts, which in turn helps us to better understand how past societies functioned.

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