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The art of combat is connected to a number of factors, including the kind of technology, the size and expertise of the military, and the social structure that largely determines the result of the conflict. In addition to the previously mentioned factors, military historians claim that culture offers a better understanding of battlefield operations. However, the habitual behaviors of people in the military camp reflect daily routines and decisions that continue even after the war. The social and political contexts of war are wide and general in their study of combat giving a holistic view. The cultural view of warfare is humanistic and examines insights that were earlier neglected in military history.
The narratives in Silbey’s excerpts are precise and expose interesting variables that would otherwise go unnoticed in military history. The solders in the excerpts respond differently to technology in the battlefield and the material circumstances prevailing during the tactical operations by each army. The responses by the soldiers act as a representation of culture originating from their societal views and the wars they have fought before. Culture is a complex aspect originating from psychological evolution and societal anthropology.
The simple understanding of culture in relation to warfare is that human beings working together over a prolonged period tend to develop habitual practices. These habitual practices shape an individual’s actions and decisions, becoming the modified culture from the military interactions. Apart from the military culture formed in the field, individual soldiers brought with them societal cultures that dictated the manner in which they engaged in warfare (Lee, pg. 165). Societal values largely determined the military strategies and operational organization of armies. The Chinese in the Ming dynasty case study, for instance, favored civilian values over martial values, making it difficult for them to field effective military troops during the wartime.
Lee, Wayne E., ed. Warfare and Culture in World History. NYU Press, 2011. (165- 186)
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