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How Armies Grow (Hardback)

The Expansion of Military Forces in the Age of Total War 1789–1945

Military > By Century > 20th Century Military > Post-WWII Warfare > Defence Studies & Strategic Affairs

Edited by Matthias Strohn
Imprint: Casemate Publishers
Pages: 208
ISBN: 9781612006017
Published: 30th September 2019



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The first two decades after the end of the Cold War were characterised by government’s desires to reduce the sizes of their armed forces, not least in order to save money. Hand in hand with this general reduction went an intellectual and doctrinal re-orientation of the armies from conventional warfare to counter-insurgency operations. These trends combined had a deep impact on all armies, in particular in Europe. The geo-political landscape and the real and perceived threats from terrorist groups allowed for such developments to take place. As a result, capabilities were lost and the current generation of army leaders have lost the ability to think in terms of large-scale, conventional military operations.Recent changes to the geo-political situation and current developments in Eastern Europe have resulted in a new shift of thinking. The pendulum has now swung back to large-scale, conventional operations. Once again, this has huge implications for the forces, from training to equipment. Today, armies are growing again in size and all armies look back to the past in order to learn something about the build-up, composition and use of large formations. Lessons that had been learned by armies the hard way and had been the accepted wisdom for decades or even centuries now have to be re-learnt. It is these lessons from history that this book addresses. What does history tell us about these processes? How did armies prepare and train for a major conflict in times of peace? What internal structure did the armies adopt? What were the problems in the areas of equipment and how could an army ensure that in the case of war enough of the right material was available? How did the armies ensure that the doctrine and training used in a small army was adequate for a much enlarged army in the case of total war? All these questions were as relevant then as they are now.This anthology analyses a number of case studies and provides insights into themes and topics that characterised the so-called ‘reconstitution’ of armies in their historical and social contexts. The emphasis is on land forces, but air forces and navies of the relevant countries are also included. The period covered is the “age of total war” from the French Revolution to the end of the Second World War, which provides the intellectual framework for the challenges that armies are facing today.

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About Matthias Strohn

Matthias Strohn, MSt (Oxon), DPhil (Oxon), FRHistS, is Head of Historical Analysis at the Centre for Historical Analysis and Conflict Research, the British Army’s strategic think tank, Visiting Professor of Military Studies at the University of Buckingham, and a member of the academic faculty at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst. Matthias was educated at the universities of Münster (Germany) and Oxford. He holds a commission in the German Army and is a member of the military attaché reserve, having served on the defense attaché staffs in London, Paris and Madrid. Prior to this, he served as Military History Instructor at the German Staff College in Hamburg. He deployed to Iraq (with the British Army) and Afghanistan (with both the British Army and the German Bundeswehr). Matthias has published widely on 20thcentury German and European military history; he has authored and edited 14 books and numerous articles.

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