Typology of War & Changing Paradigms of Warfare

Study made through a specification of four basic generations according to changing paradigms that are taken as break point which change the characteristics of war and warfare. Changing strategies, tactics, typologies and actors that were shaped by these paradigms throughout history. Spatial features of battlefields, the changing position of cities in the battles and the impact of wars on urban macro-form have been in perennial interaction in itself and with these paradigms.


First generation can be described early ages so mainly it includes Ancient and Post-Classical battles, from ancient times wars to American Revolutionary War and hand-to-hand combat with the defenders. Also, tactics which are used in battles was line and columns tactics and tools were sword, bow & arrow, gunpowder, cannon; main actor was the commander in the battle. First generation can be divided into four part according changing materials and area of battlefield. There are; Pre- gunpowder age (ancient-middle ages), Early gunpowder age (14-16th CE) (1. Vienna, Zigetvar), Mature gunpowder age (17-18th CE) (2. Vienna), Last fortified cities & emergence of open cities (19th CE). Generally, in first generation, open battlefields are observed and tools which are used during the battlefield were simple manmade tools. Wars occurred out of the city walls but through Pre- gunpowder to Last fortified cities, it can be seen that walls were not effective for protection because of shift in war technology. Changing paradigms are also effective in defining the generations. Main paradigms that change era of first generation to second generation were; Industrial Revolution and Speed & Shift in Technology.


Period includes 1st World War battles and war types of ‘Total War’ predominates the generation. Early modern tactics used after technological development enables longer range, greater accuracy,

and faster rate of fire. The second generation saw the rise of trench warfare, artillery support, more advanced reconnaissance techniques, extensive use of camouflage uniforms, radio communications, and fire team maneuvers. Battles take longer duration (months, years) relatively to 1st Generation. In total war combatants use all of their sources to destroy the social fabric of the enemy. World Wars I and II were total wars, marked by the complete destruction of the civilian economy and society in many countries, including France, Germany, the Soviet Union, Italy, Great Britain, and Japan. Moreover, Spatial changes in battlefields that occurred in the generation is that lines of battle maintained but focused more on the use of technology to allow smaller units of men to maneuver separately, that expand the spatial content (the scale) from lines of battle to wide geographical area, and since the development in war industry, there is no need to fortify the cities. With the industrial revolution cities become centralized and densified. Therefore, cities were vulnerable and disadvantaged to the new war technologies used. Consequently, cities went decentralization and low densification. There were two main components of paradigm which had shifted second generation to third generation. These were Tactics (leveraging speed, end of linear warfare on a tactical level, new doctrines in battlefields as German- blitzkrieg) and Expanded Technology (Tanks, planes, atomic bombs, rockets, nuclear weapons, development of submarine technology).


Period includes 2st World War battles and war types of ‘Maneuver Wars’ and ‘Wars of Resources predominates the generation. With change in doctrines new maneuvers (tactics) used in wars. Battles take longer duration (months, years) relatively to 2st Generation. Maneuver Wars were based on the concept of overcoming technological disadvantage by strategies. World Wars II and Sakarya War are the examples. Wars of recourses were based on expanded technology and development on transportation and communication network. With these changes of characteristics in wars cities became as battlefield/urban warfare. Also, total demolishment of cities was observed.

Paradigm was shifted through tactics to new decisions. Political Paradigms are; Over Local Issues that is making internal disturbance by indirect interventions on states from a distant location. Civil Involvement that there are no differences between soldiers and civil or guerrillas and Shift in Technology that highly advanced information, communication and imaging techniques are used in war technology.


Conflict characterized by a blurring of the lines between war and politics. The distinction between “civilian” and “military” disappeared. Cities became no longer a target of the war but the field of the battle. Collapsing the enemy internally rather than physically destroying them is the goal. In fourth generation, Cold War, Limited War, Proxy War, Civil War, Asymmetric (Guerrilla) War types were the main types. Cold War is a form of war with balances, where both sides of alliances try to meet attack and defense needs of each other, either trying for an advantage, thus a reasonable chance for a successful outcome of a real war, or balance, thus preventing it. A limited war is a war fought primarily between professional armies to achieve specific political objectives without causing widespread destruction. Although the total of civilian casualties high, combatants do not seek to completely destroy the enemy’s social and economic frameworks. A proxy war is a war fought by third parties rather than by the enemy states themselves. There are many of the militarized conflicts during the Cold War, such as the Korean War and the Vietnam. Civil war is a war in which a large portion of the population of a country goes to war with another large part of the population, in open conflict. Asymmetric (Guerrilla) War is warfare that is between opposing forces which differ greatly in military power and that typically involve the use of unconventional weapons and tactics. The term describes “guerrilla warfare”, “insurgency”, “terrorism”, “counterinsurgency”, and “counterterrorism”. Major military facilities, such as airfields, fixed communications sites, and large

headquarters will become rarities because of their vulnerability; the same may be true of civilian equivalents, such as seats of government, power plants, and industrial sites (including knowledge as well as manufacturing industries). Because of the fact that organic form of cities provides strategically advantages to Guerrilla warfare, nation states tend to dissolve organic patterns of urban form and reorganize urban layout. With the advanced technology and political decisions paradigm shifting from fourth generation to fifth generation. Technology advanced from traditional industry to an information & computerization (digital industry), the digital industry creates a knowledge-based society surrounded by a high-tech global economy, in the information age, all aspects of civilization share a common link to the digital world and shift of tactics that war tactics evolved to exterritorial dimension, Psychological war tactics came to the forefront.


Period includes Cyber warfare. Actors are nation-states and non-state actors (such as terrorist groups, political or ideological extremist groups, activists, and transnational criminal organizations). Used Technologies are computers and computer networks, and Sabotages, Espionage, Psychological breakdown are the tactics used. It is a form of information warfare which is non-spatial. Therefore, neither the issues of spatial features of cyberwarfare nor its impact on space is observable. Cyber warfare refers to politically motivated hacking to conduct sabotage and espionage. It mainly targets the economy of the country, and destroying the state’s informatics infrastructure to disrupt or disable essential services. Attacks can disable official websites and networks, steal or alter classified data, and cripple financial systems.

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Authors: Berçem Kaya, Duygu Kalkanlı, Didem Türk