Factors that Lead to Limited War

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A limited war is usually a conflict whereby the belligerents who are participating do not expend all of their resources at disposal whether industrial, human, and military, agricultural, technological or natural to their participants. This is usually done in order to preserve the resources for other uses or because of the fact that it might be difficult for some specific participants to be in a position to utilize all the resources instead of just some. It is a complete opposite of total war. Examples of limited war are the Egypt-Israel Attrition War, Vietnam War and Korean War. It is generally war whose main objective is usually less than unconditional defeat of their enemy. In this war the belligerents do not usually seek to destroy their enemy totally as nuclear weapons are hardly used. There are various factors that lead to limited war. They are basically finance, technology and logistics.

Why Limited War?

The main reason why nations try to limit war as well as putting rules in various wars are the disastrous impacts that nuclear war do have. Total war causes sustained and massive mobilization of resources and people whose states are usually involved. The latest technology and during the main process of developing the weapons, there are usually some few considerations for example the size of the area as well as the power of the destruction on the personnel and the material.

Factors that lead to limited war

The main crucial question is the reason behind intensification and extension of warfare. It is usually insufficient to attribute on the issue concerning the growth of warfare to ambitious leadership as most scholars allege. It is usually the power of the government that makes a total mobilization to be possible. Technology has played a major role in making limited war possible. Limited war to some extent has been characterized by vast resources that are employed though not as compared to that of total war. It is also characterized by some of the ideological passions which enlarge the ends. The means and ends of the limited war are affected largely by technology. Because of technology there are always increased manpower resources, altered military tactics and organizations and some new strategies. The adventure of technology has been the decisive fact of epoch. Though technology can be termed as the central fact that leads to limited war, it is however not the determining factor. People are not condemned to go ahead and destructively exploit all the potentialities of technology. It is clear that technology has managed to put its stamp on the modern barbarity but has not however demonstrated that men go ahead to conceive their horrible goals on the notion that they have a means in which they can achieve them. The West’s technology has continued to improve and evolve and the sale of the current technology has given many nations the capability of conducting limited war. Military technology is usually borrowed by almost all societies since the penalties of failing can usually be fatal and immediate[1].

Finance is another factor that leads to limited war. Most of the belligerent powers funded hostilities using their own resources. Logistics is another factor that led to limited war. Flow of resources in relation to transport network can either lead to success or failure of limited war. Through logistics it can be easy to manage weapons and even supplies such as food and medicine. However poor logistics can lead to downfall. For example an important aspect as far as Vietnam War is concerned is the continued provision of some effectual logistics support to USA as well as other global forces. The technology of the modern logistics has been under severe test. Timely and responsive logistics that are supported by the services of application has been the major key to success of limited wars[2]. Computer aided procedures have been used in order to predict all the logistics requirements and to test on the feasibility of supporting troops as well as building up on the logistics base. It is therefore clear that logistics is a very critical pert as far as limited war is concerned.

During the reign of Louis XIII, France underwent a dramatic and genuine revolution in the military affairs. France was involved in several civil wars and mostly against the Protestants. It is a time that finance, logistics and technology played a major role in determining the failure as well as success. For example during its war with Spain, though it won and protected itself from attack, it left the country economy severely affected. Its military prospects were poor and the troops were inexperienced with the modern means of fighting. It hence needed alliances and favorable finances. This led to limited military operation because of lack of sufficient finances. However technology played a major role during the industrial revolution as it influenced the Crimean War which consisted of telegraphy, rifled muskets as well as steamships that let France and Britain project forces where they defeated the superior Russian forces[3]. Technology had many benefits as far as the limited war was concerned in terms of steamboats, railroads, telegraphs, rifles, rifled muskets as well as the improved artillery.

Rigid concepts of warfare prevented the French people from exploiting the potentials of a modern artillery system during the late 17th century. The French people were let down by technology as they were not intellectually ready for guns during an age that was highly dominated by siege warfare[4].

During the reign of both Louis XIII and Louis IV muskets got adopted[5]. Muskets were complicated to load especially with the little technological knowledge they had. Though they were cheap compared to rifles, they were complicated as the ignited charge disabled the troops to fire quickly. The muskets would take a very long time to reload and most of them were quite inaccurate. It also had a slow reloading time thus increased the problem until Minie ball was invented. This was a technological shortfall under the reign of Louis XIII as the muskets were completely inaccurate as a result of the wind gap between the barrels and projectile. Though the fusil muskets were developed, due to the limited finances, the weapons were not purchased for the soldiers thus the aptitude to destroy their enemies were quite limited. The muskets were not considered to be as valuable to the expedition as compared to rifles and they were only primarily useful as military firearms which were complex to operate.

During the thirty years war, Louis XIII needed a lot of money to carry out the operation but the finances were limited hence costing France a very great deal. He wanted to modernize and expand the French Navy and all this required money. Louis XIII had a desire of seeing France as a European power. However, the overseas power of France was minimal and had no any colonial power thus all the finances were to come internally from France. There were heavy imposition of taxes and the soldiers were not paid thus destroying the morality and the faith they had hence pilferaging from the society for greener pastures.

The increased use of smaller gunpowder weapons during the war led to limited power and failure and it was not always a guarantee of success. The advent of gunpowder was a tremendous comeback. Nations who had it achieved a vast advantage over those who did not have it. However, acquisition, directed employment and control of the gunpowder were usually based and afforded by only the wealthy power holders. Therefore the tremendous loop in the weapons technology as well as its main subsequent proliferation was quite limited in both scope and availability.

Despite the technology and finances that adversely affected the limited war, the inadequate road network and railways as well as the inadequate supplies of medicines, water and food caused derailment and failure in the battlefield.


It is lucid that though limited war is seen to be a minor operation as compared to total war, there are various factors that can lead to its downfall and these are finances, logistics and technology. Those are three factors that are quite crucial in any battlefield and they should be looked upon before embarking on the battle.