Colonial war | Wikipedia audio article

Colonial war | Wikipedia audio article


Colonial war (in some contexts referred to
as small war) is a blanket term relating to the various conflicts that arose as the result
of overseas territories being settled by foreign powers creating a colony. The term especially refers to wars fought
during the nineteenth century between European armies in Africa and Asia.==Description=====Classification===
Traditionally, wars could be divided into three categories: wars of conquest, wars of
liberation, and wars between states. These classifications can likewise be distinguished
among colonial wars. Still, the term “colonial war” typically refers
to a war of conquest. Wars of conquest, in a colonial context, can
be further broken down into two stages: a period of typically brief, regular warfare
between an invading power and an indigenous force (which may be, in comparison to the
invader, irregular in composition or organization) followed by a period of irregular warfare. Counter-insurgency operations may be undertaken
in order to prepare territory for settlement. Once a foothold has been established by an
incoming power, it may launch expeditions into neighboring territory in retaliation
against hostility or to neutralize a potential enemy.===Common characteristics===Colonial wars differed from “regular” wars
(conflicts between neighboring states) in several ways. The first was that they were more political
affairs than military ones. In contrast to regular wars, in which the
goals of the belligerents were limited, colonial wars were absolute; conquering powers sought
to exert total and permanent control over a territory and its population and ensure
lasting stability. In spite of this, resources allotted to colonial
campaigns were with few exceptions limited. The meanings of defeat and victory were usually
more complicated in colonial wars, as in many cases the invading power would face a belligerent
that was not encapsulated by a city, government or ruler. There was often less of a distinction between
indigenous citizens and the regular armed forces of defending nations. This lack of centralized authority meant that
formal peace agreements were rarely made. Without government structures that could be
taken over, administration of conquered peoples and territory was more difficult. To counter this colonial armies would establish
or rebuild markets, schools and other public entities following a conflict, as the Americans
did in the Philippines following the Spanish–American War.In contrast to indigenous forces, European
armies (the most common colonizing forces) were always professional forces, removed from
the general population. Tasked with the work of rebuilding and administering
colonies, colonial armies were often active while regular armies in mother countries remained
idle until conflict arose. As such, soldiers in these armies would develop
their own military culture and practices. Most of a colonial soldier’s knowledge would
come from direct experience and not from a formal military education. European armies were almost always technically
superior to the indigenous forces they faced, though this could not always be used to their
advantage, as equipment like heavy artillery required roads (often not present) and deploying
formations such as cavalry presented great logistical challenges. European armies also maintained good discipline,
had high morale, were well trained and were educated in their possible deployments and
in performing maneuvers. Regardless of the skill of their commanders,
native armies usually lacked such cohesion and understanding of warfare. Colonial powers also employed colonial troops
in their campaigns, most of whom were of a mixed composition between metropolitan men
and officers and indigenous conscripts.===Historical era===
Colonial warfare became prevalent in the late 15th century as European powers increasingly
seized overseas territories and began colonizing them. The era of colonial wars is generally considered
to have ended following the conclusion of the Portuguese Colonial War in 1974, though
some consider the Falklands War of 1982 to be the last true colonial war. Colonial wars are considered to be some of
the first instances of irregular warfare and resulted in some of the first studies of counter-insurgency
practices.==Policy, strategy, and tactics==Colonial military practices and tactics were
usually regarded as secondary to regular warfare. Due to this emphasis on more direct conflicts,
imperial operations and development in colonial ventures often received less attention from
the armed forces of nations responsible for them. Locally stationed military officials sometimes
developed and conducted their own war policies free from metropolitan restraint. Other times, metropolitan policy was implemented
at their discretion. French commanders cared little for state policy
when conducting their campaigns in Western Sudan in the 1870s and 1880s, while German
soldiers in Africa frequently operated contrary to the directions of the colonial bureaucracy. Colonial wars often strained relations between
civil and military officials, who competed for control over policy.As in total war, invading
powers often directed actions against indigenous non-combatants and local economies. This included the burning of villages, theft
of cattle, and systematic destruction of crops as committed by the French in pacification
campaigns in Algeria, and the Germans in the Herero Wars of southern Africa. In extreme cases, some powers advocated for
the extermination of troublesome peoples, as the Germans did following the Herero conflict,
resulting in the Herero and Namaqua genocide. Such actions were usually undertaken when
there was a lack of political or military goals for an invader to achieve (if there
was no central government to seize or organized army to subdue) as a means to subjugate local
populations. European powers held the common perception
that Asians and Africans “only understood the language of violence” so that they would
not be subdued but through heavy-handed means. They refused to make concessions to indigenous
forces for fear of appearing weak.Invading powers were much more easily frustrated when
an indigenous force chose to wage a guerrilla war instead of committing to pitched battles,
such as in the Franco-Hova Wars or the First Indochina War. Indigenous leaders such as Abdelkader ibn
Muhieddine of Algeria, Mahmadu Lamine of Senegal, and Samori Ture of the Wassoulou Empire were
able to resist European colonialism for years after disregarding traditional methods and
using guerrilla tactics instead. In practice, regular and irregular forms of
warfare generally happened within quick succession of one another. A handful of traditional battles were won
by indigenous Asian and African forces with numerical superiority or the element of surprise
over colonial powers, but over time they faced staggering losses and discouraging defeats. Such trends were marked by the German suppression
of the Maji Maji Rebellion, the defeat of the Zulus at the hands of British forces at
the Battle of Rorke’s Drift, and the destruction of Mahdist cavalry by British Maxim machine
guns at the Battle of Omdurman.Britain and France developed field manuals to prepare
soldiers for colonial warfare, whereas Germany lacked a defined system for educating its
troops on colonial deployment. Artillery was used by colonizers primarily
as a means to demoralize indigenous fighters.Indigenous forces were usually made up of foot soldiers.==North America==The first major colonial wars in North America
were fought by Spanish conquistadors.Up until the American Revolutionary War, most of the
colonial conflicts in North America, if they were not amphibious operations, took place
in the wilderness. Most of the first British colonists in the
region were farmers and merchants, not professional soldiers. At the onset of the Colony of Virginia they
underwent military drilling and fortified their settlements. However, this practice was soon abandoned
and a militia system was adopted. Regular militias consisted of all able males
from 16–60 years of age who used their own firearms and served without pay. Training was minimal and occurred once a year,
at which point militiamen would have to demonstrate their proficiency with their weapons. In the areas under the greatest threat from
Native Americans, the militias would garrison several fortified dwellings, though militiamen
usually defended their own homes. From these militias, paid “rangers” were hired
to patrol the frontier line and occasionally conduct offensive raids on Native American
villages.With the exception of the raiding expeditions of the French and Indian War,
the majority of early colonial campaigns between colonizing powers in North America were fought
in order to secure strategic forts. The purpose of nearly all movements against
forts was to bring sufficient artillery close enough to breach their walls. As such, any typical attack involved the transport
of cannon by a labor force, covered by an escort of troops, which would then be used
to secure a compromised fort.On the American frontier in the United States, experienced
Native trackers were employed as auxiliary scouts to gather intelligence on hostile Native
Americans’ positions and movements. Most Native Americans performed hit-and-run
attacks on United States troops and settlers, often with horses. If their camp was discovered, their activities
would be disrupted, usually via an early morning surprise assault. Trackers were usually native or mixed-race,
though some were white. Indigenous people were often demoralized when
they saw other natives working with United States forces.Native American tribes in west
were culturally predisposed to political and military independence. In turn, they struggled to unite against white
settlers from the east, and were often distracted from doing so by internal conflicts of their
own. Some individual tribes even had trouble uniting
among themselves. Still, some managed to form coalitions, such
as the alliance between the Sioux, Arapaho, and Cheyenne which dominated the northern
region of the Great Plains during the mid-nineteenth century. Regardless, all native peoples were at an
economic and industrial disadvantage to the United States.==Africa==The first colonial wars in Africa occurred
between the Portuguese and various coastal inhabitants as the former sought to expand
its trading empire with Asia. In spite of their efforts, the Portuguese
conquistadors were only able to establish limited territorial holdings in Sub-Saharan
regions, facing tropical disease and organized resistance from Africans armed with iron weapons. They were also greatly outnumbered and encountered
difficulty in getting their muskets to function in the humid climate.In the 1600s and 1700s,
other European powers such as the Dutch, the British, and the French began to take interest
in Africa as a means to supply slaves to their American colonies. They gradually established their own enclaves
along the West African coast where they could actively trade with local rulers. This remained the state of affairs up through
the early 1800s, as few Europeans showed interest in claiming large territories in the continent.The
European colonial campaigns in Africa were generally conducted by European forces with
support from native troops. While European soldiers were generally more
reliable, they were susceptible to diseases in tropical climates that local Africans had
adjusted to, making it more optimal (less money had to be spent on medical treatment)
for the latter to be deployed in Sub-Saharan environments. As such, European formations were often deployed
on the continent for limited periods of time, while native units were used for longer expeditions. The powers concurred that the “African methods
of warfare” were “inherently cruel”. Such logic was used to justify the commission
of atrocities in conflict.African peoples were relatively disjointed, leading European
powers to employ a strategy of divide and rule, aggravate internal tensions, and make
use of collaborationism. In response, African leaders sometimes formed
coalitions. General Thomas Robert Bugeaud oversaw the
first deployment of mobile columns in a colonial war in 1840 when he ordered formations to
raid and plunder Arab settlements to aid in the French pacification of Algeria upon realizing
that local civilians were playing a key role in the war effort.By the early 20th century,
colonial campaigns in Africa had become increasingly “modern”. Colonial powers were forced to commit larger
bodies of troops for conquest or to suppress rebellion, as the British had to in the Second
Boer War or the Italians did in their conquest of Libya. Some of this was due to the fact that in many
—but not all— places the technological gap between European armies and native forces
had shrunk considerably, mostly with the proliferation of quick-firing rifles. Most of this change was brought on by the
evolution of Africans’ tactics and strategy. They had abandoned pitched battles and had
instead adopted methods of guerrilla warfare. In this fashion, the Boers (in South Africa),
the Herero and Nama (in German South-West Africa), the Moroccans, and the Libyans all
enjoyed considerable success against their opponents before their eventual respective
defeats.==Asia==Asia, like Europe, was home to several powerful
empires. Between the eleventh and fifteenth centuries
both dramatically increased their commercial activities, especially with one another. However, unlike Europe, Asia’s military capabilities
developed very little. Most Asian armies were drawn up by local ruling
elites from fighting classes of men with whom they had personal ties. They were funded by plunder, rent payments,
and taxes. However, payment through taxes was frequently
undermined by corrupt individuals in imperial bureaucracies, who would embezzle the funds
for personal use.This changed significantly with the widespread adoption of gunpowder
between the fifteenth and seventeenth centuries, giving rise to renewed imperial power in China
and Japan. Cannon capable of breaching fortified walls
and ending sieges was the principal weapon. However, once the new artillery was incorporated
into imperial forces, there was little incentive to experiment with new military technologies
or forms of organization. Any major recruitment overhauls were likely
to upset local power structures. With the suppression of nomadic steppe raiders
(through the use of muskets) and the relatively limited presence of European merchantmen,
there was little external pressure to alter their methods of warfare. The Asian empires also began to experience
internal divisions. Competition between local elites over tax
revenue burdened populaces, contributing greatly to the collapse of the Mughal Empire in the
eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Population growth also strained farmers and
their children, breeding sectarian violence in China in the 1770s.Meanwhile, European
states were frequently warring with one another, and developed new weapons and tactics to maintain
military dominance. Drilling allowed for the conscription and
recruitment of masses of unskilled men who would be disciplined in the performance of
maneuvers. New tax systems made it possible to fund standing
armies and ensure soldiers a regular salary. Enhanced power structures solidified the control
commanders and political leaders had over their forces, making them effective even when
operating far from seats of authority. The Industrial Revolution further increased
Europeans’ technological capabilities.Ultimately, Asia’s antiquated governments and military
establishment were unable to match the Europeans’. European military dominance over Asia would
become apparent in India in the eighteenth century and in China and Japan in the nineteenth
century.As in Africa, European colonial ventures in Asia were usually bolstered by native soldiers.==Australia and Oceania==The Queensland Native Mounted Police Force
regularly employed native trackers against Indigenous Australians’ communities. The force was disbanded in the 1890s after
all of the native populations had been subjugated.==See also==
Colonialism Insurgency and counter-insurgency
Society of Colonial Wars==
Notes====Citations

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