Attrition warfare is a strategy for military where aggressive side tries to conquer their enemies through regular loss of materials and personnel. The side with more resources wins the war. This war represents an opposite of normal war principles of trying to acquire decisive victories using less time and resources through force concentration, maneuver, and surprise. World War I and II were type of attrition war where men were send to fight against their enemies and tried to overpower them through firepower and sheer numbers. This kind of war is bloody and decisive.
This is not the same as maneuver war. The attrition war aims at destroying the ability of the enemy to fight while maneuver war destroys the will of enemy to fight. The consequences of maneuver war are overwhelming. Technological superiority plays a significant role in the war, thus, strong leadership is important. The attrition war is chosen strategically by those without enough military power to take on a destructive position. The chosen strategy uses innumerable advantages of defensive position.
The significance of attrition warfare is that, it is fought on the part of your territory such that any security annihilation heavily affects defensive side. The war should be a long one as the main element of attrition war considers the amount of combat reducing military force sides slowly. In the United States, military is the most technologically advanced and they still struggle with fragmented and irregular rebellions. Every war is chaotic and infinitely complicated in its conditions and variables. Leadership, moral, training, and most important political strategy, like in the case of America, dictates how to win.
Attrition war has changed over time. Organization is significant in fighting with the current form of combat needed for extensive logistics and management. Advancement of weapons has greatly changed the methods and nature of war with little advantage to the innovators because of imitation of new weapons. The idea of making decision to fight, choosing military strategy, efforts levels, domestic support, and negotiation position influence battle tide. This is important to the United States who is engaged in new kind of warfare with the opponent assuming technological superiority means victory.
America is facing conflict of irregular battle with rebellions. Political and social realms contribute to war. Manipulation is more of cause instead of pure attrition that is a generation of US military warfare. Quick mechanized units, unmanned aerial vehicles, computer guided cruise missiles have supported attrition, but restoring order and occupation has been a problem for Americans. The United States has decided to implement surge but neither the missiles nor technology can help in winning political and psychosocial war. Strategists as Sun Tzu argued that attrition needs to be avoided because it is not in line with the normal war principles where surprise, maneuvering and forces concentration lead to decisive victories. In the US Civil War, they used attrition tactics in their fight. Strategists/tacticians like theorists and military commanders developed change. Early tactics were developed by strategists Philip II, Alexander the Great and Hannibal. Hannibal was best tactician they had new developments that revolutionalized warfare. In the modern warfare, Gustav II Adolf is known as the father of current tactics. Fredrick II is the mass and initiative master.
The current period of warfare did not start after fall of Berlin Wall or even collapse of twin towers on 9/11 but it quietly came. This is an evolution result. For the past years state power of developed nations has been on diminish guiding limited warfare grasping politicians and planers. In the new era, ideology, politics, social organization, and technology have created courageous nations. The amazing technological and social changes have faced the world, continually aggravating, and speeding up drastic change in nature of warfare.
Dr. Bunker, R.J. “Generations, waves, and epochs: Modes of warfare and the RPMA.” Airpower Journal, 10, no. 1 (1996): 1-9.
Raudzens, G. “War-Winning Weapons: The Measurement of Technological Determinism in Military History.” Journal of Military History, 54, no. 4 (1990): 403-34.
Smith A. “Fighting battles, winning wars.” Journal of Conflict Resolution, 42, no. 3 (1998): 301-20.
A. Smith “Fighting battles, winning wars.” Journal of Conflict Resolution, 42, no. 3 (1998): 301-20.
R.J. Dr. Bunker “Generations, waves, and epochs: Modes of warfare and the RPMA.” Airpower Journal, 10, no. 1 (1996): 1-9.
Smith, Winning Wars, 312
G. Raudzens, “War-Winning Weapons: The Measurement of Technological Determinism in Military History.” Journal of Military History, 54, no. 4 (1990): 403-434.
 Ibid., 427.
 Bunker, Modes of Warfare, 5