Graveyard at Verdun – WW I Battle

Modern war really begins with the American Civil War.  This is the first war in which the both sides drafted the masses into their armies to expand them and then refill the ranks.  They had to “refill the ranks” due to the massive casualties they suffered in every campaign and battle.  Both sides were initially shocked and mortified at how incredibly high the losses were during major battles.

The same thing happened again during the World Wars.  At the start of World War One, the casualty rates were far higher than anyone expected.  And by now it was accepted practice by all countries that when you are in a major war that you draft everyone possible into the Armed Forces.

In both eras, leaders and common people alike were shocked at the numbers of dead and wounded.  Nothing in their prior experience had prepared them for what actually happened.  In both eras this was due to advances in technology that made it much easier and more efficient to kill human beings.

In the American Civil War, this was due to rifled bullets.  Prior to that war, a musket ball had only a remote chance of hitting someone, so armies of old packed together in tight formations so some musket balls would actually hit the enemy.  With rifled bullets, the bullets trajectory was no longer random, and an aimed shot could accurately hit something almost as far away as you could see.  Unfortunately, the armies still continued to use tight formations, as this is what armies then were taught to do.  It wasn’t uncommon in the war for units to take 50% (or more) casualties in a single day long battle.

In the World Wars, machine guns, rapid fire artillery, then tanks and airplanes added new levels of lethality to the battlefield.  Again, no one was really prepared for what the new technology could do.  And again, casualty rates were so high that the wars, in the end, were decided by who ran out of replacement Soldiers first.

In all of these wars, the lion’s share of the casualties are taken by the infantry.  These are the foot soldiers literally on the front line.  They have a rifle or a machine gun.  These days they wear a helmet and maybe some body armor covering their chest and back to protect themselves from some of the dangers they face.  They still have an incredibly short life expectancy once put on the front line in a major war.  In the World Wars, about 80% of the casualties were infantrymen.  Let this sink in.  Eight out of Ten who are injured or die in a major war are the front line foot soldiers.

It has been as long now since the World Wars as it was between the American Civil War and World War Two.  The pace of technological change has only accelerated.  Neither military leaders nor the citizens that could be called to arms have any personal experience with what would happen in a major war when all of the new technology is applied to killing humans on a mass scale.  Losses again will be horrific and the masses will be drafted to expand the armies and replace the fallen.  And there will be countless millions who will fall.

What to Do

The last place you want to be in a major war is in the infantry.  Especially if you have little to no prior military experience.  Your odds of dying or suffering serious injury would be almost 100%.  So you and your loved ones probably want to avoid this experience if possible.

The best way to avoid being drafted into the military as an infantry replacement is to already be in or associated with the military.  Have a military skill OTHER than being a foot soldier.  Join the Reserve Forces and learn how to work radios or repair trucks for example.  It is a decent way to pay for college and learn a backup trade skill.  And it will most probably keep you from being an infantry replacement when they start drafting people off of the streets.

It won’t work if you (or your loved ones) wait until the war starts.  You’ll just be changed to infantry in basic training as the casualty lists grow by the minute.  It’s too late then.



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