What is the difference between the battlefield and the battlespace, and how will this difference shape conflict in the 21st century?
Technology is changing conflict, not only by improving the tools used in conflict but the spaces conflicts are held. Conflicts are moving from the traditional “field” of battle, in which two opposing militaries faced each other and charged, to long range missiles, urban warfare and cyber warfare. This paper will explain the differences between “battlefield” and “battlespace” and explain how these differences will expand and change the way the world views and deals with conflict in the 21st century.
In order to explain the differences this paper will be written in a linear fashion, explaining how battles were fought in the days of old, from medieval times to the Second World War (WWII), how they are being fought now, the Cold War to Afghanistan, and how they will be fought in the future. Definitions
“The common definition of “battlefield” is quite simple: a battlefield is the piece of ground on which a battle is fought. A battlefield basically possesses three dimensions — breadth, depth and height. The word itself refers to an era of warfare when battles were fought outside major urban centres, literally in a field. The term battlefield evokes images of armies in line formation, facing each other in open spaces.”
“Defining battlespace is not an easy task. Its meaning often changes according to the author and the context in which it is used. In short, no clear consensus has yet emerged around the definition of what a battlespace is. In broad terms, battlespace is often defined as a three-dimensional area — width, depth and airspace — that must be reckoned, analysed and dominated by military forces in war. It is also referred to as a “box,” in which a commander positions and moves forces over time, adding a fourth dimension (time) to the ones already mentioned. More specifically, battlespace is sometimes described as the use of the entire battlefield and the space around it to apply combat power to overwhelm the enemy. This definition includes not only the physical volume of breadth, depth and height, but also the operational dimensions of time, tempo, depth and synchronization. According to this view, battlespace is more than the physical volume that expands or contracts in relation to the ability to acquire and engage the enemy. It reflects the commander’s vision to dominate the enemy and protect his or her own forces. Because battlespace is considered without regard to spatial or temporal boundaries, the commander can expand his or her thinking on how he or she will dominate the enemy and protect the force.”
Information technology is fast becoming the way the “West” does business. Political information, financial systems and cities infrastructures are all run from computers. Destroying one of these systems could have devastating effects on the cities, nations and even militaries of the Western world. The Past
Since the beginning of time there has been conflict. In the past these conflicts were fought hand to hand in large open fields, hence the term battlefield. Traditional battles were linear in nature and had two competing factions fighting on a field in which a line was “drawn in the sand” to indicate which side belonged to whom. Over the course of the battle the placement of the line may change, however the concept and formation of the battle did not.
Over the years many inventions changed the way men fought by changing the weaponry the tempo and the distance of the battle changed, but the layout did not. Inventions such as catapults, arrows, and gunpowder changed the distance between enemies and made the battle less personal. By the time of the World Wars the distances between armies was becoming very large. The introduction of artillery, airplanes and long range missiles made the battlefield much...