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Second generation warfare is the tactics of warfare used after the invention of the rifled musket and breech-loading weapons and continuing through the development of the machine gun and indirect fire. The term second generation warfare was created by the U.S. military in 1989.[1]


Technological developments such as the Maxim gun gave smaller units the ability to operate more independently

In the 1800s, the invention of the breech-loading rifled musket meant longer range, greater accuracy, and faster rate of fire. Marching ranks of men straight into a barrage of fire from such weapons would cause tremendous rates of casualties, so a new strategy was developed.

Second generation warfare still maintained lines of battle but focused more on the use of technology to allow smaller units of men to maneuver separately. These smaller units allowed for faster advances, less concentrated casualties, and the ability to use cover and concealment to advantage.[2]

To some degree, these concepts have remained in use even as the next generations have arisen, so the end of the second generation is not as clearly defined as that of the first. The development of the blitzkrieg highlighted some of the flaws of static firing positions and slow-moving infantry, so this can be considered the beginning of the end for the second generation, at least as the dominant force in military strategy.

Contributions to warfare

The contributions of the second generation were responses to technological development. The second generation saw the rise of trench warfare, artillery support, more advanced reconnaissance techniques, extensive use of camouflage uniforms, radio communications, and fireteam maneuvers.


See also


  1. Lind, William S.;Nightengale, Keith;Schmitt, John F.; Sutton, Joseph W.;Wilson, Gary I. (1989). The Changing Face of War: Into the Fourth Generation. 
  2. Lind, William S. (2004). "Understanding Fourth Generation War". Retrieved February 7, 2010. 

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