Evolution in military affairs in the battlespace of Syria and Iraq
This paper will consider developments in the Syrian and Iraqi battlespaces that may be conceptualised as relevant to the broader evolution in military affairs. A brief discussion of different notions of „revolution" and „evolution” (in Military Affairs) will be offered, followed by an overview of the combatant actors involved in engagements in the battlespace concerned. The analysis distinguishes at the start between two different evolutionary processes: one specific to the local theatre of war in which local combatants, heavily constrained by their circumstances and limitations, show innovation with limited resources and means, and with very high (existential) stakes. This actually existential evolutionary process is complicated by the effects of the only quasi-evolutionary process of major powers’ interactions (with each other and with local combatants). The latter process is quasi-evolutionary in the sense that it does not carry direct existential stakes for the central players involved in it. The stakes are in a sense virtual: being a function of the prospects of imagined peer-competitor military conflict. Key cases studied in the course of the discussion include (inter alia) the evolution of the Syrian Arab Air Force's use of so-called barrel bombs as well as the use of land-attack cruise missiles and other high-end weaponry by major intervening powers.