The Baker Bomb at Bikini (painting by Charles Bittinger). During the Cold War opposing political camps were preparing themselves for a nuclear war, which never happened. Instead, in local conflicts, they mastered and developed the weapons of the Second World War.



In the process of development of the human society all the countries used to solve their political, military and economical problems mostly by the means of military power. Only in the 20th century, apart of two world wars, there were fought more than 350 local wars and armed conflicts. Moreover, while before the First World War (1914-1918) there took place only 36 local wars and armed conflicts, in between the world wars there were already 80 of them, and after the Second World War (1939-1945) more than 250 of them took place. After 1945 more than 250 million servicemen from almost 100 countries took part in hostilities, and the number of victims exceeded 35 million (as opposed to 10 million in the First World War and 50 million in the Second World War).

As opposed to the global conflicts, local wars as a rule involved lesser number of countries, limited space of the military operations, limited political and military objectives, as well as conventional means and weapons of the armed struggle. As opposed to the local wars, armed conflicts, as a specific form of the armed struggle, had even more limited political objectives, as well as territorial and time frameworks. Those were various uprisings and rebellions, and frontier conflicts and incidents. While the local wars often caused the qualitative changes in the societies of the involved countries, local conflicts did not cause equally cardinal transformations of the state mechanisms, and did not involve any significant mobilization of the forces or switching the economy to the wartime production.

Local conflicts as a rule had three stages: initial, one or more intermediate ones, and the final one. On the initial stage the opposing sides conducted active operations to achieve primary objectives and simultaneously complete unfolding of their armed forces and switching their economies to the wartime production. The initial stage of a conflict was characterized by eager struggle to grasp the strategic initiative in the combat operations, lack of the organized front, lack of the mobilizational unfolding of the armed forces of the attacked side, drive of the attacking side to exploit the surprise factor and destroy the bulk of the enemy forces yet before the completion of their unfolding, and drive of the attacked side to bring the attack to a halt and unfold a counter-attack.

Most of the local wars broke out without a formal declaration. Military activities usually began in provocations or frontier incidents, which later grew to the dimensions of full-scale operations. The attacking side pursued maximal concentration of its forces to deal a surprise blow at the very initial stage of the military operations.

Intermediate stages of the conflicts were characterized by the mounting scale of the combat operations resulting from unfolding and engagement of additional contingents of troops, weapons and equipment. On these stages the intensity of the combat operations might vary. Opposing sides conducted operations, different in scale and objectives, on the land, in the sea and in the air, accounting on the experience of previous wars. The scale of the operations on the final stage was either limited in result of exhaustion of the opponents' forces, or contrary - maximal, which brought the defeat of one of the sides of the conflict.

All the service branches, and all kinds of weapons and equipment, including incinerary, chemical and biological ones, were used in the local wars. Their theatres served as a sort of ranges where the newest combat techniques were tested and new tactics were exercised. Local wars had also impact on development of the modern War at Sea.

Navies were particularly often used in the local wars of the 20th century. They were best fit for warfare in remote theatres. Ships and vessels could operationally reach the conflictous zones and remain there for a considerable amount of time, preserving their combat readiness and without violating of the sovereignty of other states. No other service branch possesses such abilities.

Very often wars started either from amphibious operations supported by naval forces, or from bombardment of the land targets by combined means of naval aviation and artillery. This was the case of the American aggressions against Korea (1950-1953), Guatemala (1954), Lebanon (1958, 1982), Cuba (1961), Panama (1964, 1989), Vietnam (1964-1973), Dominicana (1965), Grenada (1983) or Yugoslavia (1999). In the course of the Anglo-French-Israeli aggression against Egypt (1956), Turkish aggression against Cyprus (1974) and the Anglo-Argentinian conflict (1982) amphibious operations and airborne bombardment of the land targets became the main contents of the military operations.

Substantial naval forces were engaged in the local wars. Some conflicts saw bigger concentrations of the navy ships and aircraft than the biggest naval operations of the Second World War. Those forces were organized in strategic or operational fleets, operational or tactical groups, as well as tactical task forces; the drive to centralize their command was a characteristic factor.

The main tasks of the navies involved in the local wars were: air and artillery support of the land forces conducting offensive of defensive combat operations in coastal areas, bombardment of the military, industrial and other objects, sea or riverine amphibious operations, blockade of the enemy sea coasts, naval bases and ports, fighting enemy naval forces and striking against its naval bases, defence of own sea and oceanic communications and attacking enemy communications, and participation in the sea defence of the sea coasts.

This site is the first project in the Internet, and probably first at all, which attempts to summarize the historical experience of using naval forces in the armed conflicts of the second half of the 20th century, and its influence on the development of the navy and the art of the naval warfare.