Created By: SAMAS on September 28, 2012 Last Edited By: SAMAS on November 4, 2012
Troped

Warfare Regression

Technology Marches On...to a Land Mine

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Do We Have This One??

This occurs a lot in Speculative Fiction, where some discovery or advance in science and/or technology has the net effect of rendering the last 20-200 years of military tactical development moot, forcing a return to an earlier time of warfare, often still with high-tech weapons. An example would be something like widespread use of point-defense lasers making missiles and low-flying aircraft (and by extension aircraft carriers) useless, causing a revival for battleships and cannons in land and naval combat.


Examples:

  • Mobile Suit Gundam introduced the Minovsky Particle, which when scattered across an area did a number on detection and guidance equipment, forcing both land and space combat into visual ranges.
    • Gundam SEED has "Neutron Jammers", which prohibit fission reactions and jams radios. The result: no nukes and, you guessed it, close-range combat.
  • CoDominium:
    • To keep the the status quo, the titular Soviet-American alliance has banned most research. While their Space Navy hasn't suffered (being needed to colonize and police the stars), the restrictions has caused a regression in ground combat. Improvements to computer countermeasures, railguns, and man-portable missiles have made aircraft obsolete. Improvements to body armor has limited effective sizes of ammunition. 21st Century warfare resembles early 20th century combat.
      • In addition, the colonial worlds lack industry, so very few can build tanks or artillery. Very often, battles are infantry only.
  • Hammer's Slammers: Thanks to accurate targeting and Powerguns, aircraft has practically disappeared from the field of battle. Artillery fire can be interdicted by powergun blasts, but shells still manage to get through. Nukes are rendered useless thanks to "nuclear suppression fields".
    • It's mentioned that tanks themselves almost disappeared from the battlefield due to developments in technology. Man-portable anti-tank rockets, pin-point accurate missiles, and helicopters that could strike rapidly could take on a tank. Then inverted, when fusion and powerguns made tanks practical again.
    "Technology had dragged the tank to the brink of abandonment. Not surprisingly, it was technology again which brought the panzers back."
  • Mutant Chronicles: When the Dark Symmetry (a cosmic horror force) is released, advanced computers become evil and electronics become unreliable. As a result, warfare regresses.
  • In Dorsai!, long range countermeasures have actually reduced the effectiveness of many weapons. Civilians have better, more advanced firepower than most soldiers. As a result, many troopers rely on simple, effective weapons.
  • Dune has "Holtzman fields", which radically changes war. Artillery is obsoleted, most projectile weapons can't penetrate the field, and even Lasguns can't be used due to "explosive pyrotechnics". As a result, ground combat is relegated to sword combat.
  • In the Posleen War Series the invading Posleen have point-defense strong enough to neutralize our missiles and aircraft. Necessitating the revival of battleships on sea and "land ships" on land with a lot of armor and big guns.
  • In the Big Head Press comic Phoebus Krumm "S-fields" enable FTL travel but disable all electronics within the field, making space warfare essentially age of sail naval combat.
Community Feedback Replies: 19
  • September 28, 2012
    JonnyB
    There's a quote attributed to Albert Einstein, which goes, "I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones."
  • September 28, 2012
    zarpaulus
    Would Old School Dogfighting be a subtrope?

    • In one of the expository fillers for SSDD it's stated that the advent of AA lasers and fullerine armor has led to many battles consisting of guys in tin cans whacking each other with hammers. Followed by a sarcastic comment on "how far we've come". Thoug in the current arc the Anarchists use a Kill Sat to destroy Texas's anti-air defenses then finish them off with a bunch of antique ICBMs.
  • September 28, 2012
    Gatomon41
    • Co Dominium:
      • To keep the the status quo, the titular Soviet-American alliance has banned most research. While their Space Navy hasn't suffered (being needed to colonize and police the stars), the restrictions has caused a regression in ground combat. Improvements to computer countermeasures, railguns, and man-portable missiles have made aircraft obsolete. Improvements to body armor has limited effective sizes of ammunition. 21st Century warfare resembles early 20th century combat.
        • In addition, the colonial worlds lack industry, so very few can build tanks or artillery. Very often, battles are infantry only.
    • Hammers Slammers: Thanks to accurate targeting and Powerguns, aircraft has practically disappeared from the field of battle. Artillery fire can be interdicted by powergun blasts, but shells still manage to get through. Nukes are rendered useless thanks to "nuclear suppression fields".
    • In Dorsai!, long range countermeasures have actually reduced the effectiveness of many weapons. Civilians have better, more advanced firepower than most soldiers. As a result, many troopers rely on simple, effective weapons.
    • Dune has "Holtzman fields", which radically changes war. Artillery is obsoleted, most projectile weapons can't penetrate the field, and even Lasguns can't be used due to "explosive pyrotechnics". As a result, ground combat is relegated to sword combat.
    • Gundam Seed has "Neutron Jammers", which prohibit fission reactions and jams radios. The result: no nukes and close-range combat.

  • September 29, 2012
    Astaroth
    How does this trope relate to Rock Beats Laser?
  • September 29, 2012
    Omeganian
    Forever War features a force field limiting speeds inside it to a few meters per seconds. People are forced to fight with swords and spears.

    "The Red Slayer" by Robert Sheckley features two people talking during the war, and one tells another "At first, it looked like a pushbutton affair. Then it turned out both sides have anti missile measures. Then they invented a nuclear damper. Now it's all infantry and trenches." Mind you, both sides have a tech level high enough for massive deployment of Death Is Cheap devices.
  • September 29, 2012
    norsicnumber2nd
    ^^^^^That Einstein quote isn't about technological advancements but, after the Second World War and his emigration to America, he was saying that whatever weapons used in WW 3 would effectively wipe out the planet, and so either people would only have access to, or had just become once again evolved enough, to be using sticks and stones (though I think something mentions bows and arrows) to fight another war (or World War Whatever).

    On the bows and arrows note, when Hawkeye is using a normal bow and arrows when next to Iron Man in The Avengers, does that count?
  • September 29, 2012
    SAMAS
    ^^^ Only in the sense of "Lasers are now useless, back to Rocks".

    @zarpaulus: Not a subtrope, but often a result.
  • September 29, 2012
    Gatomon41
    @norsicnumber2nd : Unless there's something that caused regular weapons to cease functioning, I don't think Hawkeye would be an example.
  • September 29, 2012
    zarpaulus
    • In the Posleen War Series the invading Posleen have point-defense strong enough to neutralize our missiles and aircraft. Necessitating the revival of battleships on sea and "land ships" on land with a lot of armor and big guns.
  • September 29, 2012
    KarjamP
    In Earthseige, The AI-controlled HERCs replaced man-controlled ones for a while. When the AI started wiping out humanity, the resistance started using man-controlled HERCs again to fight back.
  • September 29, 2012
    captainsandwich
    I'm pretty sure this happened at some time in real life, to some extent. And I quite certain it has happened if you include other types of circumstances, like an unforeseen type of terrain. I read once on this wiki that 2 opposing forces in WWII mixed into each other before they noticed that they were in the presence of the enemy. This happened pitch darkness and those involved had to resort to the sense of touch to identify friend from foe. As a result they used knives instead of guns.
  • September 29, 2012
    Gatomon41
    • Another Hammers Slammers example: It's mentioned that tanks almost disappeared from the battlefield due to developments in technology. Man-portable anti-tank rockets, pin-point accurate missiles, and helicopters that could strike rapidly could take on a tank. Then inverted, when fusion and powerguns made tanks practical again.
      "Technology had dragged the tank to the brink of abandonment. Not surprisingly, it was technology again which brought the panzers back."
    • Mutant Chronicles: When the Dark Symmetry (a cosmic horror force) is released, advanced computers become evil and electronics become unreliable. As a result, warfare regresses.

    The Einstein quote got me to wonder: What about situations in which warfare regressed because of a collapse of civilization?
  • September 29, 2012
    Tuckerscreator
  • September 30, 2012
    spacemarine50
    Is is the meta version of Combat Breakdown?
  • September 30, 2012
    KarjamP
    ^ I'd say this would be a subtrope of the above.
  • October 3, 2012
    Gatomon41
    In regards to captainsandwich reply:

    Goo dpoint. I imagine there are some other examples in fiction where warfare was limited by environmental circumstacnes.
  • October 11, 2012
    SAMAS
    ^^ Not exactly. Combat Breakdown is because everything else has been exhausted. This is unexpected change from outside the battlefield.
  • October 25, 2012
    SAMAS
  • October 31, 2012
    AgProv
    Weather and the vast open spaces forced a kind of regression on both sides on the Eastern Front. In the rain and mud of autumn, and the snow of winter, where mechanised formations could not easily go and even tanks bogged down, both the Germans and the Russians resorted to using horsed cavalry: the Cossacks came into their own as recce and pursuit/raiding troops. Also, horses don't need petrol, which eases supply lines; their food is, in theory, all around them.
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