Monday, February 16, 2015

Picture of the Day: Driven by War...

BMW. BSA. Mitsubishi. Rolls-Royce. What do all of these famous automotive marques have in common? Well, it may not come as a shock to everyone, but for the uninitiated, the fact is that these famous automakers once made fighter planes or military vehicles for war, either before their rise as auto-manufacturers or during.

To that end, I could not help but wonder about the state of the modern vehicle in war. With conventional warfare taking a backseat to less formalized, guerrilla-style warfare--with "no front-line and no identifiable enemy," as the late sportswriter Hunter S. Thompson once put it--the state of the modern military vehicle has changed in many combat theaters. 

Where once it was only common to see tanks, military aircraft, and specialized, up-armored military vehicles cruising through the fields and over the trenches of combat zones, today's conflict hotspots are a much different scene; the military-only vehicle has been replaced, in many respects, by re-purposed civilian models. Once seen in the streets of every major city and small hamlet from Santa Monica to Brighton Beach, these commoner-cars have been brought to a new life--one forged in the fires of conflict.

But why?

Sure, money is always an issue. And for non-standardized militaries and militias (I won't get into the differences between "military," "militia," and "freedom fighter" here), tanks and fighter jets don't come cheap or easy. But there is something else afoot, I sense. Something more...

Consider for a moment the bulk of conflict-footage coming from places such as Ukraine, Rwanda, Baghdad, and the likes. For starters, the terrain simply isn't the same. Where once war footage was of sprawling fields of battle or mud covered trench-rows as far as the eye could see, modern conflicts are found deep in the capital cities of the countries fighting them. And in these war-torn metropolises, tanks and other up-armored, heavy-duty vehicles simply don't have the agility, the speed, or the "run-and-gun" capabilities of the semi-modern, consumer-level vehicle. 

But, honestly, this is not the point. Well, it isn't really the point.

The point is, the modern war vehicle is actually the antithesis of its name--the modern war vehicle is not a war vehicle at all. Rather, it is a people's vehicle re-purposed for the field of combat. Which brings us to the very moment in which we might have to finally ante up, accept what we've become and realize that we all are following, in lock-step, with the state of the modern military vehicle: the specialists are taking a backseat to the civilian. And, frighteningly, this trend may not stay exclusive to cars and trucks in the coming years; people may be forced to join the ranks of re-purposed fighters as well...
                                                                 
                                                               ...as an unfortunate some already have.

2 comments:

  1. This is an interesting concept. Civilians or militia members converting standard automobiles into tools of war could easily fly under the radar and be successful in guerrilla warfare. I wonder, however, if militaries with more traditional vehicles don't still have the upper hand. It seems that Russian backed separatists in Ukraine have been very successful with their use of heavy weaponry. Can civilians in repurposed cars pose a real threat to heavily equipped military?

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  2. I see what you're saying, Seth. And no, I don't think, at present, that repurposed vehicles pose any real threat of advantage over traditional, military-specific vehicles, but that isn't necessarily the point. The point is, that all that is "traditional" in militaria is changing and becoming comprised of the people rather than the military.

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