PBS always has something to offer and this four-hour DVD explains a lot. For the history freaks and armchair generals, learn how the modern-day battlefield has changed from Alexander's first Phalanx, to the development of flying drones whose pilot is seated safely behind his own desk. As the winds of war blow, so is history made and evolution is the only rule to follow. This doc gives even the novice solider of fortune the reasons and ideas on how wars were fought.
The show has four parts starting with "Warrior Weapons" followed by "Battlefield Mobility", then "Fire Power" finishing with "Command and Control". As I watched I could see the fabric of history as it was weaved with war throughout human existences. The armies of Alexander the Great were some of the first to use bronze body armor but this advancement seems rather obvious but its tactic of combining one's foot soldiers, cavalry, and artillery (arrows) were far more threatening than the armor cast to protect the warrior's body. The Phalanx was a unit, which at that time in history was a new achievement. Armed with shields and long spears, called a sarissa, the warriors act as one as they fend off or attack opposing forces. Ending with the versatile AK-47 and other assault weapons with night vision, one can understand how such small advances change the whole aspect of the battle.
"Battlefield Mobility" begins to explain how a man on a chariot became the men in the tank. From its early beginnings, the tank has given the upper hand to many officers in the field. Bringing fire power to support troops changed the face of war forever and it was the trenches on the western front along with the new machine gun and barbed wire (a civilian product) which spawned the use of such an oddly named vehicle. Its tactical worth wasn't fully understood until the Second World War in Europe.
This series tries to capture the biggest turning points that changed the face of military conflict and how it was fought. Though it's four-hours long, it tries to cover as the main changes that happened on the battlefields throughout the world. Be it marching into battle in formation to man made drones flown from miles away, and when one tactical advancement is made, it changes the tide of war and the course of history.
Article first published as DVD Review: Ground War on Blogcritics.