Why Weapons Can’t Win Wars Without the Human Element

I was born in a time when you were told from birth what society’s core values are: that leadership is here to create a better future, that the police are here to protect us from criminals, the fifth column, traitors, saboteurs, and those who steal from workers, and that the military is here to protect us from external enemies.

As a result, every young man must begin pre-military schooling in elementary school at the age of 14, and subsequently serve in the military to strengthen brotherhood and national unity, as well as to reinforce societal views and ideals instilled at birth.

Then comes civil war; old beliefs are shattered and new ones are introduced; nevertheless, it is different when you go to battle in 1991 against Europe’s third most powerful army, as well as deadly militia groups and terrorists.

The only way to win a war against a highly well-organized machine is to delve deeply into ideas that no one can take away from you, which you learn as you mature. Trust in our peers, leadership, understanding why we are willing to die, and social cohesion.

Turns the average Joe into the most passionate ideological soldier, willing to fight against all odds because he believes in the cause and believes that battling adversaries is worthwhile.
I learned that lesson after 1800 consecutive days in war.

The evolution of military forces from the Second World War to today has seen remarkable advancements in technology and strategy.

However, amidst this progression, the core elements that lead to victory in war—ideology, patriotism, and nationalism—remain paramount.

Drawing from my personal experiences and observations, I argue that these elements will always prevail over mere professionalism and sophisticated weaponry. This perspective stems from a profound comprehension of the human elements that motivate soldiers to engage in combat and achieve victory.

Evolution of Military Forces: WWII to Today

During WWII, military strategies were heavily reliant on sheer manpower and relatively rudimentary technology.

The subsequent decades have witnessed an exponential growth in military capabilities, with modern forces boasting highly advanced weaponry, precision tactics, and professional training regimes.

For instance, the development of nuclear weapons, precision-guided munitions, and advanced communication systems has revolutionised the way we fight wars.

Today, superpowers like the USA, China, and Russia, along with alliances such as NATO, dominate the global military landscape.

The USA, for instance, has invested heavily in technology, creating a military that is technologically superior and professionally trained.

However, despite these advancements, the essence of what makes an effective fighting force has not fundamentally changed. The human element—morale, cohesion, and a shared sense of purpose—remains as critical as ever.

The role of ideology, patriotism, and nationalism is significant.

Throughout history, wars have been won not just by superior firepower but by the unwavering spirit of those who fight for a cause they believe in.

Ideology, patriotism, and nationalism infuse soldiers with a sense of purpose and determination that transcends the battlefield. These elements foster a deep-rooted commitment to the mission and to one another, which often proves decisive in the face of adversity.

For example, during the Vietnam War, the North Vietnamese forces, despite being outgunned and outmatched technologically, managed to achieve significant victories due to their strong ideological commitment and nationalism.

They believed fervently in their cause, which galvanized them to continue fighting against seemingly insurmountable odds.

The alignment between leadership and combat effectiveness is vertical.

One of the most critical aspects of a successful military force is vertical cohesion, which can be broken down into four key areas:

First Cohesion: Trust Amongst Troops
Soldiers form a strong bond of trust when they are familiar with each other, especially if they hail from the same city or suburb. This camaraderie enhances their ability to work together effectively and boosts their overall combat readiness. Studies have shown that units with high levels of internal trust perform better in combat situations .

Second Cohesion: Trust in Leadership
Trust between troops and their leaders significantly enhances effective combativeness.

This trust is most profound when leaders emerge from within the ranks, sharing common experiences and understanding the challenges faced by their soldiers.

Historical examples include leaders like General Dwight D. Eisenhower during WWII, whose ability to connect with his troops and earn their trust was pivotal to the success of Allied operations in Europe .

Third Cohesion: Identification with Cause
A powerful sense of duty drives soldiers who identify with their flag, commander-in-chief, God, country, and cause.

This identification instills a deep sense of loyalty and commitment, motivating them to fight with unparalleled fervor.

During the American Revolutionary War, the Continental Army, despite being poorly equipped and trained, managed to secure independence largely due to their strong identification with the cause of liberty and self-determination.

Fourth Cohesion: Social Cohesion
Support from citizens, society, and community provides soldiers with an extra morale boost.

Knowing that their efforts are valued and backed by their fellow countrymen propels them to fight to the limits, often with a sense of fanaticism.

The Home Front during WWII is a classic example, where the collective effort of civilians in supporting the war effort significantly boosted the morale of troops on the front lines .

Comparative Analysis of Military Cohesion and Strategy

Ideological cohesion deeply roots certain nations’ military strategies. Strong national pride and loyalty to their government unify these armed forces.

Rigorous political indoctrination and a culture that prioritizes collective effort over individual achievement reinforce this ideological unity.

In contrast, another nation’s approach, while technologically superior, often lacks the same level of ideological cohesion.

Their soldiers are well-trained and equipped, but they may not have the same depth of ideological commitment.

Similarly, another country’s emphasis on nationalism and vertical cohesion within its military ranks gives it an edge over more fragmented and diverse forces of certain alliances. Their military doctrine places a strong emphasis on the unity of command and the integration of military and civilian efforts in times of conflict.

This cohesion was evident during specific military actions, where their forces demonstrated high levels of unity and coordination.

Personal Experience: Insights from “What is the True Price of Freedom”

In my book, “What is the True Price of Freedom,” I delve into the personal experiences that have shaped my understanding of military effectiveness. During my time in the war, I witnessed firsthand how trust, leadership, and a shared sense of purpose could drive soldiers to achieve extraordinary feats. For example, during a particularly intense conflict, the bond and trust among my fellow soldiers were the only things that kept us going. Despite being outnumbered and outgunned, our trust in each other and in our leaders, coupled with our deep belief in our cause, enabled us to hold our ground and eventually turn the tide of battle.

These experiences underscore the importance of ideology, patriotism, and nationalism in forging a winning strategy. They highlight that, while advanced weaponry and professional training are essential, the human element—trust, loyalty, and a shared sense of purpose—remains the cornerstone of military effectiveness.


The advancements in military technology and professionalism over the past decades are undeniable. However, the true strength of a military force lies in its ideological cohesion, patriotism, and nationalism. As history has shown, and as my personal experiences affirm, these elements will always prevail over mere technological sophistication. In today’s complex global landscape, military leaders must recognize and harness these timeless principles to build effective, resilient, and victorious forces.

By understanding and valuing the human element, military forces can enhance their effectiveness and ensure that they are not only technologically advanced but also deeply committed and united. This, ultimately, is the key to winning wars and securing lasting peace.

This post was written by Mario Bekes