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Asymmetric Warfare: The British Experience in Eighteenth-Century India

From: The Journal of Military History
Volume 68, Number 2, April 2004
pp. 431-469 | 10.1353/jmh.2004.0019


This is a case study of how confrontations between asymmetric military systems are resolved. It concentrates on the military aspects, though a full understanding of the outcome is possible only through a consideration of political, social, and cultural factors as well. In such a struggle the "weaker" side (in this case the Indian) will try to acquire the superior methodology and weapons of the "stronger." But the latter will also have to adapt its military system to suit the new context in which it is fighting. The British won eventually because they retained their military superiority while the Indian princes were heavily disabled by political problems.

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