Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky addressing his nation by mobile phone.
by Paul Jacobson, Partner
Armchair and scholarly historians generally agree that the American Civil War was the first modern war. It was fought with the products and technologies of the industrial revolution. The astronomical rise in casualties compared to previous conflicts was the tragic by-product.
The telegraph, railroads, ironclad war ships, submarines, repeating rifles, gatling guns, aerial observation and photographic documentation were all Civil War “firsts”.
Now we’ve hit another watershed in the history of warfare. The Russian invasion of Ukraine is arguably the first modern digital war.
The BBC’s chief international correspondent Lyse Doucet, a front-line journalist veteran of many conflicts, said that in this conflict the information war is arguably of equal significance to the actual battles.
Facebook and Twitter were major conduits for Ukrainian government official information and calls to arms for its citizen soldiers. The Ukrainian foreign minister held a news conference – on Facebook.
Nowhere was this change more evident than the inspired use of video and social media by Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky, an actor and comedian by trade who knows the value of frequent, inspirational communications. He used mainstream video to steel his country for war and mobile phone video, Telegram, Twitter and Facebook to inspire his countrymen and ask for international support.
In the future, military and civilian communication officials will likely lead or help plan the important function communications now provides in a battle plan alongside troop deployments and supply lines.
The Ukraine invasion, tragic as it is, marks a historic milestone in the field of digital communication. As the American Civil War was first to bring the industrial revolution into play, the war in Ukraine is the first to fully employ the inventions of the digital age. Military planning, warfare execution and the responsibility communications plays in both, will never be the same.
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