No issue is more perplexing to military historians than why people fight. Soldiers have been asked this question by family, media, and authors over the centuries and throughout the nations of the world, and it is difficult to answer because each individual possesses his, and in recent times her, own motivation. This entry provides background on the issue and explores the various ramifications of that question.


Throughout history, most armies have included both conscripts and volunteers, officers and enlisted men, and combat and combat support soldiers. In the wars of the 20th and 21st centuries, only 10% to 20% of those who serve in military units actually fight. The vast majority of any unit performs tasks that logistically support those on the battlefield. The histories ...

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