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James Stavridis

Today’s Armies Are Still Fighting World War I

A century ago, millions died. The strategic, technological and medical breakthroughs live on.

Slogging into the future of war.

Slogging into the future of war.

Photographer: Frank Hurley/Hulton Archive via Getty Images

A hundred years ago today, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, the First World War in Europe ended. It had cost tens of millions of lives, utterly destroyed the existing political order, and paved the way for the rise of fascism and a repeat performance of global conflict in the form of World War II. 

Barbara Tuchman, in her peerless book on the outbreak of the war, "The Guns of August," said, “Nothing so comforts the military mind as the maxim of a great but dead general.” In the end, those long-dead generals passed along not only a few comforting maxims, but also a new way of war. Over the course of four years, warfare fundamentally shifted -- the echoes of that conflict continue to resonate for today’s warriors.