Interpersonal Incidents – Introduction

Diagram: U.S. Army – Defining War[3]
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Interpersonal incidents can range from small events like crime, arson, civil disorder to larger events such as terrorism and war. Large interpersonal incidents are often “complex emergencies” that are typically characterized by:[1]

  • extensive violence and loss of life;
  • displacements of populations;
  • widespread damage to societies and economies;
  • water and food shortages;
  • epidemics; and
  • the need for large-scale, multi-faceted humanitarian assistance.

Armed conflict is as old as humankind itself. There have always been customary practices in war, but only in the last 150 years have countries made international rules to limit the effects of armed conflict for humanitarian reasons.[2]

Modern Warfare

What made the birth of warfare possible was the emergence of societies with fully articulated social structures that provided stability and legitimacy to new social roles and behaviors. The scale of these fourth millennium urban societies was, in turn, a result of an efficient agricultural ability to produce adequate resources and large populations. It is no accident that the two earliest examples of these societies, Egypt and Sumer, were states where large-scale agricultural production was first achieved. The revolution in social structures that rested upon the new economic base was the most important factor responsible for the emergence of warfare.[4]

Modern conventional war is no longer a tactical war in which most of the fighting is done by relatively small units of division size or less. Instead, modern war is an operational level war in which the scope of command and control moves back from the line divisions to the corps and theater commands. Larger units are simultaneously committed for objectives of greater scope. The operational level of war produces far more intense and destructive battles ranging over greater areas often, paradoxically, over shorter periods of time. These battles require the total integration of all combat resources within the theatre of operations to maximize the application of force. Modern battles are fought around the clock until objectives are achieved.[5]


  1. International Federation of Red Cross and the Red Crescent Societies – Complex/Manmade Hazards:
  2. International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC):
  3. Image Source: [Accessed March 11, 2014]
  4. U.S. Army War College: A Short History of War – Chapter 1 – Origins of War:
  5. U.S. Army War College: A Short History of War – Chapter 5 – The Emergence of Modern War: