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Ender’s Game: Advancement of Warfare

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  • Category: Military

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During the 19th century the nature of warfare was reaching a turning point. It all began in the 1940s with the nuclear revolution and began advancing as quickly as the seasons ever since. By the time World War II approached, America had a whole new outlook on how to fight their battles. While the generals and commanders of the United States army were preparing for future warfare, Orson Scott Card was busy predicting the future of warfare in his award winning novel Ender’s Game. In this novel, a young boy of the name Ender Wiggins is to attend a special battle school where he will be trained to save his planet from the horrid buggers, their enemy of the past 100 years. Though Ender knows what he is in training for, he does not know the importance nor how fully involved he is in Operation Terminate the Buggers. Though Orson Scott Card thought his novel portrayed only a possibility for future warfare, he was incredibly accurate. From 1985, the year the book was published, to present day Ender’s Game has become a more realistic world for future generations to reside. The technology advances, nature of warfare, and the way future military officers and soldiers are chosen in Ender’s Game are all in the imminent future.

When the gunpowder revolution struck Europe in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries all areas of warfare were fundamentally changed (McKitrick). On account of constant competition, every state and country was on a mission to catch up and surpass Europe’s new advancement in their technology. Smaller states in Asia made significant changes to pressing military requirements while Japan strove for dominance. These advances lead to Korea’s advancement of ironclad, cannon-armed galleys that were essential in Korea defeating Japan during Japan’s three invasion attempts. The problem with each of these advances in technology used in warfare is that all of the major powers possessed the same technologies but only a few countries created new operations concepts and organizations. Because of this, each advancement was upstaged by another, causing all countries to obtain the same level of power as before (Blackwell). In the novel Ender’s Game planet Earth has such an array of advanced technology that armies now are in the process of developing.

Instead of gunpowder and cannons, Ender and other soldiers in training are taught battlefield strategies in a battle room in which they use advanced guns that instead of killing them when shot shoot a laser and freeze each soldier on impact. “Let’s shoot each other.’ They did. Immediately Ender felt the leg of the suit grow stiff, immobile at the knee and ankle joints. ‘You frozen?’ asked Alai. ‘Stiff as a board” (Card 60). Not only do they use special weapons, but they also train in a room with zero gravity. The soldiers are expected to use problem solving skills in order to maneuver around the battle field and retain their “up-and-down orientation” (Card 56). Another area in which the soldiers are expected to increase their problem solving skills is in a “mind game” set up by commanders. In the game each soldier is presented with a situation they must defeat. The game is monitored so that only the best of the best are chosen to lead Earth into war with the buggers. “It was private study time, and Ender was doing Free Play.

It was a shifting, crazy kind of game in which the school computer kept bringing up new things, building maze that you could explore. You could go back to events you liked, for a while; if you left one alone too long, it disappeared and something else took its place” (Card 62). Not only are the technologies in the novel much more advanced than the technologies currently used by nations’ armies, but they also greatly differ from their enemies’ technology. While we do not exactly what the buggers are fighting the soldiers with, we do know that they have been attacking them for over 80 years and have not yet defeated them. Also, the buggers are unable to communicate with Earth so they are unable to develop similar weapons, therefore giving Earth an advantage. Because of their greatly diverse technologies, no one is able to upstage the other, making the outcome a winner vs. loser as opposed to a continuing battle that is currently happening between nations. As time passes, America and other nations’ armies will reach a point where their technologies will become more technical and virtual as they are in Ender’s Game.

When this happens, the nature of warfare will change for the better and each nation will grow and improve. The nature of our current warfare is asymmetrical. Asymmetrical warfare, at its broadest, is “any conflict in which there is a significant qualitative mismatch between opponents in any of all of the following: manpower, firepower, technology and tactics (Baker). This form of warfare began during the self-declared ‘War on Terror’ by George W. Bush. While asymmetric warfare seems as though it will be here to stay for a while, the asymmetries we will face over the years will be an entirely different species from today’s (Kunstler). For example, in previous wars, the more powerful weapon caused a greater force that would be exposed to the battlefield. But in the new era, new technologies will allow a greater distance to be placed between the weapon and the battle space but still cause the same impact. Since most of the weaponry in Ender’s Game is virtual or cyber related, there is no face-to-face combat in Ender’s Game, giving way for the perfect warfare that is approaching. Once Ender has become commander, he is set to defeat “a game” in which he is faced with an impossible mission. He is outnumbered, but Ender, feeling the challenge that is in front of him, knows a way in which he can win.

After Ender has decided that the only way he can defeat the enemy in this “game” is destroy them all. He does so by detonating the Little Doctor, a device that sets up a field in which covalent and atomic bonding cannot exist. One by one they pass through the atmosphere, bursting the planet apart as soon as they hit. However, Ender is not told until after the damage is done that the planet he destroyed while playing “the game” was actually the Bugger’s planet (Card 289-97). “Within three seconds the entire planet burst apart, becoming a sphere of bright dust, hurtling outward” (Card 295). Though Ender was tricked and manipulated, this advanced form of asymmetrical warfare saved the lives of tons of soldiers while also defeating the enemy. This is the form of asymmetrical warfare the warfare of today is headed towards. Not only will it save thousands of lives by not forcing soldiers to have face-to-face combat, but it will also prove more efficient in defeating the enemy.

While technology and strategy are important components to war, who is fighting is also a factor that must be considered. In past years, fighting in war was not a desired career for most young men and women. A draft was put in place in order for a sufficient amount of soldiers to be on the battlefield so that the army would have a fair chance at victory. Over the years, a career in the military is a much more common and honored career than before. Volunteers enlist daily and even retired military soldiers re-enlist to serve their country for another term. Because those who serve in the military are more honored to serve than before, the quality of the army is greater than it was in the past. In Ender’s Game the method they use to choose their soldiers ensures that the best and only the best are serving the country. Not only are the soldiers the most elite, but they are also more than honored to be in the position they are in. When Ender’s brother, Peter, was not chosen for battle school, he envied Ender every day for still having a chance.

When Peter found out that Ender lost his chance, he became all worked up exclaiming, “He almost made it, little bastard, little bugger” (Card 10). The reason for the jealousy is that the method in which soldiers are chosen in Ender’s Game is through a very selective process. When a child is born, a monitor is placed in the back of his or her neck. Through the monitor the child is then watched very carefully to determine whether or not he possess the desired qualities of a soldier (Card 1-18). Once chosen, the child will be sent to battle school where he will then train to become the best that he can be (Card 19-26). If military enlistment had this method, being in the military would be looked upon in a brighter light just as it is to Ender and his siblings. Luckily, with the wars and economic struggles that are currently going on in the world, our soldiers will need to be of such caliber, leading to the current method of enlistment to grow steadily closer and similar to the one in the novel.

Though Ender’s Game provides what sounds like an ideal form of warfare, the feelings of those in the novel are not as expected. Each family dreads having their children taken away from them to fight and the monitors create tension amongst the kids. The monitors create a sense of separation amongst the monitored and non-monitored with the monitored having the upper hand. When Ender still had his monitor, the other children were careful around him, gentle, whereas when his monitor was taken, everything changed. When Ender’s brother, Peter, saw the band aid placed where his monitor used to be was he pounced on him, threatening to kill him. “I could kill you like this,’ Peter whispered. ‘Just press and press until you’re dead” (Card 12).

The children had school had the same reaction, teasing Ender and bullying him, but the monitor was not the only thing dreaded. Because of their form of warfare, (no face-to-face combat) manipulation was easy. After Ender learned that he had killed the buggers he felt numb. “He walked through the crowd, dodging their congratulations, ignoring their hands, their words, their rejoicing” (Card 297). Ender was responsible for the death of an entire civilization and he felt such remorse he was out of control. “Ender grabbed Mazer’s uniform and hung onto it, pulling him down so they were face to face. ‘I didn’t want to kill them all. I didn’t want to kill anybody! I’m not a killer!” (Card 297-98). Because of their advanced technology, Ender was tricked. His life was shattered.

Orson Scott Card could have never imagined a realistic world of Ender’s Game, but one is coming. From the rapid advancement in technology to the changes in our warfare, today’s battlefields are growing and shaping into the battlefields that Ender Wiggins fought in to defeat the buggers. Just as the book predicts, with the perfect combination of superior technology, new and improved warfare, and the most dedicated and proud soldiers, any war fought will be a war won and a war to never happen again.

Works Cited

Baker, Deane. “Asymmetrical Morality In Contemporary Warfare.” Theoria: A Journal Of
Social & Political Theory 106 (2005): 128-140. Academic Search Complete. Web. 12
Nov. 2012.
Blackwell, James, et al. “The Revolution in Military Affairs.” Battlefield of the Future: 21st
Century Warfare Issues (1995).
Kunstler, Barton. “Extreme Asymmetric Warfare Of The Future.” World Future Review 3.3
(2011): 5-16. Academic Search Complete. Web. 12 Nov. 2012.
McKitrick, Jeffrey, et al. “The Revolution in Military Affairs.” Air War College Studies in
National Security: Battlefield of the Future 3 (1995): 65-97.

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