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Introduction

War is a state of armed conflict between states, governments, societies and informal paramilitary groups, such as mercenaries, insurgents and militias. It is generally characterized by extreme violence, aggression, destruction, and mortality, using regular or irregular military forces. Warfare refers to the common activities and characteristics of types of war, or of wars in general. Total war is warfare that is not restricted to purely legitimate military targets, and can result in massive civilian or other non-combatant suffering and casualties.

The scholarly study of war is sometimes called polemology (/ˌpɒləˈmɒləi/ POL-ə-MOL-ə-jee), from the Greek polemos, meaning "war", and -logy, meaning "the study of".

While some scholars see war as a universal and ancestral aspect of human nature, others argue it is a result of specific socio-cultural or ecological circumstances.

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The Second Battle of Smolensk was a major World War II Red Army offensive in western Russia, staged almost simultaneously with the Battle of the Lower Dnieper. The two-month offensive led by Generals Andrei Yeremenko and Vasily Sokolovsky was aimed at clearing the German presence from the Smolensk and Bryansk regions. Smolensk had been under German occupation since the first Battle of Smolensk in 1941. Despite an impressive German defense setup, the Red Army was able to stage several breakthroughs, liberating several major cities, including Smolensk and Roslavl, and moving into occupied Belorussia. Although playing a major military role in its own right, the Smolensk Operation was also important for its effect on the Battle of Dnieper. It has been estimated that as many as 55 German divisions were committed to counter the Smolensk Operation—divisions that were critically needed to prevent Soviet troops from crossing the Dnieper River in the south. Additionally, the operation allowed the Red Army to repulse German forces definitively from the Smolensk landbridge, historically the most important approach for an attack on Moscow from the west.

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Landing at the Battle of Normandy

An LCVP (Landing Craft, Vehicle, Personnel) from the U.S. Coast Guard-manned USS Samuel Chase disembarks troops of the U.S. Army's First Infantry Division on the morning of June 6, 1944 (D-Day) at Omaha Beach.
Photo credit: U.S. Army's First Division

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