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Maslow’s hierarchy of needs places physiological needs as the foundation of all others.i The needs of food, water, and shelter are referred to as objects indispensable to survival (OIS). A person will think of little else until these basic needs are met, hence the power OIS have over populations. The concept of hunger as a weapon dates to the beginning of written history with Homer’s Iliad describing the siege of Troy. In war, military leaders often consider foodstuffs as it relates to their war effort while analyzing ways to use this basic need against their foe. As the quote attributed to Napoleon goes, “an army marches on its stomach.” Russian’s scorched earth policy during Napoleon’s 1812 invasion would lead to his Grande Armée’s defeat from lacking access to provisions from the countryside. This brief will examine the methods of starvation that militaries have used and continue to use in warfare. It will also explore how the United States and its allies can build resilient food supply chains to withstand crises and conflict.
Schnaufer, Tad and Himmelgreen, David, "GNSI Decision Brief: Hunger as a Weapon" (2023). GNSI Decision Briefs. 2.