War and Technology

War and Technology

War and Technology

War and Technology


In this engaging book, Jeremy Black argues that technology neither acts as an independent variable nor operates without major limitations. This includes its capacity to obtain end results, as technology's impact is far from simple and its pathways are by no means clear. After considering such key conceptual points, Black discusses important technological advances in weaponry and power projection from sailing warships to aircraft carriers, muskets to tanks, balloons to unmanned drones--in each case, taking into account what difference these advances made. He addresses not only firepower but also power projection and technologies of logistics, command, and control. Examining military technologies in their historical context and the present centered on the Revolution in Military Affairs and Military Transformation, Black then forecasts possible future trends.


The nature of modern weapons and scientific armament development
renders surprise attack on a considerable scale and with weapons of great
destructive power more possible than in the past. The old idea that a nation
can “muddle through” possesses inherent dangers in the light of the speed
with which aggressive action can be initiated in these days.

—British Chiefs of Staff Sub-Committee, Annual Review, October 12, 1933

The wars of the 2000s and early 2010s in Iraq and Afghanistan have caused a strong reaction against what has been presented as technological triumphalism, a term generally employed in order to suggest guilt by association. Any use of triumphalism, by its very nature, is intended to discredit; but it is also instructive to see how technology is itself employed by many today in a critical tone. This usage draws on a pronounced anti-modernist strand in both intellectual and popular thought, one enhanced by environmentalist arguments as well, differently, as drawing on a long-standing predisposition to prefer individual bravery to machines when responding to conflict. The last, of course, is generally the spectator’s view but is also the theme in much “faceof-battle” literature written from the perspective of individual soldiers.

More particularly, much of the recent criticism focused on the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA), a term that was widely used, notably . . .

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