Academic journal article Air & Space Power Journal

Strategy and the Revolution in Military Affairs: From Theory to Policy

Academic journal article Air & Space Power Journal

Strategy and the Revolution in Military Affairs: From Theory to Policy

Article excerpt

Strategy and the Revolution in Military Affairs: From Theory to Policy by Steven Metz and James Kievit. Strategic Studies Institute, US Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania 17013-5050, 27 June 1995, 38 pages, free.

Strategy and the Revolution in Military Affairs could just as easily have been entitled What Every Officer Should Know about the RMA. Since its two authors are well-respected military analysts, yet not proponents of any one revolution in military affairs (RMA) theory, they have been able to address this subject matter objectively. As a result, this succinctly written report represents the best synthesis of open-source literature on the RMA published to date.

The body of the report is divided into five sections covering the context within which the RMA is set, the orthodoxy surrounding it, theoretical insights gained from the generation of hypotheses, policy implications of pursuing the current "minor" RMA, and policy options for the future. In regard to the context of the RMA, it can be found to originate in Soviet concepts of a developing military technical revolution (MTR) back in the 1970s and 1980s. In America, a small band of RMA analysts emerged, for the most part in response to the stunning, one-sided victory that took place during the Gulf War. They have focused on defining and describing military revolutions so that the one envisioned as now taking place could be put in its proper historical context.

At a minimum, there is consensus that standoff precision strikes; advanced command, control, and intelligence (C2I); information warfare; and nonlethality are thought to characterize the current RMA. If American forces can harness these new technologies and concepts, they will provide us with many politico-military advantages as proven by the Gulf War. Less consensus exists concerning the significance of the second stage of this RMA, based on advances in robotics, cyber defense, internetted structures, and other forms of emerging technologies.

Because this is still a relatively new field of research, disagreement exists among these analysts concerning what constitutes a military revolution beyond a "discontinuous rise in military capability and effectiveness." What is needed is a mature theory to work from. Toward the building of this theory, hypotheses surrounding the configurations of military revolutions need to be developed, as does further identification of historical trends in combat effectiveness, military revolution processes, and the patterns they take.

With regard to the policy implications of pursuing the "minor" RMA now taking place, we must ask ourselves about its current utility to our armed forces and the nation they represent. Any costbenefit analysis must take into consideration increased combat effectiveness against future opponents, likely countermeasures that will develop, our possible overreliance on military power to the exclusion of other forms of national policy, and the potential alienation of friends and allies due to our ever-growing military strength. …

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