Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce, University of Kentucky, Lexington, USA
Modern systems integration techniques were developed in the cold war American defence establishment (Sapolsky, Chapter Two, this volume). They were aggressively applied, largely successfully, to develop technology for that conflict. Now, the American military again intends to improve its capabilities radically, presumably augmenting America's national security, by capitalizing on the information revolution. Each of the military services (Army, Navy/Marine Corps, and Air Force) has developed its own particular version of information-enhanced operations, and they are working together (called 'the jointness') to conduct warfighting experiments and to set overarching objectives for the so-called Revolution in Military Affairs. The realization of the vision in part depends on organizational changes in the armed forces to help them fight in new, information-oriented ways, but it also depends on the acquisition of new weapons and communication technologies. The first key step in transformation—defining the way in which scientific advances will be applied in the military context and thereby converting technical progress into innovation—relies on America's unique capabilities in systems integration.
The information revolution in military affairs is, in fact, the apotheosis of the 'systems approach' to warfare, on which the US military embarked in the early days of the cold war. During the Second World War, land forces learned the advantages of combined arms, melding infantry, artillery, and armour into a system for overcoming defensive obstacles; later in the cold war, aviation became truly integrated into that force package, improving combined arms capabilities still further (Herbert 1988). Similar advances were made, also drawing on the Second World War antecedents, in anti-submarine warfare, using aviation, surface, and subsurface platforms and independent sensors like the SOSUS network in a system approach (Sapolsky and Coté 1997). Forces for air defence, over-the-horizon strike targeting, strategic ballistic missiles, and many other categories drew from the cooperative use of many different weapon and support systems