THE CULTURE OF MILITARY INNOVATION: The Impact of Cultural Factors on the Revolution in Military Affairs in Russia, the U.S., and Israel

By Klann, Gene | Military Review, March/April 2011 | Go to article overview

THE CULTURE OF MILITARY INNOVATION: The Impact of Cultural Factors on the Revolution in Military Affairs in Russia, the U.S., and Israel


Klann, Gene, Military Review


THE CULTURE OF MILITARY INNOVATION: The Impact of Cultural Factors on the Revolution in Military Affairs in Russia, the U.S., and Israel, Dima Adamsky, Stanford University Press, Stanford, CA, 2010, 231 pages, $25.95.

This carefully researched work presents a detailed case study in comparative strategic culture and the revolution in military affairs. First, it discusses the different traditions in which military innovation has developed in diverse nation-states. Second, it addresses how a "new theory of victory" originates in various cultural settings. It assesses the national cultures of the United States, the Soviet Union, and Israel and how they have approached and interpreted the changing nature of warfare.

The author contends that the most recent revolution in military affairs can be traced to the 1970s when standoff precision-guided munitions were introduced. The Soviets were first to recognize that the munitions would fundamentally change warfare and represented a critical discontinuity referred to as the military-technical revolution. The revolution in military affairs and the military-technical revolution are terms describing "radical military innovation that render existing doctrine and forms of combat obsolete."

Adamsky makes a convincing argument that the American way of war elevates material superiority, advanced technologies, and the attrition of the enemy by massive firepower over a fighting style focused on innovative doctrine, strategic imagination, or creative maneuvering. American romanticism with technology and confidence in homegrown ingenuity explains a strategic culture that is described by Adamsky as anti- intellectual, antihistorical, and uninspired. It is a culture that is uncomfortable with counterinsurgency and stability operations in which technology and firepower have less application. This way of war has developed from an American cognitive style that is logical-analytical and focuses on the object independent from the context in which it is embedded. …

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