Toward a Revolution in Military Affairs? Defense and Security at the Dawn of the Twenty-First Century

By Thierry Gongora; Harald Von Riekhoff | Go to book overview

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Introduction: Sizing up the
Revolution in Military Affairs

Thierry Gongora and Harald von Riekhoff

The notion that we are engaged in a revolution in military affairs (RMA) is part of common knowledge among defense and military analysts. This consensus, however, hides a significant degree of debate about the nature of the RMA, its likely development, and its implications for various nations, the future of warfare, and defense policy. This introduction and the following essays provide viewpoints on the subject structured around the following themes: (a) the substance of the RMA; (b) different national perspectives on the changing nature of warfare and defense; and (c) the impact of the RMA on power projection and defense industries. Considered as a whole, this collection of essays deals with broad aspects of the RMA, rather than with specific technologies and concepts of operations. This was it conscious choice based on the opinion that broad issues are likely to be the most enduring and important for an understanding of the phenomenon; while technologies and operational concepts will keep developing in ways that make any analysis quasi-obsolescent as soon as it is published. In short, we choose to study the train of the RMA from a distance rather than to study its engine and cars from a few feet its they whiz past.


IS THE RMA A TRUE REVOLUTION?

We often take for granted the existence of the RMA in order to discuss more practical and pressing issues that stem from it, but it is useful to stand back and discuss the nature of the phenomenon. According to the standard definition offered by Andrew Marshall, Director of the Office of Net Assessment (U.S. DOD), an RMA "is a major change in the nature of warfare brought about by the innovative application of new technologies which, combined with dramatic changes in military doctrine and operational and organizational concepts, fundamentally alters the character and conduct of military operations" ( McKitrick et al. 1995, 65). This

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