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

to explain the success of the suffrage and civil rights movements (though of course the connections are complex ones). Does this mean that if we move to a world of armies in which conscript infantrymen are of little importance, while highly educated professionals are the key element of victorious militaries, that there will be less and less pressure on governments to make sure the poor and uneducated are included in the national consensus? Does it suggest that the growing amount of room for women in the armed forces will provide a continuing impetus for women's equal rights? I will not venture to attempt an answer to those questions, but I think they are worthy of consideration. I would also suggest that there is somewhat of an inherent tendency for standing armies to separate themselves more and more from their civilian societies, and that over the past two centuries one of the strongest countervailing forces has been the armies' awareness that in major wars they would have to accommodate large numbers of "recent civilians" and incorporate them into the military structure. The coming Military Revolution will tend to undermine that countervailing force and may therefore contribute to what some observers already consider a developing trend of increasing divergence between the armed forces and the civilian world. This is a possibility that needs watching.

In sum, there seems to be a good chance that the current military developments stemming from advances in information technology will be the start of a genuine Military Revolution--an epoch-making change in the nature of warfare with consequences extending to social structures, and to the ways in which states measure, acquire, and utilize power, consequences that will endure after the monopoly phase of the Revolution in Military Affairs has passed. In thinking about the impact of new technologies, we should not focus just on ensuring that we are the first to adopt them or the most successful at adapting to them; we should also think about how they will affect the balance between offense and defense, between strong states and weak ones, and so on, after they have become tools widely available in the world military environment. Forewarned may in the long run be even more important than forearmed.


NOTES

My thanks to Thierry Gongora and Fred Kagan for thought-provoking comments on drafts of this paper. The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not purport to reflect the position of the United States Military Academy, the Department of the Army, or the Department of Defense.

1.
For the scholarship on the early modern Military Revolution, see the essays in Rogers ( 1995a).
2.
It should be noted that there is an error in the article's discussion of the technology of the artillery revolution, which I will take this opportunity to correct. On page 69 I indicated that the hooped-staves manufacturing method was a fifteenth-century innovation, when in fact it was in use by the 1370s (albeit not for guns of the scale and proportions of the 1420s). See Peter Burkholder ( 1992) for a thorough and well-crafted discussion.
3.
Nosworthy states that the flintlock "effectively doubled" the rate of fire to two rounds per minute, and Black agrees. The implied rate of fire for the matchlock of one shot per minute is probably too high, however, though different historians give widely varying figures. Mork ( 1967, 42, 46) suggests a rate of fire of at best one shot per ninety seconds for the

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