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

8
RMA or New Operational Art?:
A View from France

François Géré


TWO CAVEATS BY WAY OF INTRODUCTION

First, strategic creativity in the United States is such that every few years the world learns that a major change in military affairs has occurred. In 1982 there was the introduction of AirLand Battle with the new edition of the FM 100-5 doctrinal document, then AirLand Battle 2000 in 1984; in 1993 there was a short-lived counter-proliferation initiative; but, already, the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) was in the offing, its advocates discreetly announcing its existence. No one will believe that strategy and operational art are transformed each three or four years. Does the phenomenon, which in the early 1990s became known as the RMA, correspond to a technological tsunami whose original impulse dates from a generation ago and which is now sweeping in its path military strategy? It is true that all major weapon systems when reaching maturity appear to be revolutionary and suggestive of a break in established trends. In fact, the operational beginning of a major weapon system is what strikes the mind. This moment must be accompanied by enough cheers to warrant the acquisition of the new weapon by armed forces at home and abroad. Thus, we must avoid overestimating a phenemenon that benefits from high visibility in part because of the vacuum created by the disappearence of a major player, the Soviet Union.

The second caveat concerns the origins of the phrase Revolution in Military Affairs, which have become obscured by growing popularity, second- and third- hand information substituting for reality. The phrase was coined by the Soviets in the early 1960s to characterize the changes brought to their defense concepts, military organizations, and doctrines by the massive introduction of nuclear weapons and missiles ( Laurent and Ernould 1989, 11). In the United States, however, the Soviet origins of the RMA are dated back to Marshal Ogarkov and other Soviet military theorists who looked at conventional military developments in the United

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