Revolution in Military Affairs

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“The Ultimate Determinant in War is the Man on the Scene with the Gun.” Rear Admiral J. C. Wylie, USN.

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1. The notion of military revolutions grew from Soviet writing of the 1970s and 1980s. Early studies talked of a “Military Technical Revolution” (MTR), which is the impact of a new technology on warfare, but this quickly evolved into the more holistic concept of “Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA)”, which encompasses the subsequent transformation of operations and organization. Most analysts define a RMA as a “discontinuous increase in military capability and effectiveness” arising from simultaneous and mutually supportive change in technology, systems, operational methods, and military organizations”[1]. Another definition is, 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, operational and organizational concepts, fundamentally alters the character and conduct of military operations”[2]. 2. A revolution in military affairs involves big changes that occur relatively quickly and which tend to spread beyond the profession of arms into the realm of foreign policy. Historical examples include the onset of the telegraph and the rail-road in the last century, the changes surrounding in direct artillery fire, motor vehicles (including tanks), and aircraft in the first half of this century, and the advent of nuclear weapons nearly one half century ago. Now, the information revolution has paved the way for the present revolutionary transformations in warfare[3]. 3. Famous futurists like Alvin Toffler and Heidi Toffler have quoted that, “a military revolution, in its fullest scene, occurs only, when an entire society transforms itself, forcing its armed forces to change at every level simultaneously from technology and culture to organization, strategy, tactics, training, doctrine and logistics”[4]. 4. However a difficulty arises in understanding the current debate over the RMA because some use the term as referring to the revolutionary technology itself that is driving change, while others use the term as referring to revolutionary adaptations by military organizations that may be necessary to deal with the changes in technology or the geopolitical environment, and still others use the term to refer to the revolutionary impact of geopolitical or technological change on the outcome of military conflicts, with specific reference to the political and economic context of globalisation , regardless of the nature of the particular technology or the reaction of the participants to the technological change[5]. The difference in terms of reference leads to different suggested alternatives. 5. The first perspective focuses primarily upon changes in the nation-state and the role of an organised military in using force. This approach highlights the political, social, and economic factors worldwide, which might require a completely different type of military and organisational structure to apply force in the future.

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