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The Primacy of Doctrine: The United States Army and Military Innovation and Reform, 1945-1995.

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Occasional paper no. 1,

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In the 1990s it is fashionable to speak of a Revolution in Military Affairs being underway as a result of what is styled the Information Age. It may, however, be more useful and even more accurate, to see recent changes in warfare emanating from the impact of microprocessors and digitisation, as the latest phase in a dynamic process which can be traced to the coming of the nuclear age in 1945. Ever since the explosion of the atomic bomb, the military profession has been constantly challenged by both revolutionary technology and novel ideas about the nature of war. These technical and intellectual challenges have often forced military establishments to refine relevant operational concepts and develop realistic doctrine. This has often involved a difficult process of reform in which the needs of modemisation have had to be balanced against the requirement to maintain a consistent professional knowledge of war. Nowhere have these difficulties been more marked than in the United States, the worlds pre-eminent military power. The purposeof this essay is to explore how a military organisation responds to an era of innovation in warfare, how it meets new challenges and how successfiilly it can absorb the requirements of constant change. It takes as its main argument the proposition advanced by the leading American military historian, Peter Paret, that the most important problem of MILITARY innovation IS not the development of new weapons or methods, nor even their general adoption, but their intellectual mastery. It argues that such intellectual mastery can only be conferred by doctrinal analysis. Weapons technology and strategy must be informed by doctrine - that is knowledge of how to fight - based on an understanding of operational philosophy. The development of effective doctrine for the employment of technology and the execution of strategy is one of the

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  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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