Recognizing and Understanding Revolutionary Change in Warfare: The Sovereignty of Context
ARMY WAR COLL STRATEGIC STUDIES INST CARLISLE BARRACKS PA
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Revolution in Military Affairs RMA was the most widely used, and abused, acronym in the U.S. defense community in the 1990s. Subsequently, transformation has superceded it as the preferred term of art. For the better part of two decades, American defense professionals have been excited by the prospect of effecting a revolutionary change in the conduct and character of warfare. In this monograph, Dr. Colin S. Gray provides a critical audit of the great RMA debate and of some actual RMA behavior. He argues that the contexts of warfare are crucially important. Indeed so vital are the contexts that only a military transformation that allows for flexibility and adaptability will meet future strategic demands. Dr. Gray warns against a transformation that is highly potent only in a narrow range of strategic cases. In addition, he advises that the historical record demonstrates clearly that every revolutionary change in warfare eventually is more or less neutralized by antidotes of one kind or another political, strategic, operational, tactical, and technological. He warns that the military effectiveness of a process of revolutionary change in a way of war can only be judged by the test of battle, and possibly not even then, if the terms of combat are very heavily weighted in favor of the United States. On balance, the concept of revolutionary change is found to be quite useful, provided it is employed and applied with some reservations and in a manner that allows for flexibility and adaptability. Above all else, the monograph insists, the contexts of warfare, especially the political, determine how effective a transforming military establishment will be.
- Military Forces and Organizations
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics