Precision Misses the Mark
MARINE CORPS UNIV QUANTICO VA SCHOOL OF ADVANCED WARFIGHTING
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The U.S. military is increasingly relying on precision to ensure its dominance over future adversaries. The operational concept of Precision Engagement is an essential component of joint and service visions of future war. We are spending billions of dollars to develop smaller, more precise munitions to produce effects tailored for specific target sets. Proponents believe that precision guided weapons PGWs represent a revolution in military affairs that has fundamentally affected the way wars will be fought. Continued emphasis on precision weapons and reduction of collateral damage during attacks is not only unnecessary for U.S. victory in future wars, it may actually be counterproductive. The development of smaller, more precise weapons is driven more by our compulsion to avoid collateral damage than by military expediency. Limitations in intelligence, sensors, response time, and baffle damage assessment prevent us from fully leveraging current PGW capabilities, which are already good enough to destroy any target we can identify. Our future adversaries will be adaptive and will find ways to mitigate the overwhelming firepower advantage that PGWs provide. Terrorist organizations and other nonstate opponents may not possess an infrastructure amenable to precision attack. More developed foes will disperse and hide their vulnerable targets or find ways to make them politically unpalatable to attack. Cheap countermeasures can and will be developed to foil our expensive systems. PGWs have not fundamentally changed the nature of war and will not ensure success. We should focus our procurement efforts on cheap, accurate, and versatile weapons. It is not the single technological feat of guiding a weapon to a precise set of coordinates that will make us preeminent in future conflicts, but rather the employment of a truly integrated joint force that can seamlessly employ fire and maneuver throughout an entire area of operations.
- Unconventional Warfare
- Fire Control and Bombing Systems
- Guided Munitions