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Beyond Luddites and Magicians: Examining the MTR

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The United States is entering an era that will bring profound changes, and it is unclear what the consequences of the Military Technical Revolution MTR may be. Enthusiastic arguments tend to center around things, and numbers of things -- hardware and kill probability -- while ignoring the larger issues of how the capabilities of these things may change the way we organize, train, and equip forces. In concentrating on things rather than synthesis, we invite the effects of what has been called the law of unintended consequences. What will be the effects of highly complex, interrelated systems performing under extreme stress And can technology allow us to dispense with the Clausewitzian concept of battle, an environment dominated by chaos and friction This article will address these questions by looking at the MTR in a new light, avoiding a systems and hardware analysis, and instead focusing on the first principle of the MTR that technology now gives us the ability to gather and distribute information in such a way that it is possible to gain a qualitative advantage over an opponent who cannot -- a gain of an order of magnitude or greater. New sensors, such as high-altitude signals intelligence architecture, improved unmanned aerial vehicles, and precision radar, are coupled with means to integrate and synthesize the vast amounts of data generated. They then rapidly disseminate the targeting information to highly accurate strike platforms. A key distinction is that new sensor-fuzed weapons, while impressive, remain evolutionary and incremental improvements of weapons that date from World War II. Qualitative change lies in new abilities to gather information, process it, and distribute it in real time.

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  • Information Science
  • Computer Systems
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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