Posted by: cousindampier | 20 December 2009

The RMA

Apparently, the thunder gods were bored this week. So they called up the snow gods, and said, “we’re bored. How about we mix it up and provide some thunder-snow?” The snow gods thought about this proposition for all of three seconds before replying, “stop digging, you hit oil.”

As a result, DC is being buried under 10” of snow (so far) and counting for the rest of the day. However, this does provide the chance to catch up on a lot of writing.

First, When a Cup of Coffee Becomes a Soy Decaf Mint Mocha Chip Frappuccino:

The obvious question then is “so, what’s changed?” The answer, in terms of underlying concepts, is “not much”. War was with us before states emerged and will likely be with us when states have disappeared in favor of some other social structure. Wars are still, and will always be, about political power, and warfare is still, and will always be, based on exploiting vulnerabilities and avoiding strengths to manipulate the consent of the people. People are still pretty much the same. All that has actually changed is the relative utility of the tools that can be applied to manipulating consent.

The whole article focused on the relative uselessness of thinking about the use of force in terms of the ‘Revolution in Military Affairs’. This part reminded me of Kotare’s Cohorts – changes in technology are useful only in how they are used. The French had better rifles than the Prussians at Sedan in 1870, but the Germans still won. More important than the technology is how it is adapted and how the military, or even the social structure/state, changes in adaptation.

What is interesting to track is the effects of the adaptation of a new technology by a military, how that technology changed a military structure and causes success, and then how that changes a social structure. JFC Fuller covers this, to an extent, in Armament and History: “Every improvement in weapon-power has aimed at lessening the danger on one side by increasing it on the other. Therefore every improvement in weapons has eventualy been met by a counter-improvement which has rendered the improvement obsolete.”

Take the technology which one the Gulf War (I). The adaptation of the technology was remarkably efficient, the problem was the adaptation of the technology to a military structure which was growing obsolete. The ironic nature of the RMA is thus: technology, especially network-centric warfare, provides the military with such an ability to adapt quickly, but the continual refinement of the term made the military incredibly unable to adapt as the enemy did not fight according to the terms of the RMA.

If you apply the technology to the idea of the champion, or 5GW in cultural terms, then technology becomes a ket counter for a whole of government approach to counter the idea of what the champion is fighting for. Network-centric warfare – ranging from sharing information quickly amongst military units to quickly spreading a message amongst a locality or spread a warning of an attack – becomes such a useful weapon to wield.

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