Cohen, Eliot. 2002. "Technology and Warfare." Strategy in the Contemporary World, eds. John Baylis, James Wirtz, Eliot Cohen, Colin S. Gray. New York, NY. Oxford University Press. Pp. 235-252.

Chapter 10 Technology and Warfare

By Eliot Cohen

"Although the development and integration of technology into military forces and strategy is often depicted as a simple matter, the role of technology in war is controversial" (Cohen, 02, 235).

Thinking about technology: Technophiles and technophobes

Many military historians, and sometimes soldiers are not sure about how they view military technology. Much of our contemporary policy debate is focused around technical decisions. Many military historians and soldiers play down the importance of technology in war. They believe that skill, tactics, strategy, organizational effectiveness decides the battle, not hunks of metal. Technical enthusiasts and skeptics sometimes clash in their opinions, they donít usually argue about concepts.

Some ways of thinking about military technology

Henry Petroski talks about "form following failure". In this view new technology results from innovations due to a fault in existing technology. Another theory is that technologies emerge from aesthetic or other non-rational criteria, such as custom or organizational convenience. These differing theories offer varying explanations of how exactly new innovation occurs or does not occur. Did it take more than 30 years for the US, which deployed unmanned aerial vehicles in Vietnam, to introduce them into the armed forces? The technology may have been in its infancy (corridor and doors theory). There may have been no mission crying out for UAVs (form follows function theory). There may have been no visible failure in the existing technology (form follows failure)., finally, technology could have been sabotaged by pilots hostile to the notion of aircraft, without pilots.

Not one of these theories is fully satisfying. War technology can be distinguished by nation, and a nation designs war technology based on WHERE they think that they will fight. A tank has 3 fundamental characteristics: protection, firepower, and mobility. Ask a military engineer what kind of tradeoffs designers accepted. Military technology also reflects processes of interaction. Developments are due to cause.

In assessing military technology one should look at invisible technology-small things that play big roles (radios) and such. Consider the role of system technology and not just its parts. This examines the effectiveness as a whole. Technological edge-not always decisive, but its always important.

Mapping military technology,: One main question whether one is witnessing a change in quantity and not quality. GPS- could transform all aspects of navigation. Military organizations and platforms donít change at the same rate. Some aspects of military technology change very little over the decades. Important changes are more accurate and powerful bombs, better intelligence, and aircraft. Sometimes there are changes that drastically alter warfare. The first night of an air operation, In one or two nights a competent air force can shut down an enemyís air. One of the problems of understanding the role of military technologies is the continuing process of change that takes place.

One tough issue concerns the relationship between qualitative and quantitative. Another difficulty is that some technology is slow to have an effect, while some is much more immediate and radical.

The revolution in military affairs debate

Soldiers would argue itís a revolution, normally the weapons just evolve. In the west, aspirations for any weapons system is to combine accuracy, range, and intelligence.

The Rise of Quality over Quantity- Period between French Revolution until the middle 20th century as the era of mass warfare. They fought with the mass army. There is an emergence of quality as the dominant feature in military power.

The speciation of weapons- By the end of the 20th century weapons had evolved much like a sophisticated ecological system. This development had 3 parts: the evolution of the actual implements of destruction, the emergence of unique platforms, and the creation of larger systems of military technology.

Military technology used to be equal but now the US affords the best weapons. Another form of military evolution is called meta-systems of extraordinary complexity. Networked centers of command and control.

The rise of commercial technology- Some percentage of military technology has always derived from the civilian sector. The information age is fundamentally different in this respect. Civilian technology particularly in the area of software, leads military applications.

Low intensity conflict- persists to parallel conventional warfare.

Weapons of mass destruction- offer non democratic states the possibility of counterbalancing some, if not all, of the conventional dominance of their more affluent and civilized opponents

Some occasions, men have come together to create a revolution in military affairs. Following the Gulf War in 1991, changes in accuracy range, and intelligence led many to believe a new RMA was taking place. Recent conflicts between unequal adversaries make it difficult ot tell if a real RMA has occurred. There are 3 main features of the new era in warfare, the importance of quality over quantity, the speciation of military hardware, and the increased role of the commercial technologies.

Challenges of the new technology-These threats to the dominance of the new military technologies may take some time to make themselves at home. It is tough for modern militaries to cope with the challenges posed by the information revolution.

Warfare occurs under the watchful eyes of the video camera and satellite.. The civilian sector poses a major challenge to maintaining military expertise. The information technology may lead to greater centralization of military control. Media coverage of conflicts pose challenges for military and political leaders.

The future of military technology- huge advances in technology that will shape modern warfare. New organizations and such all contribute to a far more complicated military environment than the world has ever seen.




Wirtz, James J. 2002." A New Agenda for Security and Strategy" Strategy in the Contemporary World, eds. John Baylis, James Wirtz, Eliot Cohen, Colin S. Gray. New York, NY. Oxford University Press. Pp. 309-326.

Chapter 13 A New Agenda for Security and Strategy

By James J. Wirtz

During the Cold War, high politics dominated national security agendas. Issues of war and peace, nuclear arms, diplomacy and crisis management were issues of national crisis. By contrast low politics are the environment, the management of scarce resources, or efforts to constrain population growth.

The need for a conceptual framework-Low politics dominate policy now; however, those who see low politics and see them as an excuse for war are imagining Malthusian scenarios. But they are not entirely plausible. Defining social or environmental issues as a national security problem is not without costs and risks.

Utilitarian assessment may be useful to determine if there is a new agenda for security and strategy.

Population: The demographics of global politics.-Nearly every problem in this chapter is rooted to the 3.5 billion person growth in global population since the middle of the century. Although population growth rates are slowing, the total world population will continue to increase for the next 30 years. Future population increases will be centered in the developing world, leading to a concentration of young people in megacities. They influence the context of diplomatic and military policy, divergent demographic trends will shape strategy and strategic thinking. The Commons Issue- efforts are being made to control the population and such. Hardin said there is a Tragedy of Commons. The tragedy of the commons is generally produced by an international failure to undertake collective protection of the environment or to conserve resources. The resolution of commons issues probably lies beyond the realm of strategy.

Direct environmental damage- war can cause direct and irreversible damages to the environment. DISEASE- AIDS AND Tuberculosis- AIDS about 40 million people at the close of the century. Tuberculosis, Malaria, Hepatits B and C.

A variety of factors are causeing the spread of infectious disease, especially in the developed world. New straings of drug-resistant diseases are emerging.

HIV/AIDS- pandemic is likely to spread to India Russia and China.

Planetary Defense

Earth-Crossing Objects-pose a small threat of a significant natural disaster. The possibility of cataclysmic destruction. Survey work, the preliminary step in all that. Planetary defense system, has already begun.

Existing international law prevents the construction of a planetary defense system.

Conclusion-Those who advocate including resource, environmental, or population issues on national security agendas might suggest that this chapter ignores a critical point. People are dying and world pollution and environmental issues are salient. However, these are not the countryís primary national security policies. Demographics and the spread of disease could affect us in the future along with asteroids and global warming.

Freedman, Lawrence, 2002, " Conclusion: "The Future of Strategic Studies" Strategy in the Contemporary World, eds. John Baylis, James Wirtz, Eliot Cohen, Colin S. Gray. New York, NY. Oxford University Press. Pp. 328-342.

Conclusion Chapter 14: The Future of Strategic Studies

By Lawrence Freedman

Strategic studies were largely undertaken outside the universities and were initially influence by the physical sciences and engineering.

The development of strategic studies- Strategic studies developed outside the universities. Before the Cold War there were military theorists and commentators. Cold War created the conditions for the growth of a substantial research-led policy community outside the universities. New government agencies, congressional committees, think tanks, and "beltway bandits".

This created a market for professionally trained civilian strategists that university departments might attempt to fill. Shifting policy needs made it difficult to establish the academic study of strategy in universities

In and out of the Cold War- The contest between liberal capitalist and totalitarian socialist forms of government was inescapable. The central problem of policy was awesome in its implications but also relatively simple in its formulation. Deterrence was the issue, in what would nuclear threats work and what would be the consequences if they failed to deter war or were counterproductive in their effects. It encouraged a perspective that went beyond the purely national to the systemic. The distorting effects of domestic and organizational politics on crisis management.. The US and the Soviet Union were in an Arms race with the Soviet Union. Cold war strategy was relatively simple, focusing particularly on the requirements of deterrence. Even before 1991, the field of strategic studies became more diffuse as the political context of international relations changed.

The opening of a new era of ethnic conflict in the 1990s presented strategists with a more complex international environment that required a wide range of new expertise.

In the post Cold-War period, uncertainty predominated and policymakers became less interested in what academic strategists had to say. As a result a number of scholars turned their attention to what was regarded as the academically more respectable pursuit of the study of theory and methodology.

The academic and policy worlds- These 2 worlds is fraught with ethical and practical difficulties. The task is to conceptualize and contextualize rather than proved specific guidance. If it is done well, the practitioner should be able to recognize the relevance for whatever may be the problem at hand. The theories may be implicit and undeveloped following Keyneís famous observation: Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Yet is it the case that academic theory even of the highest quality, can be of great value to the practical man.

Tensions inevitably exist between the academic and policy worlds with their different responsibilities. Practitioners often complain about the irrelevance of academic studies to immediate problems they face. D Strategivc reality is wide ranging and iner disciplinary and does not fit neatly into the narrow focus of most university departments.

The study of strategy-Strategic studies poses a further and particular challenge to the social sciences. It tends to adopt the perspective of individual actors within the system.

Strategic studies with its focus on individual actors and the importance of deliberate political choice. Strategists are voyeurs. Strategic studies can be seen as an intellectual approach to specific problems rather than a distinct field of study.

Realism Old and New-For a more overtly political view of strategy we might look to the realist tradition. Students of politics and international relations often criticize this tradition as being simplistic and obsolete, bound up with the assumption that the ony choices that matter are those that states make about military power.

Despite critiques of realism, there are elements of this school of thought that remain very useful in the study of strategy, while there are other elements that can be brought up to date. Newer constructivists approaches also help to focus attention on the important dynamic relationship between ends and means, which is crucial in the outcome of any conflict.

New realism requiresw a broader focus than in the past to understand the nature of present day conflicts but care must be taken not to overlook the traditional role armed force. Strategy is present wherever there is politics, and although political needs can be met without violence, force often remains the ultimate arbiter of political disputes.


Karl Marx once observed that people make their own history but not in the circumstances of their own choosing. The study of strategy should help with the understanding of how individuals go about history making and in so doing reshape the circumstances that they face. There is an enormous gulf between offering advice and taking responsibilty for decisions with potentially severe consequences normally taken with insufficient knowledge or time for deliberation. Fourth, it must never be forgotten that strategy is an art and not a science.