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CRS 95-1170 F

Revolution in Military Affairs?

Competing Concepts, Organizational Responses, Outstanding Issues

Theodor W. Galdi

Specialist in International Security

Foreign Affairs and National Defense Division

December 11, 1995





In the wake of the overwhelming victory of coalition forces in Operation Desert Storm, a good deal of discussion took place whether the world had witnessed a Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA). The concept of an RMA itself, its constituent elements, and the timing of its occurrence, however, remain subjects of continuing debate.

Although some commentators have identified as many as ten previous RMAs, the current term evolved from a Soviet concept, military technical revolution. Three basic conceptions -- and a number of permutations -- for the current RMA are identified. The first focuses primarily upon changes in the nation state and the role of an organized military in using force -- it highlights the political, social, and economic factors at play worldwide which might lead to the need for completely different types of military force and organizations to apply that force in the future. The second conception, and that most commonly assigned the term RMA, highlights the evolution of weapons, military organizations, and operational concepts among advanced powers -- it focuses on the changes made possible by advancing technology. The third conception is that a true revolution in military affairs is unlikely, but rather there will be continuing evolution in equipment, organizations, and tactics to adjust to changes in technology and the international environment.

How the Department of Defense and military services are attempting to deal with long term planning is important because many of the changes highlighted by the debate over the RMA are likely to occur in the relatively distant future. The Department of Defense has conducted an RMA Initiative, focusing upon examining future technology, organizations and doctrines needed to deal with revolutionary change. At present, the Army is farthest along in creating institutions to integrate potentially revolutionary technology, assessing the consequences of an RMA, and attempting to incorporate necessary changes into Army doctrine and organization. Through Spacecast 2020, Air Force 2025, and the Air Force Revolutionary Planning Process, the Air Force is attempting to undertake very long range planning. The Navy and Marine Corps are just beginning this process.

The main practical issue for Congress arising from the RMA debate is how to resolve the conflict between expenditures for current and near-term activities and any expenditures needed to deal with an RMA. Funds to support current operations will not be available for future procurement. Other issues involve determining the appropriate detail for congressional oversight, arranging for greater coordination of RMA-related activities in the Department of Defense, and determining how best to foster long-term innovation by the military services.






The End of the Nation State 5

A System of Systems 6

Evolution, Not Revolution 8




Office of Net Assessment 9

DoD Revolution in Military Affairs Initiative 10

Major Organizational Steps 12

The U.S. Army and Force XXI 13

Force XXI 13

TRADOC Pamphlet 525-5 Force XXI Operations 14

Major Organizational Steps 16

The U.S. Air Force, Spacecast 2020, and Air Force 2025 20

The Air Force Revolutionary Planning Process and Air Force 2025 21

Major Organizational Steps 22

The U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and Future Warfare 22

Major Organizational Steps 24



Setting Overall Priorities 25

Guiding Choices of Technologies and Organizational Structures 25

Providing Focus 26

Coordination 26

Steps to Improve Acquisition 27

Should Criticism Be Institutionalized? 27

Assessing the Opportunity Cost of Current Activities 28

Fostering Intraservice Interchange 28












Notwithstanding the rapid decline in funding for U.S. armed services in the recent past(1), it is expected that Congress will authorize the expenditure of substantial sums for defense in the future. In order to make informed judgements on what should be funded, Congress seeks knowledge of the state of military technology and the likely environments American forces might face in future conflict.

The main practical issue for Congress arising from the RMA debate is how to resolve the conflict between expenditures for current and near-term activities and any expenditures needed to deal with an RMA. Funds to support current operations will not be available for future procurement. Other issues involve determining the appropriate detail for congressional oversight, arranging for greater coordination of RMA-related activities in the Department of Defense, and determining how best to foster long-term innovation by the military services.

Following the overwhelming victory of coalition forces in Operation Desert Storm, a good deal of discussion took place whether the world had witnessed a Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA). However, active debate continues over whether in fact there is or will be an RMA, what are the constituent elements of such a revolution, when the revolution is to take place, and what steps would be needed to adapt to the revolution. This report consists of three parts: 1) A discussion of the debate over the definition and constituent elements of a Revolution in Military Affairs and the possible consequences for the American military; 2) A presentation of the steps that the Department of Defense and the military services are taking now to carry out long-term strategic planning and implementation; and 3) an examination of the major issues raised and what Congress and the Department of Defense might do to understand an RMA, guide U.S. policy, and as much as possible, guide the outcome.


The current term, "Revolution in Military Affairs" has evolved from an earlier term -- military technical revolution -- used by Soviet military theorists.(2) In the early 1970s the Soviets had identified two periods of fundamental military change in the 20th Century: one driven by the emergence of aircraft, motor vehicles and chemical warfare in World War I, and the second driven by the development of nuclear weapons, missiles and computers in World War II. The next "military-technical revolution" the Soviets thought, would involve advances in microelectronics, sensors, precision-guidance, automated control systems, and directed energy. By 1984, the Chief of the Soviet General Staff was expressing his concern that the emergence of "automated reconnaissance and strike complexes," including new control systems and very accurate long-range precision weapons, would bring the destructive potential of conventional weapons closer to that of weapons of mass destruction. The success of allied forces in Operation Desert Storm convinced the Soviets that the integration of control, communications, electronic combat, and delivery of conventional fires had been realized for the first time.(3)

Based upon an assessment of the outcomes of what have been defined as RMAs in the past, a revolution in military affairs takes place when one of the participants in a conflict incorporates new technology, organization, and doctrine to the extent that victory is attained in the immediate instance, but more importantly, that any other actors who might wish to deal with that participant or that activity must match, or counter the new combination of technology, organization, and doctrine in order to prevail. The accomplishments of the victor become the necessary foundation for any future military activities in that area of conflict. The emphasis on a specific area of conflict is important because it is possible that technologies or organizations proposed as elements of a current RMA -- such as the so-called sensor-to-shooter connection -- could be countered in a particular conflict by other elements, such as nuclear weapons.

Most true revolutions in military affairs have only been recognized after they have taken place. Except, perhaps, for nuclear weapons, the reality and power of the several revolutions in military affairs which will be briefly discussed below was recognized later, but not during their gestation period. One reason for this is that even in the relatively distant past, warfare itself has been in a constant state of flux. Most of this change was evolutionary, and as such was relatively easily countered. The effects of true revolutions in military affairs went beyond these changes and created a new environment. It should be noted that, from the perspective of the participants in the process, what was seen as evolutionary by the victorious side could have been seen as revolutionary by the losing side -- and by history.


There are several interpretations of the exact number and constituent elements of earlier revolutions in military affairs. One analyst counts as many as ten RMAs since the fourteenth century.(4) The Infantry Revolution and the Artillery Revolution took place during the Hundred Years War. In the first of these, infantry displaced the dominant role of heavy cavalry on the battlefield; in the second, advances in technology led to the development of effective cannons and siege warfare which could quickly degrade the formerly strong defenses of cities.

The outcome of the Battle of Crecy -- which marked the end of cavalry supremacy -- provides an example of the overwhelming dominance that becomes evident from the completion of an RMA. In that battle the French lost 1,542 knights and lords, and suffered over 10,000 casualties among crossbowmen and other support troops. The victorious English, relying on disciplined formations of infantry with unprecedented use of longbowmen, lost two knights, one squire, forty other men-at-arms and archers, and "a few dozen Welsh."(5)

Other revolutions in military affairs took place at sea where the advent of sail powered warships and cannon changed the nature of Naval Warfare. A Fortress Revolution in the sixteenth resulted from the development of fortifications better able to withstand the siege artillery of the day. The development of muskets and tactics to overcome their weaknesses and exploit their power led to another revolution. The large squares of pikemen and archers which had earlier overcome mounted cavalry, now became targets for artillery and musket fire. The Napoleonic Revolution took place when the French were able to standardize and improve their artillery, greatly increase the size of their armies and greatly improve the organization and command of their military formations.

The development of railroads and telegraphs, and the introduction of rifling for muskets and artillery created another Land Warfare Revolution in the 19th century. The American Civil War was fought by exploiting these developments. A second Naval Revolution took place at the end of the century as the rifled cannon, steel ships, and steam power changed the face of warfare at sea. The end of this period saw the introduction of the submarine and torpedo. The culmination of the tactics, organizations and technology of the two 19th century revolutions was reached in the early stages of World War I with static trench warfare on land and submarine warfare at sea.

The changes in technology and organization which had taken place by the end of World War I set the stage for the Revolutions in Mechanization, Aviation and Information which took place in the interwar period. These revolutions led to the great military innovations of World War II: Blitzkrieg by the German Army, carrier aviation by Japan and the United States, amphibious warfare by the United States, and strategic bombing by Great Britain and the United States. In the context of the discussion today, it should be noted that all of the elements of the later revolution -- motor vehicles and tanks, airplanes and radios -- were present in World War I. It was the combination of their technical advancement in the 1920s and 1930s, along with new doctrine and organizations that created revolutions. Finally the Nuclear Revolution took place as a result of the coupling of nuclear weapons with intercontinental bombers and ballistic missiles.

Because a defining characteristic of the last half of the twentieth century has been very rapid, accelerating, unavoidable, technological change, one of the major elements needed for a revolution in military affairs -- technological change -- is now always present. At the same time, rapid societal change and organizational adaptations by military forces are taking place. The presence of these phenomena has led to continuing discussions as to whether there currently exist, or will exist in the near future, the elements needed to create another revolution in military affairs.


A difficulty arises in understanding the current debate over the RMA because some participants use the term as referring to the revolutionary technology itself that is driving change, while others use the term as referring to revolutionary adaptations by military organizations that may be necessary to deal with the changes in technology or the geopolitical environment, and still others use the term to refer to the revolutionary impact of geopolitical or technological change on the outcome of military conflicts -- regardless of the nature of the particular technology or the reaction of the participants to the technological change. Members of each group use the term "revolution," but in reference to different phenomena. The difference in terms of reference leads to different suggested alternatives.

Although a number of permutations exist, for the purposes of this report, we establish three basic conceptions of a revolution in military affairs. The first focuses primarily upon changes in the nation state and the role of an organized military in using force. This approach highlights the political, social, and economic factors at play worldwide which might lead to the need for completely different types of military force and organizations to apply that force in the future. The second conception -- that most commonly assigned the term RMA -- highlights the evolution of weapons, weapons technology, and military organization and doctrine among advanced powers. This approach assumes the continuation of the nation-state as it has existed during the past four hundred years, and focuses on the changes made possible by advancing technology. The third conception is that a true revolution in military affairs is unlikely, but rather there will be continuing evolution in equipment, organizations, and tactics to adjust to changes in technology and the international environment.

The End of the Nation State

The views of Carl H. Builder, a senior analyst at the RAND corporation are typical of those whose vision of an RMA highlights the political, social, and economic factors at play worldwide which are likely to lead to the need for completely different types and organizations for the application of military force in the future.(6) According to Builder, in the future, ethnicity, theology, and special interests will dominate the current role of geography, nationalism, and political ideology in producing conflicts. The characteristics of this emerging world are as follows: The relative power of the nation state is declining, while the powers of business, advocacy, criminal, cultural and ethnic special interest groups are increasing. The ability of nations to control the flow of information, commodities and people is declining, while people are becoming more responsive to global events and opportunities. In addition, military weaponry is diffusing beyond the control of governments. The world created will be one in which conflict will be more frequent and more disaggregated. As a result, for the foreseeable future the most challenging situations facing the American military will be lesser conflicts and crises that demand aerial reconnaissance capabilities, rather than capabilities to fight for air supremacy, for constabulary duty rather than armored combat, and for the evacuation by sea of non-combatants rather than control of the high seas.

To deal with this world, Builder would give more emphasis to support forces rather than combat forces. As a result, support responsibilities would transfer from reserve personnel to active duty troops. The capability to undertake what Builder calls constabulary activities to prevent the use of the air, land, or sea would be greatly enhanced. This would be a change in emphasis from the current "big-war" focus of the military. Finally, according to Builder, the size of forces would shrink, but the diversity of capabilities would increase. The number of personnel in activities such as military transport, intelligence, communications, surveillance, military police, civil engineering, and psychological operations would grow while mainstream forces would be reduced.

Another observer, sharing Builder's basic viewpoint on the decline of the nation state, the nature of the emerging international (dis)order, and the different types of forces likely to be needed to deal with that disorder, claims that there is no compelling need today to purchase any additional bombers, submarines, or tanks except to preserve the industrial base.(7) From his perspective, the principal threats that the U.S. military will have to face in the near future will involve dealing with stateless international terrorist and criminal organizations. Dealing with these "wholly unprincipled," non-traditional opponents will involve different doctrines, weapons, and organizations than those presently subsumed under the technology-driven RMA rubric.

The consequences of accepting this view of the RMA are far-reaching. As Builder notes, the structure of the entire U.S. military would be very different. In essence, the focus of attention would change from relatively small, highly sophisticated, technologically advanced forces and organizations, to larger organizations carrying out operations at a generally lower level of sophistication. The concept of "victory" in conflicts involving these larger organizations would most likely be less clear and take more time than a conflict with a smaller, rapid-tempo, advanced technology force.

A System of Systems

The second -- and largest -- group of analysts dealing with the concept of an RMA focuses on rapidly changing technical capabilities as the major elements of a potential RMA. One of the current difficulties in the debate among members of this group has been the lack of a single definition of the component elements of the RMA and disagreement over the importance of new doctrine and organizations in carrying out the revolution.

Admiral William Owens, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, identifies three overlapping areas.(8) These are 1) intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, 2) command, control, communications and intelligence processing, and 3) precision force. Owens sets out a number of weapons systems already in or entering U.S. military inventories. These appear on the following page. This approach allows Owens to describe the situation in terms of the creation of "a system of systems." By doing so, he is able to draw attention to the interaction of all of these capabilities. Differing from some participants in the debate, Admiral Owens sees this RMA as coming into existence in the near future.

A variant of this basic position is that there will not be a single RMA, but, because of the rapid pace of technological change, there will be a series of almost continuous revolutions.(9)

Not separately discussed by Owens -- but in fact subsumed in the system of systems idea -- is another set of categories that have been proposed as the major contributing elements to an RMA. These categories include information warfare, space, stealth, and advanced computer technologies, including more sophisticated sensors and more realistic modeling and simulation. This group also appears on the following page.


Weapons or Systems In or Entering U.S. Military Service

Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance


Command, Control, Computer Applications, Communications, Intelligence Processing

Precision Force



There are three, interrelated, definitions of information warfare: The first, and clearest, involves either attacking, influencing, or protecting military reconnaissance, surveillance, dedicated communications, command and control, fire control, and intelligence assets. The second definition, involves protecting, influencing, or attacking the basic communications links of a society: voice, video or data transfer, electric power or telephone system control commands, etc. The third involves what formerly were called psychological operations. These involve using television, radio, or print media to attack, influence, or protect the attitudes of soldiers, civilian populations or leaders.


This category focuses on the activities facilitated or made possible by space vehicles: reconnaissance and intelligence gathering, missile defense, navigation, data transmission, communications, and, potentially, force projection.


The main contributions of low observability have been to strike and reconnaissance activities. The experiences of U.S. Air Force F-117s in Operation Desert Storm and similar latitude given the B-2 bomber and Tier III (-) Unmanned Aerial Vehicle are claimed to be major contributors to an RMA. Stealth may also be applicable to ships and cruise missiles.


The continuing, rapid, advances in this category are driving all of the other elements in the RMA. The increases in computer speed and reliability, combined with new or more sensitive types of sensors, has made possible dramatic increases in weapons accuracy and lethality, intelligence gathering and dissemination,and communications. The ability to model or simulate processes, activities, or objects has grown exponentially in the recent past. The desire to take advantage of the increasing sophistication of modeling and simulation activities has been one of the major elements in the plans of the U.S. military services to adapt to the future.

A war involving a participant possessing the elements of this vision of an RMA would take place at a very rapid pace, involve synoptic battlefield awareness, the use of very lethal precision guided weapons, control of the entire electromagnetic spectrum, and be highly integrated among all the components and services. This type of warfare would be most effective against "conventional" but less technologically advanced powers, and less effective against unsophisticated opponents or guerrillas.

Some of the consequences of accepting this technology-based view of the RMA would be the obverse of what Builder proposes. Thus, the focus of the Department of Defense would be on relatively small, highly sophisticated, technologically advanced weapons and organizations. The word relatively is emphasized because the size of the force would be a consequence of the size of the threat. It is possible to conceptualize a significant, large, technologically competitive adversary in 20 years or less that would require a large, technologically competent U.S. force.

Because a central element of this perception of the RMA is computer technology -- which is now highly market-driven -- it is unlikely that the pace of change in this area is going to slow. One consequence of this rapid pace could be much shorter production runs for major weapons systems because the systems are likely to become obsolete much sooner. This rapid pace also gives rise to the present tension between those who wish to retain capabilities for some indefinite future and those who believe that the current budgetary environment forces the relinquishment of existing -- not necessarily obsolete -- capabilities in order to afford future capabilities. Another consequence of the rapid pace of technology is likely to be a continuation of the search for "silver bullets." A notable characteristic of some members of this group is the claim that a single technology -- usually the one they are proposing -- will create an RMA by itself.

Evolution, Not Revolution

The third sizeable group of individuals in the RMA debate believes that the future will not involve major discontinuities but rather a gradual evolution of existing military organizations and equipment. Most proponents of this viewpoint do not deny that rapid technological change is taking place, and that this change will greatly affect the military, but they argue that a true revolution in military affairs is unlikely in the near future. The basis of this position is the belief that existing organizational ethos and responses will be able to deal with the potential changes caused either by new technology or a new geopolitical environment.(11) A variant of this perspective focuses upon the military advantages that accrue to the United States as a result of the adaptability and flexibility of workers who have participated in the American economy. From this perspective, the U.S. social system produces military personnel better able to adapt to new technology and organizations than any potential adversary.

In addition to the broad differences between the three perspectives concerning the constituent elements and timing of the RMA, other interlinked controversies exist.

Among proponents of the System of Systems, disagreements concern which systems to purchase now, which to postpone, the wisdom of incurring current costs as opposed to future costs in light of technological progress, the feasibility of proposed systems, and assessments of the relative gains for the acquisition of specific technologies when compared with other technologies. Similar conflicts exist over the timing and wisdom of training expenditures and reorganizations.

For proponents of the end of the nation state and evolutionary perspectives, the main concern is assessing the relationship between the requirements of their perspectives and the technological changes inherent in the system of systems. This is most forcefully expressed as discerning the relationship between future combat and future technology. These concerns are most prominent among Army and Marine Corps leaders, who focus on the requirements for long-term ground presence -- anywhere in the conflict spectrum -- and how technology will affect these requirements.




Many of the changes highlighted by the debate over the Revolution in Military Affairs may take place in the relatively distant future. The purpose of this section is to examine how the Department of Defense and the individual services are attempting to deal with the RMA and concepts and activities that are beyond the end of the present budget cycle five or six years in the future.

Office of Net Assessment

Since the late 1980s, Andrew Marshall, director of the Office of Net Assessment in the Office of the Secretary of Defense has probably been the main catalyst inside the government examining the potential for a RMA. It is Marshall's hypothesis that today we are in a period equivalent to that immediately after the end of World War I in which the technologies, doctrines and organizations which were to win World War II were just being formed. Marshall's office has taken the lead in financing studies on the history of military innovation in the pre-World War II period -- innovation which led to such things as carrier strike aviation, amphibious warfare, and Blitzkrieg -- and in sponsoring its own wargames and other RMA studies today. In addition, each of the services has participated in RMA round tables and war games financed and run by the Office of Net Assessment. For example, from September 1993 through August 1994, the Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC), conducted a series of roundtable discussions with the individual services on the RMA at the behest of the Office of Net Assessment.(12) The report from the series was delivered in October 1994. Among the topics discussed were the impact of declining defense budgets on the ability of the DoD to exploit the RMA; the importance of advances in information technology for future military planning and warfare, the value of space activities for all of the services, the importance of fostering a culture of innovation in the military, and the costs and benefits of increasing jointness.

Marshall has consistently emphasized the importance of developing appropriate concepts of operations, appropriate organizations, and doctrine and practices to take advantage of emerging technology. An emphasis on very long time frames, the development of appropriate doctrine, organization, and practical operations as opposed to a focus on technology alone, distinguishes Marshall's approach to a future RMA. It was the recognition of the importance of these non-hardware issues that led Marshall to emphasize the term Revolution in Military Affairs when earlier efforts in this area, which used the term Military Technical Revolution (MTR), appeared to be too narrow in focus.(13)

DoD Revolution in Military Affairs Initiative

Approved by Secretary of Defense in September 1993, in January 1994, then Deputy Secretary of Defense William Perry established a group to coordinate a DoD-wide project on the Revolution in Military Affairs.(14) In the first phase of the project, the group was to gather data, define the most plausible defense environment for the years 2010-2015 and identify the most promising technologies and operational concepts. In the second phase, war games would be conducted to examine the impact of the findings of the first phase of the project on military operations; the third phase would consist of a report on the results of the war games and the overall findings of the project.

Five separate task forces were set up to examine specific areas of interest. These were: Combined Arms and Maneuver, led by Army and Marine Corps officials; Deep Strike, led by Air Force and Navy officials; Naval Forward Operations, Crisis Prevention and Response, led by Marine Corps and Navy Officials; Low Intensity Conflict, led by officials from the Office of the Secretary of Defense; and Fostering/Institutionalizing Long Term Innovation, led by officials from the Office of Net Assessment. Based upon the data generated by the first phase of the study, war games were held from June through October 1994 by the Naval Forward Operations, Crisis Prevention and Response, Deep Strike, and Combined Arms and Maneuver task forces.

In its early preparations, the Naval Forward Operations, Crisis Prevention, and Response Task Force set out what it considered the four main threats to be faced along with three projected capabilities to counter these threats. The threats included the ability for an enemy to covertly deploy mines, coordinated air and undersea assaults on ships; wide area sea denial with remote weapons triggered by satellite control; and advanced weapons technology including tactical ballistic missiles, next generation submarines and very low observable cruise missiles. To counter these capabilities, the task force recommended that the Department of Defense concentrate on developing organic satellite capabilities, directed energy for ship defense, and what was called the Great Black Fleet -- the latter consisting of attack and former ballistic missile submarines.

Typical of the questions the Task Force was given to conduct its wargame were:

What aspects of military operations in 2015 will remain relatively constant?

How would U.S. forward presence be affected by an adversary with 3,000 mile range ballistic missiles and 1250 mile range stealth cruise missiles capable of real-time targeting to 9 feet; with seabed brilliant mines(15); and exhibiting a willingness to use weapons of mass destruction?

How would the Marine Corps "Operational Maneuver From the Sea" be conducted in the same environment?

Should a strategic campaign plan include actions to disrupt an opponent's command, control, communications and computer capabilities in advance of hostilities? How important is it to immediately disrupt these capabilities at the outset of hostilities?

The wargame was also given the task of devising operational concepts to exploit such technologies as stealth naval combatants, non-radar tracking, a Universal Global Positioning System and advanced sensor-to-weapon capabilities.(16)

The Deep Strike Task Force was to address emerging weapon technologies and innovative operational and organizational technologies against a battlefield defined in terms of distance and in terms of target importance to the adversary. The task force was also to examine how to deal with the rapidly shortening time available to plan and execute deep strike missions. The Task Force recommended the development of a coherent and transparent theater command, control, communications, and intelligence system; developing a very low observable, long range, unmanned aerial surveillance system; building cheap, easily disseminated ground sensors; and developing methods to deal with deeply buried weapons of mass destruction or mobile target sets. (17)

According to press accounts, the conclusions of the Combined Arms and Maneuver task force concerning future operations and structure resembled the Army's Force XXI (discussed below). The focus of future operations would be on rapid tempo, including logistics activities; battle space awareness leading to coherent actions; battle space command, relying on high level situational awareness and advanced training; and increased lethality, creating massed effects rather than massed units.(18)

The members of the task force focusing on Fostering/Institutionalizing Long Term Innovation were attempting to overcome what were viewed as strong incentives for military officers not to innovate.(19) The subgroups in this task force examined innovation and how it takes place, how to encourage innovation through education, war games and simulations, and industry contacts, and the need to create an OSD Strategic Studies Group to report directly to the Secretary of Defense.

Apparently, there was concern among supporters of the RMA initiative that the process would stop after the final sets of reports were briefed to top DoD officials from April to September 1995, and discussions were held about incorporating RMA issues into the Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration process.(20)

Major Organizational Steps

Steps taken by the Department of Defense to institutionalize the examination of long-term change include:

Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC). To the U.S. military, the establishment of requirements is the first step in the acquisition process. Formerly, each service essentially defined its requirements. Created in the mid-1980s and consisting of the Vice Chiefs of Staff of the military services and the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the JROC has become a focal point both for furthering jointness in the acquisition process, but more importantly, for assessing future requirements. It is from the work of this forum that Admiral William Owens, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has developed his concept of the "system of systems."

National Defense University. An Information Resources Management College has been created at the National Defense University, and the National War College offers courses on the RMA and on Information Warfare. The Information Resources Management College hosted a conference at NDU in May 1995 on the global information explosion and potential consequences for U.S. national security and for the 1995-96 academic year the School of Information Warfare and Strategy is offering a course on the information component of national security.

The U.S. Army and Force XXI

The United States Army has been the most aggressive of the services in examining the requirements for future warfare and carrying out what Army leadership sees as the necessary steps to deal with this future. General Gordon Sullivan, until recently Army Chief of Staff, was one of the main proponents of carefully examining how the Army should move away from a Cold War orientation and doctrine. Referring to many of the observations concerning Third Wave economics, politics, and warfare in the books of Alvin and Heidi Toffler,(21) Sullivan consistently fostered an approach to the future that deliberately avoided prematurely setting fixed doctrine or acquisition goals until a clearer picture of the future Army was available. Sullivan himself has been a prolific contributor to the written debate over the RMA.

A first step in the transition to a new approach was the publication of Army Field Manual 100-5, Operations, in June 1993. This 174 page document incorporated into Army doctrine in some detail the consequences of the end of the Cold War with the lessons learned in Operations Just Cause in Panama, Desert Storm in Kuwait, and the follow-on activities in Iraq. The new Army doctrine emphasized force projection, stronger joint operations with the other U.S. military services and agencies, and combined operations with allies. A new section on Operations Other Than War (OOTW) was added to deal with a number of Army non-combat missions including supporting domestic civil authorities, providing humanitarian assistance, carrying out arms control monitoring, and peacekeeping. The manual also presented an expanded concept of what was now included in the battle space, and more detail on offense and defense at the tactical and operational levels of war.

Force XXI

In March 1994, General Sullivan released a message concerning the development of what he called Force XXI. In the message, Sullivan reviewed the transformation that Army had made in the past four years involving downsizing, new doctrine and training capabilities, the acquisition of "post-industrial" technology, force planning, and the institutionalization of ability to assess change. According to Sullivan, the next step, Force XXI, would encompass the reconceptualization and redesign of the Army at all echelons from combat to the industrial base. Other portions of the message created an Army Digitization Office and assigned responsibilities for implementing various aspects of the Force XXI design.

The redesign was to focus on the interconnectivity of each echelon and between echelons. Force XXI was to be organized around the creation and sharing of information followed by unified action by commanders based on that information. It would use information-based battle command that would give the Army ascendancy and freedom of action in 21st century wars and operations other than war. Gen. Sullivan stated that he could not tell what Force XXI would look like, but he could give some of its characteristics. These were:

Battle Command would be based upon real-time situational awareness.

Hierarchical responsibility, but non-hierarchical organization.

Force design would be less fixed, and more flexible in organization; force design would be based on capabilities rather than countering a specific threat.

Force XXI might have smaller building blocks.

Individual units would be resilient and versatile in purpose.

Force XXI would be more strategically deployable, with a full range of early entry capabilities.

Units would rely on electronic connectivity in place of geographic or physical connectivity.

TRADOC Pamphlet 525-5 Force XXI Operations

In August 1994, the Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) released Pamphlet 525-5, Force XXI Operations, which was subtitled "A concept for the Evolution of Full-Dimensional Operations for the Strategic Army of the Early Twenty-First Century." By its content, the pamphlet could be characterized as encompassing all three of the RMA perspectives set out earlier in this report. In the introduction to the pamphlet, Army Chief of Staff Sullivan placed Pamphlet 525-5 in the line of earlier post-Cold War Army doctrinal changes as preparation to bringing the Army into the 21st century. Elsewhere, Sullivan stated that Pamphlet 525-5 had "established the conceptual foundation for warfighting and for force design." However, in his introduction, the Commanding General of TRADOC indicated that the pamphlet was not doctrine, but "rather a document of ideas...."

The contents of TRADOC Pamphlet 525-5 receive extensive treatment here for two reasons. First, because the ideas which it reflects are driving the future structure of Force XXI. Second, and perhaps more importantly, the operational concepts contained in the pamphlet have, or are becoming, common usage among all of the services. As such, they have to a great extent become standard terms to refer to the structure of the expected future environment for land, sea, and air forces.

The Pamphlet sets out in general terms the overall environment that the Army is expected to operate within in the future and the need for doctrinal changes that would allow the Army to deal with this environment. It then defines The Future Strategic Environment with references to geopolitical change due to variations in the balance of power, rising nationalism, rejection of the West, economic competition, population growth, rising ungovernability, rapid improvements in technology, environmental risks, and the impact of increased information interchange on sovereignty.

Another section describes the characteristics of future armies and includes a threat spectrum model that attempts to expand the simple model that existed during the Cold War. On the low-end of the model, the expansion recognizes what Pamphlet 525-5 called "phenomenological threats," which were non-military threats that might require a military response. These phenomena include environmental disasters, health epidemics, famine, and illegal immigration. A second new threat category is "Nonnation forces." These include subnational threats involving political, racial, religious, cultural and ethnic conflicts challenging the authority of the nation-state; anational threats such as organized crime, piracy, and terrorism which operate outside the authority of the host nation-state; and metanational threats such as religious movements and international criminal movements that operate beyond the nation state. On the high end of the model, beyond recognizable internal-security forces, infantry-based armies, and armor-mechanized based armies, are "complex-adaptive armies." These armies will be smaller and extremely expensive to equip, train and maintain. Military operations by these would involve high-technology equipment, multidimensional maneuver, precision munitions, smart weapons platforms, and enhanced situational awareness. For the Army, the importance of the typology is that it had to be prepared to conduct simultaneous operations against foes of various capacities. Faced with preindustrial nations or non-nation groups, the conflict might involve terrorism, insurgency, or partisan warfare.

The section of TRADOC Pamphlet 525-5 on future battlefields deals with the fact that the Army might face conflicts ranging from general war to Operations Other Than War (OOTW). In this overall environment, conventional combat between complex-adaptive armies would exhibit five new aspects: Battle Command, Extended Battle Space, Simultaneity, Spectrum Supremacy, and Changes in Rules of War.

According to the Pamphlet, Battle Command would be much more difficult because the possible range of scenarios faced by commanders would not be nearly as predictable as during the Cold War. Advances in information management and distribution would provide horizontal integration of battlefield functions and help commanders to tailor and arrange their forces. Traditional hierarchical command structures would be replaced by what are called flatter internetted structures. As a result of the increases in weapons accuracy and lethality, individual units, key elements and leaders would be more widely dispersed, leading to a further continuation of the empty battlefield phenomenon.(22) The Extended Battle Space arises because the same technology leads to an increase in the depth, breadth, and height of the battlefield. Because technology will accelerate the ability to detect and attack, commanders will seek to avoid linear actions, close combat, stable fronts and long operational pauses. Attacks against an enemy's follow-on forces will change from a sequenced approach to one involving simultaneous attack. The concept of Simultaneity takes form because the Revolution in Military Affairs would allow advanced forces to achieve multiple operational objectives nearly simultaneously throughout a theater of operations rather than the familiar form of military operations as a chain of sequentially phased operations. Spectrum Supremacy referred to the fact that information technology advances would insure that future military operations would unfold before a global audience, with significant opportunities to influence national will and popular support. Finally, the authors of the pamphlet stated, recent activities of combatants in using soldiers as hostages, threatening the use of chemical weapons, targeting heads of state, and violating territorial integrity seemed to indicate that observation of the Rules of War was becoming less certain. The chapter concluded by observing that the days of the all-purpose doctrinal threat template and of a single-prescription Army doctrine were gone.

According to the authors, Force XXI must be prepared to face the full spectrum of operational environments described above. The resultant Army would be defined by five characteristics: doctrinal flexibility; strategic mobility; tailorability and modularity; joint, multinational, and interagency connectivity; and versatility in war and Operations Other Than War (OOTW). These characteristics are defined in Appendix 3.

Although almost all of the pamphlet dealt with conceptual matters, the section on Materiel went into some detail on the specific types and characteristics of the equipment and technology that Force XXI would require.

Major Organizational Steps

The Army has taken a number of concrete organizational steps to foster and institutionalize long-term change. These include:

Louisiana Maneuvers Task Force. Named after a set of corps-sized Army exercises conducted in 1941 to determine how U.S. troops might fight opponents with armor and attack aircraft, the modern incarnation of the Louisiana Maneuvers Task Force was created by General Sullivan in 1992 to examine the steps needed to be taken by the Army to make the transition to the post Cold-War era. Initially concentrating on working through Army exercises and advanced simulation technology, in April 1994, the Task Force was also made responsible for integrating and synchronizing the creation of the design of Force XXI. One result of their efforts is the Force XXI Campaign Synchronization Matrix below, taken from the Force XXI Internet Site and provided by the Department of the Army.

The Matrix is significant in the context of this paper not so much for its specific content as for two other reasons. First, because it indicates the complexity of the steps that the Army is taking to implement the general ideas behind Force XXI; and second, it indicates the difficulty in integrating these -- or any other large scale -- changes throughout the Army in a systematic fashion.


Army Digitization Office. This is one of the three "axes" of Force XXI implementation(23). The mission of the Army Digitization Office is to act as the coordinator for Army efforts to apply digital technology to all aspects of Army

activities: combat, combat support, logistics, intelligence, and training. The training element is quite important as Army leadership -- and the Louisiana Maneuvers Task Force -- have fostered the development of disaggregated, digitized simulation and training programs to examine the consequences of implementing Force XXI. In the context of applying information technology, one of the most interesting has been the development of a very sophisticated Internet World Wide Web site for Force XXI. The site makes available to all Army personnel the goals of Force XXI, Force XXI history, texts of doctrinal statements, Force XXI development scheduling and a range of background and supporting material. For fiscal year 1995, Congress authorized $95 million for the Army's Digital Battlefield Program.

Battle Labs. Established in 1992, the 9 Army Battle Labs were designed to form hypotheses about changing methods of operations and then to conduct experiments using soldiers and leaders in realistic, live environments(24).

Army War College. Through the conduct of war games and simulations, the release of a number of publications, and more recently the creation of a course

in Information warfare, the Army War College has provided a forum for discussing the basic ideas and ramifications of the RMA and the development of Force XXI.(25)

Future Technologies Institute. A small, independent, organization set up early in 1995 under the auspices of the Army Research Laboratory in Adelphi, Md., to concentrate upon the technology and doctrine the Army will need 20 to 25 years in the future.(26)

Numerous questions have arisen on a range of practical issues concerning Force XXI and the basic concepts in TRADOC Pamphlet 525-5. Probably the most prominent question is the amount of actual progress the Army has made in implementing Force XXI as compared with what has been proposed and planned. This question was raised most often by members of other services. Another set of questions concerns the cost of digitizing the Army and whether the digitization implementation time table is realistic, even if affordable. Finally, there is a series of contentious doctrinal issues, such as the Early Entry provisions of TRADOC Pamphlet 525-5 discussed in Appendix 3 of this report.

The U.S. Air Force, Spacecast 2020, and Air Force 2025

The two most recent Air Force doctrinal White Papers, Global Reach, Global Power and Global Presence, are not as detailed as Army Field Manual 100-5 or as future oriented as TRADOC Pamphlet 525-5. Each deals with the present and the near future.

On the other hand, Spacecast 2020 was a project undertaken by the Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base to study and report on emerging technologies for space in the year 2020 and beyond. Begun at the behest of Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Merrill McPeak in September 1993, the final report for Spacecast 2020 was completed in June 1994. The 350 participants in the study included faculty and class members at the Air Command and Staff College and the Air War College, scientists at the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, members of the other services, government agencies and laboratories, universities, think tanks, and independent scholars. A majority of the military participants were from the operational line forces of all of the services. The final report consisted of two parts, one classified.

The authors of Spacecast 2020 stated that although they could not know in detail what the future would hold, they could speculate in an informed fashion on the technologies that would be of the most value for space and which were not beyond plausibility.

In the Introduction and Overview, the authors state that the most fundamental characteristic of space from a military perspective is that it possessed unprecedented vantage or view. The Global View given by space is the enabler for the basic Air Force concepts of Global Reach and Global Power. According to the study, implementing the concept of Global View as a reality would depend on three things: creation of an integrated on-demand information system for command users, development of increased and improved sensing capabilities, and availability of relatively inexpensive space lift. Before presenting the papers in the report, the authors of Spacecast 2020 set out four alternative future international environments and the consequences for military and commercial space arising from the characteristics of each. The four possible futures were 1) A Spacefaring World, 2) A Rogue's World, 3) Mad Max Incorporated, and 4) a Space Baron's World.

The seven papers in the Global View section of the report dealt with 1) creation of an on-demand information system (they don't use the term intelligence) for future warfighters, 2) surveillance and reconnaissance in 2020, 3) creation of a Super Global Positioning System, 4) space traffic control, 5) weather information in 2020, 6) deep space based monitors of solar activity, and 7) space monitors to provide warnings of likely disturbances in communications caused by solar activities.

A section of the study on Global Reach addressed the things necessary to reach into space. The four main papers in this section discussed 1) the concept of an aerospace wing which included a squadron of rocket-powered transatmospheric vehicles capable of carrying 5,000 lbs into low-earth orbit, 2) an examination of unconventional methods of getting into space, 3) what would be needed in the way of lift systems and satellite design to allow rapid space force reconstitution in crises, and 4) the idea of using modular units in space to facilitate replacement of failed parts of satellites.

The section on Global Power contained some of the most imaginative papers. Noting that the U.S. and allied forces relied heavily on space-based systems for navigation, weather information, secure communications and surveillance during Operation Desert Storm, the authors of the report indicated that these systems would present attractive targets in the future and that their protection would be critical. The Defensive Counterspace paper examined the idea of developing a series of escort satellites to accompany our high value satellites. The Offensive Counterspace paper described U.S. space based systems that could "influence" enemy satellite capability. The Force Application paper examined concepts to deal with ground and atmospheric targets from space. These included things like hyperkinetic energy, directed energy, and conventional weapons. Other papers in the Global Power section dealt with ways to wage information warfare, the idea of counterforce weather control, and the deflection of potential asteroid collisions.

The Air Force Revolutionary Planning Process and Air Force 2025

At the August 1994 Mission Area Plans Review -- a process for coordinating Air Force budget proposals -- the Chief of Staff of the Air Force asked the Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Operations to develop a way to provide revolutionary thinking for Air Force modernization planning. The result was the creation of a three phase Revolutionary Planning Process intended to generate innovative ideas for Air Force institutions, concepts of operations, and technology development programs. Each phase will conclude with a review and the approval of a panel of four star Air Force generals. The three phases are Generation, Investigation and Integration. The Generation phase will use multiple sources to generate and evaluate ideas that could have a revolutionary impact on the Air Force. The Investigation phase will use analyses, simulations, wargames and exercises to test the merit of the recommended ideas. In the Integration phase the senior officers panel will determine which ideas to fund for basic research, which to fund in Air Force budget planning, or to give to the long term assessment process.

Finally, the planning process is to be institutionalized. Every five years expert panels will be established to review previous ideas and propose new ones. At the present time, the Air Force Studies and Analyses Agency is responsible for coordination of the Revolutionary Planning Process.

The first step in the Generation Phase of the Revolutionary Planning Process was taken in August 1995 by the Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, with the start of project Air Force 2025. Air Force 2025 will be a study of air and space concepts likely to be applicable by the year 2025. The final report of the study is to be delivered to the Air Force Chief of Staff in June 1996, and will consist of a collection of white papers developed from the innovative concepts and technology abstracts obtained from an even wider range of sources than participated in Spacecast 2020. The core research group will consist of volunteer faculty members and students at the Air University and the Air Force Institute of Technology.

At the end of September 1995, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Ronald Fogelman announced the appointment of Maj. General John Gordon as his special assistant for long-range planning. Gen. Gordon's position is slated to be abolished at the end of 18 months. At the time of the drafting of this report, General Gordon's exact responsibilities, and his relations to the Air Force Revolutionary Planning Process and to other Air Force planning, budgeting, and acquisition organizations were not clear.

Major Organizational Steps

Air University. As noted above, the constituent elements of the Air University, the Air Command and Staff College and the Air War College and the Air Force Institute of Technology, have been active participants in Air Force long-range planning exercises and Spacecast 2020.

Air Force Information Warfare Center. The Air Force Information Warfare Center is the executive agent for Air Force Command and Control Warfare activities. Located at Kelly Air Force Base, Texas, the Center was activated in September 1993. In addition to its current activities providing support for deployed Air Force Squadrons, Air Force major commands and the Air Staff in the Pentagon, the Center examines future requirements for advancements in command and control warfare. However, the planning horizon of this organization appears to be fairly short.

The U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and Future Warfare

The most recent U.S. Navy doctrine or policy statements From the Sea and Forward From the Sea deal with the transition from the Cold War open-ocean orientation of the Maritime Strategy to a focus on power projection and littoral warfare. As such, they deal primarily with the present and very near future. Institutionally, the Navy is said to be the most resistant to the type of long range strategic planning needed to deal with a potential RMA. Until very recently, virtually no systematic process existed in the Navy for thinking about major innovations in naval warfare or speeding their introduction into the fleet.

Upon becoming Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Jeremy M. Boorda asked the Chief of Naval Operations Executive Panel to look into the area of future planning. The Executive Panel, composed of current and former U.S. government officials and scientists, convened a Naval Warfare Innovation Task Force from its members. The task force met from June 1994 thorough June 1995. The task force recommended forming small teams to produce ideas for innovations and groundbreaking concepts. One of the first objectives of the teams would be to establish the likely strategic, military, economic and political trends expected by the year 2015. Once this environment was described, the teams could focus on the technologies that could change naval warfare. The task force recommended the extensive use of wargames and modeling and simulation to understand the proposed ideas. In order to surmount limitations in the Navy's current Advanced Concept Technology Demonstration programs, the task force recommended the expenditure of at least $100 million a year for a minimum of three years on ACTD programs to assess the value of innovative concepts.

Responding to these recommendations, Admiral Boorda stated that in September 1995 he was going to revive the Strategic Studies Group based at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. The small group of Navy and Marine Corps officers, headed by retired Admiral James Hogg, became the first of the teams created to implement the recommendations of the Naval Warfare Innovations Task Force.

As a part of its regular responsibilities for examining operational concepts, the Navy Strategy and Policy Division conducted two Strategic Concepts War Games in 1994. The games were intended to study the nature of war in the year 2013 and examine for future studies innovative operational and doctrinal concepts for employing emerging and future technologies. The postulated conflict involved an adversary capable of challenging the United States politically, militarily, and economically within its own region. The participants in the games examined the requirements for carrying out future forward naval presence, presented a range of potential offensive and defensive technologies needed to establish presence and to fight, and proposed new operational concepts. The Navy which emerged from the games was built around the concept of a sea-based arsenal and logistics exploiting the command, control, communications and intelligence technologies of the Reconnaissance Strike Targeting Architecture, with a Marine Corps Air/Ground Task Force playing a central role in force projection.

From the perspective of this part of this report -- the institutionalization of long range planning -- one of the significant things about the Strategic Concepts War Games is that they were undertaken by the Strategy and Concepts Branch as part of its "normal" duties. The quality of the conceptualization and results of the wargames indicate that, at least at the initial stages of the process, the current structure of the Navy allows very sophisticated long-term conceptualization. What is unclear, however, is whether the connections between these ideas and any necessary changes in policies, procurement, operations, and doctrine will be made.

Major Organizational Steps

Fleet Information Warfare Center. The Fleet Information Warfare Center was established in Norfolk, VA in August 1994 -- and formally dedicated in October 1995 -- to apply information-based technologies to warfare (see p. 7). With 500 personnel, the unit combines current Navy activities in the areas of intelligence and command and control. Like the Air Force Information Warfare Center, the planning horizon of this organization appears to be fairly short.

Naval War College. The Naval War College has been very active in conducting wargames and simulations on future warfare both at the behest of the DoD office of Net Assessment and on behalf of the Navy. An elective on the RMA was offered in the Spring of 1995.

Marine Corps Commandant's Warfighting Laboratory. The Marine Corps formally inaugurated a warfighting laboratory at Quantico, Va. October 1, 1995. The lab will undertake activities similar to those of the Army Battle Labs and act as a test bed for integrating new technologies and the development of new operational concepts, tactics, techniques and doctrine.


Although the debate as to whether there truly exists -- or will soon exist -- a Revolution in Military Affairs continues, the U.S. military services are actively discussing the question. Almost all of the participants in the process agree on the elements that have created earlier RMAs. These are new technologies, new organizations and operational concepts to incorporate the technologies, and new doctrine to encompass the technology and organization.(27) Although there are many analogies with the period following World War I, the vigor of the current formal efforts in the United States to examine the state of technology and necessary adaptations to military purposes distinguishes the efforts today. To the greatest extent, the U.S. Army has formally structured itself to examine future conflict and has taken steps to adapt itself to function -- and win -- in that environment. The Air Force, and more recently the Navy, have undertaken more active formal efforts to examine future warfare possibilities. In addition, the very sophisticated wargames initiated under the DoD RMA initiative, and by each of the services, have also served to highlight likely future environments and available technology. These steps, combined with strong and forward looking leadership, would appear to offer the best chance to avoid strategic surprise. In any future, it will be necessary that the U.S. military continues to focus on technological and geopolitical change and then to incorporate significant changes into their strategies and operations -- whether the process is evolutionary or revolutionary.


Congress will strongly influence military change through two constitutionally-basedfunctions: appropriations and oversight. Within this context, the following appear to be the main issues worth consideration.

Setting Overall Priorities

The main practical issue for Congress arising from the RMA debate is how to resolve the tension between current and future expenditures and operations. Funds -- and training time -- devoted to current readiness and force structure will not be available for future acquisition or training. Skimping on current funding to finance future systems or organizational training may risk unpreparedness, poor performance and high casualties in the short or medium term while preparing for war in the long term. The obverse of this situation is that the cost of maintaining the current high levels of operational tempo might not allow the development of needed future systems, concepts, and organizations. Unlike the period after World War I in which the Navy developed new carrier aviation concepts, the services today are extremely active carrying out current operations.

Guiding Choices of Technologies and Organizational Structures

A second issue is how to oversee and direct the choice of one -- or a few -- courses of action today among the dozens of possible permutations of militarily significant change. Minor choices can have significant long-term consequences. In their study of military innovation in peacetime, Williamson Murray and Barry Watts note that at the end of World War I, the Royal Navy was by far the leader in carrier-based aviation. However, although British Navy leaders pursued some innovations in the inter-war period, they concluded, among other things, that only a limited number of aircraft could be launched from a carrier at any one time and that on-deck parking was not an appropriate way to store aircraft between missions. As a result of earlier decisions, at the outset of World War II, British carrier aviation was markedly inferior to that of the United States and Japan.

Without attempting to predict a specific future, Congress could authorize seed money for actions likely to foster long-term thinking, such as for the creation of a DoD Future Concept Center.

Providing Focus

Closely related to the issue of choice or choices is the difficulty in maintaining focus. A characteristic of every current vision of an RMA or potential RMA is the multiplicity of potential uses for military forces. If an organization becomes proficient only through practice, how much time is left to develop core competencies when there are so many apparent missions, such as drug interdiction, disaster relief or peacekeeping? Clearly, the requirements for mastery of the new technical skills are not decreasing today. It is possible that the development of additional specialized technical competencies could be done on a cadre basis, with the expectation that later expansion in numbers could take place. On the other hand, it is equally possible that there is some minimum critical size that must be attained before the effectiveness of an organization can be accurately tested and assessed.


The question of coordination is important to both the Department of Defense and to Congress. The DoD has several existing mechanisms for coordinating potential RMA activities. The Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC), headed by the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is already active at the earliest stage of the acquisition process. In carrying out the transition to Force XXI, the Army has established a colonels/navy captains group to coordinate with the other services. This group could also be used as a formal resource for inter-service learning and concept exchange. The recent emphasis on joint warfare operations also can act as a coordinating element for the execution of RMA changes.

On the other hand, there are at present, literally hundreds of separate organizations or groups dealing with elements of the RMA. For example, a November 1994 Naval Research Advisory Committee report on Modeling and Simulation listed representatives of at least 40 separate U.S. Government offices, groups or programs as having provided briefings to the committee. The same multiplicity of organizations is actively dealing with things related to "information warfare." While some would encourage this proliferation of organizations as a way to avoid foreclosing the investigation of imaginative avenues of research or operations, at present, there appears little specific oversight or coordination of these operations or their results.

From the perspective of annual congressional oversight, there appears little in the concept or execution of an RMA that distinguishes it from ongoing military activities. Whether the future is seen as evolutionary or revolutionary, the same issues of technological change, and appropriate doctrine and organization will have to be faced. This does not mean that there should be less oversight -- only that there do not seem to be any peculiar characteristics of adapting to a potential RMA that would require major changes in the way Congress conducts its oversight activities.

Earlier congressional concerns that led to the passage of the Goldwater-Nichols Act would seem to be even more pertinent in a period of potential or actual RMA. At present, the Army is farthest along in creating institutions to integrate potentially revolutionary technology, assessing the consequences of an RMA, and attempting to incorporate necessary changes into Army doctrine and organization. One issue for Congress is how to assess the slower pace of the other services. On one hand, the overall direction the Army intends to go may be the wrong one. If this is the case, somehow tying the other services to these outcomes could be a mistake. On the other hand, if the Army is correct, the lessons learned could be very helpful to the other services and Congress should encourage high level coordination both to save funds and to build synergies.

Steps to Improve Acquisition

Some commentators have stated that Congress could take specific steps to foster innovation by modifying the Department of Defense acquisition process. Since there already exists a fair amount of latitude either through Advanced Research Projects Agency programs or through the Advanced Concept Technology Demonstrations, what specific, additional, changes would be needed?

Should Criticism Be Institutionalized?

The creation of the functional equivalent of an Office of the Devil's Advocate for RMA issues ought to be given serious attention. As noted above, there is a multiplicity of potential choices involved in various concepts of an RMA. An organization specifically designed to indicate that proposed activities will not work, will cost too much, will take too long to implement, are far beyond near-term technological capabilities, or will result in a much more weakened state if they fail in operation when compared to existing systems -- might serve as a necessary counterbalance to the wishes of service leaders and assessments by advocates of the potential benefits arising from the inevitable advances in technology. It is possible that funding limitations might serve to accomplish the same purpose. At the same time, advocates of some perspectives on an RMA propose the suspension of current weapons system acquisitions either as a consequence of the terms of that perspective on an RMA or to allow the situation to clarify with the passage of time(28). These choices not to spend could have far-reaching consequences.

Assessing the Opportunity Cost of Current Activities

If, as Andrew Marshall of the OSD Office of Net Assessment has asserted, we are in the earliest stages of another RMA, what are the consequences of the Army's commitment today of time and resources to the development of Force XXI? Will the Army's early awareness and adaptations enable a swift and effective response? Or will the opportunity cost of Force XXI be an inability to adjust to the "true" RMA that becomes clearer with the passage of time because of choices in weapons, doctrines and organizations made today? What steps will be needed to assure that the Army will be prepared for 2015 or 2025?

Fostering Intraservice Interchange

Regardless of the actual state of implementation today, one of the "strengths" of the Army's Force XXI Synchronization Matrix is that it shows the connectivity between the general ideas behind force XXI and what is needed to carry them out. While the Air Force and Navy have now undertaken more active long-range planning efforts, there do not now appear to be equivalent efforts to examine what is be necessary to connect the new ideas to concrete Air Force and Navy policies, organizations and equipment. Creating future scenarios is only part of the process; what is also needed is a description of what organizations are needed and what decisions should be made today to create the force needed to function in the future.


Battlefield Dominant Awareness -- An end result from the integration of reconnaissance, surveillance and intelligence systems in which a commander is able to see and understand everything of importance on a battlefield.

Digitization -- The procedures whereby the digital technology is applied to or

incorporated into combat operations, communications, and logistics activities allowing the potential integration of these capabilities into complete, interacting, systems. The key step toward creating the capability for computers to quickly collect and manipulate data.

Dominant Maneuver -- Defined by some as one of the main components of an RMA. Through use of the advanced technology, new operational concepts, and organizational and doctrinal advances made possible by an RMA, the ability to comprehend the entire battle space and move to quickly overcome an opponent.

RSTA Systems-The combination of reconnaissance, surveillance, and targeting acquisition capabilities into one system or network. This could involve the linking of satellites, ground detectors and receivers, manned aircraft, surface ships, unmanned air vehicles, and submarines with common data. Also called "Sensor-to-Shooter" systems.



AIR-HAWK---An air-to-ground version of the Tomahawk Land Attack Missile. See TLAM(BLK III) below. Range more than 350 nm.

AGM-130---An Air-to-Ground missile guided by television or infrared from the launching aircraft. Range more than 15 nm.

ATACMS/BAT---Army Tactical Missile System with Brilliant Anti-Tank sub-munition. ATACMS is an all-weather tactical missile. BAT is a self-guided submunition with acoustic and infrared sensors that autonomously locates and attacks tanks or other armored vehicles. Range more than 15 nm.

ATARS---Advanced Tactical Airborne Reconnaissance System. An airborne reconnaissance pod with a data downlink capability to be carried by tactical aircraft.

AWACS---Airborne Warning and Control System. A long-range moving aircraft detector radar carried by a Boeing 707-type airframe.

CALCM---Conventional Air-Launched Cruise Missile. A converted Air-Launched Cruise Missile guided by an inertial navigation system and the Global Positioning System. Range more than 350 nm.

CGCS---Global Command and Control System. A group of military systems to provide high-level military and civilian leaders information processing and dissemination capabilities to conduct command and control activities.

C4IFTW---Command and Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence For The Warrior. A conceptual framework for providing a battlefield commander the information he wants, when, where and how he wants it, anywhere in the world.

DISN---Defense Information System Network. A digital information system designed to meet all Department of Defense requirements for voice, video, and data communications.

DMS---Defense Message System. A digital system designed to replace two earlier systems for transmitting messages on the Department of Defense Internet.

FDS---Fixed Distribution System. A supplemental detection capability to be added to the SOSUS (SOund SUrveillance System) undersea submarine detection system at choke points.

HASA--High Altitude Signals Intelligence Architecture. A system for structuring the acquisition of signals intelligence from high altitude platforms.

HARM---High Speed Anti-Radiation Missile. An airborne missile designed to attack radar transmitters. Range more than 15 nm.

HAVE NAP---AGM-142 An air-to-ground medium-range precision guided missile carried by B-52 aircraft. Range more than 15 nm.

HELLFIRE II---A short-range laser-guided missile usually carried by Army and Marine Corps helicopters.

ISAR---Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar. A type of radar especially suited for generating high-resolution images of moving targets. Carried on some Navy aircraft for surface search activities.

JAVELIN---A man portable fire-and-forget anti-tank missile.

JSIPS---Joint Service Imagery Processing System. A ground station common to all services for receiving, processing, and disseminating satellite transmissions.

JSTARS---Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar. Similar to AWACS above, but devoted to the detection of moving and certain fixed ground targets. Based upon a Boeing 707-type airframe.

JWICS---Joint Worldwide Intelligence Communications System. A secure high speed, multi-media communications network for the defense intelligence community. Transmits voice, text, imagery, and data.

LINK-16---The NATO version of TADIL-J. See below.

MIIDS---Military Intelligence Integrated Database System. A general military data base containing information on order-of-battle and installations.

MTI---Moving Target Indicator Radar. The capability of a radar to automatically identify moving objects.

REMBAS---Remotely Monitored Battlefield Sensor System. A remote ground system capable of identifying vehicles through acoustic and seismic sensors and reporting over a data link.

RIVET JOINT---An airborne signals intelligence gathering aircraft based upon a Boeing 707-type aircraft.

SABER---Surface Analysis Branch Exploitation and Reporting. A Navy Intelligence Analysis Unit located in Suitland, Md.

SADARM---Sense and Destroy Armor. A submunition capable of detecting and destroying lightly armored vehicles. Can be launched in 155mm artillery rounds or by the multiple launch rocket system.

SBIR---Space-Based InfraRed. A satellite capability to provide improved infrared detection, location and tracking of hot infrared events such as missile launches.

SFW---Sensor Fused Weapon. An anti-tank cluster bomb capable of destroying heavy tanks by attacking their top armor. The SFW dispenser carries 10 submunitions each of which in turn carries four Skeet anti-armor warheads.

SLAM---Stand-Off Land Attack Missile. An air-to-ground missile guided by a video data link, GPS and a terminal imaging infrared seeker.

SONET---Synchronous Optical Network. A high-speed, high-capacity digital optical path for data or voice transmission.

TACSAT---Tactical Communications Satellite. The group of satellites supporting tactical ground forces.

TADIL-J---Tactical Data Information Link-J. A secure anti-jammer transceiver that provides real-time data between sensors, weapons and command and control systems.

TARPS---Tactical Air Reconnaissance Pod System. An airborne photo reconnaissance system without data downlink capability. See ATARS.

THAAD---Theater High Altitude Area Defense. A theater missile defense system designed to intercept short and intermediate-range missiles.

TIER 2+---A high-altitude, long endurance unmanned aerial vehicle for targeting or intelligence. Endurance of more than 30 hours at 12 mile altitudes.

TIER 3---A low observable (stealth) unmanned aerial vehicle. Lesser capabilities compared with Tier 2+ because of stealth tradeoffs.

TLAM(BLK III)---Tomahawk Land Attack Missile.(Block III). A long range, very accurate cruise missile with upgraded navigation and targeting capabilities. Range more than 350 nm.

TRAP---Tactical Receiver Equipment and Related Applications. A system which broadcasts time-sensitive intelligence in pre-formatted messages.


A summarized discussion of the characteristics needed for the U.S. Army to meet the full spectrum of future operational environments as presented in TRADOC Pamphlet 525-5, Force XXI Operations.

Doctrinal Flexibility is designed to allow the future Army to deal with the entire range of potential conflict. Strategic Mobility emphasizes being at the right place at the right time with the right capabilities. This would involve lighter, more lethal forces, improvements in information systems to assist mobility, and a focus on rapid movement of lethal and survivable early entry forces. The concept of tailorability and modularity involves designing forces to use only the numbers absolutely necessary and as modular as logic allows to meet each contingency. According to TRADOC Pamphlet 525-5, the future Army must recognize the need to function in a joint, multinational, and interagency environment -- including nongovernmental organizations and private voluntary organizations -- both in war and operations other than war. Finally, versatility in war and OOTW means that the Army should be able to function in all of the environments it is likely to face in the future including disaster relief and peacekeeping.

Turning to the impact of the new environment on Battle Dynamics, the authors of the Pamphlet observed that changes in the concept of Battle Command would require even greater leadership skills than previously and a shift in focus from the positioning of forces to the art of orchestrating the effects of those forces. The soldiers and leaders in future combat would have much better information and be better trained. The ability to move and process information rapidly will change the way military operations are commanded. With a shared picture of the battle space, the combat and support leaders would have means to visualize how they would execute in harmony. The greatest payoff from this internetted information would come in intelligence, operations and fire support functions. The digitization of each weapons platform and each soldier would enhance situational awareness and build confidence into the maneuver of motorized units and units on foot.

The authors stated that the concept of Battle Space involve the ability to visualize the area of operations and the way forces interact within it, whether in combat or a humanitarian relief mission. The trend in combat was toward fewer soldiers in a given battle space; in Operations Other Than War, the trend was toward increased manpower. At the same time, the greatly increased situational awareness and more capable joint weapons able to reach farther accurately would contribute to the expansion of the battle space.

Depth and Simultaneous Attack would enable a commander directly to influence the enemy throughout the height, width and depth of the battle space to stun and defeat him. A larger and less agile enemy force could be defeated by massing the effects of long-and short-range area and precision fires, integrating information operations designed to blind and demoralize the enemy, concurrent with rapid combined arms maneuvers.

Early Entry operations would occur across the wide range of military operations: peacemaking, humanitarian assistance, civil support, unconventional warfare, forcible entry and even heavy battle. Actions during predeployment would be critical and the mission commander would train through interactive simulation and live exercises. Simulation would permit units at different locations to fight together through a combination of virtual, constructive, and live simulations in a mission planning system. Early entry operations would be conducted by forces that were not necessarily light or heavy but tailored to create the best force to meet the needs of the contingency. According to the pamphlet, the early entry force must be prepared to fight its way in or, soon after arrival, expand its battle space, take advantage of its inherent strengths as well as those of the other services, and win quickly or rapidly establish control.


Bracken, Paul and Alcala, Raoul Henri. Whither the RMA: Two Perspectives on Tomorrow's Army. U.S. Army War College. July 22, 1994. 46 p.

Cooper, Jeffrey R. Another View of the Revolution in Military Affairs. U.S. Army War College. July 15, 1994. 46 p.

Jablonsky, David. The Owl of Minerva Flies at Twilight: Doctrinal Change and Continuity and the Revolution in Military Affairs. U.S. Army War College. May 1994. 83 p.

Krepinevich, Andrew F. Keeping Pace with the Military-Technological Revolution. Issues in Science and Technology. Summer 1994. p. 23-29.

Mazarr, Michael J. The Revolution in Military Affairs: A Framework for Defense Planning. U.S. Army War College. June 10, 1994. 45 p.

Metz, Steven and Kievit, James. Strategy and the Revolution in Military Affairs. U.S. Army War College. June 27, 1995. 38 p.

-----The Revolution in Military Affairs and Conflict Short of War. U.S. Army War College. July 25, 1994. 37 p.

Morton, Oliver. Defence Technology. Survey. The Economist. June 10, 1995.

Owens, William A. High Seas. Annapolis. Naval Institute Press. 1995. 184 p.

Sullivan, Gordon R. and Dubik, James M. War in the Information Age. U.S. Army War College. June 6, 1994. 23 p.

Tilford, Earl H. The Revolution in Military Affairs: Prospects and Cautions. U.S. Army War College. June 23, 1995. 20 p.

Toffler, Alvin and Heidi. War and Anti-War. Boston. Little Brown. 1993. 302 p.

Toffler, Alvin. The Third Wave. New York. Morrow. 1980. 544 p.

U.S. Army. Training and Doctrine Command. Force XXI Operations. TRADOC Pamphlet 525-5. August 1, 1994. 63 p. The 4 page "References" section is an excellent source of information on topics of a more operational character.

U.S. Army War College. Parameters. Summer 1995. Perspectives on the Revolution in Military Affairs. Six Articles by members of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines examining aspects of the RMA. pages 7 through 54.

U.S. Congress. Senate. Committee on Armed Services. Subcommittee on Acquisition and Technology. Revolution in Military Affairs. Hearing. May 5, 1995. Testimony of Daniel Goure, Andrew Krepinevich, Andrew Marshall, and Admiral William Owens.

1. For example, in 1990, the projected Navy budget for 1994 was $120 billion; the actual Navy budget for 1994 was about $70 billion. Comments of Vice Admiral William Earner at Center for Naval Analyses Annual Conference, November 1994.

2. For an excellent discussion of the origins of the terms and the evolving thinking of one of the major contributors to the debate, see, "What is the Revolution in Military Affairs," by Barry Watts of the Northrop-Grumman Analysis Center. The beginning of this section draws heavily upon this study.

3. Ibid. p.3

4. The following section draws upon an article in The National Interest for Fall 1994, Cavalry to Computer: The Pattern of Military Revolutions, by Andrew F. Krepinevich.

5. Ibid.

6. Builder's views appeared in the May 1995 issue of Armed Forces Journal International, pp. 38-39. Alvin and Heidi Toffler have also presented similar arguments in two of their books, The Third Wave and War and Anti-War.

7. See, After the Revolution, by Major Ralph Peters in the Summer 1995 issue of Parameters, the Quarterly Review of the U.S. Army War College.

8. An excellent article on Adm. Owens' views appears in the August 1995 issue of the Marine Corps Gazette, pp. 47-53.

9. See Inside the Navy, August 29, 1994, p.9, interview with Vice Admiral Arthur Cebrowski, Director of Navy Space and Electronic Warfare.

10. See Appendix A for descriptions of Adm. Owens' systems and a Glossary of other RMA terms.

11. For a brief summary of this position, see the remarks of Marine Corps Commandant Carl Mundy and Chief of Naval Operations Jeremy M. Boorda at the Center for Naval Analysis Annual Conference held on November 2 and 3, 1994. The Topic of the Conference was "Technology and Future U.S. Military Power: Reality and Illusion."

12. See, Inside the Navy, September 5, 1994, p.21

13. Watts, Ibid.

14. This section draws heavily upon articles by Beth Jannery on the RMA in the publication Inside the Navy, various issues from June 1994 through May 1995.

15. The U.S. Army defines three classes of precision guided munitions based upon the degree of operational autonomy inherent in the weapon: Guided Munitions require a human operator to select and aim at a target; Smart Munitions require no operator for successful target engagement after launch; and Brilliant Munitions, could be directed to find and destroy a specific target inside of a defined battle area. A brilliant mine could search out and destroy a specific type of ship.

16. Ibid. 30 June 1994, p. 5.

17. Ibid.

18. Ibid. May 1, 1995. p.8.

19. See. Inside the Navy, August 29, 1994. p.11

20. Ibid., May 1, 1995. p.7. The Advanced Concept Technology Program is intended to finance the activities of a military service or DoD unit to create a program that rapidly converts an available technology into an operational capability.

21. Especially The Third Wave and War and Anti-War.

22. As weapons become more lethal and capable of being delivered from great distance, the disadvantages of massing troops and equipment increase greatly. This leads to the need for fewer and fewer personnel in any given battle space, both to accomplish their mission, and to avoid becoming targets.

23. The other two axes are, first, the "joint venture" led by the Commander of the Training and Doctrine Command which involves all Army commands in the design of Force XXI, and the second axis, led by the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army, which involves designing the changes in the "Institutional Army" to support the core competencies that Force XXI will require. The responsibilities of the three axes appear in the Synchronization Matrix.

24. The labs, and their areas of specialization are: Battle Command, Forts Gordon, Ga., Levenworth, Ks., and Huachuca, Az.; Dismounted Battle Space, Ft.Benning, Ga.; Mounted Battle Space, Ft. Knox, Ky.; Depth and Simultaneous Attack, Ft.Sill, Ok.; Combat Service Support, Ft.Lee, Nj.; Battle Lab Integration and Technology Directorate, Ft. Monroe, Va.; and Early Entry, Lethality, and Survivability, Ft. Monroe, Va.

25. The Army War College Strategic Studies Institute has released a series of monographs specifically on the RMA. They are included in the Bibliography at the end of this report. In addition, Army Chief of Staff Sullivan has used Parameters, the Army War College Quarterly Review, to discuss Force XXI and its intellectual underpinnings.

26. Inside the Army, November 6, 1995. p. 16.

27. See, "Revolutions in Military Affairs," by James R. Fitzsimonds and Jan M. Van Tol in Joint Forces Quarterly, Spring 1994. pp.25-26.

28. See, for example, testimony of Andrew F. Krepinevich before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Subcommittee on Acquisition and Technology, May 5, 1995.