“New American Way of War” for the New American Century[1], by Bulent Gokay


“The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist – McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell Douglas, the builder of the F-15.  And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies is called the United States Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.” (Thomas L. Friedman, “A Manifesto for the Fast World”, New York Times, March 28, 1999)


The dramatic and unprecedented events that took place in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union in 1989-91 radically transformed geoeconomic and geopolitical contexts of the world politics.  Countries of Eastern Europe and former Soviet Union have opened for big multinational corporations to flood in, to exploit the natural resources and to invest in their development, thereby transforming the conditions for capital accumulation since 1991.   The collapse of the Soviet control over the natural and human resources of this strategic region has resulted in the emergence of a high-stakes game of money and politics that includes such heavyweight players such as the US, Russian, and Chinese governments, along with the world’s biggest multi-national corporations.

Unimpeded access to affordable energy has always been a paramount strategic interest of the US administration, and so far US is the dominant power in controlling the oil and gas resources of Eurasia.  The leading position of the US stems from its ability to control the sources of and transport routes for crucial energy and other strategic material supplies needed by other leading industrial states.  Because of its positions in the Middle East and its sea and air dominance in the Eastern Mediterranean, the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the Indian Ocean, the US has so far been enjoying a strong military and political command.  For reasons both of world strategy and control over natural resources, the US administration is determined to safeguard this dominant position and permanent role in Eurasia.  The immediate task of the US administration in “volatile Eurasia” has been described as “to ensure that no state or combination of states gains the ability to expel the US or even diminish its decisive role.”[2]  Stated US policy goals regarding energy resources of Eurasia include breaking Russia’s monopoly over oil and gas transport routes, promoting US energy security through diversified supplies, encouraging the construction of multiple pipelines that go through US-controlled lands, and denying other potential powers dangerous leverage over the Central Asian oil and natural gas resources.[3]

The geopolitical context was transformed because with the dismantling of the Soviet Union in 1991, the bipolar structure of global politics disappeared together with the Cold War.  The collapse of the Warsaw Pact has created a zone of conflicting interests stretching from Germany in central Europe to China in East Asia.  In the absence of the other superpower, the US has found itself the master of a new world, in which it enjoys unassailable dominance.  At a second level are major regional powers that are pre-eminent in areas of the world, but none is likely to match the US in the key dimensions of power – military, economic, and technological – that secure global political dominance.  This global dominance does not simply derive from the US’s quantitatively greater military power.  It derives from how this military might is deployed politically to shape the political and economic context of world politics.  The US has the ability to control, through its military power, political leverage and its control over globe’s significant economic resources, the regional peripheries of its major allies.

The leading political power in this competition is the US, whose military spending is greater than all the military spending of the next 13 countries ranked beneath it.  Yet the US share of the world trade and manufacturing is substantially less than it was during the Cold War.  Since the end of the Cold War, the US has been facing a decline in its economic strength relative to the European Union, and East Asian economic group of Japan, China and the Southeast Asian “tigers”.  The major US interventions since 1989 should, therefore, be viewed not only as reactions to “ethnic cleansing” or “international terrorism”, but opportunistic responses to this post-Cold War geopolitical picture.   This is one central reason why military power is now so often the choice of the US administration.[4]  Andre Gunder Frank, in an article written in June 1999, identified this strategic trend in post-Cold War US foreign policy as “Washington sees its military might as a trump card that can be employed to prevail over all its rivals in the coming struggle for resources.”[5]

The attack on America on September 11 provided an added incentive to the US administration to increase its grip over the key regions of the world as well as to remind the world of America’s capacity for political-military control.  During the 1990s, great efforts were spent in imagining new “worst case scenarios” stemmed from new post-Soviet threats.  US security planners have come up with all sorts of “evil” new ways of possible threats, from chemical warfare to biological weapons, and from hijacked vehicles and truck bombs to cyber-terrorism (jamming 911 services, or shutting down electricity or telecommunications, or disrupting air traffic control, etc.).   Particular importance has been given to the notion of “rogue states” that own “Weapons of Mass Destruction” and sponsor terrorism.  To defend the US interests against all these new, and mostly imaginary, threats, new hi-tech combat techniques have been developed and employed during the 1990s.  America’s supremacy in bombs and planes and satellites and tanks have made the prospect of US casualties remote.  Main aspect of this new US military performance is based on the use of high technology either directly to attack an enemy, or to support a proxy, say some Iraqi Kurdish groups in northern Iraq, the KLA in Kosovo, or the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan.

The decline of the US economic power and the relative retreat of its dominant position in the world economic system has promoted a militarist drift in US foreign policy. Believing that it can still reshape the world solely through military means has led to an increasing need for American troops to get involved in remote corners of the globe.

America’s “Footprint” on the World: Military and Intelligence Bases

In the decade since the end of the Cold War and the disintegration of the Soviet bloc, the US has spent over $2 trillion on national security, more than all of its adversaries combined. This is not an anomaly, and today ‘the Pentagon’s budget is equal to the combined military budgets of the next 12 or 15 nations’ and ‘the US accounts for 40-45% of all the defence spending of the world’s 189 states.’[6] Even with this enormous spending, the Joint Chiefs of Staff argues that current military readiness is frayed and that the long-term health of the US army is in jeopardy.[7] In a world constantly at war, only the military can command such a disproportionate share of a nation’s wealth.

The so-called “War on Terror” has allowed for the U.S. military penetration into areas of the world where it previously was absent. During the war in Afghanistan, it was able to establish 13 new military bases in bordering ex-Soviet states, with Uzbekistan as the first Central Asian state to host a permanent US military base in early 2002. Shortly thereafter, other bases appeared in Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan,[8] and the attendant policy and praxis of common military exercises has reached to include distant Kazakstan.”[9] The establishment of these military bases in Central Asia represents a major advance for the US and ready access to the rich oil and gas resources of the Caspian Sea basin. At the same time, these military advances dampen and limit Russian influence in the area. U.S. leaders regard this Transcapian area as a ‘backup’ for Middle East oil supplies, and some insist that the U.S. must “take the lead in pacifying the entire area,” including the possible overthrow of uncooperative governments. All this also has strengthened the position of the US in relation to Russia and Europe, but also against China, a power identified since the end of the Cold War as a likely challenger to the US hegemony in Eurasia.[10]

Today, the US deploys more than half a million soldiers, spies, technicians, and other related staff in these Eurasian countries. In addition, some thirteen naval task forces dominate the oceans and seas of the world, and US intelligence and security services operate in a dense network of bases beyond US territory in an effort to monitor what the people of the world are saying, faxing, or e-mailing to one another.[11] It isn’t easy to assess the exact size of this US “empire of bases”, but partial records from the U.S. State Department show that the number of countries where the U.S. has a presence is at least 192.[12] All of these countries except one, Vatican City, are members of the United Nations, but according to a U.S. Department of Defence publication, Active Duty Military Personnel Strengths by Regional Area and by Country[13], the U.S. has managed to deploy troops in at least 135, or 70 percent of all the UN member countries listed below.

Bosnia and Herzegovina
Costa Rica
Cote D’lvoire
Czech Republic
Dominican Republic
East Timor
El Salvador
New Zealand
North Korea
Saudi Arabia
Serbia and Montenegro
Sierra Leone
South Africa
South Korea
Sri Lanka
Trinidad and Tobago
United Arab Emirates
United Kingdom

Others could be added to this list, including the Indian Ocean territory of Diego Garcia, Gibraltar, and the Atlantic Ocean island of St. Helena, all which are controlled by Great Britain but not considered as independently sovereign. Greenland also is home to U.S. troops, but is technically part of Denmark. Troops in two other regions, Kosovo and Hong Kong, could be included here but the DOD’s “Personnel Strengths” document includes U.S. troops in Kosovo under Serbia and U.S. troops in Hong Kong under China.[14]

Once upon a time, you could trace the spread of imperialism by counting colonies. In the neo-imperial version, colonies are military bases.  Some of these bases are so large that they require as many as nine internal bus routes to transport soldiers and civilian contractors around the base.  Camp Bondsteel, a massive US base located in the hills just east of the southern Kosovo town of Urosevac, is the biggest “from scratch” foreign US military base since the Vietnam War. It is known as the “grand dame” in a network of US bases running on both sides of the border between Kosovo and Macedonia, and is so large that the US General Accounting Office (GAO) likens it to “a small town” of some 360,000 square meters.[15]  After the NATO’s bombing campaign in March 1999, the US spent 36,6 million dollars to build Camp Bondsteel, with the work completed by the Brown and Root Division of Halliburton, the world’s biggest oil services corporation that was run by Dick Cheney before he became the U.S. Vice-President.[16]

Following the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, plans were drawn to establish even bigger and more long-lasting military bases. By late 2003, recreational areas throughout Baghdad had been taken over by American forces. Baghdad’s former weekend attractions — the Martyr’s Monument, the Games City theme park, the Wedding Island marriage venue and the Saddamiyat al-Tharthar were declared military zones. Only the zoo remained open to the public. By late January 2004, engineers from the 1st Armored Division were midway through an $800 million project to build half a dozen camps for the incoming 1st Cavalry Division – the new outposts, dubbed Enduring Camps, will improve living quarters for soldiers and allow the military to return key infrastructure sites within the Iraqi capital to the emerging government, military leaders say. “The plan is for the camps to last five to 10 years,” said Col. Lou Marich, Commander of the 1st AD engineers. “They will last longer if we take care of them.” The largest of the new camps, Camp Victory North, will be twice the size of Camp Bondsteel. Camp Victory North lies northeast of Baghdad International Airport, known to troops as BIAP.

While Camp Victory North is the division’s largest encampment, work continues on several other camps. North of the city, about 5,000 troops will live in Taji, a former Iraqi base. To the east, camps Dragoon and War Eagle combined will have room for about 2,200. In Al-Rastimiya, the former Iraqi officer’s war college, sits on what troops now call Camp Muleskinner. About 2,100 U.S. troops will share the base with the new Iraqi army. At Camp Falcon, on the southern outskirts of Bagdad, a base camp for 5,000 is planned. Soldiers from the Fort Hood Texas-based 1st Cavalry Division begin arriving in late January 2004 and continued to flow in through March. The transfer of authority between 1st AD and 1st Cavalry took place in mid-April 2004. The incoming soldiers will occupy the new camps.[17]

The establishment of new military bases, however, “may in the long run be more critical to U.S. war planners and the enemies of the U.S. than the wars themselves. The attack on September 11 was not directly tied to the Gulf War – Osama bin Laden had backed the Saudi fundamentalist dictatorship against the Iraqi secular dictatorship. Rather, the attacks had their roots in the U.S. decision to leave behind bases in Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states.”[18] In fact, the widespread presence of U.S. military was a major cause of terrorism against the United States in the first place.[19]  In 1997, the Defence Science Board – a panel of experts that advises the Secretary of Defence – noted the link between an activist American foreign policy and terrorism against the United States: “As part of its global position, the United States is called upon frequently to respond to international causes and deploy forces around the world. America’s position in the world invites attack simply because of its presence. Further, an examination of historical data show a strong correlation between U.S. involvements in international situations and an increase in terrorist attacks against the United States”.[20]

“Revolution in Military Affairs”

It isn’t easy being a global military power: it takes a lot of effort – both money and troops – spread all over the globe.  But it became possible for the U.S. as a consequence of the reorganization of the American military and security apparatuses during the 1990s under the so-called “Revolution in Military Affairs” (RMA).[21]  The concept of an RMA itself, its constituent elements, and the timing of its occurrence, however, remain subjects of continuing debate.[22] But it is clear that a sea change was occurring in military planning that was attempting to ‘learn’ from its collective experiences in unconventional and modern warfare.

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.[23] 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, a battle of the Hundred Years War — which marked the end of cavalry supremacy — provides an example of the overwhelming dominance that became evident from the completion of an RMA.[24] 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 long-bowmen, lost two knights, one squire, forty other men-at-arms and archers, and “a few dozen Welsh.”[25]

In 1991, in the wake of the First Gulf War, a debate broke out asking whether the world had witnessed a RMA.[26] Although some commentators had identified as many as ten previous RMAs, the term used in this debate evolved from an form, “military technical revolution”, that was used by Soviet military theorists. In the early 1970s, Soviet defense experts had begun exploraing of the idea, and 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 the First World War, and the second driven by the development of nuclear weapons, missiles and computers after the Second World War. The next “military-technical revolution”, the Soviets thought, would involve advances in microelectronics, sensors, and precision-guidance, automated control systems, and directed energy.

Other revolutions in military affairs took place at sea where the advent of sail powered warships and cannon transformed the nature of Naval Warfare. A Fortress Revolution in the sixteenth century 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 that 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 increased the size of their armies and greatly advanced the organization and command of their military formations; and as a result of the Napoleonic Revolution total war was become possible on a scale such as even Clausewitz had never envisaged.[27]

The expansion of railroads and fast telegraph communication, 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 taking advantage of these developments. A second Naval Revolution occurred 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 witnessed the introduction of the submarine and torpedo. The culmination of the tactics, organizations and technology of the two 19th-century revolutions was achieved in the early stages of the First World War with static trench warfare on land and submarine warfare at sea.

The new technology and improved organization which had taken place by the end of the First World War set the stage for the Revolutions in Mechanization, Aviation and Information which took place in the interwar period. Some commentators claimed that the tank revolutionized warfare.[28] These revolutions led to the great military innovations of the First World War: Blitzkrieg by the German Army[29], 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 recent debate on the RMA, it should be noted that all of the elements of the later revolution — motor vehicles and tanks, airplanes and radios — were already present in the First World War. It was rather the combination of their technical development in the 1920s and 1930s, along with new doctrine and improved organizations that created later revolutions. Finally, the Nuclear Revolution took place as a result of the coupling of nuclear weapons with intercontinental bombers and ballistic missiles.

A defining characteristic of the last half of the twentieth century has been very swift, accelerating, inescapable, technological change; and one of the major elements needed for a revolution in military affairs is therefore technological change. At the same time, rapid societal change and organizational adaptations by military forces are also taking place. Some commentators 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.

Marshal Nikolai Ogarkov, then chief of the Soviet general staff, argued in the early 1980s that a Military Technical Revolution (MTR) was underway.[30] He expressed a 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 swift success of US-led 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.[31] One of the leading military theorists of the Soviet Union and Russian Federation, Makhmut Akhmetovich Gareev, analysed the trends affecting changes in military art by considering certain political-military assumptions about the course of world affairs during the post-Cold War era. He stressed the low probability of a “conventional world war,” but thought that states would instead rely on two means to achieve their objectives: subversive actions against other states, and gradually accomplishing limited goals through local wars, both of which offered the potential to evolve into large-scale armed confrontations.[32] This Soviet analysis of an MTR quickly gained the attention of the US Department of Defence, and “the often dazzling successes of integrated battlefield technologies (i.e., electronic combat, communications, imaging, precision strike weapons, and stealth technology) employed during the First Gulf War led many to conclude that an RMA was indeed taking place.”[33]

During these 1990 debates, three basic concepts of the current RMA were identified. The first focused primarily on changes in the organisation of the nation state and its need for completely different types of military force and organizations to apply force in the future. The second highlighted the evolution of weapons, military organizations and operational concepts that made these changes possible through advancing technology. The third held that a true revolution in military affairs was unlikely, but in its place a continuing evolution was occurring in equipment, organizations, and tactics in an effort to adjust to changes in technology and the international political and economic environment.[34]

These debates illuminated definitions of an RMA that emphasised the way that improvements in computer technology, precision targeting and smart weapons created a realistic possibility for a new form of network-centric warfare.  As a result, technological developments will increasingly promote a higher number of specialists, scientists, computer experts, etc. in the U.S. Army.[35] The three major components of a RMA that were considered – intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; command, control, communications and intelligence processing; and precision force – would imply that in the future there would be not a single RMA, but a series of almost continuous revolutions based on the rapid pace of technological change.

Information Warfare emerged as one of an RMA’s central features following the debate, and has now achieved a prominent place in the works of military systemologists. This involves first, either attacking, influencing, or protecting military reconnaissance, surveillance, dedicated communications, command and control, fire control, and intelligence assets; second, protecting, influencing, or attacking the basic communications links of a society: voice, video or data transfer, electric power or telephone system control commands, etc; and finally, what formerly were called psychological operations. All these involve using television, radio, or print media to attack, influence, or protect the attitudes of soldiers, civilian populations or leaders. Some commentators have suggested that the Information Warfare of the RMA is changing the very nature of the threat, as well as threat deterrence. Even though nuclear weapons still remain a reliable deterrent, nuclear confrontation is losing its momentum and information superiority is becoming the goal. “Smart weapons, with their precision strikes on strategic targets, now make non-nuclear deterrence realistic. It is no longer necessary to cross the enemy’s borders, because it is possible to destroy the enemy without occupying his territory – the enemy can be destroyed without using nuclear weapons, and his communication and transportation structures can be incapacitated so he cannot retaliate.”[36]

The continuing, rapid, advances in Advanced Computer Technologies are driving all of the above elements in the RMA. The improvements 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 years. The desire to take advantage of the increasing sophistication of modelling and simulation activities has been one of the major aspects in the plans of the U.S. military services to adapt to the future.[37]

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 extremely 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 obviously less effective against unsophisticated opponents or guerrillas.

Some of the consequences of accepting this technology-based view of the RMA would be a new focus on relatively small, highly sophisticated, technologically advanced weapons and organizations. The word relatively is emphasized because the size of the force would be generally considered as a consequence of the size of the threat. Information and various strike technologies will provide much greater combat effectiveness to smaller systems and units. This capability, and the need to reduce unit sizes, will result in smaller, lighter, and more mobile forces—with more flexible organizational requirements.

In the foothills of the Colorado Rockies earlier this year [2001], a group of Air Force officers gathered at a highly secure military base for five days of unprecedented war games. The scenario was familiar enough — the growing tension between the United States and a fictitious country that resembled China. But the battlefield was out of this world: a simulated war raging for the first time in space.  … The year was 2017, and space was bristling with futuristic weapons. During the exercise at Schriever Air Force Base, the United States and its adversary deployed microsatellites — small, highly maneuverable spacecraft that shadowed the other side’s satellites, then neutralized them by either blocking their view, jamming their signals or melting their circuitry with lasers. Also prowling the extraterrestrial battlefield were infrared early-warning satellites and space-based radar, offering tempting targets to ground stations and aircraft that harassed them with lasers and jamming signals.[38]

The full consequence of many of the changes highlighted by the debate over the Revolution in Military Affairs may take place in the relatively distant future.  However, the United States Army is making the most of this technology explosion, energetically exploiting it, and experimenting with it in its extensive global campaigns since the end of the Cold War.  The real results of this effort will change the way the United States conducts military operations forever and will set the tone for many of the world’s armies.  It already has in many instances.[39] Some major organisational steps taken by the US 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 many of the new concepts currently in use by the US military chiefs have been developed.


National Defense University and colleges. An Information Resources Management College has been created at the National Defence University, which together with various war colleges offers courses on the RMA and on aspects of 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. All these units are actively organising seminars, short courses and workshops on various components of the RMA.

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, which resulted in an extensive analysis of the new aspects of the warfare. The Matrix is significant, first, because it indicates the complexity of the steps that the Army is taking to put into practice the general ideas behind the RMA; and second, it indicates the difficulty in integrating various new concepts and required changes throughout the Army in a systematic fashion.

Army Digitization Office. This is one of the three axes of Force XI implementation. 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 factor 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.[40]

Battle Labs. Established in 1992, the 9 Army Battle Labs were designed to form hypotheses about new technology and changing methods of operations, and then to conduct experiments using soldiers and leaders in realistic, live environments. Battle Labs are used to identify, develop, and experiment with new war fighting concepts and capabilities offered by emerging technologies. The Battle Lab concept is intended to provide hands-on user involvement during the early part of the requirements and acquisition process. This is expected to produce better requirements definitions during the research and advanced technology stages of programs, when decisions that determine most of the system’s life cycle costs are made.[41]

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.[42]

Among the most recent key Air Force doctrinal White Papers are Global Reach, Global Power and Global Presence, each deals with aspects of the RMA in the present and the near future.[43] Another project, Spacecast 2020, has begun at the Air University at Maxwell Air Force Base to study and report on emerging technologies for space in the year 2020 and beyond. It was a Chief of Staff of the Air Force (CSAF)-directed space study, challenged to identify and conceptually develop high-leverage space technologies and systems that will best support the war fighter in the twenty- first century. The study made significant progress regarding future space capabilities and the possible benefits for the US Army. 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.[44]

The date is 3 December 2020.  It had been five minutes since the tingling sensation in her arm had summoned her from her office.  Now she was standing alone in the darkened battle-assessment room wondering how she would do in her first actual conflict as commander in chief (CINC). “Computer on, terrestrial view,” she snapped. Silently, a huge, three-dimensional globe floated in front of her. “Target: Western Pacific. Display friendly and enemy orders of battle, unit status, and activity level,” was the next command. The globe turned into a flat battle map showing corps, division, and battalion dispositions. Lifelike images appeared before her, marking the aircraft bases with smaller figures showing airborne formations. Beside each symbol were the unit’s designator, its manning level, and the plain-text interpretation of its current activity. The friendly forces were shown in blue, and the enemy in red. All the friendlies were in the midst of a recall. The map showed two squadrons of air-domination drones, a wing of troop-support drones, and an airborne command module (ACM) heading toward the formations of enemy forces. Shaded kill zones encircled each formation. Enemy forces floated before her, also displaying textual information. The image displayed enemy units on the move from their garrisons. Speed, strength, and combat radii were marked for each unit. Some enemy units showed-still in garrison-but with engines running, discovered by sensitive seismic, tactile, and fume-smelling sensors. …

Aboard the ACM, the aerospace operations director observed the same battle map the CINC had just switched off. By touching the flat screen in front of him, he sent target formations to his dozen controllers. Each controller wore a helmet and face screen that “virtually” put him or her just above the drone flight being manoeuvred. The sight, feel, and touch of the terrain profile-including trees, buildings, clouds, and rain-were all there as each controller pressed to attack the approaching foe.

On the ground, a platoon sergeant nervously watched his face-shield visual display. From his position, he could see in three-dimensional color the hill in front of him and the enemy infantry approaching from the opposite side. If the agency had had enough time before the conflict, it could have loaded DNA data on the opposing commander into the data fusion control bank (DFCB) so he could positively identify him, but such was the fog of war.[45]


Similar to the fictionalised version above, 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.[46]

Over 500,000 photographs were processed during Operation Desert Storm. Over its 14-year lifetime, the Pioneer Venus orbiter sent back 10 terabits (10 trillion bits) of data. Had it performed as designed, the Hubble Space Telescope was expected to produce a continuous data flow of 86 billion bits a day or more than 30 terabits a year. By the year 2000, satellites will be sending 8 terabits of raw data to earth each day. (Emphasis in original)[47]

To the chiefs of the US Army, the experiences of the 1990s — from the Gulf War to Somalia to Kosovo — provided ample evidence of the need for lighter, faster forces. Lessons learned in Somalia and Kosovo the price of building its doctrine around the 70-ton M1A1 Abrams tank, which cannot be airlifted into battle in large numbers using the rough, smaller airfields of the developing world. No ground war ever developed in Kosovo, but had the U.S. decided to invade, the Army’s tanks would have taken months to show up.[48]



Although the debate as to whether there truly exists — or will exist in near future — a Revolution in Military Affairs continues, the U.S. military services are actively discussing the question and implementing various components of it.  Today, no other nation even approximates America’s singular combination of technological prowess, economic vitality, military strength, internal stability … America’s substantial security margin is reinforced by the strength of its allies. The NATO and OECD countries now constitute three-quarters of the world economy, these states plus other long-time American allies … account for more than 70 percent of world military spending … thus, not only has the general diffusion of military power slowed dramatically, it has come substantially under the control of the United States and its allies.[49]

Almost all of the participants in the process agree on the elements that 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. There are many analogies with the period following the First World War but 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 war games initiated under the DoD-RMA initiative and by each of the services have also served to highlight likely future environments and available technology.  The overall trend in combat was toward fewer soldiers in a given battle space; 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.

As in the time of the telegraph, railroad, and rifled guns, we face a situation where most of the technologies that matter are available in the civil sector.  It is for this and related reasons that the really interesting issues over the next few decades are not so much about technology as about operational and organizational lag.  We are probably in the early stages of a true Revolution in Military Affairs. Even though there is a dramatic increase in the use of precision munitions, exponential increases in information volume and variety, and a corresponding decrease in sensor-to-shooter decision cycles, which are among the technical symptoms of the state of the Revolution in Military Affairs, there have been not enough fundamental changes in organizations and operational concepts.[50]  However, there have been some signs of possibly significant organizational change, such as the recent stand-up by the U.S. Air Force of Unmanned Aerial Vehicle and Information Warfare squadrons.  It is also interesting to see an apparent trend toward small “special operations” units now fielded in the United States and the units in the U.S. Marine Corps.

All this is designed to reduce domestic pressures on US political leaders conducting global military operations by reducing US casualties. Yet the significant changes associated with the RMA do not automatically provide a safer world for the US. “The tactical transformations accompanying the RMA create such a severe conventional military disadvantage for US adversaries that the response to the asymmetric military situation in which they find themselves will almost certainly involve the increased use of terrorism and other direct threats to US political and civilian targets. The less vulnerable US military forces are the more US adversaries are likely to increase attacks against US political targets, and even US civilians…”[51]

Many Americans continue to believe that their role in the world is a virtuous one and that their government invariably acts for the good of others as well as themselves.  Even when their country’s actions lead to disaster, they assume that the motives behind them were honorouble, in spite of a mountain of evidence that virtue and honour are political slogans rather than political principles.  It would appear that the mind control that US intelligence agencies have so freely exercised in other places of the world has had its greatest success in those agencies’ home country and in their own artificially constructed world.  Have they been brainwashed into believing their own propaganda? Or is this another form of propaganda? Is this ‘managing reality’, with the same old propaganda machinery, under the new Obama style?

An earlier version of this text has been published in The New American Imperialism, by Vassilis K. Fouskas and Bulent Gokay (Praeger, 2005).

[1] The phrase, “the American Way of War”, was popularized by the military historian Russell Weigley in his 1973 book, The American Way of War.  In this book, Weigley describes how the US pursued a wartime strategy of attrition and annihilation since the 1880s. (Indiana University Press paperback edition, 1977)

[2] Z. Brzezinski, “A Geostrategy for Asia”, Foreign Affairs, September/ October 1997.

[3] US Energy Secretary Bill Richardson telling Stephen Kinzer, “On Piping Out Caspian Oil, U.S. Insists the Cheaper, Shorter Way Isn’t Better”, The New York Times, 8 November 1998.

[4] Since the collapse of the communist regimes in Eastern Europe, US has been involved in virtually non-stop military operations:  an invasion of Panama in 1989, First Gulf War in 1990-91, Somalia in 1992-93, Bosnia in 1995, Second Gulf War (the air war) in 1998-99, bombing campaign in Kosovo and Yugoslavia in 1999, and finally Afghanistan in 2001.

[5] A. G. Frank, “NATO, Caucasus/ Central Asia Oil”, Fourth International World Socialist Web Site, 16 June 1999, p.1.

[8] Martin McCauley, Afghanistan and Central Asia, London: Longman, 2002, p.153.

[9] Andre Gunder Frank comments in December 2000, in http://rrojasdatabank.info/agfrank/doublespeak.html

[10] http://www.wsws.org/articles/2002/jan2002/base-j11.shtml; http://www.cato.org/dailys/7-24-98.html; http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=44&ItemID=4621; “the big concern here obviously would be China. China is going to dominate Asia because it’s going to have the biggest domestic market there, just like we dominate the Western hemisphere.” (Thomas Barnett, Professor and Senior Strategic Researcher, United States Naval War College, February 11, 2003, http://www.cfr.org/publication.php?id=5569.)

[11] Michael Eisenstadt, “U.S. MILITARY CAPABILITIES IN THE POST COLD-WAR ERA: IMPLICATIONS FOR MIDDLE EAST ALLIES”, Middle East Review of International Affairs, Volume 2, No. 4 – November 1998, http://meria.idc.ac.il/journal/1998/issue4/jv2n4a5.html.

[16] M. Cohn, “Pacification for a Pipeline”, Jurist, 27 April 2001.

[18] U.S. Department of State, Patterns of Global Terrorism 2001 (Washington, D.C.: Department of State, 2002), pp. 171, 176.

[19] Zoltan Grossman, “New U.S. Military Bases: Side Effects or Causes of War?”, Bu-lat-lat, Volume 2, Number 5, March 10 – 16,  2002, http://www.bulatlat.com/news/2-5/2-4-reader-grossman.html

[20] Defense Science Board, The Defense Science Board 1997 Summer StudyTask Force on DoD Response to

Transnational Threats (Washington: U.S. Department of Defense, October 1997), vol. 1, Final Report, p.


[21] “A military revolution occurs when the application of new technologies into a significant number of military systems combines with innovative operational concepts and organizational adaptation in a way that fundamentally alters the character and conduct of conflict.  It does so by producing a dramatic increase ‘often an order of magnitude or greater‘ in the combat potential and military effectiveness of armed forces.” Metz, Steven and Kievit, James, Strategy and the Revolution in Military Affairs: From Theoryto Policy, 27 June 27, 1995, Strategic Studies Institute of the US Army War College, p. 3.

[22] Ahmed S. Hasim, “The Revolution in Military Affairs Outside the West”, Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 51, No. 2 (Winter 1998), http://www.comw.org/rma/fulltext/hasim.html

[26] Metz, Steven and Kievit, James, Strategy and the Revolution in Military Affairs: From Theory

to Policy, 27 June 27, 1995, Strategic Studies Institute of the US Army War College, p. 3.

[27] Peter Paret, “Napoleon and the Revolution in War,” Makers of Modern Strategy ed. Peter Paret (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1986), p. 124.

[28] Karl Lautenschläger, Senior Staff, Los Alamos National Laboratory, “The Tank as RMA:
A Case Study in Real World Technical Revolution”, September , 2001, http://web.mit.edu/ssp/fall01/lautenschlager.htm

[29] Blitzkrieg means “lightening war”. Blitzkrieg was a German tactic used in World War Two based on speed and surprise and needed a military force to be based around light tank units supported by planes and infantry (foot soldiers). The tactic was developed in Germany by an army officer called Hans Guderian. He had written a military pamphlet called “Achtung Panzer” which got into the hands of Hitler. As a tactic it was used to devastating effect in the first years of World War Two and resulted in the British and French armies being pushed back in just a few weeks to the beaches of Dunkirk and the Russian army being devastated in the attack on Russia in June 1941. (http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/blitzkrieg.htm)

[32] GEN Makhmut Akhmetovich Gareev, Esli zavtra voyna (Moscow: Valdar, 1994), pp. 112 and 113.  It is interesting to note that, in June 1997, the Russian Army proclaimed its own “RMA-based military reform” which failed due to lack of funding.

[34] Congressional Research Service [CRS] Reports Military and National Security, http://www.fas.org/man/crs/N_2_

[35] Edward N. Luttwak, Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace (London: The Belknap Press, 1987), pp. 77-80.

[36] S.A. Modestov and N. Turko, “Geopoliticheskie I geostrategicheskie aspekty obespecheniya natsional’noy bezopasnosti,” in Protecting National Security,” Bezopasnost’, No. 9 (1995), p. 23.

[38] Jonathan Broder, MSNBC, April 27, 2001, http://www.msnbc.com/news/546843.asp?cp1=1

[45] “Leveraging the Infosphere, Surveillance and Reconnaissance in 2020”, Airpower JournalSummer 1995, http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/airchronicles/apj/spacast1.html

[47] Don Herskovitz, “On the Road from Data to Intelligence,” Journal of Electronic Defense, October 1993, 95-96.

[48] Michael Moran, MSNBC, April 12, 2001, http://www.msnbc.com/news/550115.asp

[49] Carl Conetta and Charles Knight, “U.S. Defense Posture in a Global Context: a Framework for Evaluating the Quadrennial Defense Review,” Background on the QDR, (May 1997) p. 2.

[50] Max Boot, “The New American Way of War,” Foreign Affairs (82,4), July/August 2003.

[51] L. George, “On Pharmacotic War”, in B. Gokay and R.B.J. Walker (eds.), 11 September 2001. War, Terror and Judgement, London: Frank Cass, 2003, p. 164.

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