Strategy for Chaos: Revolutions in Military Affairs and the Evidence of History

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6-3-8.jpg

Strategy for Chaos: Revolutions in Military Affairs and the Evidence of History

9.95

Author(s): David Goyne
No pages: 2
Year: 2003
Article ID: 6-3-8
Keywords: art of war, book review, network centric warfare
Format: Electronic (PDF)

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Abstract: Almost fifty years ago, Cyril Fall, an eminent military historian now much neglected, provided some sage and still timely advice in his review of the preceding century of military developments, when he wrote: 'Observers constantly describe the warfare of their own age as marking a revolutionary breach in the normal progress of methods of warfare. Their selection of their own age ought to put readers and listeners on their guard. Careful examination shows that, historically speaking, the transformations of war are not commonly violent. It is a fallacy, due to ignorance of technical and tactical military history, to suppose that methods of warfare have not made continuous and, on the whole, fairly even progress.' Colin S. Gray, the Professor of International Politics and Strategic Studies at the University of Reading in the United Kingdom, uses his latest book, Strategy for Chaos: Revolutions in Military Affairs and the Evidence of History, to examine the concept that successive 'Revolutions in Military Affairs' are the engine for the development of the theory and practice of war. He explicitly acknowledges Falls's writings as a powerful critique of this view. Gray is concerned to put to the test the existence of Revolutions in Military Affairs using the lens of historical evidence. He considers this search pertinent in light of the view that prevailed throughout the 1990s and into the present time that the world was undergoing a 'Revolution in Military Affairs' (RMA) and that this 'Revolution' would change utterly the way war is waged. This is a critically important issue for anyone interested in military affairs, whether as a practitioner, critic or observer. If it is true that an RMA has occurred or is occurring, then past experience loses its value as a tool to teach, illuminate and guide current practice. A new set of rules will be needed to direct future actions in these new circumstances. Experts in the past practice will have no monopoly on drafting these rules; indeed such experts may be so captured by and beholden to the outdated paradigm as to be unfitted to explain the future. If the prevailing circumstances are truly those of revolutionary times, then the insights and prognostications of a gifted amateur maybe as valid as those of the most highly trained and educated professional, if not more so.