Military technology often seems to be the dark side of innovation, Mr. Hyde roaming the rear alleys of civilization for opportunities to figure his worst on society. But countless inventors and innovators, from chemists to Robert Boyle, thought of weapons positively. They believed that they may banish the scourge of war, or a minimum of restraining its excesses if they might only invent the last word weapon, the instrument so horrible that nobody would dare use it.
More than six decades into the nuclear age, there’s growing evidence that the thermonuclear bomb may encourage being the long-sought war-stopper. But should that be the case, it’ll run counter to the sorry record of prior human civilization, when each new instrument of war contributed to the carnage without altering the attribute Thucydides believed to be at the guts of war. Technology in essence may be a process of manipulating the fabric world for human purposes. Whether it does good or ill depends not on the technology itself but on what humans value more highly to do with it.
Military machines and instruments can nonetheless be understood using the identical concepts and categories that students apply to technology generally. Below I suggest four propositions about military technology, but the principles at work can be applied as easily in any realm of technological endeavor. they generally have a special relevance or poignancy when applied to war, but they are saying more about the character of technology than they are doing about the character of war.
In addition to their heuristic value, these concepts even have pedagogical utility. they will help demystify the arcane and infrequently secretive world of military research and development and also clarify the impact on society of all complex technological systems. they provide students a collection of conceptual tools for considering a change in warfare over time and therefore the role that technological innovation has played therein process.
Technology Shapes Warfare
Technology shapes warfare, not war. War is timeless and universal. It’s afflicted virtually every state known to human history. Warfare is the conduct of war. it’s the clash of arms or the maneuver of defense force within the field. It entails what military professionals call operations, whether or not the opposing forces actually unleash their organized violence on each other. War could be a condition during which a state might find itself; warfare may be a physical activity conducted by militia within the context of war.
The only modern tool of command they’d not know and will not readily assimilate would be the technology of war. Airplanes, missiles, tanks, drones, satellites, computers, GPS, and every of the remaining panoply of the trendy high-tech battlefield would be incomprehensible to them. Sun Tzu and Alexander would be incompetent on the fashionable battlefield.
The point is even more obvious in humankind’s other two fields of battle—the sea and therefore the air—to say nothing of space, perhaps the battlefield of the long run. Naval warfare doesn’t occur without ships, which, through most of human history, were the foremost complex of human technological artifacts. Of course, the identical is true of planes for air warfare, missiles for strategic warfare, and spacecraft for star wars. In each case, the vehicle defines warfare. Viscount Nelson, perhaps the best naval officer of all time, would be powerless to know the strategy and tactics of warfare II’s air warfare within the Pacific or submarine warfare within the Atlantic. The cat-and-mouse contest of Soviet and American attack submarines within the conflict would be even more incomprehensible to him. He might need gone back in time and intuited the essence of galley warfare, but he couldn’t command within the age of steam, including the nuclear age, without a solid grounding in modern science and technology.
Technology defines warfare. Air warfare wasn’t even possible before the 20th century, nevertheless the vulnerable and inefficient reconnaissance balloons that were pioneered in Europe and America within the nineteenth century. The U.S. boasts a missile defense installation that may stop the unstoppable, intercontinental missile. Space-faring nations think about anti-satellite weapons launched from earth and even the prospect of space-based weapons to fight each other and threaten the planet below. Air warfare differs from naval warfare, not because the strategy and tactics of conflict in those realms differ, but because planes differ from ships. Each technology shapes defines, circumscribes, and governs a brand new quiet warfare.