Achilles' Heel - over-Reliance on Technology as a Weak Point of the U.S. Army

Topics: United States Army, Iraq War, World War II Pages: 15 (5452 words) Published: August 23, 2013
“Achilles' heel”
Over-reliance on Technology as a Weak Point of the U.S. Army

The information revolution – an incredible growth in possibilities of receiving and passing on information, changed the way how the world is functioning so significantly that we are able to say that we are now living in the midst of the information age. Digital technology opened new possibilities to economy and had also big impact on most other areas of human life. Among them, conflicts and wars have always occupying important place. Through last decades the U.S. military were not only a beneficent but even a founder of the technological progress.[1] Demand for the technological superiority, the decisive factor in prospective war, were forcing successive American governments to spent large sums on research and development (R&D) centers during the Cold War, but didn't expend with the decay of the Soviet Union. Nowadays the USA are spending approximately 12% of their defense budget (75 of $623 billion in 2008) on “research, development, testing and evaluations” (to compare, in 2004 combined spending of China, Russia, France, Israel and the United Kingdom for R&D didn't exceed $17 billion).[2] In 1991, the first Gulf War showed the superiority of the American military technology over their Cold War's adversaries equipment. This war were also an impulse for so called Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) which is so far shaping the strategy of the American army. The point of this essay is the explanation where the American military supremacy is coming from and then, by referring to historical case studies, an analyze of possible weaknesses in the U.S. strategy. At the end maybe it will be possible to answer the question: could the faith in technology became the American “Maginot line”[3] of even “Achilles heel” of the 21st century?

Before the RMA became main goal of the U.S. Military during Donald Rumsfeld term of office as a Secretary of Defense, as early as in the middle 90s military thinkers, like retired admirals William Owens and Arthur Cebrowski, remarked that the changing rules of the information age implicate changes in the military area as well. They argued that the patterns from modern economy should be implied also in military.[4]

In 1996 the Joint Chiefs of Staff created the “Joint Vision 2010” (JV 2010) which stated that the main goal for the U.S. military will be achieving “the information superiority” defined as a “the capability to collect, process, and disseminate an uninterrupted flow of information while exploiting or denying an adversary’s ability to do the same.”[5]

Year 1999 brought an another crucial work for the current military transformation program. The “Network Centric Warfare” written by David S. Alberts, John J. Garstka and Frederick P. Stein underlined once again that military reflects an economy system. Therefore, when in the past success in business depended on ability to rapid production and shipment of products, so also victory in war depended of ability to rise and then transport concentrated army groups into decisive points of enemy;s defense. The perfect example of the realization of this strategy (created by the industrial revolution in 19th century) were Prussian victories over Austria (1866) and France (1871). Bismarck's armies were able to defeat their enemies because thanks to the developed command structure and railroad system were able to mobilize and move masses of soldiers faster than their adversaries. In turn, as a result of the information revolution, success in nowadays business depend from the rapid acquirement and dissemination of information. Therefore, authors of the “Network Centric Warfare” argued that victory in post-industrial war will depend from the ability to gather the most exact possible knowledge of the enemy. Then, thanks to the existing technology, it will be possible to strike into vital points of the enemy's forces from big distances – it is no any longer necessary to...

Bibliography: Brzezinski, Richard, “Polish Armies 1569–1696 (1)”, Men-at-Arms Series. Oxford: Osprey Publishing Ltd., 1987
Brzezinski, Richard, “Polish Winged Hussar 1576-1775,” Warrior Series
Internet sources:
Military R&D: Hits and Misses, (accessed 27.02.2010) (accessed 27.02.2010)
[5] US Department of Defense, Joint Vision 2010, p
[6] Kagan, Frederic W., “A Dangerous Transformation”, The Wall Street Journal, 12.11.2003 (accessed 27.02.2010)
[12] (accessed 27.02.2010) (accessed 27.02.2010)
[15] Davies, Joshua, "If We Run Out of Batteries, This War is Screwed.", Wired Magazine, 11.06.2003, (accessed 27.02.2010)
[16] Gentry, John A
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