So You Still Think You Want A Revolution In Military Affairs?

The Paladin M109A7 next-generation artillery system being manufactured by BAE Systems is a significant upgrade to the combat-proven M109A6 Paladin cannon artillery system. []
Even as the U.S. Army examines ongoing “hybrid” conflicts and tries to conceptualize what wars of the near future are going to be like, it’s leaders continue to believe that a technology-driven Revolution in Military Affairs remains in the cards.

“I think we are on the cusp of a fundamental change in the character of ground warfare,” U.S. Army chief of staff Gen. Mark Milley told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., on June 23. “It will be of such significance that it will be like the rifling of a musket or the introduction of a machine gun or it will have such significance impact as the change from horse to mechanized vehicles.”

Revolutionary new technologies such as nanotechnology, robotics and artificial intelligence will drive that fundamental change. But while Milley said that a revolution is coming, how exactly the character of ground warfare will shape up remains an open question. “Exactly what that’s going to look like, I don’t know,” Milley said. “I just know that we’re there. We’re on the leading edge of it. I think we’ve got a few years to figure it out—probably less than ten. But I think by 2025, you’re going to see armies—not only the American Army but armies around the world—will be fundamentally and substantively different than they are today.”

Whether technological change will radically change the nature of warfare remains to be seen. The Army is nevertheless pushing forward with changes in training and force structure to adapt to new tactics and technologies already being used by other combatants.

In related news, the Army’s Paladin Integrated Management program to upgrade 133 M109A6 Paladin self-propelled howitzers to M109A7’s to improve the weapon’s reliability, maintainability, performance, responsiveness, and lethality has run into problems. The Department of Defense Inspector General found the M109A7 failed to meet maximum rate-of-fire requirements in tests and requires additional fire extinguisher capabilities in crew compartments. Army observers have warned of recent advances in Russian artillery technology and the need for effective countering capabilities. Former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld cancelled the Army’s proposed next-generation XM2001 Crusader self-propelled howitzer in 2002.


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Shawn Woodford
Shawn Woodford

Shawn Robert Woodford, Ph.D., is a military historian with nearly two decades of research, writing, and analytical experience on operations, strategy, and national security policy. His work has focused on special operations, unconventional and paramilitary warfare, counterinsurgency, counterterrorism, naval history, quantitative historical analysis, nineteenth and twentieth century military history, and the history of nuclear weapon development. He has a strong research interest in the relationship between politics and strategy in warfare and the epistemology of wargaming and combat modeling.

All views expressed here are his and do not reflect those of any other private or public organization or entity.

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