Military Studies Paper

How has technology generally impacted military strategy?

Since early history, technology has been changing the strategic landscape in the military world. Technology has been a crucial source of options for those with the ability to exploit the various possibilities presented. In some instances, technology has increased the number of offensive options available for some nations and tribes at the expense of others (Klippenberg, 1989). In other cases, it has simply strengthened the available defensive options thereby contributing to the status quo (Klippenberg, 1989).

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According to Klippenberg (1989), the overall effect of technology may easily be observed through the adoption of a clarifying perspective of history. However, it has traditionally been much more difficult for its impact on military strategy to be forecasted (Klippenberg, 1989). This is precisely because any military strategy entails the use of different available resources with the aim of achieving defined objectives. As one of the resources used in strategy, technology enters the equation by virtue of its impact on the quantity and nature of resources available to the designers of a given strategy (Klippenberg, 1989). It also comes into perspective through an analysis of how the military strategy can be countered by an adversary. Therefore, in efforts to adopt any technology, it is imperative for the strategist to put into consideration the goals and options of the adversary.

Technology impacts on military strategy at various levels, primarily national and theatre levels. At the national level, emphasis is on the ability by the grand strategy to lay out an overall concept for the use of the country’s economic strength and military power to achieve the intended foreign-policy goals. In contrast, the core aim at the theatre level is simply to win a war. At this level, strategy entails aspects such as preparation versus surprise and defense versus offense.

As far as the impact of technology on military strategy is concerned, the difficulties encountered at the design stage essentially mean that past lessons are always valuable. This is especially today in today’s world that is characterized by continuous change in terms of technological developments. Good strategy should be a reflection of the changing times. The best way to appreciate these changing times is to understand the best use of the available options in terms of technological advancements.

According to Kiat (1998), technology has traditionally influenced the causes as well as the goals for which these wars were being fought. It has also influenced the blows with which military campaigns are opened as well as the victories with which they are ended. Moreover, it influences the relationship between societies and armed forces. Other areas with manifestations of effects of technology include planning, preparation, military executions, and evaluation. The effects extend to aspects of intelligence, operations, logistics, and organizations. Technological developments have also been observed to have an effect on methods, missions, and capabilities of the militaries of different countries. These capabilities are demonstrated through the nature of command, strategy, leadership, and tactics (Kiat, 1998).

The influence of technology is also evident in the conceptual frameworks that military leaders and thinkers employ regarding the conduct of war. One of these conceptual frameworks is the “paradoxical trinity of people, military, and government”. The ‘people’ aspect encompasses the presence of primordial hate, enmity, and violence. The ‘military’ aspect denotes the military commander and his entire army tasked with the responsibility of handling the chance and friction of war. On the other hand, governments act as the legitimate representatives of the people or societies engaging in military confrontations. In recent times, war thinkers have suggested that technology should be included as a fourth component that contains various variables of war (Kiat).

Two of the most critical aspects of technology in the contemporary society include Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics. These two variables have had far-reaching effects on military strategies of different states, notably the United States and China. Some of the most revolutionary technologies emerged after the end of the World War I. The revolutionary nature of these technologies was demonstrated primarily through their impact on military strategy. For example, the tank combined firepower, mobility, and survivability to end the tradition of trench warfare. On the other hand, submarines transformed enormous ocean areas into war fronts, thereby posing a serious challenge to the traditional use of surface forces. In just the same way, aircraft opened up the skies for use by the military, thereby posing a threat to adversaries’ advances on land and in the sea.

At the onset of the World War II, many traditional conventions relating to the conduct of war were challenged. In the Post-World War II era, one of the most serious threats facing the world is the proliferation of nuclear weapons. During the World War II, these weapons were put into use, thereby demonstrating their capability to cause devastation. Today, ballistic and aircraft missiles make homelands thousands of miles away from the battlefield very vulnerable to attack. At the same time, technology has ushered in the era where military systems have entered into space.

Most recently, developed nations such as the US are increasingly relying on the use of drones, artificial intelligence, and robotics in the fight against terrorism. According to Pau (2012) the use of robotics in the military marks a milestone characterized by a shift from science fiction to reality. In robotics, machines referred to as robots are developed are developed for use in warfare. These robots are equipped with special equipment with devices that can perceive the surrounding environment, interact with it, and perform specific tasks. Similarly, Artificial Intelligence has been attracting a lot of attention as an emerging technology. Many applications relating to AI are currently under development. The goal of AI is to build new capabilities of intelligent behavior using computational approaches. The core objective of this dissertation is to examine how AI and robotics might have impacted the military strategies of different states, particularly the United States and China.

The applications of Artificial Intelligence and robotics in modern warfare

Artificial intelligence and robotics have numerous applications in modern warfare. In fact, these technologies are largely responsible for the sophistication of modern warfare. This sophistication is best captured by Siddiqi (2012), who points out that the possibilities of military applications of artificial intelligence are exciting yet extremely frightening. Siddiqi (2012) points out that unmanned aerial vehicles for example robots and aerial drones are increasingly being relied upon in warfare.

Today, military robots are mainly deployed for use in finding roadside mines and bombs, acting as surveillance guards, and watching over military bases. However, they have the capability to achieve much more on the war front. Some of the abilities of robots and unmanned aerial vehicles are deemed extremely destructive and in some cases unethical. Today, one of the greatest challenges faced in the development of these technologies is the absence of internationally-codified rules of engagement and guidelines. In such a situation, serious questions are often asked regarding not only the technical efficiency of these machines but also their ethical soundness.

According to Siddiqi (2012), the most important impacts of artificial intelligence and robotics in military strategies of different states are related to aspects of software architecture, programming approach, moral emotions, and international war laws. The implication in this regard is that new international laws are regulations should be introduced for stipulating the ways in which technology, particularly artificial intelligence and robotics, should be used in modern welfare.


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