Testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me to offer an assessment of military transformation.
“Transformation” is a tricky term.
The current popularity of the word within the Pentagon suggests that it means different things to different people.
For some, it is a way of rescuing threatened ideas and institutions.
For others, it is a way of sweeping those ideas and institutions away.
And for many, it is a ritual incantation — the latest buzzword used to bless business as usual.
However, there is one point at which all the various meanings seem to converge.
That is the potential impact that new technology may have on how war is waged.
The term first emerged from the uncertainty following the collapse of communism, when the threat that had driven America’s defense preparations for two generations suddenly disappeared.
With little clarity about future dangers, policymakers turned to recent advances in technology for clues as to how the military should maintain its edge.
Not surprisingly, they got caught up in the enthusiasm for new information technologies then sweeping popular culture.
Thus it became fashionable to say the military was pursuing a “capabilities-based” posture rather that a “threat-based” one, because we didn’t know what threats we would be facing but we thought we knew what technologies would be decisive.
Experts such as Dr. Krepinevich correctly insisted that the technology would only be decisive if it were wedded to appropriate operational concepts and organizational changes.
Nonetheless, there is little doubt that the concept of transformation the military is pursuing today is driven first and foremost by an enthusiasm for emerging information technologies.
All of the gains that military planners foresee in global awareness and precision and agility and survivability trace their origins to these new technologies.
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