Throughout history, technology has been central to warfare,
often giving qualitative advantages to numerically inferior forces.
Typically, the rate of technology development has been relatively
slow and the introduction of new weapons systems even slower,
which has allowed evolutionary development of operational concepts.
Today’s accelerated pace of technology development no
longer allows sequential development of operational concepts. In
addition, the current global political environment has placed
demands upon the military that range from engaging in major
regional conflicts to stabilization, reconstruction and peacekeeping,
all creating a continuous need for flexible, adaptive systems
and new concepts of operation.
The first purpose of this paper is to describe principal new
developments in technology in the framework of how they can
improve operational effectiveness in the uncertain world of the
21st century. The technologies are presented generically rather
than by system, because a broader and more generic technology
base is required to meet evolving opportunities. A second purpose
is to examine the related issue of technology development and
acquisition. Expectations for the rapid introduction of technologies
that promote transformation must be tempered by the military
requirement for continuous capability, even as new systems
and operational concepts are introduced. Finally, although the
United States leads the world in the development of military systems,
the foundational military science and technology base
shows signs of erosion. This erosion must be arrested if American
military superiority is to be maintained.