RMA from a Historical Perspective
--Interview with Mr. Chuck Hawkins, the Director of the Historical Evaluation & Research Organization(HERO) Library.(May 16, 1998) 访军事历史评估与研究中心主任查尔斯•霍金斯
MR. CHEN BOJIANG: In March 1998 the Historical Evaluation & Research Organization(HERO) Library and the China Defense Science & Technology Information Center (CDSTIC) co-hosted the Hua-Mei Workshop in Beijing. What is the reason behind selecting RMA as the theme for the Hua-Mei Workshop?
MR. HAWKINS: As you know, HERO has been in existence since 1962, when it was founded by the late Trevor N. Dupuy, a noted military historian and researcher, In the 1980s, Dupuy lectured several times in China. I believe you attended one of his lectures at the Academy of Military Science. I maintained the contacts in Beijing after Dupuy’s death. My CDSTIC colleagues and I agreed that mutual exchanges on conventional military research topics would be valuable for the United States and China, and that these meetings could do much to foster friendship and greater understanding. So we agreed to hold an “informal” workshop in Beijing to begin, and see how things developed.
In March 1997, I lectured at CDSTIC on the subject of information warfare1 and information operations. This helped to set the stage for the workshop. At this time we agreed that the revolution in military affairs was a vital and important topic to discuss in the future. This is particularly true since information technology and information systems are so much a part of RMA.
Since the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War, China has made prodigious2 efforts to collect, assess and understand information about RMA, most of it focused on high technology weaponry, information systems, and command, control, communications, intelligence, reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition (C3I/RSTA), and most of that focused on Western equipment, concepts and use. With the exception of the United States, China has produced more studies, papers and articles on RMA than any other nation.
MR. CHEN: What were the main topics discussed at the workshop? What’s your opinion on it?
MR. HAWKINS: We covered a variety of interesting paper topics at Hua-Mei Ⅰ.There were 11 papers by Chinese researchers and five by American analysts.
A central question for workshop participants was what the term RMA actually means. Although precise definitions are not necessary to discuss a topic, a general understanding is important to aid analytical exchanges.
For me, the most important thing about RMA is historical perspective. Without history as a guide there are mistakes that will be made, and nonproductive paths followed. And, some very important avenues of research may be overlooked.
I like to begin with a definition of the word “revolution.” Webster’s Dictionary says that it means a “displacement of an existing order.” For RMA, this question must be answered: “What is the existing order that RMA is displacing?” without analyzing history it’s impossible to say accurately what the answer is.
The world has already undergone several technological revolutions in this century that have had direct, if not exclusive, application to the use of military force. For the 20th century, the advent3 of the airplane, wireless communication, nuclear energy, digital computation and communication, advanced electronics, exo-atmospheric4 vehicles, and advances in medical science have all brought varying degrees of revolutionary activities to the modern battlefield.
The airplane was revolutionary because it displaced the existing order of traveling by land or sea, or at least augmented land and sea travel in a new way. Armed forces could now fight in the air, move farther faster.
Wireless communication displaced or nearly displaced messengers. It also extended the range of communications, even into space.
Nuclear weapons displaced an existing order by increasing dramatically the number and proportion of battlefield loss. As we know, casualty rates have generally declined over the past 400 years. Nuclear weapons reversed or would reverse that trend dramatically.
Digital computers and communications displaced the existing order of analog5 computation by hand or simple machine by making computation many times faster and communications capable of carrying much more information in a shorter period of time.
Advanced electronics and optics now enable soldiers to see to fight during periods of low visibility, a revolutionary change from the past.
Exo-atmospheric missiles changed the existing order by enabling stand off attacks around the globe; and satellites give high resolution pictures of ground targets.
Advances in medicine have extended lives, displacing the existing order of old age into man’s 70th year and beyond; and it has helped dramatically to decrease the number of wounded soldiers who die of their wounds.
It is also interesting to use history to analyze what hasn’t changed very much. That is, to look at weapon platforms and military technology that is improving only on the margin systems that are mature, and, which, if they could be displaced by a new order, would herald6 a new revolution.
MR. CHEN: Could you give me some examples?
MR. HAWKINS: Of course! Manned aircraft are mature. Manned aircraft will not fly much faster, or turn tighter, or pull more “Gs” than those that existed a few years ago. The big leap in aircraft technology came between World War Ⅰ and World War Ⅱ. What would be revolutionary here? Displacing the pilot with unmanned aerial vehicles is one answer.
Rifles will not fire farther or more accurately or be lighter weight except on the margin. The big change for infantry rifles came in the first half of the 19th century when rifled barrels and conoidal7 bullets displaced smoothbore muskets and ball shot.
Main battle tanks are mature, and won’t improve much in terms of power to weight ratio, fire power, armor protection or speed without revolutionary technology.
Along with the maturing of many weapon systems and military equipment has come a maturation of military doctrine and organization. This confluence of technology, theory and organization has led to optimal operations on the battlefield. This is very similar to conditions in Europe in 1815 at the defeat of Napoleon at Waterloo. Of course, not too many years after that the conoidal bullet, rifled musket8, effective breech blocks and later, smokeless powder changed the battlefield dramatically. It was years before theory, organization could catch up. It makes one wonder what the future surprises of RMA will be.
About the time of the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War, the continuing trend in improvements in technology, military theory, and organization was lumped under the rubric of revolution in military affairs. Indeed, the most exciting and promising technological areas seem to be: microelectronics (including lasers) microbiotics9, optics10 (including lasers), propulsion and power, and materials science. Overarching the RMA is an explosion of information technology and digitized information that has become so global in scope that it has earned the term “information age.”
Some argue that today’s RMA is more evolutionary than revolutionary; that the true revolution is yet to come. These analysts suggest that for the next 15 years or so, technology will advance along expected paths. Then, sometime 15-30 years from now, a true military revolution will occur, one that is difficult to foresee clearly, if at all.
WORDS AND EXPRESSIONS 词汇提示
1.information warfare 信息战
2.prodigious  a.巨大的
3.advent  n.出现，到来
4.exo-atmospheric  a.大气层外的
5.analog  n.相似物，相似体
6.herald  v.预示
7.conoidal  a.圆锥形的
8.musket  n.步枪
9.microbiotics  n.微生物
10. optics  n.光学
QUESTONS AFTER LISTENING 听后答题:
1.When was the HERO founded?
A.In 1972. B.In 1962.
C.In 1964. D.In 1982.
2. Who maintained the contacts with Beijing after Mr. Dupuy’s death?
A.Mr. Hawkins. B.Mr. Perry.
C.Mr. Marshall. D.Mr. Smith.
3. On what subject did Mr. Hawkins lecture at CDSTIC in March 1997?
B.The new weapons development.
C.The information warfare.
4. Which country has produced more studies, papers and articles on the RMA than any other nations except the U.S. according to Mr. Hawkins?
5. What is the definition of the word “revolution” in Webster’s Dictionary?
A.It means a “complete change in military affairs”.
B.It means a “great change in social system”.
C.It means a “displacement of an existing order”.
D.It means a “great change of concepts”.
6. Why did Mr. Hawkins say that the airplane was revolutionary?
A.Because it changed the living way of people.
B.Because it changed the living way of message exchange.
C.Because it displaced the old way of thinking.
D.Because it displaced the existing order of travelling by land or sea, or at least augmented land and sea travel in a new way.
7. What did nuclear weapons displace?
A.It displaced the existing order of fight.
B.It displaced an existing order by increasing dramatically the number and proportion of battlefield loss.
C.It displaced the existing order of weapons development.
D.It displaced the existing order of weapons use.
8. Why did Mr. Hawkins say manned aircraft were mature?
A.Because manned aircraft will not fly much faster, or turn tighter, or pull more “Gs” than those that existed a few years ago.
B.Because manned aircraft will not be changed in its shape.
C.Because manned aircraft will not need to improve its function.
D.Because manned aircraft will not replace its airborne equipment.
9. When did the big leap in aircraft technology come?
A.It came after the World War Ⅱ.
B.It came in the World War Ⅱ.
C.It came before the World War Ⅱ.
D.It came between the World War Ⅰand the World War Ⅱ.
10. What did it take place in Europe in 1815?
A.Nazi was defeated.
B.Czar was defeated.
C.Napoleon was defeated.
D.Caesar was defeated.
KEYS TO THE QUESTIONS 参考答案：
1.b 2.a 3.c 4.b 5.c 6.d 7.b 8.a 9.d 10.c