Armed Conflict in the 21st Century: The Information Revolution and Post-Modern Warfare

  • March 01, 2000
  • Dr Steven Metz

Within the past decade, the U.S. military has implemented a number of programs to assess the changes underway in the global security environment and in the nature of warfare. Defense leaders and thinkers have concluded that revolutionary change is taking place and, if the United States develops appropriate technology, warfighting concepts, and military organizations, it can master or control this change, thus augmenting American security. Dr. Steven Metz suggests that official thinking within the U.S. military may be too narrow. The information revolution, he contends, will have far-reaching strategic effects. The transformation it brings will not only be technological, but political, social, ethical and strategic as well. As he explores the impact that the information revolution may have on the conduct of armed conflict, Dr. Metz introduces a number of ideas which need further analysis, including the potential for the emergence of nontraditional, networked enemies; multidimensional asymmetry; the privatization of security; and the potential impact of technologies like robotics, nonlethality, and nanotechnology. He concludes with an assessment of the features likely to characterize successful militaries in the 21st century.