Recognizing and Understanding Revolutionary Change in Warfare: The Sovereignty of Context

  • February 01, 2006
  • Dr Colin S Gray

The author provides a critical audit of the great RMA debate and of some actual RMA behavior and warns against a transformation that is highly potent only in a narrow range of strategic cases. He warns that the military effectiveness of a process of revolutionary change in a "way of war" can only be judged by the test of battle, and possibly not even then, if the terms of combat are very heavily weighted in favor of the United States. On balance, the concept of revolutionary change is found to be quite useful, provided it is employed and applied with some reservations and in a manner that allows for flexibility and adaptability. The contexts of warfare, especially the political, determine how effective a transforming military establishment will be.