chapter  10
22 Pages

The paradigm army

What should the army of the future look like? Should it reflect an essentially evolutionary development of Cold War theory and practice? Alternatively, should it reflect the embrace of revolutionary new technology and concepts? The final chapter of this book examines contemporary land warfare through the lens of the US army in the post-Cold War world. As a case study, the US army is interesting for two reasons. First, where the US army has led, others have followed. Political and military elites buy into common perspectives on the most legitimate military paradigm. In essence, for many other armies, the US army is a model for emulation: the concepts that have underpinned its development since the 1990s have had a powerful influence on the armies of other states, shaping their view of the demands of current and future warfare. Second, the development of the US army since the 1990s has been accompanied by debates that resonate with the themes developed in this book: the precepts of modern systems of warfare; the political and cultural dynamics of military change; the contested nature of the debates on future warfare. In order to organise the discussion, this chapter looks at developments in the US

army in relation to transformation, a theme that has been both pervasive and controversial. Transformation is a term that dominated defence reform debates in the 1990s and the first decade of the twenty-first century. It is a radical vision of the demands of future warfare and it embodies themes that promise to create a very different kind of US army: smaller, modular, rapidly deployable and highly networked. Transformation has also had a much wider impact, shaping other countries’ views on what constitutes an effective modern army. As this chapter shows, despite the prominent role that transformation has played in

the development of the post-Cold War US army, it has remained controversial, with many arguing that at best it has been irrelevant and at worst it has actually

undermined the army’s effectiveness in conflicts such as those in Afghanistan from 2001 and Iraq from 2003. These controversies speak to themes recurrent in this book: the difficulties posed by the uncertain demands of the future, and the often difficult trade-offs between the different choices available for armies in coping with this uncertainty.