Murphy's Law: The Military Technical Revolution Comes Home


October 16, 2007: U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently gave a speech at a Russian military academy, where he admitted that many of the American military transformation ideas now being implemented, were first developed by Russian military thinkers in the 1970s. Then, terms like "cybernetic warfare" and the "military technical revolution" were tossed about in the very military school where Gates was speaking. The Russians had one major problem, though, they did not have the industrial capabilities to produce the needed equipment. The command (top down) economy of the Soviet Union did not produce sufficient quality, and often not even enough quantity. The Soviets had lots of well educated scientists and engineers, but far fewer managers and technicians, the people who really made things work.

The Soviet military bureaucracy was as obstinate and resistant to change as any other, but those new ideas were circulated to the entire Soviet military. This was custom adopted by the communists, in order to foster an open discussion of new ideas. Once a new idea was accepted, it became top secret. That's what happened to some tactical and technical innovations. But the big problem the Soviets had was the much larger number of new technologies being churned out in the West, particularly in the United States. Moreover, the American military, especially the army, entered the 1980s looking for new ideas, and with a spirit of reform. The new Russian concepts were known in the West, and the rest is history. Basically, the U.S. implemented many of the Russian ideas, while the Soviet Union tottered through the 1980s, and collapsed completely in 1991. The Soviet armed forces shrank by 80 percent in the next decade, and most Russian military thinking was about survival as a force, not the "military technical revolution" they had invented.

Now, the Russian military rebuilding itself, and it's using those 1970s ideas, and the way the United States has implemented them, as a model.


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