SYSTEMIC EFFECTS OF MILITARY INNOVATION AND DIFFUSION
Emily O. Goldman and Richard B. Andres
University of California, Davis
effectiveness in the Persian Gulf War has inspired a broad-ranging debate in both policy
and academic circles about the likely consequences of an impending "revolution in
military affairs" (RMA). In the estimation of "revolutionaries" in the U.S.
Department of Defense,1 the United States has a window of opportunity to leverage for
political purposes the discontinuous increase in military capability and effectiveness
portended in the Gulf War. Proponents argue the United States should take advantage of its
current information edge to accelerate a revolution in warfare that will sustain U.S.
power and leadership into the future and that can be exploited in U.S. foreign policy to
build an international system to the nation's liking.2 RMA skeptics, most in the academic
and consulting communities, raise a host of objections. The United States will not be able
to realize any decisive advantages or leverage its lead, and such a demonstration of
uncontested military superiority, if the U.S. military could even realize it, will only
stimulate the rise of challengers.
For both proponents and skeptics, a key question is what the international consequences will be if the United States succeeds in realizing the dramatic increase in military effectiveness hinted at during the Gulf War. We examine past watersheds when dramatic increases in military effectiveness occurred to see how revolutionary military advances affected the balance of international influence, particularly the lead enjoyed by the superior military power.3
To assess how superior military capabilities and practices affect the fortunes of states in the international system, we focus on military diffusion and the conditions under which the technologies, ideas, and behavioral practices associated with dramatic military innovations are likely to spread and be adopted.4 Little attention has been given in the scholarly literature to diffusion, yet several historical puzzles highlight its importance for understanding state adaptation to profound military transformation. Nineteenth-century Ottoman Turkey and Manchu China failed to emulate superior Western military practices while Meiji Japan spectacularly made the transition. Mongol practices were used to great effect in the thirteenth century to subject to military domination the largest area ever before or since, yet they failed to diffuse and impact contemporary warfare in Europe. Innovations do not always diffuse from a single source, or "core." Several states, more or less simultaneously, may succeed in harnessing new technologies to great avail and, by demonstrating them on the battlefield, establish their value. Yet in the current period, the United States has taken an early lead in the application of information technologies to military affairs. It is not unreasonable to expect attempts by other nations to emulate U.S. practice, to learn about U.S. technological, organizational, and doctrinal advances, and to try to apply that knowledge to their particular strategic situations, with consequences for long-term U.S. military superiority.
From a contemporary U.S. defense policy perspective, the diffusion of military innovations is a key issue, whether or not we are in a period of revolutionary military transformation. Much of U.S. foreign and security policy counts on a large and long-lasting U.S. conventional superiority over most possible challengers, in most types of warfare. Is this a reasonable expectation? Advocates of the RMA seem to believe that whatever the current situation, if the United States could somehow achieve this "new way of war," then current apparent U.S. military superiority could be sustained for a very long time. There are implicit assumptions about diffusion that underlay this larger belief and these assumptions need to be subjected to intensive scrutiny, particularly because they cut against prevailing beliefs in scholarly circles that the technologies and practices associated with the information revolution are going to spread widely and rapidly, even more so than those associated with past military revolutions.
To assess the international consequences of military innovations (e.g., their affect on the balance of international influence, the lead enjoyed by militarily superior states, the behavior of potential challengers) we investigate the conditions under which states are likely to adopt particular military advances, whether states with particular capacities tend to benefit from particular types of innovations, if innovations tend to produce any long-term advantages or if leads are quickly eroded, and whether new military methods pave the way for new challengers to arise.
Impact of Rising Military Effectiveness
The literature on the sources and outcomes of military-technological innovation is large, but concerned chiefly with its impact on the conduct of war. Less attention has been paid to the systemic consequences of revolutionary military capabilities and practices.5 We explore four bodies of theory that make different assumptions about the motivations and capacities of states and their military organizations to adopt new military methods. They lead to different hypotheses about the scope of military diffusion (e.g., uniform or uneven), rates of adoption (e.g., rapid or delayed), national response to successful military practices abroad (e.g., emulation,6 reinvention,7 countervention,8 or no response), and shifts in state influence (e.g., advantaging or disadvantaging particular subsets of states). At one extreme, neo-realism predicts states will be highly reactive to each others' military practices, rapidly emulating the best practices from abroad, leading to the uniform diffusion of military innovations. At the other extreme, organization diffusion theory (hereafter referred to as organization theory) predicts uneven diffusion and differential state response. Whether and how quickly states emulate new military methods depends on the compatibility between the innovation and the organization, society, and culture. In between these two extremes lies power transitions theory and offense-defense theory, both of which for different reasons predict less uniformity and responsiveness than neo-realism, but more uniformity and responsiveness than organization theory.
For neo-realism, the competitive logic governing the international systems creates a powerful incentive for states to adopt new military methods by emulating the military practices of the most successful states in the system. The success of some units induces others to copy as they come to know the advantages and disadvantages of certain institutional arrangements and technologies. As Resende-Santos describes the process, emulation works through the demonstration effect. Through contact and communication, states are "socialized" into the most successful practices and the pressures of competition motivate them to adopt these practices. States are aware of alternative institutional and technological options but in order to stay competitive, they must adopt the most successful forms and practices. The great wars of the era determine which military practices are superior.
Neo-realists argue that, "States, like firms, emulate successful innovations of others out of fear of the disadvantages that arise from being less competitively organized and equipped. These disadvantages are particularly dangerous where military capabilities are concerned, and so improvements in military organizations and technology are quickly imitated."9 Military historians concur that competition is a powerful factor in the spread of military innovations. Lynn writes, "More than any other institution, militaries tend to copy one another across state borders, and with good reason. War is a matter of Darwinian dominance or survival for states, and of life or death for individuals. When an army confronts new or different weaponry or practices on the battlefield, it must adapt to them, and often adaptation takes the form of imitation."10 The option of external balancing may slow the pace of emulation, but only to a degree. Emulation is the primary behavior expected of units in a self-help system. As Waltz argues, "The possibility that conflict will be conducted by force leads to competition in the arts and instruments of force. ... Contending states imitate the military innovations contrived by the country of greatest capability and ingenuity. And so the weapons of the major contenders, even their military strategies, begin to look much the same all over the world."11
The implication of neo-realist analysis is that new and proven military methods, even if they are truly revolutionary, will have little lasting affect on the balance of international influence because diffusion occurs quickly among states that are within range of each other's war-making ability. Diffusion is a uniform and rapid process driven by competition and demands for technical efficiency. While revolutionary military innovations may produce benefits for their initiators, these will be short-lived. Moreover, the theory posits few obstacles to adoption of innovations. There may be variation in resource capacity and threat environment, but internal characteristics, such as socio-cultural values, that might affect the speed and uniformity at which innovations spread, are assumed away.12 Logically, those states that do not adopt the most effective military practices will not survive.
In sum, neo-realism predicts that military best practices will diffuse quickly and uniformly among states. Successful practices will be emulated. Military innovations will have little impact on the balance of international influence in the long run (though they may in the short run) because diffusion will quickly erode any advantage in superiority derived from the innovation.
Power transitions theory provides a second theoretical starting point.13 The theory focuses on differential patterns of national growth, rather than competition, as the engine of international change. National growth, or what Organski and Kugler call "development," changes the pool of critical resources available to states and hence their capacity to wage war effectively.14 The system of international power is rooted in the development process. That process "is not uniform across countries. There are major differences in the timing, the sequences of growth, and the speed with which changes take place. There is no single road of development most nations must follow, and the different combinations of forces that determine the different ways in which development occurs exert an important influence on the level of power available to any given nation, because alternate developmental patterns produce different kinds of resources for the elites to draw upon in their dealings with other nations."15
For power transitions theory, power is rooted in the broader macro-social capacities16 of states to utilize their human and material resources, not in military capabilities and methods. In particular, the source of a state's capacity to utilize its national resources effectively centers around its ability to industrialize. The adoption of industrial technology provides nations with a rapid accretion in capabilities that destabilizes the capability distribution in the interstate system. As nation-states industrialize, they undermine the existing order by challenging the dominant power. As industrial technologies and practices diffuse to more and different states, the state with the resources most able to exploit the new methods for economic productivity and military effectiveness gains international influence.
The theory considers industrialization to be history's chief revolutionary technology because it dramatically increases the level of productivity that could be extracted from any given population.17 Industrialization, in other words, increases the capacity of states to utilize their human and material resources for both wealth and war. Logically, those states with a larger fraction of their total population of working and fighting age will be able to realize more productivity from industrial technology and become more powerful.18 The ability to wage war effectively is also tied closely to a nation's productivity. The theory considers the connection between politico-economic power and military strength to be so close that one could legitimately infer one from the other. After the industrial revolution, in fact, the correlation between industrial and military power was very high.19
Power transitions theory focuses on the shift from agricultural to industrial modes of production. It does not address other macro-social transformations that have had significant military implications. Both the professionalization of the late-Middle Ages and the nationalism of the nineteenth century had a profound impact on the ability of states to generate and utilize human and material resources effectively. Each in fact altered the pool of resources at the nation's disposal by opening up the armed forces to sources of manpower that had heretofore been excluded, and by institutionalizing ideas and practices that made those forces far more effective on the battlefield. Nor does power transitions theory consider the shift from the industrial to the post-industrial age, which should logically affect how states leverage different types of resources to increase their relative influence. The information revolution suggests the process of improving resource utilization does not end with industrial maturity.20 By the end of the Cold War, for example, it appeared as if the Soviet Union had reached the level of industrial maturity of which Organski spoke. In one key indicator of industrial capacity, steel production, the U.S.S.R. was producing 160 million tons per year in 1985, as compared to 74 million tons produced by the United States. Still, in the 1980s, even Soviet military strategists realized that the Soviet Union could not keep pace with the West. The macro-social foundations of success in the information age are not limited to industrialization and population. They depend upon a process of institutionalized innovation and the exploitation of information. As in earlier periods, states are likely to have differing resource capacities to take advantage of various macro-social innovations and are likely to adopt them at different rates.
For power transitions theory, the consequences of diffusion are a function of the speed of power transitions. In the preindustrial age, changes in the distribution of capabilities between and among nations took a long time. Efforts by one nation to increase its relative capabilities, either through territorial conquest or alliance formation, gave rise to a sufficiently even distribution of capabilities to prevent any one nation from subjugating others by means of war, a process upset by the industrial revolution. The adoption of industrial technology provides nations with a far more rapid accretion in capabilities. Diffusion is not likely to occur as rapidly in the power transitions model as it is in the neo-realist model, in part because power transitions theory focuses on broad macro-social changes. However, the particular dynamics of the information revolution may reduce the predicted range of variation between neo-realist and power transitions theories. The dynamics of information power differ from industrial power in that the transitions associated with the former are likely to be much faster for several reasons. The technology is so powerful that it increases the incentives for others to adopt it. Moreover, as Carl Builder points out, "The roots of national power in the industrial era were thought to lie in natural resources and plant investment ... In the information era those roots now appear to be in the free access to information."21 Its far easier and quicker to assemble very advanced software with a small team of experts than it ever was to amass a modern mass-production industrial base in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. By speeding up transitions, the information revolution is likely to reduce the ability of the United States to leverage its lead and increase the capacity of others to leap frog the United States.
Organski's model points to the importance of broad macro-social developments, differential resource capacities for utilizing innovations, and different rates and sequences of adoption. Unlike neo-realism, power transitions theory does not assume rapid and uniform diffusion, though it does predict increasingly rapid diffusion today. Military best practices will diffuse differentially among states, and the rate and scope of diffusion depends on levels of national development, which determine the capacity of states to adopt and leverage innovations. The impact of military innovations on international influence and the lead enjoyed by the militarily superior state depends on the speed of the power transition, which affects how quickly challengers can arise. This varies across innovations.
Offense-defense theory comprises a series of related observations about how military capabilities affect state behavior. For our purposes, what is of interest is how the offense-defense balance affects individual and system-wide motives to adopt military innovations, and how military innovations shift the offense-defense balance and advantage or disadvantage certain subsets of states.
The offense-defense balance is defined as the amount of resources that a state must invest in offense to offset an adversary's investment in defense.22 As Kaufman and Glaser point out, the "offense-defense balance is virtually always used to refer to cases in which both countries can deploy the full range of developed technologies."23 Granting that states do not always gain access to new technologies simultaneously, especially when they have unequal resources, the symmetric case can still be used to examine periods when military innovations have begun to saturate the system to determine how the offense-defense balance, and anticipated shifts in the balance, affect the adoption of innovations, military diffusion, and state influence.
George Quester explains how the offense-defense balance affects motives and capacities to adopt innovations.24 Large and wealthy states are well poised by their greater resource base to take advantage of offensive technology and use it more effectively to subdue smaller contenders.25 Conversely, smaller and less wealthy states can more effectively forestall empire building when the defense has the advantage. The artillery revolution, for example, permitted Europe's largest and wealthiest state, France, to assault the castle walls of its smaller opponents at a fraction of the cost it would have taken to execute a prolonged siege. The fortress revolution of the next century, on the other hand, permitted small cities and states to build cannon-proof fortifications that required ever larger armies and expanding quantities of ammunition to conduct a war of sieges. The result was to check Hapsburg hegemony in Italy and Ottoman expansion further east. Accordingly, large wealthy states have a greater incentive, and capacity, to adopt offensive technologies and practices, while smaller less wealthy states have a greater incentive to adopt defensive technologies and practices.
How does the offense-defense balance affect state influence? Innovations that make the offense easier (e.g., make it easier to take territory) should benefit the system's stronger states and their strategies of political expansion because larger and wealthier states can more effectively exploit offensive technologies. Innovations that make the defense easier (e.g., make it more difficult to take territory) should benefit weaker members and their strategies of local defense. Quester makes the case that the mobility of offensive technology effectively imitates the geopolitical effects of open plains. Wide open terrain with few geographical obstacles enhances the rapid movement of armies and facilitates the expansion of empires. This explains why the wide open plains of central Asia have been home to immense empires while the broken regions of southeast Asia and Europe have been dominated by smaller states. Wide open seas, like wide open plains, advantage larger states. Similarly, pro-naval transport technology that allows ships to overcome the geographical barriers created by oceans and efficiently transport armed forces to foreign shores advantages larger states and facilitates expansion of empires. While the broader systemic consequences of offensive dominance are the subject of dispute, most analysts agree that the system's more powerful states benefit when the offense has the advantage and that the system's weaker states benefit when the defense is ascendant.26 This has direct implications for the scope of diffusion. Smaller states have a greater incentive to adopt defensive technologies while larger states have a greater incentive to adopt offensive technologies.
How does the offense-defense balance affect the rate of military diffusion? All else being equal, when the defense is dominant, the security dilemma will be dampened. "Defense dominance allows states to react more slowly and with greater restraint to the capabilities-enhancing efforts and gains of their neighbors."27 Conversely, offense-dominance, or anticipated offense-dominance, should aggravate the security dilemma and increase pressures to quickly respond to -- or emulate -- the efforts of others. All else being equal, innovations should diffuse rapidly when the offense is ascending or ascendant, and more slowly when the defense is ascending or ascendant. We note this effect may be enhanced by what some have argued is an offensive bias in military organizations.28 Because military organizations prefer offensive technologies and doctrines, innovations that enhance the offense will be favored by militaries and face fewer organizational obstacles to adoption.
All else is not equal, however. States face different geographic constraints and technological liabilities. While both geography and the nature of military technology can encourage or discourage attack, or make the defense easy or difficult, since geographic features are fixed, real shifts in the balance are produced by technological and organizational changes.29 How does the offense-defense balance operate in periods of technological asymmetry, precisely the conditions that exist during periods of military transformation or revolution? How do anticipated shifts in the balance influence motivations of states to emulate the practices of others? It depends on whether a state is defensively disadvantaged, namely whether it finds it difficult to defend its national territory given geographic liabilities, the nature of existing technology, and anticipated changes in technology. Defensively disadvantaged states are likely to devote more attention to efforts to improve their military technology and organization. The defensively advantaged state will display a more tentative approach, perhaps neglecting military reform.30
In sum, offense-defense theory leads us to expect that the impact of military innovations on state influence, and the scope and rate of diffusion, will vary depending on whether the existing balance is offense or defense dominant, and how the impending innovation is likely to shift the balance. Offensive innovations will benefit the more powerful and wealthy states, stimulate innovation, and produce rapid diffusion, particularly among large wealthy states. Defensive innovations should benefit weaker and less wealthy states, dampen innovation and produce slower diffusion overall with smaller states more likely to adopt defensive technologies and practices early on. As Kaufman and Glaser emphasize, however, offense-defense theory assumes optimal state behavior, or high levels of military skill by all states. It is a structural theory of military capabilities that focuses on the constraints and opportunities presented by external environmental factors, particularly geography and available technology.31 The theory leaves out skill, or the ability to effectively employ the military technology,32 a variable which is taken up by organization theory.
According to the research on the diffusion of innovations by organization theorists, technical efficiency is only one variable that influences rates of adoption and, hence, the scope and speed of diffusion. Along with relative advantage (the degree to which an innovation is perceived as better than the idea it supersedes), complexity (the degree to which an innovation is perceived as difficult to understand and use), trialability (the degree to which an innovation may be experimented with on a limited basis), and observability (the degree to which the results of an innovation are observable to others), Rogers emphasizes compatibility, or "the degree to which the innovation is perceived as being consistent with the existing values, past experiences, and needs of potential adopters."33 Levitt and March concur on the importance of compatibility when they report that "diffusion through imitation is less significant than is variation in the match between the technology and the organization, especially as that match is discovered and molded through learning."34
Organization theory also finds that different processes drive diffusion and we cannot assume similarity in forms and practices necessarily is the result of competition35 and pressures for increased organizational efficiency.36 Normative processes can also drive diffusion.37 Formal and informal pressures on organizations by other organizations upon which they are dependent can produce emulation.38 Uncertainty over technology can lead organizations to model themselves on other organizations, particularly those perceived to be more legitimate or successful.39 Lynn notes in his study of the evolution of Army style that, "From time to time, a particular army became a model for its age; it provided the paradigm for other armies and, thus defined the core characteristics for a stage of military evolution. Until the mid-twentieth century, an army won the role of paradigm on the battlefield; in other words, victory chose the paradigm."40 Finally, socialization through formal educational and professional networks can result in emulation. In sum, when faced with the same set of environmental conditions, "one unit in a population [tends] to resemble other units..."41 Yet competition appears to have greater influence on early adopters of an innovation, while normative pressures appear to have a greater influence on later adopters. DiMaggio notes the "frequently replicated finding that early adoption (that is, adoption of an innovation soon after its introduction, before a large portion of the population at risk has adopted it) of organizational innovations is strongly predicted by technical or political attributes of adopters but that later diffusion is more poorly predicted by technical or political measures."42
Students of technology have usually assumed that technology, broadly defined to include both the material and non-material, tends to diffuse among similar political and economic cultures, and that diffusion has become more rapid in modern times. Emphasizing cultural constraints, Quincy Wright argues that, "technologies are not superficial devices from which all cultures can benefit and which may originate anywhere and diffuse easily and rapidly. On the contrary, technologies are related to the culture as a whole and the origin, diffusion, and influence of a particular invention cannot be understood except in terms of the total culture which originated or utilizes it."43 Historical examples abound. Asian regimes lagged significantly behind their European counterparts in making the market-oriented transformation crucial to industrial expansion that underwrote development of highly effective armed forces in Europe.44 Chinese market behavior and private pursuit of wealth could only function within limits defined by political authorities, educated in Confucian traditions hostile to the ethos of the marketplace.45 China and Japan also restricted trade with Europe to marginal proportions as a matter of government policy, further curtailing the spread of European patterns of bureaucratized armed force into Asia.46
Modern routines of army drill that began in Holland at the end of the sixteenth century spread relatively quickly across Europe and into Russia, but not to China or Japan. They also faced tremendous resistance among the Turks, who came to see innovations from the West as posing a threat to the existing Islamic sociopolitical order.47 It took nearly a century of military disaster before the sultan adopted modern European training methods.48
Revolutionary idealism and the administrative implementation of liberty and equality had proven their worth with French successes between 1792 and 1815, but European leaders chose to revert thereafter to Old Regime military methods for fear that a nation in arms would jeopardize traditional social patterns. Arming peasants challenged the nobles' position and increased the likelihood that the armed forces could not be relied upon to defend the Old Regime. Conservative traditions reasserted themselves and innovations were purposefully squelched.49 Thus, organization theory does not see diffusion as a smooth process. It varies with the social, cultural, organizational, and political context.
Organization theory also leaves open the question of how innovative technologies and practices will be incorporated into national military organizations, whether they will be emulated, and if they can be leveraged effectively by other states to affect the balance of international influence. A military organization may acquire a new technology, but face obstacles to developing the organizational structure or doctrine needed to realize a radical increase in military effectiveness. The Tofflers point out that the way a society makes war reflects how it makes wealth. The information revolution in warfare is a logical outgrowth of the knowledge-based economies and the computer-related technologies upon which modern society now rests.50 A society must permit the free-flow of information to ride the revolution and one can imagine social, political, and cultural resistance in many states to free flow of information. These obstacles are not without precedent as the previous example demonstrate. Military innovations tend to require unique sets of national resources to be effectively implemented and exploited. At minimum, implementation requires the ability to develop and build new weapons systems and frequently requires fundamental changes in the current social order. In some cases, an innovation is leveraged by geographical resources such as a large population or ocean access. Consequently, nations are differently poised to take advantage of innovations and there is no guarantee that the state that originally implements the innovation will benefit from it most in the long-run. Nor is there reason to believe that the resources most useful for exploiting previous innovations will be the required ones for subsequent innovations. Thus, the introduction of an innovation could logically destabilize the distribution of military influence in the interstate system.
Most revolutionary military advances have technological, organizational, and macro-social dimensions. The tendency is to focus on the technical capabilities that typically underwrite military advances, which increase the lethality, range, and/or defensive capability of the military units that employ them. But historically, the organizational and macro-social dimensions have been more significant for explaining military performance. At the organizational level, the development of modern routines of army drill introduced by Maurice of Nassau in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries enhanced military effectiveness dramatically. It created social bonds and esprit de corps among army troops, in addition to making the use of certain weapons, like hand-held guns, far more efficient. Macro-social transformations, such as the merging of military enterprise into the market system, permitted nations who adopted market controls to operate more effectively as great powers because it stabilized civil-military relations and provided a stable tax base to support larger more formidable armed forces. A list of major technical advances in the past millennia can be seen in Figure 1. Some inventions could be placed in several categories.
Figure 1: Technical Capabilities
|I. English longbow
III. Smooth bore-small-arms
IV. Rifled artillery
V. Rifled small-arms
VI. Machine guns
VII. Nuclear weapons
VIII. Advanced conventional munitions
IX. Guided missiles
|I. Astronomic navigation
II. Steam ship
VI. Internal combustion engine
VIII. Mobile armor and artillery
|I. Trace Italienne
II. Barbed wire
III. Reinforced concrete fortifications
Technical advances are
seldom sufficient in and of themselves. Frequently they rely on more basic resource
requirements like industrial infrastructure to produce the capability or money to purchase
it. Bernard Brodie points out that profound changes in war-making have occurred during
periods of static technology, and what may appear to be extraordinary change in the tools
of war may have little political or military significance.51 While the invention of the
atom bomb was sufficient to launch its own military revolution, in the twelfth century the
small Mongol nation needed no new technology to create one of the most effective war
fighting methods the world has ever seen.
Military innovations usually require changes in how militaries are organized and operate. Examples include Mongol mobile archery tactics, the Swiss pike square, English integration of pike, longbow and cavalry, the use of drill by Maurice of Nassau and Gustov Adolphus, and Napoleon's general staff system. (See Figure 2) Like the technological innovations above, these innovations may be highly significant but insufficient in and of themselves. Some doctrinal and organizational innovations would not be possible without technological advances. Blitzkrieg, for example, relied on dive bombers, high-velocity anti-tank guns, and tanks.
Figure 2: Tactical, Doctrinal, and Organizational Innovations
|I. Mongol horse-archer
II. Mongol psychological warfare
III. Mongol C3I
IV. Swiss pike square
V. English longbow infantry tactics
VI. Dutch linear tactics
VII. Spanish tercio
VIII. Ship of the line tactics
IX. French strategy of strategic fortresses
X. Maurice of Nassau's drill
|I. Gustov Adolphus'
II. Napoleon's general staff system
III. Napoleon's skirmishers
IV. Squad dispersion of the interwar period
V. German blitzkrieg
VI. Amphibious assault
VII. Strategic bombing
VIII. Carrier task force
Finally, a number of
macro-level social, political, and economic transformations in society as a whole have
dramatically increased military effectiveness. (See Figure 3) In the seventeenth century,
Prussia surmounted local opposition to centralized taxation and this allowed the state to
maintain an army of great size. In 1694, the British founded the Bank of England, a
centralized source of credit for financing war that allowed them to underwrite expansive
naval efforts which the French, who lacked a comparable credit mechanism, were never able
to match. In the early eighteenth century, the fusion of the Prussian nobility and officer
corps created a collective sense of honor, established financial self-sufficiency for the
state, and resulted in an army of greater efficiency and cheapness than any other European
force.52 Some of the most significant macro-social innovations were monarchical
absolutism, centralized taxation systems, market economies, industrialization, and
Figure 3: Macro-Social Innovations
|A. English and Swiss
arming and training commoners c1300
B. Professionalization of armies
C. Professionalization of officers corps
D. Monarchical absolutism
F. Standardization of national armies and weapons
G. Nationalization of armed forces (vs privatization)
H. Centralized taxation systems
I. Nation in arms
K. Revolutionary ideology
L. Military-industrial complex
M. Freedom of information
From organization theory,
we would expect the scope and speed of diffusion to be far less uniform and rapid than any
of the other three theories predict. Adoption of innovations depends on the compatibility
between the technology and the state's society, culture, and military organization. By
identifying forces in addition to competition that drive diffusion, organization theory
actually predicts the scope of diffusion will be far broader, that even nations remote
from the core of the innovation will have an incentive to adopt it once normative
pressures set in. Thus, logically, more potential challengers will arise, but they will
adapt the new technologies and practices to their own organizational, social, and cultural
environments. States are just as likely to off-set as to emulate the capabilities of the
The assumptions and predictions of neo-realism, power transitions theory, offense-defense theory and organization theory for the scope and rate of diffusion, and its international consequences, are summarized in Table 1 below. After a brief review of the military innovations we have selected for study, we perform a preliminary analysis to assess the strength of the various theoretical perspectives for explaining patterns of diffusion of revolutionary developments in war-making and their effects on international influence. We conclude with some preliminary observations about the relevance of our findings for understanding the consequences that are likely to follow from the United States pursuing the information revolution in military affairs.
TABLE 1: Theoretical Perspectives On Diffusion
|Diffusion effects (scope and rate)||International consequences|
|Neo-realism||competition||theory does not address]||uniform, rapid emulation||rise of peer competitors but little long run impact on balance of international influence|
|Power transitions||national development||level of national development||scope and rate depend on macro-social capacity of states, and capital investment required for
||depends on speed of power transition which varies with innovation|
||offense-defense balance; level of defensive disadvantage||wealth||offensive innovations diffuse more rapidly, particularly among wealthy states; defensive innovations diffuse more slowly overall with smaller states adopting more quickly||offensive innovations benefit large, wealthy states; defensive innovations benefit small, less wealthy states|
|Organization||competition and normative pressures||compatibility between technology and organization-society-culture||uneven, irregular, but broader diffusion||broader range of challengers to superior state, both peer and niche|
Revolutionary military innovations are those that allow an entrepreneurial state, which successfully exploits the potential of an integrated set of military inventions effectively in battle, to demonstrate a clear superiority over older techniques of battle. While change in the ways of making war is an evolutionary process, evolution tends to occur in spurts that punctuate an otherwise fairly stable equilibrium.53 These breaks involve fundamental discontinuities with the existing status quo. They are not merely clever technological or organizational breakthroughs that enhance performance at the tactical level. They signal a shift in the dominant modes of war-fighting.
Often, the technological, tactical, or organizational advances associated with a particular innovation have been employed in peripheral wars and battles. Andrew Krepinevich argues that the Gulf War may have been such a "precursor war -- an indicator of the revolutionary potential of emerging technologies and new military systems."54 Specific advances also tend initially to be grafted onto existing ways of war-fighting. Tanks were initially used in support of the infantry in World War I and aircraft were initially confined to spotting and scouting roles in support of battleship fleets, each innovative technology being fit into established ways of war-fighting. We identify a dramatic rise in military effectiveness as being established when a set of inventions is combined in a unique and innovative way and is proven in battle against a first class power. It took the innovative application of tanks in Blitzkrieg, demonstrated by the Germans in Poland and France, and air power in carrier strike forces, demonstrated by the Japanese at Pearl Harbor, to herald changes in existing methods of war on land and sea.55 These transformations gave their possessors a crippling advantage in a confrontation with a major power and dramatically altered the nature of military competition.
If we view military evolution proceeding along a path of punctuated equilibrium, we can identify twelve significant transformations in war-making that have occurred over the past one thousand years. (See Figure 4) We note the date of the battle, conquest, or event in which the innovation demonstrates its superiority decisively in a contest with a first class military power.56
Figure 4: Revolutionary Military Innovations
|Mongol||Decisive battles: First War against Chin Empire and conquest of Northern China, 1211-1215. Mounted archer and shock troops combined with siege mechanics, extremely effective military doctrine, and superior command, control, communication, and intelligence.|
|Infantry||Decisive battle: English victory over French at Cr�cy, 1346. Combined-arms infantry-cavalry team with pike and long-bow infantry predominant permits dismounted army to defeat Europe's finest cavalry nearly three times its size.|
|Artillery||Decisive battles: French reconquest of Normandy and Aquitaine, 1449-53, and beginning of expulsion of English from France with use of cannon to break through English strongholds. Charles VII creates standing army with permanent and highly effective artillery organization and reverses English victories of Hundred Years War (1337-1457) in less than five years. At the same time, Turks under Mohammed II use massive siege artillery to batter down walls and capture Constantinople (1453), ending the Byzantine empire.|
|Fortress||Decisive battles: Sieges checking Hapsburg heir Charles V's drive for hegemony in Italy, c1525. Cities and states protected by the trace italienne with its angular bastion could withstand long sieges against traditional methods of battery and assault.|
|Ship-of-the-line||Decisive battle: Lepanto, 1571. First true naval engagement in which Venetian galleasses defeat Turkish oar-driven galleys. Checks Muslim advance into western Mediterranean, ends their domination of central and eastern Mediterranean, and signals end of golden age of Ottoman power. Gradual victory of sailing ships mounting large guns over galleys culminates with superior English tactics in the Battle of the English channel (1588) that repel Spanish Armada, heralding new era of the broadside battery sailing ship that fought effectively at long range. English stake their claim to mastery of the seas.|
|Musket/Drill||Decisive battles: Swedish defeats of Hapsburgs in 1631-34 during Thirty Years War, beginning with Breitenfeld, 1631. Use of combined arms (pike, musket, cavalry, rapid-firing mobile artillery), linear tactics, and classical drill and discipline permits Gustavus Adolphus to defeat armies of Spain -- an empire with vastly greater resources than Sweden's. Leveraged by improvements in military administration and key role of absolutist state.|
|Nation in Arms||Decisive battles: War of the Second Coalition, 1800. Napoleon vastly expands scale of war with universal conscription and mobilization of society for war, combined with republican nationalism and modern industrial output and logistics.|
|Industrialism I: Steam and Rapid Mobilization||Prussia combines
technical advances in steam, railroad, telegraph and rifle to defeat Austria (1866) and
France (1870). At sea, Britain exploits heavy-gunned ships, steam propulsion, and
improvements in gunnery and fire control to vastly increase overseas empire. Culminates
with Dreadnought in 1906.
|Industrialism II: Machine Gun and Trench Warfare||Decisive battle: Marne, 1914. Rifled small arms and artillery, and machine guns outstrip mobility provided by steam. Industrial mass production dramatically increases supply of munitions and mobilizes society for war. Produces "total" war and tactical stalemate.|
|Industrialism III: Internal Combustion, Radio, and Mobility||Decisive battles: Battle of France, 1940 and Pearl Harbor, 1941. Improvements in internal combustion engines, mechanization, aircraft design, and communication technology reintroduce mobility and maneuver and permit large numbers of warfighting packages to deliver blows directly against enemy nation.|
|Nuclear||Decisive event: Hiroshima, 1945. Coupling of nuclear warheads with more efficient delivery systems, jet propulsion, and electronics (radar and computers) permits complete and instantaneous destruction of state without need to defeat armed forces.|
|Information||Decisive battle: none to
date. Persian Gulf War, 1991 signals impending RMA. Advances in range, strike, stealth,
sensors, precision-guided munitions, micro-electronics, computers, and information
processing heightens importance of C3I and permits collapse of previous spatial and
temporal constraints on simultaneous operations.
In most cases, the contributions of one set of innovations are not lost when new innovations prove themselves. France's revolutionary use of artillery in the fifteenth century incorporated the English infantry tactics that preceded it, and acquisition of nuclear weapons did not result in the United States dispensing with the mobile armor tactics that Germany pioneered between the wars.
and its Consequences
The innovations of the Mongols permitted them to develop the most strategically mobile military in history, to routinely defeat nations with populations tens of times larger than their own, and to carve out the largest land empire the world has ever seen. As Keegan remarks, "no sequence of campaigns by a single people before or since has ever subjected so large an area to military domination."57 On the surface, the Mongols proceeded in the tradition of a long line of Asian horse-peoples. In two related aspects, however, they differed considerably. First, the Mongol way of war required an unusual commitment to training -- always beginning in early childhood and providing a nearly exclusive focus during the warrior's life. Second, Mongol tactics required a great deal more organization and troop discipline than was the norm among other horse-peoples.58
At the time of the rise of Mongols tactics, the most powerful political unit in Asia was most certainly the Chin empire of North China. The Chin dynasty fell to the Mongols quickly, and native forces succeeded in expelling the Mongols and establishing the Ming Dynasty only in 1368. Historical accounts of later battles seem to indicate that, even after this long period of subjugation, the Ming successors only partially adopted Mongol tactics.59 Until the rise of the Mongols, Asia had been geopolitically divided by the Himalayas into distinct eastern and western regions. No political unit on the western side survived the Mongols to sufficiently to say whether it adopted Mongol tactics. Most actors that faced the Mongols were conquered by them and, consequently, garrisoned by them. States in Eastern Europe that faced the Mongols briefly such as Poland, Hungary and the Byzantine Empire learned from the Mongols the use of light cavalry and maneuver with emphasis on light armor, bow, and lance,60 but did not emulate Mongol tactics. Only the slave soldiers of the Mameluke state of Egypt successfully resisted the Mongols and fully emulated them without being occupied by them.
Mongol methods diffused through Asia. The Russians, in particular, learned much from Mongol cavalry doctrine and tactics, and also adopted Mongol "ferocity."61 Keegan argues that the West encountered Cossack ferocity in the Moscow campaign of 1812, by Crusading in the East, and in war with the Ottomans and as a result, the ruthlessness of steppe warfare, its warrior culture, and its obsession with unconditional surrender eventually made its way into Europe.62 But the European armies, who never learned to cope with the Mongols, never learned much directly from them either. As Dupuy notes, "The brief Mongol incursion west of the Carpathians made no direct impression on military tactics and tradition in central or western Europe."63 The reasons elude military historians, but Dupuy suggests they may be twofold: at the height of their power, the Mongols encountered local forces who were no match for them, and the military elites of those countries were destroyed. By the time the Mongols moved to conquer the eastern Mediterranean, their power had passed its peak. When the Mongols began to recede, their heritage remained only in the military society of the Ottoman Turks.
Mongol methods affected international politics in two key ways. First, because there were no extant militaries that could stand up to Mongol methods, Mongol innovations radically redistributed power to nations using light cavalry and maneuver. Perhaps because the methods were based on training from childhood, no emulators arose for a generation, giving the Mongols several decades to consolidate their empire without serious contest. Five decades after their first successes, however, the Mongols met their first true defeat at the battle of Ain Jalut (1260) when the Mameluke kingdoms under Kotuz bested a Mongol force using Mongol methods.64 During the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, Asia was dominated by the Mongols and their near eastern imitators, the mamelukes and the Golden Horde.
The second way Mongol innovations affected the balance of international influence occurred only after their military techniques spread throughout Asia. Mongol techniques were based on light cavalry tactics and allowed innovators to project force far more easily than before they adopted the methods. For the larger empires, this was a great boon, allowing them to project power far more efficiently. For principalities that relied on geography to protect them from their more powerful neighbors, however, this was disastrous. Even after the dissolution of the Mongol Empire, as long as the Mongol techniques remained preeminent throughout Asia, small states remained displaced by great land empires. Mongol methods reached their zenith in the late thirteenth century in Asia and were eventually combined with emerging gunpowder technology to form the new type of warfare epitomized by the siege of Constantinople (1453).65
The innovations associated with the infantry revolution can be traced to the constant battles between the English on the one hand, and the Welsh and Scots on the other, throughout the thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. Lacking the resources available to England to purchase expensive chivalry, the smaller nations developed highly effective infantry tactics -- the Welsh emphasizing the longbow, the Scottish using the pike.66 Faced with superior methods, the English soon integrated Welsh longbow and Scottish infantry tactics into their own methods. In 1346, at Cr�cy, much to their own surprise, the English were able to crush the army of the preeminent kingdom in Europe, though outnumbered three to one, taking only one casualty for every 84 inflicted.67 The ascendancy of infantry over cavalry, demonstrated in Edward III's defensive tactics at Crecy, was perfected by the Swiss, a poor mountain people, without horses, whose lightly armored foot soldiers achieved an offensive capability universally recognized as the most superior in Europe.68 The Swiss, however, never leveraged this capacity to expand their nation's political influence, while other nations employed Swiss pikesman to do so.
Although infantry had always played an important role in medieval warfare,69 the English innovated in producing and maintaining a professional standing army. Raised under the indenture, as opposed to feudal, system, English soldiers were trained from youth in the use of their weapons and were signed on "for the duration."70 Clifford Rogers has argued that such an army was probably only possible under a political system sufficiently liberal to permit the peasantry to bear arms.71
For over a century, England's military innovation allowed her armies to march across France with near impunity. Dupuy notes that other fourteenth century leaders strived to emulate the English by dismounting their heavy cavalry in battle, but they failed to combine knights and archers "to obtain a flexible combination of missile firepower, defensive staying power, and mobile shock action."72 Eventually, others developed effective infantry armies, but it was more difficult for feudal states to adopt England's new military system based on common infantry (i.e., drawn from non-aristocratic classes) as it threatened to undermine the pillars of domestic political control. Charles VI of France is noted to have given up his attempt to impose long bow training when he realized that the common archers "if they had been gathered together, would have been more powerful than the princes and nobles."73
At the outbreak of the rise of infantry tactics, France was unquestionably the most powerful political unit in Europe. Although the French were quick to realize the advantage of infantry tactics, they were slower than other feudal states to embrace them. France made a number of efforts to emulate the English infantry, but each met with failure until France's territory was almost entirely controlled by its enemy. Failure was probably the result of France's huge advantage in wealth, population and chivalry which originally made reform seem unnecessary, and because doing so would have undermined the regime.74 France was able to emulate, and then defeat England, only after its political system was mostly destroyed, its government exiled, and the French people rose up under the symbolic leadership of Joan of Arc. Other principalities, particularly smaller states, appeared to have less trouble implementing reforms and by the mid-fifteenth century, in the most active theaters, paid professional armies had displaced feudal levies as far east as Hungary.75
With the rise and spread of infantry tactics, smaller states gained influence at the expense of the great powers. The standing infantry armies of the time differed from armies composed of chivalry and feudal levies in an important way. To raise a feudal army required an immense concentration of wealth. To raise an infantry army did not. This meant that even poor princedoms could recruit powerful armies if they were willing to arm commoners. Payment could be made in spoils and increased liberty. Thus, most of the Hundred Years War was made up of internecine fighting between the rebellious continental provinces of France and England, with the opposing power as the rebels' patron. The effect on the balance of international influence was to increase the relative power of Europe's smaller principalities at the expense of larger ones. This was true not only when the infantry innovations had diffused asymmetrically, such as in the Hundred Years war, but in areas where both sides possessed the innovation. Along the English-Scottish border, for instance, the vastly larger English forces were able to make little headway against the Scots.
Although the first recorded use of firearms in Europe was at Cr�cy, the first time they played a significant strategic role was in the French conquest of Normandy in 1449. Suffering from a hundred years of humiliation by the English, constant internal rebellion and the after effects of Joan of Arc, Charles VII allowed himself to be persuaded to create first a standing army and then a professional artillery organization. Using the new integrated army, he was able to undo a hundred years of English victories in less than five years. In a similar vein, the Ottoman Turks used artillery to batter down the walls of Constantinople and end the Byzantine empire (1453).
The advantage of the new artillery on siege warfare was immediate. Prior to gunpowder artillery, castles and other medieval fortifications greatly hindered the mobility of attacking armies by forcing them to spend long period of time in besiegement. At Rouen and Cherbourg (1418 and 1419) for instance, Henry V spent five and six months respectively in investment. Artillery allowed the French to reconquer the same territory without prolonged sieges.76 Soon after gunpowder artillery came into use, medieval fortifications were rendered virtually obsolete. When mounted on ships, cannon also vastly increased the reach of naval powers. The French also pioneered advances in mobile field artillery and at the Battle of Marignano (1515), succeeded in delivering the first serious setback to the Swiss who had dominated European battlefields for over a century.77 France's artillery supremacy, however, was short-lived because small arms were a more effective way to combine mobility and long-range firepower. Artillery retained its importance for the attack and defense of fortifications, and in naval warfare, while improvement in infantry small arms and tactics, particularly by the Spanish, became the decisive factor on the battlefield.78
Artillery techniques diffused throughout Europe and Middle East, though a number of European states were slow to adopt gunpowder small arms. England and Switzerland had developed highly effective infantry tactics based around the long bow and pike, respectively, and were loath to change them. France, which pioneered and came to depend heavily on gunpowder artillery, was also slow to adopt gunpowder small arms.79
Although professional artillery corps were only an evolutionary advance on the battlefield,80 they radically increased wealthy leaders' ability to centralize authority by reducing the fortifications of rebellious nobles. This ability also tended to have a snowball effect; centralized states were able to raise more money to purchase highly expensive artillery, which allowed them to absorb the resources of conquered territories which provided them with more wealth. The expense of the innovation may be the main reason that innovation spread to large kingdoms and principalities faster than to smaller ones. By the end of the century, artillery played a major part in most European and Middle Eastern great power's order of battle.81
The most radical effect professional artillery had on international influence occurred after the technology had diffused throughout Europe and the Middle East. Gunpowder artillery vastly improved strategic mobility by allowing attacking armies to quickly reduce fortifications. For large states, this was a fortuitous change. In Europe, England had almost certainly been the most powerful state, but artillery permitted the reemergence of France as the region's great power and Castile to conquer the Iberian peninsula. In Asia, it formed the basis for the emerging "gunpowder empires." The artillery age continued in Asia until its eventual colonization by the great powers of Europe. In Europe, however, the coming of "artillery fortresses" around 1525 ameliorated its international effects.
Early in the sixteenth century (c1525), the Italian city-states began to counter French and Spanish depredations with "artillery fortresses" -- or trace Italienne -- specifically designed to nullify the effects of artillery. As the innovation came into wider use throughout the peninsula, small Italian forces began to repulse much greater armies.82 Just as artillery had vastly decreased the time it took attackers to take defended territory, the new fortresses returned warfare to the pre-artillery ante increasing the time and resources necessary to besiege a town or fortress tremendously.83
After its introduction in Italy, the artillery fortress quickly spread to Europe's smaller states and provinces. All along the Hapsburg and Valois frontiers -- Netherlands, Danube Valley, Germany and Northern Italy -- the influence of smaller political units rose as they were able to assert their autonomy against vastly larger armies.84 Eventually the innovation spread to most countries in Western Europe with France adopting them later but using them extensively, and Hapsburg Spain, the chief exception, never making much use of them. The Italian city states were building artillery fortresses by 1500 and the French had made major outlays for them by the 1530s. The Spanish, however, did not begin significant spending on artillery fortresses until the 1570s, and even then it is not clear how seriously they pursued their construction program.85 Strangely, however, like professional infantry armies, the diffusion of the innovation generally stopped at the borders of Western Europe, spread only slightly into Eastern Europe and did not spread into Asia.86 Rogers, in fact, credits the artillery fortress with stopping the steady advance of the Ottoman Empire into Europe.87
By dramatically increasing the time and expense required to take territory, the artillery fortress allowed small states and provinces a great deal more autonomy than had been the case in the preceding era. Conversely, for the great empires, the artillery fortress provided a constant source of problems as they were forced to expend increasing resources to quell internal rebellion and to exert influence over their small non-compliant neighbors. Not surprisingly, the only two great powers in Europe to significantly increase their international influence -- Spain and England -- were sea powers that obtained much of their wealth outside of Europe.
Early in the sixteenth century, the sea powers of the Atlantic began to experiment with mounting cannon on the broadsides of ocean going vessels. The effectiveness of the resulting galleons and galleass in combat could be seen as early as the battles of Diu (1509) and Preveza (1538).88 At Lepanto (1571), the technology was used by a combined Christian fleet in a decisive action against the Ottomans, who were the most powerful sea power of the era. Each of the galleass used in the battle held around thirty guns broadside.89 Although only six galleass were used in the battle, the battle demonstrated that the supremacy of the oar was at an end.90 After the battle, the Ottoman Port immediately began building galleass as a counter to the Western methods.91 Of the battle, Cervantes, who lost a hand in the fighting wrote: "the world and all the nations were disabused of the error that the Turks were invincible at sea.92 Soon after, in the Battle of the English Channel (1588), the English demonstrated that the technology was best applied in battle via ship-of-the-line tactics.93
Broadside cannon greatly enhanced the firepower of ships. At Preveza, for instance, a single galleon stood off an entire Turkish fleet.94 During the period they also allowed innovators to project the siege power of cannon globally, as was made particularly clear by the expansion of the Portuguese and Spanish empires. When combined with ship-of-the-line tactics and ship killing guns, they had another effect. Now, ships became more than floating platforms for soldiers. Before the sixteenth century, navies had been little more than armies temporarily at sea; from this point forward, armies and navies became distinct organizations. Thus, England, for instance, until the coming of aerial bombardment, was able to maintain itself as a distinctly naval power -- a concept that was not particularly meaningful in earlier times.
The technology of broadside cannon diffused across the globe quickly but the English notion of ship-of-the-line tactics diffused much more slowly. In the Atlantic, the English were the first to use broadside cannon and this technology diffused quickly to Spain, Portugal, and France. As early as 1509, the Portuguese were using broadside cannon to some extent in the Indian Ocean and it appears that several Asian countries made significant effort to emulate their ships.95 In the Mediterranean, the Ottomans made some efforts to emulate the technology in 1572 after their defeat at Lepanto. Perhaps because the Mediterranean was ill-suited to large, slow, ocean-going vessels, the technology did not make quick inroads in that region and as late as the seventeenth century, Venice had to send to England for its first ship of the line.96 After the Battle of the English Channel, ship-of-the-line tactics were eventually emulated by the sea going powers of the Atlantic, but they diffused much more slowly than the technology itself and England remained the most able user of these tactics throughout the era of sail and shot. Slow innovators, who were also the dominant naval powers of the time, tended to suffer significant losses of prestige in their regions of influence. Early in the sixteenth century the Ottoman Empire was the greatest naval power east of the Atlantic and Spain in the Atlantic itself. The Ottomans were slow to emulate the Portuguese and suffered a loss of influence in the Red Sea and India Ocean early in the century. Later, they suffered a similar decline in fortunes in the Mediterranean to the Spanish. The Spanish were quick to use the broadside technology, but slow to emulate English ship of the line tactics, and consequently suffered a major loss of influence in the Atlantic to the English.
Broadside technology and ship-of-the-line tactics are unique in that they affected different regions in different ways. In the Mediterranean, galleons were significantly slower and more cumbersome than galleys. Galleys could choose the time and place of a confrontation and could place and remove troops from land much faster than a slow moving sailing vessel. When galleys did chose to engage galleons, however, the galleons had a very substantial advantage which led military theorists of the time to consider galleons defensive technology at sea.97 In the Mediterranean, the new technology probably contributed to breaking the stranglehold of the Ottoman empire and increasing the autonomy of the southern and western Mediterranean states.
In the world's oceans, however, the technology had the opposite effect. In the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, where galleys played little role, the new broadside ships and tactics replaced slower roundship technology and boarding tactics. The new ships allowed innovators to project cannon on a global basis and to control the world's oceans which contributed to their ability to project their land forces where and when they pleased. First the Portuguese and Spanish and later the English, French and Dutch used this technology very effectively to build their great sea going empires. Throughout the period, which lasted until the era of steamships, the Atlantic states of Europe used the technology to consolidate vast colonial empires.
Throughout the sixteenth century, an evolutionary struggle ensued between states and provinces seeking to gain autonomy by increasing their fortifications and those seeking to expand their influence by increasing the size and quality of their gunpowder-armies. By the time of the Thirty Years War, the worst of the combat had moved east into the regions of Europe where artillery fortresses had not yet taken hold.98 By 1630, armies had grown in size to over ten times what they had been a century before.99 Gustavus Adolphus' strategy during the "Swedish period" of the war is generally considered the watershed for modern war. Adopting and perfecting the techniques pioneered by Maurice of Nassau several decades earlier, Adolphus repeatedly proved his techniques by defeating the armies of Spain (1630-1632) -- an empire with resources fantastically larger than Sweden's.
Adolphus made a number of important contributions to the art of war, but none were as lasting or politically significant as demonstrating how to raise a large, highly disciplined army from a small population, and tying that army inexorably to the leader of the state. Creating and maintaining such armies required innovating states to centralize military authority and increase taxation prodigiously. For feudal states, this meant changing the social basis of political power and was one of the major factors in the rise of absolutism. Throughout the seventeenth century, European states raced to create the infrastructure necessary to implement Adolphus' revolution. The first states to adopt the methods, Sweden and the Netherlands, were small states and their early adoption probably accounted for much of their military success in the early part of the century. As larger states, particularly France, developed modern infrastructures and armies, however, the advantage was lost. The most powerful state at the time the innovation came into use, Spain, was the last major European power to adopt the techniques but the sound defeat of Spanish tercios by the French at Rocroi (1643) dislodged Spanish attachment to their long-victorious tradition.100 Spain, however, was financially incapable of supporting a large army.101
For what appear to be social and political reasons, nations outside Western Europe failed to adopt the innovations, or did so only sluggishly. The Russians translated the new drill books in 1649 but strong social impediments to military reform had to be surmounted. These included vested interests of the traditional military elite -- particularly the cavalry archers, long the bulwark against the Tartar threat -- and the Orthodox church, the center of opposition to Western ways among a xenophobic populace. It would take the reforms of Peter the Great to overcome this opposition and develop the fiscal and administrative capacity of the Muscovite state to sustain a modern standing army.102 The Ottomans faced even more daunting political and social obstacles. Intransigence was staunchest among the Janissaries and ulema, the military and religious elites who were convinced that indigenous military methods were superior to anything the infidel had to offer and that Western practices were heretical. Any innovation from the West was viewed as a threat to the Islamic sociopolitical order and these groups were only too willing to mobilize the populace by appealing to traditional values. Moreover, Ottoman society consisted of "a multitude of overlapping, self-administering entities ..." and the sultan and his government were "simply one, albeit the most powerful, in a cluster of semiautonomous, pluralistic centers of authority."103
With the adoption of modern drilled armies, Europe's states became vastly superior to the armies of the Middle East and Asia.104 The effect of drilled armies on the balance of international influence was superseded only by the Mongol expansion. Like the Mongols, European powers used their advantage to expand their influence abroad and by the beginning of the nineteenth century possessed around thirty-five percent of the world's land surface.105
Whether the revolution in drill altered states' strategic mobility is unclear. There is little reason to think that modern armies undid the defensive effects of fortifications since modern taxation schemes allowed a tremendous growth in the number of fortresses. Furthermore, the nature of discipline in armies during this period made foraging extremely difficult, thus limiting the range of armies to the magazines which provided supply.106 Thus, it appears that most of the international effects of this innovation occurred because of slow diffusion rather than because it changed the mobility of armies.
As had been the case with the Mongol, infantry and fortress innovations, at the end of the eighteenth century, the concept of the nation in arms began in a peripheral state. In this case, the success of American citizen soldiers against the British foretold a great deal about what war would look like in future decades when appeals to nationalism would be used to raise and motivate armies. Yet, only when republican nationalist war was embraced by a great power -- France -- did its true military potential become evident.
Like Adolphus almost two centuries before, Napoleon's genius was to amalgamate the technical and political capabilities of his time into a system of war. As Clausewitz points out, the effect of republicanism was to allow France to raise as many as ten times the troops other countries could from the same population base. None of Napoleon's achievements was as significant for war as showing how to mobilize, train and supply such troops. Yet, this achievement was only possible when republican esprit de corps was combined with modern industrial output and logistics.
The revolutionary social changes needed to implement the French innovation were reminiscent of those associated with the England's infantry revolution five centuries earlier. In order to obtain the innovation's military benefits, monarchs risked social instability. Thus, as had been the case with the infantry innovation, the monarchs of many European states attempted to resist the diffusion of the innovation.107 Some states, however, like Prussia, quickly embraced many elements of the system.108 By mid-century, with the notable exception of Britain, most European states had adopted universal conscription. Like drill, however, it diffused slowly, if at all, into states of non-European origin.
While centralized state governments and disciplined professional armies are still the rule, the emergence of the levee en masse in the War of the Second Coalition (1800) allowed innovators to overcome non-innovators' defenses. It would be difficult, however, to say whether it increased or decreased strategic mobility. It has been argued that lower desertion rates decreased armies' reliance on supply magazines109 and larger armies decreased the importance of forts. While this was undoubtedly the case, such armies were a great deal more mobile and effective within their own borders because nationalism aided in supply and recruitment. Consequently, when two nationalistic armies clashed, the state projecting power into the other's home territory may have been at a significantly greater disadvantage than had been the case in the earlier era. Unfortunately, there is little empirical evidence to support one claim or the other since during the period of dominance of Napoleonic methods -- approximately 1800-1866 -- no wars were fought between states that had both adopted the methods.110 The Crimean war might have provided some evidence but most of the belligerents -- the Ottoman Empire, Russia, Britain -- did not use Napoleonic methods.111 Perhaps the best evidence comes from later clashes between France and Prussia after Scharnhorst's reorganization of the Prussian army along Napoleonic lines.112 From the revolt of Prussia (January 1813) to Leipzig (October 1813) it appeared that nationalist troops were easier to mobilize and use on their own home soil than abroad, providing some evidence that the innovation decreased strategic mobility between innovating states. Still, the evidence is far from clear. Like the innovations in drill, the international effects of this innovation are tied chiefly to rates of diffusion rather than changes in mobility.
During the Napoleonic wars, many of Europe's smaller states were swallowed up by France, and rather than restoring the status quo ante, the Congress of Vienna merely divided most of the small conquered territories between the great powers. After the Congress, the number of small German principalities, for instance, declined from over three hundred to less than forty.113 During the following decades, Europe was rocked by a great deal of violence which culminated in the unification of Italy and much of Germany and the beginning of the dissolution of the Ottoman empire -- Prussia and Sardinia utilizing France's nationalistic methods, the Ottomans refusing to liberalize. Outside of Europe, most South America colonies adopted revolutionary nationalism and shrugged off imperial ties while Asian colonies generally did not and remained bound to Europe.
Between 1800 and 1866, science laid immense resources at the feet of military planners, but as yet no one had developed a way to integrate them into an effective military doctrine. Again, the first effective innovating state was on the periphery. During its Civil War, the Union and Confederate states of America began to find ways to integrate the railroad, steamship, telegraph, rifle and other innovations into their strategies. Among the great powers, however, Prussia was the first state to do so on land, Britain at sea. Owing much to Moltke's doctrine of strategic offense and tactical defense, Prussia was able to combine recent technical advances in such a way as to defeat Austria (1866) and France (1870).114 Britain, although not the first to develop a steam navy, was the first to realize its potential outside of Europe, vastly increasing the size of -- and its control over -- its overseas empire.
By any standards, the technical advances in military capabilities leading up to the Austro-Prussian war were revolutionary. Railroads and steamships increased mobilization and logistical capabilities dramatically, telegraphs improved communications, and rifled bullets improved range and accuracy. The question of the era was whether set defenses utilizing rifle technology, or offenses using steam, would prevail. Moltke's contribution was to answer this question in favor of steam.
For non-innovating countries, which in this case generally meant countries outside of Europe or America, the effect was devastating. By the time of the First World War, nearly all non-innovators had been colonized by innovators. This outcome stemmed largely from the increased capability of steamships and the need for coaling depots. Within Europe, however, these innovations diffused so quickly that they provided only a brief advantage to innovating states. In 1866, Prussia defeated Austria owing in large part to its ability to use its rail network to mobilize its military. In 1870, the rest of Europe had not yet learned the lesson of Austro-Prussia and Prussia was able to defeat France using the same methods.115 Subsequent to this event, most European states quickly attempted to adopt Prussian methods. Doing so required industrializing and creating rail-nets, however, and this was much more difficult for Eastern European states than for those further west. If steel production is used as an indicator of a state's capacity to adopt this innovation, some countries had clear advantages. By 1913, Prussia was able to produce 263 tons of steel per million population while Austria-Hungary was only able to produce 50 tons and Russia to produce 28 tons.116
Steel Produced Per One Million Population
The most profound
international effect of the industrial innovations of steam and rapid mobilization was to
increase strategic mobility. One of the main problems with the immense armies of the
period was mobilization and supply. On land, railroads greatly alleviated this problem by
allowing men and materiel to be transported and focused much more efficiently, greatly
diminishing the time it took to mobilize and project forces. Indeed, the Franco-Prussian
war can be read as a contest between the French doctrine of set defense based on rifle
tactics, and the Prussian doctrine of strategic offense and tactical defense which
integrated railroad and rifle.117 After Franco-Prussia, the Prussian army displaced the
French as the model for modern armies.118 For the next forty-four years, the ideology of
the offensive prevailed in Europe.
The period between the Franco-Prussian war and WWI is often called the most imperialistic in history.119 By the end of the period European states had more than doubled the size of their colonial possessions. This expansion has been explained by some students of technology by the inability of non-European states to industrialize.120 Within Western Europe, where the innovation had diffused, the great powers exercised nearly absolute suzerainty over smaller states.121 In Eastern Europe, and particularly the Balkans, where Austria-Hungary and Russia were slow to innovate, however, revolution remained common and smaller states retained a good deal of autonomy.122
Throughout the later half of the nineteenth century improved manufacturing techniques in conjunction with increased nationalism presented military planners with powerful new tools. As had been the case with a number of other innovations, these tools were first put to use by peripheral states, first by both the Union and Confederacy in the American Civil War and later, to some extent, by Japan in the Russo-Japanese war.123 Still it was not until Marne in the First World War that the great powers began to understand its full implications. During the previous half-century, the ideology of the offensive had dominated military thinking in Europe. The strategy Moltke had used so effectively in the Franco-Prussia war had been read by Europe, particularly by France, as a call for a purely offensive doctrine.124 Yet, soon after the First World War broke out, it became clear that defense would also play an important role and by wars end the major participants had come to believe in the superiority of the defense. The country that could sustain the attrition of the war for the longest period while supplying troops and material to the front would win. This defensive advantage was occasioned in party by technology: rifled bullets, machine guns, artillery, concrete and barbwire. A necessary component, however, was almost certainly a nationalistic population and an advanced industrial base.125
The technology associated with this era diffused so evenly throughout Europe that it is virtually impossible to discern an original innovator. The tactics of trench warfare also diffused quickly to Britain, France, Germany and Austria after the opening battles of WWI.126 After Marne (September 5, 1914), both sides began to shift their tactics away from the offense and by the First Battle of Champagne (December 14, 1914) both sides had incorporated trench warfare into their general strategies.127 Beyond these states, however, little diffusion took place. From Tannenberg at the outbreak of WWI to the Russo-Polish war (1920), the Russians continued to rely on massed offenses. This also seemed to be the rule among other states during this period. In the Russo-Polish war, the Poles, possibly because they could not field enough troops or material to create defensive works across their long borders also relied on maneuver, and in the Graeco-Turkish war (1920) both sides relied upon pre-WWI tactics. For other countries to emulate "nation at war" tactics would have required creating the political infrastructure to mobilize millions -- rather than hundreds of thousands -- of their population in order to create defensive lines sufficiently long to prevent enemy penetration, and manufacturing capabilities sufficient to supply material to sustain such troops.
Once the innovations of this period had diffused, strategic mobility was greatly hampered within the area of diffusion. Trench warfare was probably second only to the artillery fortress in transferring the advantage to the defense. WWI is almost universally read as driving this lesson home. Among the great powers, this had disastrous results. At Versailles, the losers of WWI lost virtually all influence beyond their greatly reduced national borders. Even the winners, however, lost a great deal of international influence due to their newfound reluctance to utilize their militaries in areas where they might contact other innovators. This reluctance is evident in the behavior on Britain and France in virtually every European conflict occurring within the period before the Second World War.128 It is interesting to note that, for the most part, this aversion to war appears to have extended only to the area in which the innovation diffused. Outside of Europe, the great powers continued to use their militaries to build and maintain large colonial empires.
By 1939, technology had again provided the tools for a new type of war. Chief among these were the internal combustion engine, radio and aircraft. Although each of these had been present in 1919, technical advances had vastly enhanced their military utility in the ensuing twenty years. Throughout the inter-war years, the great powers experimented with different ways of utilizing the new technology. The sea powers -- particularly the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan -- made great strides in amphibious warfare and the use of air power at sea. During this period, Germany also devised its Blitzkrieg strategy of mobile war. Yet, with the partial exception of the Spanish Civil War,129 none of the great powers' new military tactics had been tested on the battlefield against the forces of a great power. When Germany invaded Poland in 1939, most observers in the West assumed the Polish army collapsed quickly because of its ineptitude rather than because of the superiority of German tactics.130 It was only after the Battles of Flanders and France that the Allies began to realize that the integrated German tactics for land war had radically changed the nature of war.
Although the most dramatic military improvements in WWII are generally associated with Germany's Blitzkrieg tactics, the changes in warfare that occurred during this era go beyond the German contribution. During the Second World War, the great powers integrated their forces to an extent never before seen. As air power was increasingly used at sea, and to bypass seas, it became clear that land and sea power could no longer be isolated from each other. On land, the logistical requirements of supplying mechanized forces again required fantastic integration of land, sea and air forces. In Europe, in the early engagements of the war, and later in the Pacific, it became clear that old style technology and tactics were incapable of resisting the newer methods. In Poland, Norway, Denmark, the Low Countries and Northern France, the Germans used their Blitzkrieg tactics to do in weeks what they had been unable to do in years during the First World War. In the battle of Britain, they demonstrated that the Channel would no longer insulate the British from Continental conflicts. Later, in the Pacific -- particularly at the Battle of Midway -- the United States demonstrated that naval power would hence forth depend on air superiority.
The technology associated with mobile warfare on land and sea diffused evenly to the great powers throughout the inter-war years. The tactics associated with them, however, did not. Germany pioneered the tactics of Blitzkrieg and used them to conquer most of Europe before the Allies could emulate them. Mahnken argues that although the Allies began to attempt to emulate the Germans almost immediately, certainly by 1940, they were only partially successful and the Germans remained superior in integrated tactics throughout the war.131 In the Pacific, naval air-sea tactics appears to have diffused fairly evenly to Japan and the United States before the war and both sides improved upon their original tactics throughout the war. By the end of the war, the technology and tactics of mobile war had diffused to virtually all countries that had the manufacturing resources necessary to field mechanized forces.
The most marked effect of mobile war was to increase strategic mobility. This was illustrated throughout the war, both against asymmetrical forces early in the war, and later when both sides utilized similar tactics and technology. Early in the war, the Germans were able to smash through the Dyle line in the Low Countries using air power in conjunction with land forces and then bypass the Maginot line using highly mobile forces. Later, when technology and tactics had diffused more symmetrically, both sides were able to bypass set defenses to carry out both land and air assaults against the other. Likewise, in the Pacific, the war opened with a successful Japanese assault against an American target and progressed through a long series of successful American assaults against Japanese targets. In an age of mobile armor and flight, neither geographic distance nor natural barriers could be counted on to insulate small countries from great ones. Much like the Mongol innovation, mobile war tended to centralize military influence.
By 1945, the United States had developed nuclear weapons. The Soviets followed suit in 1949, the British in 1952, the French in 1960, and the People's Republic of China in 1964. Although no war involving nuclear weapons has been fought since WW II, nuclear weapons were used extensively for strategic purposes during the Cold War. Originally, nuclear weapons were used by the United States as a substitute for conventional weapons through a strategy of massive retaliation. After the Soviets acquired the technology, both sides came to rely upon a doctrine of deterrence through mutually assured destruction, and on strategies of limited war.
As with previous military innovations, nuclear technologies diffused before the strategy and tactics for their use. U.S. nuclear weapons monopoly lasted for only four years, and despite a growing Cold War, the U.S. did not devise a useful strategy for their use beyond strategic bombing. Once the Soviets acquired the technology, both sides appear to have developed strategies resting on mutually assured destruction and extension of influence through limited and unconventional war. The U.S. began to emulate Soviet methods of unconventional war under a nuclear umbrella in the 1970s. Britain, France, China, India, and Pakistan adopted the MAD strategy along with nuclear weapons.
Nuclear deterrence based on MAD greatly decreased strategic mobility from the WWII ante. Blitzkrieg tactics were rendered impractical under the threat of massive retaliation. Any large-scale projection of military forces, in fact, became difficult because of the possibility that the conflict might escalate into an all-out war between the superpowers. Yet in the nuclear era, as in most others, the effects of the new methods tended to extend only to those that possessed them. Non-nuclear countries fought full-scale wars using strategies based on mobile war as developed in the Second World War.
The preceding analysis provides a first cut at understanding patterns of military diffusion and their international effects. Diffusion has rarely been a uniform process. While competition among European great powers stimulated more rapid spread of innovations within Western Europe than between Europe and the rest of the world, even within Europe diffusion has been far from the even process that neo-realism suggests it is. In the fourteenth century, infantry innovations were resisted by feudal states, such as France, much as the innovations associated with Napoleon's nation in arms were similarly resisted by European monarchs nearly five centuries later, for fear that arming the peasantry would jeopardize domestic political control and undermine the power of the aristocracy. Less for social and political reasons, and more due to organizational resistance, the English and Swiss were slow to adopt artillery innovations that would have led to changes in time-honored infantry tactics. Hapsburg Spain proved incapable of developing the fiscal capacity to sustain seventeenth-century innovations that heralded the era of modern war. Finally, even when technologies diffused quickly within Europe, as with the technologies of broadside cannon that underwrote dramatic changes in naval warfare in the sixteenth century and those of mechanization that underwrote the mobility revolution of the mid-twentieth century, doctrine and the tactics for their use spread more slowly. Patterns of diffusion between Europe and non-European political units qualify the notino that diffusion is a uniform process even further. Mongol innovations had little direct impact on warfare in Europe. Innovation in drill faced staunch resistance in Russia, China, and the Ottoman Empire. The macro-social innovations associated with nation in arms spread slowly to non-European states. Difference in local threat environment can account for some of the variation. Cultural, social, political, and organizational obstacles, however, have also placed powerful constraints on the scope of diffusion.
Patterns in the speed of diffusion seem consistent with the predictions of power transitions theory. The spread of innovations has been accelerating over time and there is little reason to think the trend will be reversed. The result has been a steady decline in the amount of time that the state that first leverages the innovation can expect to maintain a monopoly on the methods. The Mongol military maintained its monopoly for approximately fifty years and the English military enjoyed their lead among great powers in the infantry revolution for around sixty years. The French military, however, enjoyed the advantage of their artillery innovations for only four years, while Sweden's lead in drill endured for only two years. France's monopoly on the methods associated with nation in arms lasted for approximately fifteen years. Industrial innovation of steam was leveraged most effectively by the Prussian military for at least forty-four years, but the Prussian state's political influence was probably not commensurate. The German military enjoyed a monopoly of their mobility innovations for only two years, while the spread of nuclear weapons diminished the U.S. military's monopoly in a mere four years.
In the current period, knowledge-intensive technologies are pouring into the marketplace and spreading across national borders exceedingly rapidly, fed by the globalization of finance and trade. Knowledge-intensive goods that can be converted for military use can be acquired or developed relatively easily and quickly.132 Revolutionary dual-use technologies, like computer and software capabilities, are not capital intensive and do not require a huge industrial capacity to exploit. As such, they do not require the level of national development that industrial mass military forces do. As capital investment requirements have declined, diffusion has accelerated. Yet whether or not nations like India, South Korea, and Pakistan, that possess significant software capabilities can exploit that capacity effectively on the battlefield depends on how quickly they either develop or acquire knowledge of the most effective doctrine and tactics for their use. Histroy shows that the tactics tend to spread more slowly than the technology.
In sum, diffusion is an uneven and irregular process. Variation in pace and scope can be accounted for, in part, by organizations theory's emphasis on the compatibility between the technology, and the organization, society, and culture. Offense-defense theory also sheds light on the capacity to adopt innovations. Small less wealthy states have tended to adopt less costly innovations more rapidly. Adopting a new military system based on common infantry was far cheaper than purchasing expensive chivalry for Switzerland. By contrast, wealthy states, like France, could more easily afford modern artillery. In some cases, like the revolution in drill, small states could easily adopt the innovations first but were soon overtaken by wealthy nations that could more easily afford to develop the modern infrastructure necessary for supporting a large army.
Offense-defense theory's predictions about the international consequences of diffusion, particularly about which states are likely to benefit from offensive and defensive innovations respectively, gains a good deal of support from the historical record. Offensive innovations that enhanced strategic mobility favored the expansion of empires and allowed the system's most powerful states to increase their influence. Mongol methods appear to have contributed to the rise of great Asian land empires. Artillery innovations allowed large empires throughout Europe and Asia to subjugate small states. The use of steam on land and sea increased great power influence in Europe and imperialism abroad. During the brief period it held sway, mobile warfare allowed a few great powers to dramatically increase their influence. Defensive innovations allowed smaller political entities to assert their autonomy. Infantry tactics tended to result in a rise in influence among smaller innovators at the expense the great powers of Europe. Likewise, fortresses and trench warfare corresponded with greater autonomy for small states in Europe. Innovations can also affect the relative fortunes of states simply by the speed with which they diffuse as power transitions theory predicts. In the cases of drill and nation in arms, the systemic effects of the innovations probably had more to do with the rate of diffusion than with any decisive shift in the offense-defense balance. Since it is unclear how the impending information revolution innovations will affect the offense-defense balance, systemic effects may derive more from the speed of diffusion.
While historical experience shows that over time, the leads enjoyed by innovators have steadily diminished, dominant states have not traditionally fared well. With the rise of mongol methods, the most powerful states in Asia were subjugated and generally did not survive. The French refused to emulate England's infantry innovations and was almost destroyed. With the artillery revolution, the English lost nearly all their European holdings. With the rise of artillery fortress, the Hapsburgs suffered from a great deal of revolution within their borders, remaining Europe's leading state mainly through their overseas empire. The Hapsburgs refused to emulate drill and thereafter quickly declined. France was arguably the most powerful state on the continent before it pioneered the innovation, but lost much of its influence in the Napoleonic wars. The current period is somewhat of an anomaly because rarely if ever has the leading power been the one to launch a set of revolutionary innovations.133 History suggests that by accelerating the information revolution, the United States may gain some short-term advantage, butit will erode relatively quickly. At the same time, however, the United States is perhaps the first leading power that may not face the fate of earlier hegemons who resisted adopting innovative ways of war.
In sum, diffusion is not a uniform process, but an increasingly rapid one. Revolutionary military innovations do seem to affect the distribution of power. Yet while innovators gain a highly significant advantage in the short-term, this advantage fades over time. Offensive and defensive innovations also appear to affect states differently with large states benefitting from the former and small states from the latter. Finally, hegemons have historically been slow to adopt new military technologies and methods and consequently experience a decline in influence when revolutionary new military methods emerge and diffuse.
1 All the services have
now bought into the idea of the information revolution. See Joint Vision 2010.
2 Joseph S. Nye, Jr. and William A. Odom, "America's Information Edge," Foreign Affairs (March/April 1996), pp. 20-36.
3 We focus on the superior military state in the system, in part because estimates based on overall power are fraught with so many problems. Moreover, as Resende-Santos (p. 212) points out, "The rankings of states, based on their aggregate capabilities or resources, shift continuously because of changes in the underlying bases of national powers. But the appeal of any one great power's military system will wax and wane with its fortunes in war, not shifts in aggregate capabilities." Joao Resende-Santos, "Anarchy and the Emulation of Military Systems: Military Organizations and Technology in South America, 1870-1930," Security Studies 5:3 (Spring 1996).
4 There is a large and rich literature on military and organizational innovation. We are concerned, however, with adoption, rather than innovation, in order to understand the process and consequences of diffusion. For an overview, see Theo Farrell, "Figuring Out Fighting Organisations: New Organisational Analysis in Strategic Studies," The Journal of Strategic Studies 19:1 (March 1996), pp. 122-35.
5 For some earlier writings that do address systemic consequences, see Quincy Wright, The Study of International Relations (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, Inc., 19??), pp. 369-89; William Fielding Ogburn, ed., Technology and International Relations (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1949); Bernard Brodie, "Technological Change, Strategic Doctrine, and Political Outcomes," in Klaus Knorr, ed., Historical Dimensions of National Security Problems (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1976), pp. 263-306.
6 Emulation refers to imitation of the innovation.
7 Reinvention refers to change or modification of the innovation in the process of its adoption and implementation. It is defined as "the degree to which an innovation is changed or modified ... in the process of its adoption and implementation." An innovation is "not necessarily invariant during the process of diffusion. And adopting an innovation is not necessarily a passive role of just implementing a standard template of the new idea." Everett M. Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations, 3rd ed. (New York: Free Press, 1983), pp. 16-17. "Re-invention represents changes in an innovation that are made by its adopters in order to fit the technology to their specific conditions." Ibid., p. 146.
8 Countervention refers to the employment of methods to counter, or off-set, the innovation.
9 Resende-Santos, p. 196.
10 John A. Lynn, "The Evolution of Army Style in the Modern West, 800-2000," The International History Review 18:3 (August 1996), p. 509.
11 Kenneth N. Waltz, Theory of International Politics (Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley, 1979), p. 127.
12 Edwin Mansfield, The Economics of Technological Change (New York: W. W. Norton, 1968), p. 123.
13 A.F.K. Organski, World Politics, 1st ed. (New York: Knopf, 1958), 2nd ed. (New York: Knopf, 1968); A.F.K. Organski and Jacek Kugler, The War Ledger (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1980).
14 Organski and Kugler, p. 9.
15 Organski and Kugler, pp. 8-9.
16 Macro-social is the word we use to describe Organski's conception. He does not use the word himself.
17 Organski and Kugler. Pp. 8-9.
18 Organski and Kugler, p. 33.
19 This was because of the tremendous capital investment required to produce a modern mass production industrial base for warfare in the industrial age. The correlation need not be so close in the information age.
20 This is the thesis the Tofflers adopt when they explain their three civilizations and war forms: agricultural, industrial, and information. See Alvin and Heidi Toffler, War and Anti-War (New York: Warner, 1993). For a critique of the Tofflers, see Robert J. Bunker, "The Tofflerian Paradox," Military Review (May-June 1995), pp. 99-102.
21 Quoted in Tofflers, p. 240.
This definition is adopted from Chaim Kaufman and Charles L. Glaser, "Establishing the Foundations of Offense-Defense Theory," paper presented at the NATO Symposium on "Military Stability," June 12-14, 1995, Brussels, p. 20. For similar definitions, see Robert Jervis, "Cooperation Under the Security Dilemma," World Politics 30:2 (January 1978), p. 188); Charles L. Glaser, "Realists as Optimists: Cooperation as Self-Help," International Security 19:3 (Winter 1994/95), pp. 61-2. Jack S. Levy, "The Offensive/Defensive Balance of Military Technology: A Theoretical and Historical Analysis," International Studies Quarterly 28 (1984), pp. 222-30 lists a number of other definitions. Most depend upon territorial conquest. For Jervis (1978, p. 187) an offensive advantage means that "it is easier to destroy the other's army and take it is territory than it is to defend one's own" and a defensive advantage means that "it is easier to protect and hold than it is to move forward, destroy, and take." George Quester, Offense and Defense in the International System (New York: Wiley, 1977), p. 15, writes "the territorial fixation logically establishes our distinction between offense and defense."
23 Kaufman and Glaser, p. 15.
25 Offense tends to be more costly. Some have argued that there were significant expenses associated with the fortress revolution and trace italienne fortifications. Arnold reviews the literature and historical record and concludes that the new military architecture was widely available to weaker powers. Thomas F. Arnold, "Fortifications and the Military Revolution: The Gonzaga Experience, 1530-1630," in Clifford J. Rogers, ed., The Military Revolution Debate (Boulder: Westview, 1995), pp. 205-6.
26 One common critique of the offense-defense approach is the difficulty of classifying different technologies as offensive or defensive. This may not be a problem for our purposes since the critical issue is how weapons are incorporated into an overall military strategy. At this level, it is possible to distinguish offensive from defensive strategies and to determine which bundles of weapons favor a strategy of political consolidation and which favor a strategy of local defense. See Kaufman and Glaser, pp. 69-75.
27 Resende-Santos, p. 218.
28 On the cult of offensive, see Stephen Van Evera, "The Cult of the Offensive and the Origins of the First World War," International Security 9:1 (Summer 1984), pp. 58-107; Barry Posen, The Sources of Military Doctrine (Ithaca: Cornell, 1984).
29 Resende-Santos, p. 217.
30 Ibid., pp. 219-20.
31 Kaufman and Glaser, pp. 12-13.
32 On the importance of skill, see Stephen Biddle, "Victory Misunderstood: What the Gulf War Tells Us about the Future of Conflict," International Security 21:2 (Fall 1996), pp. 139-79.
33 Everett M. Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations (New York: The Free Press, 1983), pp. 15-16.
34 Barbara Levitt and James G. March, "Organizational Learning," Annual Review of Sociology 14 (1988), p. 330.
35 Levitt and March, pp. 329-30.
36 This argument can be traced to Weber's contention that homogenization in organizational structures is a function of formal rationality. Rational adaptation results from the values and needs of modern society.
37 Paul J. DiMaggio and Walter W. Powell, "The Iron Cage Revisited: Institutional Isomorphism and Collective Rationality in Organizational Fields," American Sociological Review 48 (April 1983), pp. 147-160.
38 Ibid., p. 150.
39 Ibid., p. 151.
40 Lynn, p. 510. Following World War II, armies gained paradigm positions for reasons like ideology and arms sales.
41 DiMaggio and Powell, p. 149.
42 Paul DiMaggio, "Interest and Agency in Institutional Theory," in Lynne G. Zucker, ed., Institutional Patterns and Organizations: Culture and Environment (Cambridge, MA: Ballinger, 1988), p. 6.
43 Wright, pp. 375-6.
44 William H. McNeill, The Pursuit of Power (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1982), p. 49.
45 Ibid., pp. 40, 69.
46 Ibid., p. 147.
47 David B. Ralston, Importing the European Army: The Introduction of European Military Techniques and Institutions into the Extra-European World, 1600-1914 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1990), p. 48.
48 McNeill, p. 135.
49 Ibid., pp. 220-1.
51 Brodie, p. 263.
52 McNeill, p. 154.
53 Geoffrey Parker, "The Western Way of War," in Geoffrey Parker, ed., The Cambridge Illustrated History of Warfare: The Triumph of the West (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995), p. 6; Clifford Rogers, "The Military Revolution in History," in Rogers, ed, p. 6.
54 Andrew F. Krepinevich, "Cavalry to Computer: The Pattern of Military Revolutions," The National Interest (Fall 1994), p. 40.
55 This need not mean that existing methods disappear. Usually they co-exist.
56 In most cases, it is relatively easy to identify a decisive battle which is recognized as significant by most major military organizations and which they attempt thereafter to exploit. In a few cases, like the Fortress revolution, it may take a series of battles, which usually occur within a narrow enough time frame to permit us to identify a critical turning point for empirical purposes.
57 John Keegan, A History of Warfare (New York: Vintage, 1993), p. 200.
58 Andre Corvisier, "Mongols," in Andre Corvisier, ed., A Dictionary of Military History, English edition revised and expanded by John Childs, ed. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994), p. 531.
59 Starting around 1356, Zhu Yuanzhang, founder of the Ming dynasty, drove the Mongols out of China and conquered their capital at Karakorum utilizing a peasant army. See Charles O. Hucker, The Ming Dynasty (1978) and Jonathan Spence and J.E. Wills, Jr., From Ming to Ch'ing (1979).
60 Dupuy believes the West Europeans learned from the East Europeans in the Turkish wars of Eastern Europe. See Trevor N. Dupuy, The Evolution of Weapons and Warfare (New York: Da Capo Press, 1984), p. 88.
61 Keegan, p. 214.
62 Ibid., pp. 214, 217.
63 Dupuy, pp. 79-80.
64 Edwards 29; R. Ernest Dupuy and Trevor N. Dupuy, The Harper Encyclopedia of Military History, fourth edition (New York: HarperCollins 1993), p. 423.
65 Corvisier, p. 531.
66 In Wales this period occurred toward the end and following Prince Llewelyn's reign. In Scotland representative battles include Falkirk (1298) and Bannockburn (1314).
67 Dupuy and Dupuy 386. See also Clifford J. Rogers, "The Military Revolutions of the Hundred Years War," in Rogers, ed., pp. 58-59. As Dupuy and Dupuy (p. 386) point out, "In a few earlier European battles, as at Legnano, Courtrai, and in the conflicts between the Austrians and the Swiss, infantry had had some success against feudal heavy cavalry. In each of these earlier battles, however, some special circumstances contributed to the outcome. Cr�cy was different. Here was a clear-cut victory in the open field of steady, discipline infantrymen over the finest cavalry in Europe."
68 Dupuy and Dupuy, p. 441-2, 464-5.
69 As John Lynn pointed out to us, the entire concept of an "infantry revolution" is debatable. Medieval historians attack the importance of the feudal cavalry even before 1350. The siege-heavy character of medieval warfare meant that infantry were always present in large proportions.
70 Dupuy and Dupuy, p. 383.
71 Clifford J. Rogers, pp. 61-62. As Rogers points out this relationship is not necessarily direct. Nations that armed their peasants, for instance, tended to give them a great deal more political power after the infantry proved its worth on the battlefield. It is interesting to note, however, that the nations that relied most heavily on infantry also tended to be relatively liberal politically before the fourteenth century: this included England, Switzerland and the Italian city states.
72 Dupuy, p. 84; Rogers, p. 60.
73 Jean Juvenal des Ursins cited in Rogers, p. 61.
74 Rogers, p. 60.
75 An example of this is Janos Hunyadi's use of a professional army in Hungary (c1440). David L. Bongard, "Hunyadi," in Trevor N. Dupuy, Kurt Johnson, and David L. Bongard, eds., Harper Encyclopedia of Military Biography (New York: HarperCollins, 1992), p. 359.
76 Dupuy and Dupuy, p. 438.
77 Dupuy, p. 101.
78 Dupuy, p. 102.
79 Dupuy and Dupuy, p. 436.
80 In contrast, field artillery did play an essential role in some battles such as Formigny, Casitllon (1450 and 1453) and particularly at Fornovo several decades later.
81 Further east, the English introduced Professional artillery to Persia around 1600 in an attempt to balance against expanding Ottoman power.
83 Geoffrey Parker, "The 'Military Revolution' -- A Myth?" in Rogers, p. 43.
84 For a discussion of the historical literature relating to the effects of the cannon fortress see Arnold, pp. 204-7.
85 Arnold, p. 203; Thompson, pp. 276-7.
86 This did not prevent the Portuguese from making extensive use of artillery fortresses in Asia to hold strategic ports.
87 Rogers, p. 7.
88 On Preveza see particularly W.C. Stevens, History of Sea Power (New York: Doubleday 1942), p. 56.
89 E.B. Potter, Sea Power (Englewood Cliffs N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1960), p. 16.
90 J.F.C. Fuller, Military History of the Western World Vol. 1: From the Earliest Times to the Battle of Lepanto (New York: Funk & Wagnalls, 1954), p. 568.
91 Ibid., p. 577.
92 W.C. Stevens, History of Sea Power (New York: Doubleday, 1942), p. 67.
93 Dupuy and Dupuy, p. 505.
94 Stevens, p. 56.
95 Pacey, p. 66.
96 Stevens, p. 56.
98 Parker, p. 42.
99 David A. Parrott, "Strategy and Tactics in the Thirty Years' War: The 'Military Revolution,'" in Rogers, p. 239.
100 I.A.A. Thompson, "'Money, Money, and Yet More Money!' Finance, the Fiscal-State, and the Military Revolution: Spain 1500-1650," in Rogers, p. 291; McNeill, p. 134.
101 Thompson, p. 291; Parker, pp. 43-4.
102 Ralston, pp. 13-42.
103 Ralston, pp. 43-78, particularly p. 59.
104 The Siege of Vienna (1683) is sometime considered the turning point for Western fortunes.
105 John F. Guilmartin, "The Military Revolution: Origins and First Tests Abroad," in Rogers, p. 299.
106 Dupuy and Dupuy, p. 668.
107 McNeill, p. 221.
108 Charles E. White, "Scharnhorst, Gerhard Johann David Von [1755-1813], in Franklin D. Margiotta, ed., Brassey's Encyclopedia of Military History and Biography (Washington, London: Brassey's, 1994), p. 841.
109 In prior European armies, mobility had been hampered by the need to tightly control the troops. Fear of desertion prohibited officers from allowing armies to live off of the land and tied advances to non-mobile magazines. (Dupuy and Dupuy, p. 668) Because nationalistic troops were less prone to desertion they were better able to live off of the land this problem became less severe.
110 Note that in the war of Austria with France and Piedmont (1859), Austria was not employing a nationalistic army.
111 There were some possible cases of nationalist armies clashing during the period in the Americas. There were three wars in which it could be argued that nationalistic armies fought with other nationalistic armies. These are Mexican-American (1846-1848), La Plata (1851-1852), and Franco-Mexican (1862-1867). It is not clear, however, how nationalist or Napoleonic any of the states or militaries actually were at the time of each war.
112 In 1813, Scharnhorst's reorganization was visible in the revolt of Prussia against France when the Landwehr, or militia, was called upon to vastly expand the size of the army.
113 Rene Albrecht-Carrie, A Diplomatic History of Europe Since the Congress of Vienna (New York: Harper & Row, 1958), p. 12.
114 Although Moltke's methods were first tested in the Schleswig-Holstein War (1864), the small scale of the war does not allow us to learn much about the methods of mass mobilization.
115 At the beginning of the Franco-Prussian war, the Prussians were able to utilize their rail net to mobilize approximately 1 of every 18 men. Owing to inferior methods of mobilization the French were able to mobilize only around 1 in 30 until near the end of the war (e.g., the Siege of Paris) at which time they were able to match Prussian proportions (Corvisier and Childs 617).
116 Singer and Small, "The Correlates of War."
117 Dupuy, p. 199.
118 For a discussion of emulation in South America see Resende-Santos
119 Bruce Lenman, "Imperialism," in Larousse Dictionary of World History (Larousse: 1994), p. 442.
120 Arnold Pacey, Technology in World Civilization (Cambridge: MIT Press, 1996), pp. 131-49.
121 For analysis of great power influence during this period in and out of Europe see R.W. Seton-Watson, Briton in Europe: 1798-1914 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1955), pp. 466-650; William L. Langer, The Diplomacy of Imperialism: 1890-1902 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf: 1951).
122 Rene Albrecht-Carrie provides a good general over view of this period in A Diplomatic History of Europe Since the Congress of Vienna (New York: Harper & Row, 1958). See particularly pp. 163-295.
123 Brian Sullivan, "What Distinguishes a Revolution in Military Affairs from a Military Technical Revolution?", paper presented at the JCISS-Security Studies Conference on "The Revolution in Military Affairs," August 26-29, 1996, Monterey, CA., p. 13; Dupuy and Dupuy, p. 1005.
124 Dupuy and Dupuy, p. 1005.
125 Sullivan, p. 15.
126 The United States had already adopted most of the innovations by the end of the American Civil War and Japan may have shown some proclivity for such tactics in the Russo-Japanese conflict.
127 The opening battles of the war provided some evidence that the offense was still superior. German victories at Lorraine and Mons tend to erroneously reinforce this perspective. It should be recalled that both Lorraine and Mons were French offensives that failed to a greater extent than German offenses that succeeded.
128 These conflicts include the Russo-Polish War (1920), the Graeco-Turkish War (1920-2), the Spanish Civil War (1936-9).
129 During the Spanish Civil War (1936-39) the Germans were able to put some of their ideas about integrated mobile warfare to the test; however, in the absence of a significant opponent, it was unclear how helpful this was.
130 Dupuy and Dupuy, p. 1151. See also Lieutenant Colonel A.T. McAnsh, "The New German Army Showing Organization of Panzer Division," The Cavalry Journal 49:4 (1940), p. 313.
131 Thomas G. Mahnken, "Military Revolutions and Organizational Transformation: The United States and Armored Warfare, 1918-1945," Paper presented at the JCISS-Security Studies Conference on "The Revolution in Military Affairs," August 26-29, 1996, Monterey, CA., pp. 22-30.
132 Maj. Norman C. Davis, USMC, "An Information-Based Revolution in Military Affairs," Strategic Review 24:1 (Winter 1996), p. 47.
133 In the case of the Dreadnought and nuclear weapons, in both cases the leading state -- Britain and the United States respectively -- were being closely chased by competitors.