Saturday, December 15, 2012

Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) in the Gun Powder Age, First Industrial Revolution, and Second Industrial Revolution

     This essay is about the Revolution in Military Affairs in the Gunpowder Revolution, First Industrial Revolution, and Second Industrial Revolution. These 3 revolutions will discuss the relevant changes and improvement in the technology, doctrine and organization in the military context of states from the period and era mentioned.

     The aim of this essay is to compare and contrast the Revolution in Military Affairs with respect to the Technology, Doctrine, and Organization during the Gunpowder Revolution, First Industrial Revolution, and Second Industrial Revolution. This will be explained in the Discussion with three major headings.



      Before the gunpowder revolution, warriors were mounted on horseback. These mobile units were called cavalry. The cavalry soon proved to be weak against infantry with longbows and pikes. After the gunpowder found its use in firearms, the use of the cavalry, bows and arrows, pikes, and similar weapons of war were hopeless against infantry with firearms. Cavalry warriors who were equipped with bows and arrows were inferior to infantrymen armed with guns. The use of cannons made the French expel the English invaders in France. The same weapons were used by the Spaniards to defeat the Moors out of Spain. The Ottomans (Turks) employed cannons and successfully were able to conquer Constantinople, the capital of the Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantine Empire).
     Another useful weapon made possible by the gunpowder was the artillery which leveled fortresses and castles to the ground. Artillery also found good use in ships. These ships mounted with artillery were extensively used by colonizers who sailed the high seas and established huge empires. The victory in wars in Europe and the World during this era was decided mainly by mastery of the tactics, strategy and technology of the Gunpowder Age.

  Doctrine and Organization:
     Technology alone is not enough to win a war. A successful military doctrine and organization must be in place. Doctrine has two major components: political and military. The political side covers all aspects including the political objectives and economy, while the military side covers the conduct of operations in order to accomplish the political objectives.
     During the Gunpowder Age, powerful kings, absolute monarchs, warlords, or super-lords, rule over a large kingdom and was the overall provider of war resources and armies of warriors. These absolute monarchs in turn would utilize their riches and resources to build, train, and organize larger armies which were in turn used to conquer and expand territories in the name of the monarch. A good example from history is Gustavus Adolphus, king of Sweden. At the battle of Breitenfeld, victory was brought about by excellent politics in the government coupled with the technological effectiveness and efficiency in the use of weapons, artillery and superior training of military force.


     The First Industrial Revolution in the 1800s brought a significant change in field of warfare. Railroads and locomotive trains provided rapid mobilization of troops in the battlefield. Trains, traveled about five times faster than mule-drawn wagons, which not only expedited the delivery of supplies but actually reduced the number of supply vehicles required. Faster travel meant more round trips in a given time. Faster travel also meant that cargoes, be they men or supplies, arrived at the front in better condition. Troops traveling by tram rather than on foot experienced less fatigue and consequently have the advantage of being combat effective and efficient.
     The introduction of steam engines and the advances in the shipping industry contributed to faster sea travel. The telegraph, code, and further developments also led to faster modes of communications. Most importantly were the improvements in weapon technology. Quick-firing artillery, high explosive shells, repeating rifles, and machine guns made it possible for fewer personnel to stop and kill a whole company or battalion of enemy soldiers.

   Doctrine and Organization:
     The state and the bureaucracy has been the main contributor of military success. Wars were planned, organized, and funded by the state. The state's resources were needed to harness the latest developments in weapons technology to arm its troops. Additionally, there was a growing sense of nationalism within the state. This resulted in a considerable decline in the employment of mercenaries. The military force soon became solely armies of the state and no private mercenaries. The doctrine of the offensive was also exploited by most of the powerful states. When war broke out in Europe in August 1914, major superpowers at once took the offensive and utilize the doctrine of the offensive emphasizing the power of the offensive spirit. "The best defense is offense itself."


     The Second Industrial Revolution saw important innovations in the land, water, and air warfare technology. The tank that was introduced by Britain in World War One was further improved. Sea power also was realized through the use of aircraft carriers. Air superiority was provided by aircraft with heavy bombing capabilities. The combination of tanks, infantry, and air support would later be used by the German Blitzkrieg or lightning wars based on speed and surprise. The arms used for the offensive warfare in the Second World War consisted of aircraft, tanks and trucks. The Germans initially were successful in employing these combinations of weapons to their advantage. Communications involving radios played a vital role in coordinating offensive forces be it tanks, aircrafts, or soldiers.

  Doctrine and Organization:
     The doctrine of the offensive was pushed to extremes and was successful in the Blitzkrieg or lightning wars. Although defensive doctrines were adopted, the offensive would emerge victorious. An infamous example of a defensive doctrine is the French Maginot Line. The Germans in 1940 quickly crippled this defense by their flanking maneuvres and fell in their hands.
     Effective bureaucracy led to the later success of the Allies. Military support from the industries resulted in mass production of parts necessary for weapons of war. This happened in the Soviet Union and the United States. In 1942, America already out-produced the Axis powers. America had 47,000 aircraft to 27,000, 24,000 tanks to 11,000, six times as many heavy guns. In her navy, America had 8,800 naval vessels and 87,000 landing crafts in four years. For every one major naval vessel made by the Japanese, America produced 16. This war production advantage made a great contribution to the Allied victory.
     Also, effective leadership and excellent personnel training were crucial elements in order to take advantage of the power of weapons and machinery. The fact that the Allies outnumber the Axis Powers in the number of personnel and weapons does not guarantee victory. A winning war doctrine was also key. This doctrine that comes from the high officials of the state would be in turn be carried out by effective leaders like Patton who was able to come up with a brilliant plan that used the American version of the Blitzkrieg which in effect was used to win over the Germans themselves.

     Victory in most wars or battles depends on three major elements: Technology, Doctrine, and Organization. Throughout the Gunpowder, First Industrial, and Second Industrial Revolutions, the winners were the states with an effective bureaucracy and excellent doctrine implemented through the military organizational structure that is able to harness the latest advances in technology.

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