Buck Rogers Rides Again: RMA

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Silverstein, Ken. "Buck Rogers Rides Again." The Nation 269.13 (25 October 1999): 23-31. Subtitle: "A 'Revolution' in High-Tech Systems Promises Big Profits & for the US Risk-Free War."

The Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA)[1] was not news to those following the war wonks in the Soviet Union and later the West, but this story was significant appearing in 1999 is a US magazine for a general Leftist readership, and is significant here for its title and casual references in the text to "the Buck Rogers-type hardware" the RMA requires (p. 26).

The revolutionary agent here is the microchip, which, combined with strategic and organizational innovations, is said to be transforming warfare in the same way the musket did in the 1600s and the atom bomb did in 1945. Advocates foresee a "digital battlefield" that weds precision-guided long-range weapons to high-tech information and surveillance systems that enable commanders to direct the action from thousands of miles away, and so on down to the smallest computerized gizmo that springs from the mind of a a military planner. (p. 23)

"At the core of the RMA is a radical hypothesis that would cause Sun Tzu, Clausewitz and George Patton to roll over in their graves," Chuck spinner, a thirty-year Pentagon veteran [...], says of the doctrine. That is, that technology will transform the fog and friction of combat [...] into clear, friction-free, predictable, mechanistic interaction." [...]

The hubris of it all is conveyed by RMA advocates who promise that high-tech sensors provide "a God's-eye view" of the battlefield. (p. 26)

Cf. and contrast visions of future-war in such SF works as Starship Troopers and The Forever War.

RDE, finishing, 4Jan22