Judgment and Control in Modern Warfare

Courtesy Reuters

The trend of military evolution on which the world has been set since 1939 has seen the harnessing of the most advanced technology to the elaboration of an extensive series of new weapons and weapons systems. Through the development of a large family of ballistic and non-ballistic missiles, destructive power can now be brought to bear on unseen targets over distances ranging from tens to thousands of miles; at the same time, the capacity of a single explosion to destroy has been multiplied thousands, even millions, of times. These technological developments have been associated with the emergence of new scientific processes of management (most of which are loosely grouped under the term "operations analysis"), whose purpose is to try to help the commander control the apparatus of which he now disposes. But a question which becomes increasingly urgent in our age of nuclear deterrence, and one which grows in importance as more and more technology becomes harnessed to the demands of defense, is whether these new measures of control extend or curtail the possibilities of human, as opposed to machine, judgment.

A useful approach to an answer to the question is to consider three general propositions, of which one is observable fact and the other two are unassailable deductions from experience.

The observable fact is that the amount of military input into modern weapons systems, and particularly complex strategic systems, is declining rapidly, with a complementary increase in the technical input provided by the non-military man. This change is associated with the increasing specialization of single-purpose weapons systems. By "military input" one means, of course, the fruits of actual military experience. The simplest illustration of this proposition is that no military genius or experience has gone into the conception or design of I.C.B.M.s. If one wishes to push it that far, there is no logical need for such a weapon to be deployed by the military, as opposed to some other agent of government. If the name Moscow,

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