Everyone likes to theorize, hypothesize, and argue over whether or not the future conflicts will be fought with space-age technology like super soldiers that can see through walls with special goggles, or if we’ll be fighting with the same old tech. Among that argument is whether or not these new and advanced technologies will actually pose a legitimate factor in the control of the battlefield.
There’s no definitive answer because we either don’t know about every kind of advanced tech out there, or we haven’t seen them in full-scale action, but we do know enough to make some assumptions for either side. Here are the arguments for and against whether technological advancements are the greatest factor in military success.
Arguments for Technological Advancement
Better Communication is Critical for Strategy
Going back to WW1, the use of radio and electricity was quickly becoming more prominent for military use. This led to faster response times (by their standard) which helped in the communication of strategy. Being able to predict an attack and relay a message to stop an assault can save lives, which is invariably advantageous. Now, our communication is instantaneous, available nearly everywhere, and allows for the military to have a much wider control of the battle because communication is key to strategy.
Cyberwarfare is Less Costly
The cost of dropping a single bomb on an enemy location can be hundreds of thousands of dollars. While the war efforts of the most powerful nations on Earth certainly can afford it, it’s a cost that can go towards other efforts. Hence why cyberwarfare is so prominent now. The first belief is that information and data is key to winning, which is partly true, but being able to allocate resources around is also helpful. The difference between rugged servers for military use and a laser-guided bomb is outstanding, in terms of cost. Being able to infiltrate an enemy’s comms without having to blow through thousands and thousands of dollars may prove to be an advantage in the future of war.
Munitions and Weapons Systems Are More Effective
This may be debatable, but it’s hard to ignore how effective new military technology is. There is certainly plenty of tried and true low-fi weaponry out there that still deserve their place in an arsenal, with the always dependable AK-47 and its variants coming to mind, but adaptation is key. Adaptive stealth technology, automated projectile defense systems, and guns that can handle extensive use all play a bigger role in producing an effective fighting force that can stay on a battlefield longer. There are certain claims against this, but it’s hard to ignore how soldiers are dying less with better tech to protect them.
Arguments Against Technological Advancement
Morale is Still Indispensable
While having the latest and greatest in technology is good, there are some inherent human factors of winning a war that doesn’t require advanced technology. Controversial opinions on controversial wars like Vietnam and Afghanistan always inevitably come back to the fact that their morale was strong, given their circumstances. If one fighting force feels more confident or resolute in their cause, there isn’t much that an advanced guidance system can do to make them waver, which is hard to instill by simply putting tech in a soldier’s hands.
Fighting Force Size Still Maintains Supremacy
This point also contradicts the previous a little bit, but it’s worth mentioning. While a guerilla force is tough because they know the terrain, sheer numbers are still overwhelming. The largest militaries in the world: U.S., China, and Russia, all benefit not only from the fact that their military spending is so high, and they maintain the best armament, but also that they have imposing ranks. Having a bigger number of toys is still an advantage over the next kid on the block, and it still remains true to this day.
Larger Chance for Malfunctions
Technology can be either a blessing or a curse. Advanced technology in military use may have the disadvantage of not being fully developed or researched, or it may be too hard to use. In any case, when malfunctions happen, it’s a lot harder to fix when there are more bells and whistles compared to a simple mechanical rifle or vehicle. The more we put focus on digital tech for the military the more we invite new problems into the conversation.
You could go back and forth forever on whether or not advancing technology will result in a more successful military force, but the fact is that there’s not a definitive answer. There are ways that improving soldiers with better guns, equipment, and intel helps, but there’s also the argument that you start to strip away the natural instincts of soldiers and forces, and you create a tech-dependent army. Whatever the argument is, it’s a worthy conversation to discuss as we head toward a new future of military technology.