Air University Review, September-October 1981

Technological War

reality and the American myth

Lieutenant Colonel Donald R. Baucom

It may be said that warfare has acquired a new phase—technological war. In the past, research and development were only preparation for the final and decisive testing of new systems in battle. Today the kind and quality of systems which a nation develops can decide the battle in advance and make the final conflict a mere formality—or can bypass conflict altogether.

Lieutenant General Bernard A. Schriever1

As a result of our military experience and our strong national faith in technical solutions to problems, Americans have concluded that technology offers a particularly cheap, humane method of waging war. Under the influence of this conclusion, our nation has developed an unbalanced attitude toward war in which we attach exaggerated significance to technology2 at the expense of military skills and human sacrifice, which traditionally have played prominent roles in warfare.3

This approach to war is what I refer to as "the American myth of technological war." The term myth is used to mean an image of reality that an individual or nation embraces. Such an image guides the actions of people and nations, regardless of how well the myth correlates with reality.

What each man does is based not on direct and certain knowledge, but on pictures made by himself or given to him. If his atlas tells him that the world is flat he will not sail near what he believes to be the edge of our planet for fear of falling off. . . . The way in which the world is imagined determines at any particular moment what men will do.4

My focus here is on the rise of the American myth of technological war and the impact of technology on modern warfare. America’s experience with military casualties combined with our attitude toward technology has led us to conclude that technology is the key to success in modern warfare.

Technology and Modern Warfare

It is a truism that the lethality of weapons has increased greatly over the past two hundred years, and the rate of increase seems to be accelerating. One study completed in 1964 computed a lethality index for various weapons based on such factors as the weapon’s range, its mobility on the battlefield, and its rate of fire. A sampling of the weapons studied and their indices follows:



 Lethality Index

Javelin 18
Longbow 34
Eighteenth-century flintlock musket (smoothbore) 47
Mid-nineteenth-century rifle w/conoidal bullet 154
Nineteenth-century breechloading rifle 229
World War I machine gun 12,730
World War II medium tank 2,203,000
World War II fighter bomber 3,037,900
20 KT nuclear airburst 48,550,0005

 The relationship between casualties and the increasing lethality of weapons is not as obvious as one might suspect. While certain aspects of technological change such as greater range and rate of fire for small arms have contributed to greater lethality on the modern battlefield, other technological changes such as the development of armored vehicles and improved medical services have tended to neutralize gains in lethality. Furthermore, one can argue that when a new weapon is mated with an appropriate doctrine, the weapon becomes so effective that it brings speedy victory without a long, bloody conflict (e.g., Nazi invasion of France in 1940).6

In spite of offsetting developments, technology in general has made warfare much more costly in both human and material terms. For one thing, the Industrial Revolution and the mechanization of agriculture have made it possible to field and sustain the massive military forces typical of both World War I and World War II. These armies are well equipped with highly lethal weapons that facilitate the destruction of opposing mass armies. The lavishness and destructiveness of modern warfare are well illustrated by the extensive bombardments of World War I. In one nineteen-day barrage at Passchendaele in 1917, the British fired 321 trainloads of artillery rounds, one year’s production for 50,000 industrial workers.7

In providing the means to sustain the mass army, the Industrial Revolution led to the expansion of the battlefield far beyond the fields where armies clash. The modern nation in arms, supported by an industrialized society, can produce arms and armies in a seemingly endless profusion, making it impossible to achieve the modern equivalent of Austerlitz, a classic example of the battle that wins a war. Victory in modern total war comes as much from destroying a nation’s industrial base as from defeating enemy armies in the field.

In short, the war-making capacity of the modern, industrialized nation-state ensures that modern warfare will involve heavy material destruction and produce extensive human casualties, especially when such states clash over vital national interests. Casualties in individual battles may be relatively light,8 and some geographically small nations may be overrun in lightning campaigns, but single battles and campaigns will rarely ensure victory over a modern nation in arms.

Basis of the Myth—Casualties

While technology has greatly increased the size of the battlefield and the cost of modern warfare, the United States has experienced deceivingly small casualties and virtually no physical damage in the two great wars of this century. Indeed, not since the Civil War has this nation suffered the heavy losses and destruction that are typical of warfare between modern industrialized states.

During the War between the States, a total of 2.75 million men wore the blue and gray of the opposing forces. Of these, 623,026 died and 471,427 were wounded, for a casualty total of 1,094,453. The population of the nation at this time was 31.5 million, which means our casualties were 3.5 percent of the total population.9

Some fifty years after the Civil War, the United States entered World War I, a war that involved more than 65 million men in uniform and produced almost 30 million casualties, including 8.5 million dead. Compared to these casualties and even those of our own Civil War, United States losses were small: 126,000 dead and 234,300 wounded. The significance of these figures is further illuminated by comparing them to the U.S. population, about 92 million by the time of World War I. This comparison gives a .4 percent ratio between casualties and population.10

By the time of World War II, when more than sixteen million served in the U.S. Armed Forces, our population had reached 131 million. Of the millions in uniform, 292,131 died in battle, 115,187 died from other causes, and 671,801 were wounded. These figures give a total of 1,079,119, slightly lower than the total of casualties suffered during the Civil War. But our casualties as a percentage of the total population were .8 percent compared to 3.5 percent in the Civil War.11

While the United States suffered casualties totaling less than 1 percent of its population in each of the two great wars of the twentieth century, other nations experienced the full human cost of modern warfare. During World War I, 1.77 million Germans, 1.7 million Russians, 1.36 million French, and .9 million English were killed or died.12

German and Soviet human losses during World War II were even more staggering. Germany suffered 3.5 million battle deaths, while battle deaths in the U.S.S.R. totaled 7.5 million. A total of 20 million Soviets died out of 170 million, about 12 percent of the population. The physical destruction of the war was appalling; for example, 1700 Soviet cities and towns and some 70,000 villages were laid waste.13

Especially indicative of the high material and manpower costs of modern warfare are the losses sustained by the Soviets as a result of Operation Barbarossa, the German invasion of the Soviet Union that began in June 1941. J.F.C. Fuller tells us that in four massive envelopments of Soviet military forces between 22 June and 20 October 1941, the Germans captured 1.8 million Soviet troops, 6741 tanks, and 12,497 pieces of artillery. Also, more than 2000 Soviet aircraft were destroyed, and more than 3500 other motor vehicles were captured by the Germans.14

Thus, from the standpoint of casualties and physical damage, America’s experience in modern warfare has been atypical. We entered World War I, a war that started in August 1914, during the spring of 1917, when scarcely a year and a half remained in a conflict between exhausted belligerents. In World War II, while we carried the major burden of the war in the Pacific, the equivalent burden in Europe was carried by the Soviet Union. As a result, the United States suffered relatively light casualties in the two world wars, and both wars involved extensive use of the products of advanced technology.

Could there be a relationship in the American mind between relatively low U.S. casualties and the application technology in warfare? Let us answer this question by examining some American attitudes toward military technology.

Basis of the Myth: American Attitudes
toward Technology

It is indicative of trends in modern warfare that the bloodiest war in the annals of American history is known as the first modern war. During the American Civil War, the first widespread use of an effective rifle occurred, even if it was a minié ball-firing muzzle loader. The repeating rifle also appeared in limited numbers. Machine guns were available for military use for the first time. Other innovations included the use of trenches and barbed wire, extensive use of the telegraph, and widespread use of railroad transportation for logistics; not to mention the use of observation balloons and the first battle between ironclad vessels.15

Extensive use of the fruits of technology in the Civil War is just what one would expect of a society in which technology has been a major shaping influence. Since the landing of our Puritan ancestors on the rugged New England coast in the early part of the seventeenth century, Americans have faced the problem of having more work to perform than limited labor resources could accomplish. These conditions "placed a high valuation on getting things done, preferably in the shortest possible time and with the minimum of human labor."16 By the end of the nineteenth century, historian Thomas Parke Hughes tells us, Americans had come to believe that "technology could bring order out of chaos, provide boundless energy, support business enterprise, and win wars."17

A closer examination of American attitudes toward the application of technology to warfare between 1860 and 1940 indicates that Hughes may have overstated his point. While it is possible to cite examples of progressive thinking with regard to military application of technology during this period of American history, numerous examples of a bias against technology can also be found.

To begin with, Civil War soldiers were not prepared to deal with the technological breakthroughs that took place during that war. For example, Colonel J.W. Ripley, Chief of Ordnance for the Union Army, opposed procuring the machine gun because it would use too much ammunition. For the same reason, the Ordnance Department also opposed repeating rifles.18 There was likewise a slowness to respond to battlefield conditions, which changed drastically as a result of the first widespread use of the rifle in war. The accuracy and range of the new rifle and its relatively rapid rate of fire meant that defensive infantry could deliver several rounds of highly accurate, lethal fire before an attacking enemy could close sufficiently to breech a defensive position. Although this situation spelled the end of linear tactics that had dominated Western battlefields in one form or another since the early eighteenth century, such tactics were officially sanctioned until the end of the war. Deviations from regulations, when they occurred, resulted from initiatives of individual commanders and soldiers.19

Negative reaction to military technology continued between the Civil War and World War I. General Custer failed to take four available Gatling guns with him on the campaign that ended at the battle of the Little Big Horn. Custer apparently believed these weapons could not be transported easily over the terrain he would be crossing; but the guns were specially designed to be disassembled and transported by pack mule.20 And while the United States fleet was destroying the inferior ships of the Spanish Navy during the Spanish-American War, soldiers of the National Guard were using black-powder Springfields which produced a heavy pall of smoke that quickly betrayed the guard’s position. Satisfactory smokeless powder had been developed approximately 15 years before that war began.21

The American military profession still showed signs of a conservative attitude toward technology when the United States entered World War I in 1917. For example, in a 24 July 1917 letter, George Patton, then a captain on General Pershing’s staff, wrote: "Any one who thinks that cavalry is a thing of the past is mistaken." This same Patton, who organized the first U.S. tank unit in history and later led the Third Army in its sweep across Western Europe in World War II, was unimpressed with the tank when he was first shown one by a French tank enthusiast in July 1917. He later wrote of this episode that the "Frenchman was crazy and the Tank not worth a damn." Patton’s subsequent application for assignment to tanks was the result of unhappiness with his duties on Pershing’s staff: he saw the tank as his only hope for advancement.22

The love of horses and distrust of the tank did not end with World War I. Even after this war, "the cavalry continued to charge across the plains of Kansas firing .45 automatics— weapons inaccurate even when not fired from the very unstable platform of a horse."23 And in the 1930s, while the cavalry was maneuvering against the infantry,24 American tank development languished. "From 1920 to 1935, only thirty-five tanks were built in the United States. Most were hand-tooled test models." A standard American tank design would not appear until 1938.25

Fiscal constraints and American isolationism account in large measure for this situation, but conservative attitudes on the part of military leaders also bore some responsibility for the military’s technological backwardness. This conservativeness is illustrated in a 1919 statement by General Peyton C. March, Army Chief of Staff: "Nothing in this war [World War I] has changed the fact that it is now, as always heretofore, the Infantry with rifle and bayonet that, in the final analysis, must hear the brunt of the assault and carry it on to victory."26

World War II produced a radical departure from these earlier conservative views on military applications of technology, for the weaponry that wartime research and development placed at the disposal of opposing armed forces made it impossible for any rational person to deny that technology had become one of the key factors in modern warfare. Military leaders were singing paeans to technology even before the war ended. In December 1944, General Patton wrote to General Levin Campbell, Chief of Army Ordnance, about the effects of shells fuzed with the new proximity fuze:

The new shell with the funny fuze is devastating. The other night we caught a German battalion, which was trying to get across the Sauer River, with a battalion concentration and killed by actual count 702. I think that when all armies get this shell we will have to devise some new method of warfare. I am glad that you all thought of it first.27

After the war, General Eisenhower noted that the Normandy invasion might not have been possible had the Germans perfected the "V" weapons six months earlier than they did and "made the Portsmouth-Southampton area one of [their] principal targets."28

Army Air Forces (AAF) leader General H. H. "Hap" Arnold was also much impressed with technology. In September 1944, Arnold charged his old friend Theodor von Kármán with preparing a study that would point the way for future Air Force research and development (R&D) policies. The result was the 33-volume study Toward New Horizons, which von Kármán and a group of scientists finished in December 1945. Von Kármán’s own volume, Science: The Key to Air Supremacy, played an important role in the efforts of AAF leaders to establish their own R&D program after World War II.29 Additionally, as the war in Europe was drawing to a close, Arnold noted that

the first essential of the airpower necessary for our national security is preeminence in research. The imagination and inventive genius of our people—in industry, in the universities, in the armed services, and throughout the nation—must have free play, incentive and every encouragement. American air superiority in this war has resulted in large measure from the mobilization and constant application of our scientific resources.30

Technology had become increasingly important in warfare while the American casualty rate had declined dramatically since the Civil War, but were these two trends related? They were in the minds of at least some. Historian Allan Nevins related a story about World War II that ties technology and the saving of American lives together nicely. In explaining why Americans who stayed home during the war did not feel guilty, Nevins wrote:

But the greatest reason for elation in the production totals was clear enough for all. They meant not only speedier victory, but victory purchased with fewer lives. An officer who was smothering a hill in Tunis with artillery fire spoke to a war correspondent. "I’m letting the American taxpayer take this hill," he said. That was obviously the way an American war would be fought; industry and the taxpayer doing as much of it as they could.31

Francis Walton expressed similar views in Miracle of World War II: How American Industry Made Victory Possible. He noted that "military experts" generally agreed that our victory in World War II was the result of "massed materiel rather than the highest military skill." Furthermore, "miraculous tools of war" that were "Made in the USA" were responsible for reduced casualties. In short, "an abundance of machines not only reduces the ever present ‘calculated risk,’ but permits the humane leader of democratic armies to enjoy compassion for his men and victory in battle."32

Sentiments identical to those of Walton and Nevins are found in a memorandum from General Arnold to von Kármán. "It is a fundamental principle of American democracy that personnel casualties are distasteful. We will continue to fight mechanical rather than manpower wars."33 It would seem to be but a short step from "mechanical wars" to General Schriever’s "technological war," in which combat between people armed with the products of technology is replaced by a competition, a conflict, between the technologies of the belligerents.

More recent indications of the existence of the myth of technological war can be seen in current appraisals of the potential of man-portable antitank and antiaircraft precision-guided munitions (PGMs) to restore the balance between NATO and Warsaw Pact conventional forces. One author has argued that PGMs are so lethal and easy to operate that even "weekend warriors" can use them to blunt an armor-tipped Soviet blitzkrieg aimed at overrunning Europe.34 In another article two members of the Boston Study Group, an organization of scientists, advocate a 40 percent reduction of the U.S. defense budget, based at least in part on the high kill probabilities and low cost of PGMs.35

That the myth of technological warfare affects at least some in high places today is apparent. In the July 1979 Air Force, one Defense Department member wrote: "Two essential sources of military strength are manpower and science and technology. Their relative importance appears to be shifting, with science and technology seeming to be the more important now."36 We also find a congresswoman who believes that our major manpower needs in the next war will be for computer technicians and other high technologists in spite of current pilot retention problems in the Air Force and the difficulty the Army is having in recruiting into the combat arms.37

Technological War:
Fiction or Fact?

Technological war is naturally agreeable to the modern American character. We are a nation that takes great pride in technological achievement, and we have been and are influenced strongly by our Western heritage. One strain of this heritage is an antimilitary sentiment that has it roots in, among other things, an English distaste for standing armies such as the New Model Army of Oliver Cromwell. Because of this aspect of our heritage, Americans tend to be highly sympathetic to the myth of technological war; for technology, the "force multiplier," makes it possible to keep the standing military force relatively small, thereby limiting the impact of the military on a nation that has never been comfortable with her legions. For example, a reduction of the uniformed armed forces from 2.1 million to 1.425 million is one of the economies the Boston Study Group would achieve.38 Furthermore, technology is compatible with the strong influence on our society of Western humanism, with its emphasis on the value of human life. Technology tends to sanitize war. While placing greater destructive power in the hands of the warrior, it also tends to remove him from the scene of death, giving the illusion that the weapon, not the soldier, has done the killing. And what could be more appealing to American humanism than saving American lives, another benefit of technological war?

Saying that a particular myth of war is compatible with our national character39 is not a comment on the correlation of that view with the realities of war. There are disturbing indications in various treatments of war that the American concept of technological war diverges dangerously from the realities of the modern battlefield.

Lieutenant General Sir John Winthrop Hackett, soldier and scholar and one of this century’s most perceptive observers of the military profession, discusses one American attitude toward war that is an aspect of the myth of technological war. In The Profession of Arms, Hackett noted that during World War II some Americans considered war as just another big engineering project and ignored what Hackett refers to as the unlimited liability clause in the soldier’s contract, the fact that the soldier may be called on at any time to die in the service of his country. Hackett warned that one ignores this apsect of military life only at peril, for "when men are unprepared for this, and it is invoked, the results can be disturbing. The nature of his contract sets the man-at-arms apart.40

In The Face of Battle, John Keegan, after examining three classic battles and making a few observations about more recent warfare, concluded:

The tank, though it has transformed the pace and appearance of modern campaigning, has not changed the nature of battle. The focus of fighting may be shifted twenty miles in a single day by an armoured thrust, but wherever it comes to rest there must take place exactly the same sort of struggle between man and man which battlefields have seen since armies came into being.41

More recent indications of the continuing and basic importance of warriors and commanders in modern war can be found in information about the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Military Review recently published an interview with Major General Mohamed Abdel Halim Abou Ghazala, who commanded the artillery forces of the Egyptian Second Army during the October War. After describing the bravery of Egyptian soldiers armed with Sagger missiles, he stated: "A good, well-trained soldier equipped with an ATGM like the Sagger or the Dragon can easily destroy one or two tanks before he could be killed." During the course of the interview, the general was asked about the success of an Egyptian air defense effort. "To what factors would you ascribe this success? Was it technological superiority? Deployment? Massing? Or all three elements together?" The general’s answer included as one factor "the high level of training and the morale of the man behind the weapon."42

A similar picture of the human factor in battle comes from an interview with Brigadier General Avigdor Kahalani of the Israeli Defense Forces, who commanded the 7th Brigade in defense of the Golan Heights against Syrian armored thrusts during the 1973 war. General Kahalani noted that it is important to be candid with one’s soldiers in training so that they will not be surprised by the cruelty of war. "In combat, people are going to be killed and wounded. If you discuss these subjects and have realistic training, it will not be a big surprise for your soldiers when they are first initiated into combat." A statement by Kahalani about the importance of the human factor in war is also revealing. In explaining the key to success in battle, he stated:

You must understand it is not the armor, it is not the gun, it is not the airplane, it is not the howitzer; it is the man behind the gun in the tank that makes the difference.43

From the 1973 war also comes an illustration of the nature of warfare that seems to raise questions about the combat effectiveness of PGMs. General Chaim Herzog gave the following account of the situation the Egyptians created in forcing a crossing of the Suez Canal:

At H hour 240 Egyptian planes crossed the Canal. Their mission was to strike three airfields in Sinai, to hit the Israeli Hawk surface-to-air missile batteries, to bomb three Israeli command posts, radar stations, medium artillery positions, the administration centres and the Israeli strongpoint known as Budapest on the sand bank east of Port Fuad. Simultaneously 2,000 guns opened up along the entire front: field artillery, medium and heavy artillery and medium and heavy mortars. A brigade of FROG surface-to-surface missiles launched its weapons. Tanks moved up to the ramps prepared on the sand ramparts, depressed their guns and fired point-blank at the Israeli strongpoints. Over 3,000 concentrated tons of destruction were launched against a handful of Israeli fortifications in a barrage that turned the entire east bank of the Suez Canal into an inferno for fifty-three minutes.44

Under these circumstances, statistics on PGM kill probabilities, which often derive from test firings on proving ranges,45 become at best academic and perhaps even meaningless. As one weapon analyst has written: "The assumption that PGMs in general and ATGMs in particular have an unusually high kill value under battle conditions is wrong. . . . No weapon has the same battlefield value as that advertised by the manufacturer or even as demonstrated on the test range."46

The technical factor in war is real; it is reflected in our force structure and in our national psyche. However, our national penchant for technological solutions and our atypical experience with warfare in the twentieth century have combined to create an imbalance in the American approach to war. We overemphasize technology as the key to military success at the expense of other elements that have traditionally played a major role in military victory, such as superior combat leaders, skilled and dedicated fighting men, willingness to sacrifice, and sound strategy. This situation has significance for national security in two respects.

First, overdependence on military technology raises serious questions with regard to our use of military force as an effective instrument of national policy. The Vietnam War illustrates the difficulties well. With the most sophisticated analysis techniques and the world’s most advanced technology, we did not defeat the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese. We lavished treasure and technology on the conflict but found 55,000 lives an intolerable human price for a decade-long war.

The results of Vietnam raise serious questions about our performance in possible future wars. For example, could a nation deeply disturbed by the loss of 55,000 lives in a ten-year war continue to tight after sustaining massive casualties in losing the first battle in a NATO-Warsaw Pact war?47 This prospect becomes even more sobering when we realize that our likely opponent lost the equivalent of nearly the entire American defense establishment in the first six months of World War II yet fought on to victory four years later. With the skyrocketing cost of today's weapons, could a nation committed to technological war be driven literally into fiscal bankruptcy in some future war with another North Vietnam that is willing to pay the human price for victory?

Second, in addition to leading to false expectations with regard to war and its impact on societies, the myth of technological war also undermines the soldier’s traditionally tenuous position in American society. In peacetime, management and bureaucratic skills are always more prized than the courage, ability to reason and make decisions under extreme pressure, and the capability to drive as well as to lead men that are usually found in successful combat commanders. The myth of technological war permits Americans to believe that the scientists, technicians, and managers who develop, procure, and maintain today’s miracle weapons are more important than the warriors who will wield the weapons and the officers who will command them. In the view of many Americans, we won World War II because of superior numbers of highly reliable M-4 tanks, not because of the bravery of the men who drove them against Panthers and Tiger IIs and not because of the generalship of men like Patton. We were victorious in the air war, some think, because of overwhelming numbers of superb B-17s, B-24s, P-47s, and P-51s, not because of the courage and skill of pilots like Bong and Boyington and the leadership of men such as Doolittle, Spaatz, Eaker, and LeMay. This line of thinking helps one understand how a national leader can hold that technicians are the key to victory in war, how a high-ranking Air Force officer can equate the work of radio intercept operators to being on the front lines,48 and how an editorial writer can prefer officers who make "sure the ship’s mess has enough ice cream, that remote outposts get new movies" to soldiers like LeMay and Patton.49 Soldiers are held to be outmoded, even dangerous.50

The United States is a peace-loving, antimilitary nation; deeply imbued with Western humanism and business commercialism. The social institutions of such a nation do not mass produce warriors and warrior-leaders; they actively inhibit their development. If current trends which seriously undermine the position accorded the soldier in the social structure of the American military profession continue, can it be long before our armed forces have no heroic combat leaders to follow into the next war? The United States produces legions of managers, engineers, technicians, and bureaucrats. In time of war, we could draft ample numbers of people in all of these specialties; we could mobilize whole transportation companies and data-processing firms. But where will our soldiers come from if not from the armed forces?

Airpower Research Institute
Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama


1. "The Operational Urgency of R&D," Air University Quarterly Review, Winter and Spring 1960-61, p. 230.

2. For simplicity, I use the term technology without distinguishing between science and technology. Technology is mans effort to cope with his environment and includes everything from the creation of simple tools and the methods of making them to the most complex implements of modern society and the processes for producing such devices. Science is theoretical knowledge of natural phenomena and the activity of developing such knowledge. Although technology has affected warfare since primitive man first used a club against his fellowman, only in the twentieth century has science begun to have significant effects on warfare; e.g., radar is based on the electromagnetic theories of scientists such as James Clerk Maxwell. Even now, however, science affects warfare only through technology, which uses theoretical knowledge to develop actual hardware.

3. Of several discussions of the American attitude toward war, which I call the myth of technological war, one of the best is James Fallows, "Muscle-Bound Superpower," Atlantic Monthly, October 1979. Fallows discussed how the United States has become overreliant on military technology to the detriment of "real defense."

4. Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion (New York, 1954), p. 25.

5. Historical Evaluation and Research Organization (HERO), Comparative Analysis of Historical Studies, Annex III, Historical Trends Related to Weapon Lethality (Washington, 1964), pp. H-6 through H-19.

6. HERO, Historical Trends, pp. 29-33, 37-40, 43-44; Basic Historical Studies, Annex Volume I, Historical Trends, pp. 91-96; HERO, Comparative Analysis, pp. B-1 through B-8.

7. Bernard Brodie and Fawn Brodie, From Crossbow to H-Bomb: The Evolution of the Weapons and Tactics of Warfare (Bloomington, Indiana, and London, 1973), p. 192.

8. T.N. Dupuy, "Perceptions of the Next War: Historical Perspective on Adjustment of Doctrine and Tactics to Weapons," Armed Forces Journal International, May 1980, p. 54, argues that casualties per battle day have generally declined over the course of history.

9. Shelby Foote, Red River to Appomattox, Vol. III, The Civil War: A Narrative (New York, 1974), p. 1040; Bernard Bailyn et al, The Great Republic: A History of the American People (Boston and Toronto, 1977), p. xviii, gives U.S. population figures at various points in the nation’s history.

10. Vincent J. Esposito, editor, A Concise History of World War I (New York, 1964), p. 372; Bailyn, p. xviii.

11. Vincent J. Esposito, editor, A Concise History of World War II (New York, 1964), p. 399; Bailyn, p. xviii. Even if we were to halve the Civil War casualties in recognition of the unique nature of such a war, the casualty rate would be 1.75 percent or better than twice the rate experienced during World War II.

12. Esposito, World War I, p. 372.

13. Esposito, World War II, p. 400; Richard Pipes, "Why the Soviet Union Thinks It Could Fight and Win a Nuclear War," Air Force, September 1977, p. 65; Gordon Wright, The Ordeal of Total War:1939-1945, Rise of Modern Europe, edited by William L. Langer (New York, 1968), p. 264.

14. J. F. C. Fuller, From the Seven Days Battle, 1862, to the Battle of Leyte Gulf, 1944, Vol. III of A Military History of the Western World (n. p.: Minervia Press, 1956), pp. 428-29, 432-34, 440. See p. 446 for a general discussion of German and Soviet casualties in the opening months of World War II on the eastern front.

15. See Brodie and Brodie, pp. 124-71, for a discussion of some of these innovations.

16. John B. Rae, "The ‘Know-How’ Tradition: Technology in American History," Technology and Culture, Spring 1960, pp. 141-42.

17. Thomas Parke Hughes, editor, Changing Attitudes toward American Technology (New York, 1975), pp. 8-9.

18. John Ellis, The Social History of the Machine Gun (New York, 1975), p. 25; George M. Chinn, The Machine Gun: History, Evolution, and Development of Manual, Automatic, and Airborne Repeating Weapons, Vol. I (Washington, 1951), p. 39; Russell F. Weigley, History of the United States Army, The Wars of the United States, edited by Louis Morton (New York, 1967), pp. 238-39.

19. HERO, Basic Historical Studies, pp. 68-70. See also Tom Wintringham and J.N. Blashford-Snell, Weapons and Tactics (Baltimore, 1973), pp. 143-45. I recognize that the odre mixte used by Napoleon already constituted a break with traditional linear tactics, but it must be recalled that Pickett’s charge at Gettysburg was made by soldiers in formal, dressed formations. For an excellent description of Pickett’s charge see Shelby Foote, Fredericksburg to Meridian, Vol. II of The Civil War: A Narrative (New York, 1963), pp. 552-58.

20. Ellis, p. 74.

21. Brodie and Brodie, p. 143; Weigley, p. 307.

22. Martin Blumenson, The Patton Papers: 1885-1940, Vol. I, Part 1 (Boston, 1972), pp. 436-37, 442, 460-62, 501-02.

23. Edward L. Katzenbach, Jr., "The Mechanization of War, 1880-1919," in Technology in the Twentieth Century, Vol. II of Melvin Kranzberg and Carroll W. Pursell, Jr., editors, Technology in Western Civilization (New York, 1967), p. 560.

24. Edward L. Katzenbach, Jr., "The Horse Cavalry in the Twentieth Century: A Study in Policy Response," in Public Policy: A Yearbook of the School of Public Administration, Harvard University (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1958), p. 136.

25. Blumenson, Patton Papers, Vol. I, Part 2, p. 1048.

26. Clarence G. Lasby, "Science and the Military," in David D. Van Tassel and Michael G. Hall, editors, Science and Society in the United States (Homewood, Illinois, 1966), p. 261. For a critique of the myth of the bayonet, see Wintringham and Blashford-Snell, Weapons and Tactics, pp. 144-47.

27. George S. Patton to Levin Campbell, 29 December 1944, quoted in James Phinney Baxter III, Scientists against Time (Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1968), p. 236.

28. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Crusade in Europe (Garden City, New York, 1948), p. 260.

29. Donald R. Baucom, "Air Force Images of Research and Development and Their Reflections in Organizational Structure and Management Policies" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of Oklahoma, 1976), Chapter 2.

30. H. H. Arnold, "The AAF Looks Ahead," Air Force: The Official Service Journal of the U.S. Army Air Forces, March 1945, p. 14.

31. Alan Nevins, "How We Felt about the War," in Jack Goodman, editor, While You Were Gone: A Report on Wartime Life in the United States (New York, 1946), p. 23.

32. Miracle of World War II (New York, 1956), pp. 3-4.

33. H. H. Arnold, Memorandum for Dr. von Kármán, Subject: AAF Long Range Development Program, 7 November 1944, in Theodor von Kármán, Toward New Horizons: Science, the Key to Air Supremacy, p. v.

34. George H. Quester, "Can Europe Really Be Defended? Some New ‘Conventional’ Arguments," Encounter, September 1978, p. 17.

35. Philip Morrison and Paul F. Walker, "A New Strategy for Military Spending," Scientific American, October 1978, pp. 48-61.

36. Ruth M. Davis, "The Imperatives of Electronic Superiority," Air Force, July 1979, p. 55.

37. "Representative Schroeder Thinks It Makes as Much Sense to Draft Women as Men—Absolutely None," People, 11 February 1980, pp. 30-31. The Air Force retained only 26 percent of its pilots in 1979 ("Career Incentives for JOs Lacking," Air Force Times, 2 June 1980, p. 2). To fill its ranks adequately in armor, artillery, and infantry, in 1978 the Army was offering up to $2000 to men who would serve longer than the normal two years (Charles Moskos, "The All-Volunteer Force," The Wilson Quarterly, Spring 1979, p. 135).

38. Morrison and Walker, p. 59.

39. Clausewitz noted that nations make war according to their national character. See Peter Paret, "The Genesis of On War," in Carl von Clausewitz, On War, edited and translated by Michael Howard and Peter Paret (Princeton, New Jersey, 1976), pp. 5-6.

40. The Profession of Arms, 1962 Lees Knowles Lectures presented at Trinity College, Cambridge (London: The Times Publishing Company Limited; reproduced with permission by the U.S. Air Force Academy, 1970), p. 23.

41. The Face of Battle (New York, 1976), p. 296.

42. "The Suez Crossing: An Interview with Major General Mohamed Abdel Halim Abou Ghazala," Military Review, November 1979, pp. 5-7.

43. Geoffrey G. Prosch, "Israeli Defense of the Golan: An Interview with Brigadier General Avigdor Kahalani, Israeli Defense Forces," Military Review, October 1979, pp. 7-8.

44. Chaim Herzog, The War of Atonement: October 1972 (Boston, 1975), p. 151.

45. Ori Even-Tov, "The NATO Conventional Defense: Back to Reality," Orbis, Spring 1979, p. 37.

46. Ibid. For a similar analysis critical of those who expect more from PGMs than they apparently can deliver, see Fallows, p. 61.

47. For a hint of what a major war in Europe might entail, see Leslie J. Hamblin, "Yes, There Is a Better Way to Win a War in Europe" Air University Review, September-October 1980, pp. 70-71; Robert Leider, "Muddling Through Won’t Do," in The All-Volunteer Force and American Society, edited by John B. Keeley (Charlottesville, Virginia, 1978), p. 193.

48. Lee Olson, "Air Force Goal: Motivate People," Denver Post, July 1, 1977, p. 20.

49. Fred Reed, "Military Minds," Signal, January 1980, p. 69. This editorial was reprinted from the Washington Post, October 2, 1979.

50. Ibid. Here Reed Wrote: "The Pattons and LeMays are occasionally useful, always dangerous and constitute a good case for civilian control of the military."


Lieutenant Colonel Donald R. Baucom (USAFA; M.A., Ph.D., University of Oklahoma) is Deputy Director, Research, Air Power Research Institute, Air University, Maxwell AFB, Alabama. Colonel Baucom has held positions in the communications-electronics career field and was a faculty member of the United States Air Force Academy.


The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University.

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