Does new technology render strategic theory irrelevant?


by Dr. DAVID MORGAN-OWEN The impact of technology upon warfare is a complex topic, but one which retains perennial relevance to militaries the world over. Can new weapons fundamentally alter the conduct of war, or do certain immutable ‘principles’ remain unchanged over time? These questions cut to the heart of history’s value to the military professional. After all, if technological innovation invalidates pre-existing strategic paradigms, then how can the work of strategists and thinkers from antiquity help to inform solutions to the challenges faced in the modern world? Listeners to BBC Radio 4’s Today program last week would have heard the former First Sea Lord, Admiral Lord West, advocate ‘a close blockade of the Libyian coastline’ as the most effective means of curtailing the activities of human traffickers in the Mediterranean. Lord West alluded to one of the enduring ‘principals’ of naval warfare; namely that it will always be easier…

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