- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Lately I’ve been persuaded by the argument that the point of departure for the future of the military is how it is structured.
To that end, I’ve started reading along two tracks. The first is business books about the structure of the 21st century corporation. The second is learning more about how European militaries adjusted to the Industrial Revolution. Despite all the talk about how the tank, aircraft or nuclear power revolutionized the military, I think the Industrial Revolution encompasses those all, as well as the railroad and the telegraph.
The transformation of European militaries from small, professional forces that avoided battle to large, mass forces that sought battle began with the French in the 1790s, as I understand it. Every time someone in today’s American military tells you about how hard it is to change now, think of this: The French adjusted their military to the new rules of the Industrial Revolution while fighting major foreign campaigns and putting down some insurgencies, including a pretty serious domestic one. That makes adjusting the U.S. military to the Information Age look not quite so difficult.
What else should I read about how military (or other) organizations respond to major shifts in the means of production?
(more to come)