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  • Print publication year: 2013
  • Online publication date: June 2014

1 - Army transformation: imperatives and innovations

Summary

In an uncertain and still dangerous world, a key challenge for Western states is to maintain their military edge. For the United States, the challenge is to stay ahead of rising state competitors and new non-state opponents. For the main European powers, the challenge is as much to catch up with the US military, as it is to meet a range of regional and global military commitments. These past two decades, Western militaries have been operating in an environment that has been characterized by profound strategic and socio-technological change, with the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of networked computers, as well as continuous expeditionary operations. This, in turn, has produced powerful imperatives and opportunities for Western militaries to transform themselves.

The major Western states ended the Cold War with a surplus of military power. Armies, navies and air forces constructed to fight a global war against the Eastern bloc suddenly were left without peer competitors. Western policymakers and their publics soon found new things to worry about, including terrorism, nuclear proliferation, ethnic civil wars and failing states. These new challenges concern less the amount of military power, and more military agility; i.e. the ability of military forces to adapt to meet new risks and requirements.

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