The two major transformations in the military took place following the end of the First World War and resulting into the cold war. Major reasons for these transformations during this period (1918-1939) were occasioned by technological changes in weaponry, individual strengths, introduction of special weapons and tactics and collapse of doctrines. In 1991, years down the memory lane following the collapse of the Great Soviet Union and the scramble to compete for supremacy saw the onset of another transformation. To shade more light into this, the paper dwells on personal strengths and the need for a reliable doctrine, which is necessary to counter future threats.
Military transformations have been taking place since the times of the Roman Empire. It is worth noting that military transformation is an endless and continuous process in any military setting. Transformation is very important as it shapes fighting skills and future combat techniques. As each nation endeavors to protect its borders, the focus is brought into the proper funding of the military to buy state-of-the-art weaponry “just in case.” Nations must always be ready for military invasions and insurgencies. This calls for military readiness and preparations hence the need for transformation (Chizek, 2003). The collapse of Soviet Union opened up an opportunity for other countries to compete to be the next world super power. Suspicious of one another, the countries embarked on major armament programs to strengthen their military.
Military transformation is the restructuring of the military so as to meet the current and future military threats against the USA and its interests and, at the same time, focus on maintaining a global responsibility. Transformation is the creation of new procedures and methods of achieving a task. Military transformation is about getting the best weapons and tactics to defend a country against possible threats. It is mainly informed by technological military advances. The US department of Defense outlines military transformation as a military competition and alliance through novel combinations of capabilities, concepts, organizations and people to exploit the nation’s military base to protect against America’s military invasions (Chizek, 2003). It must be understood that there is a need to sustain world peace, however. Nevertheless, the military transformation has not gone without hitches. There have been soldiers and organizations that were against military transformation. The emphasis will be laid on the role a military transformation plays on protecting the lives of its citizens and saving the lives of soldiers. However, a transformation comes at a cost so it is needless to say that there is a financial implication.
The end of the World War I saw the military faced with the bitter reality of outdated weaponry, doctrines and tactics. Some of the fighting techniques during this period included Trench warfare, which was not effective in defeating enemies. New war tactics had to be developed. Several lessons were learned during the war, such as the inferiority of some of the weapons the US used during the combat operations. There needed to be a complete military overhaul (International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2001). Military weapons had to be designed to meet the world standards and to equip the military in battle fields with up-to-date-combat skills. This also called for an investment in technology to monitor advancements of enemies into the US territory. Carrying out a major military intervention is an up-hill task considering the logistics and bureaucracies involved. Budgets have to be approved and passed or rejected by the congress. For the military to achieve operational, informational and organizational requirements that should be met to guide success in the battle fields, effective doctrine is critical. Thus, it is necessary understand how does the US government develop reliable doctrines to guide her military forces during peace- keeping missions, and where does it draw the line between necessary intervention in other country’s armament and nuclear programs.
The US defense forces carried the major military transformation following the end of World War One. In his book After the Trenches: The Transformation of the US Army 1918-1939, William Odom enlightens his readers about the challenges faced by the US Army, especially their use of outdated weapons. It must be noted that it took the US about four years to join in the Great Europe conflict that saw the loss of countless lives and massive destruction of property and economies. They had been ill-prepared in the war only relying on their experiences in Spanish, American and India wars. The war exposed them to the bitter reality: their revolvers and headgears could not compete against aircrafts and machine guns, rapid firing artillery, armored vehicles, metal helmets and gas masks. Shortly after the war, the army was disbanded, and soldiers discharged. The Army was underfunded and was incapable of operations.
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The lessons learned from the war also helped the German forces to improve their Army. In a series of interventions that saw the likes of McNair, Hugh Drum and George Lynch work diligently and round the clock, human and technological intervention were proposed as the ways to transforming the military. In fact, the idea of infantry and artillery was already an outdated practice that could not be relied on. Minimum troops and underfunding – these were some of the issues the Army had to grapple with. The US Army learned a lot from German techniques that helped them secure victory in Poland. Despite these developments, the US underwent a great number of conflicts and challenges before they could make any meaningful gains in total military overhaul (International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2001).
The military transformation after the end of the war brought more benefits to the US government than setbacks. The benefits included the US war department training, manning, equipping and funding the military so that the army was able to produce timely, updated and reliable doctrines. These developments would help in future warfare. Weaponry and reliable doctrines are the way to go to combat future threats. Indeed, this is the benchmark of military transformation.
Important dates marking this era are the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989 and collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. These dramatic changes were a green light to the US to change tactics and techniques in fighting and containing future threats. Following lessons learnt from the World War I and now the Cold War, history had proved the artillery, missile systems, and combat aircrafts to be some of the weapon in use to combat incoming threats to the USA. The military mainly transformed to defeat future enemies and threats to American security. Critics have blamed the US government for being unprepared for the 9/11. Some will argue that the military failed to stay on alert and prepare for advancing enemies tactics. This event made everybody call into question the US readiness to repulse an assault. Perhaps, this was occasioned by congress’ refusal to enact budgetary allocations to the military. This was in contrast to countries like China that invested a significant amount of their budget in military transformation.
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Lately, however, the USA government has increased military spending with reports indicating that the USA government pumps up to 250% more into military transformation programs than its military counter parts all over the world. Issues of spending have nonetheless not escaped the USA department of defense (Tucker, D., & Army War College, 2006). For instance, some members of the congress feel that the heavy spending in Iraq was not necessary. The argument was that the billions of tax payers’ money pumped into the military could have been used to fund several developmental programs. That remains debatable. What is obvious though is that the US is more concerned about its security and that of its citizens. Protecting America and its citizens is the country’s top priority. Nothing comes between this prerogative and the US treasury, not even the loud voices of disgruntled congressmen and critics. America will continue to invest in security and any transformations that will best combat future threats with a minimum casualty rate.
Again, the benefits surpass the setbacks. The setbacks are notably oppositions of huge spending in the military transformation programs. There have been charges by the congress that huge spending is unnecessary, and money should be channeled to health and pension schemes. The benefits are numerous and range from preparedness to combat invasion and detect bombs and special weapons’ presence in the American soils.
Irrespective of whether one is pro-transformation or against it, military transformation will continue to be a major preoccupation of many nations, not just the United States of America. The rapid changes in technology and the need to keep pace with it is a challenge that must be met with transformation in the military. Protecting a country’s borders and its citizens will always be a major pre-occupation of governments. As the world calculates, so does the man.