International Security Portfolio


Since the fourteenth century, the world has seen a series of military revolutions. These revolutions are considered to be triggered by four factors: technical advancements, operational innovation, system development, and organizational adaptation. The first military revolution was the Infantry Revolution, which was distinguished by tight formations of crossbowmen and pole-arms. The Infantry Revolution was succeeded by the Artillery Revolution, Fortress Revolution, Gunpowder Revolution, Napoleonic Revolution, Land Warfare Revolution, World War 1 in the early nineteenth century, Interwar Revolutions, and finally the Nuclear Revolution in the mid-twentieth century. Each revolution made use of diverse technological advances. Additionally, military organizational structures and systems changed simultaneously with every revolution.

The Role of Technology and Organization

However, it should be noted that military revolutions are only possible if the emerging technology is incorporated within new processes and executed by a new organization structure. Furthermore, the advantage of new technology is short-lived if a military organization does not heed the competition when exploiting the technology. Additionally, historical records hold that revolution and war should be treated as separate entities. This argument is valid when considering how the revolution of naval warfare in the late nineteenth century was widely accepted even in the absence of war. From the excerpt, it can be deduced that most technologies that underwrite a revolution often originate outside the military sector. For example, the idea of the casting of artillery during the Artillery Revolution was borrowed from the method used to cast church bells.


In conclusion, military revolution does not necessarily imply an increase in the cost of maintaining troops. For instance, Nuclear Revolution has been relatively cheap despite anticipation of high costs of nuclear power. On the other hand, the current revolution might have already entered its first phase. The rate of revolution, however, is expected to accelerate over the next few decades due to various aspects. These issues include growing importance of simulation, the level of military competition in the international scene, and the four elements constituting a military revolution. Therefore, it is in the best interest of the United States and world's other great powers to recognize and devise strategies for dealing with the rising competition about exploitation of military potential.


Krepinevich, A.F., 1994. Cavalry to computer: The pattern of military revolutions. The National Interest, (37), pp.364-375.

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