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Inevitable Evolutions: Punctuated Equilibrium and the Revolution in Military Affairs

Inevitable Evolutions: Punctuated Equilibrium and the Revolution in Military Affairs published on

Authored by U.S. Army Command and General Staff College

The Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) remains one of the most publicized, yet least understood, concepts among contemporary defense analysts. Too often, professional academic evaluation of military revolution is force-centric, neglecting the inherent association with the social, political, and economic dimensions within which all warfare is conducted. Historian Michael Roberts, who first postulated the presence of a revolution in military affairs in early modern Europe, envisioned a broad theoretical construct that encompassed these dimensions within a framework remarkably similar to Carl von Clausewitz’s “paradoxical trinity,” conjoining the military with the socio-political facets of war. Nevertheless, the modern RMA debate largely neglects this model in the pursuit of a panacea for the future. Returning to the fundamental traditions that once defined the RMA debate, this monograph introduces a paradigm that melds the essence of Roberts? holistic approach with the theory of punctuated equilibrium, a biological model for evolutionary development hypothesized by Niles Eldredge and Steven Gould in 1972. Their model, which countered the very soul of Darwinian evolution, proved both accurate and versatile and was quickly adapted in the fields of finance, business, and organizational theory. In the pages that follow, the author redefines the history of military revolutions within the context of Punctuated Revolutions in Military Affairs, in which military revolution occurs in bursts of rapid change punctuated by relatively long periods of equilibrium, or international symmetry. The utility of this new paradigm is twofold: first, punctuated equilibrium presents an analytical model for the examination of historical military revolutions consistent with Michael Roberts original thesis; second, punctuated equilibrium defines history within the context of patterns of change and is, therefore, predictive in nature. Ultimately, this monograph posits the present state of military affairs within the continuum of Punctuated Revolutions in Military Affairs, offering a glimpse into the future of what may come to be.

Publication Date:
Jul 23 2014
1500609714 / 9781500609719
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
8.5″ x 11″
Black and White
Related Categories:
History / Military / General


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