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He wrote: "The RMA depends on the interaction between systems that collect, process, fuse and communicate information and those that apply military force". This is why it is often called the "system of systems".

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Improved missile and bombing accuracy is part of it. With some considerable oversimplification one could say that information technology enables troops at all levels to use intelligence more rapidly and decisively than ever before. The time between "sensor and shooter" is greatly reduced. Information from satellites, human observers and ground target indicators gets to a pilot's cockpit display or missile-launching position in "real time" as things happen.

As recently as the Kosovo campaign that was not the case. Rumsfeld is a competent man. He grasped the implications of the RMA and saw their wider import. He wrote that it was "about more than building new high-tech weapons - although that is certainly part of it.

It is also about new ways of thinking and new ways of fighting. He saw that the "predictable threats" of the Cold War were over. The doctrine that the US should maintain "two massive occupation forces" capable of fighting two "major-theatre wars" more or less simultaneously and "of marching on and occupying the capitals of two aggressors" was modified.

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It was decided to emphasise "deterrence in four critical theatres, backed by the ability to swiftly defeat two aggressors at the same time, while preserving the option for one massive counteroffensive to occupy an aggressor's capital and replace its regime". The target states would be uncertain as to which would get the regime change, so preserving the deterrence.

Dropping the second occupation concept made resources available for other "lesser contingencies". The old question basic to defence planning had been "What are the threats? There is more, much more, and it can be read in Foreign Affairs May-June Rumsfeld may be thought a frightening man, but he is undoubtedly an able, articulate one, sure of his own and America's mission in the world.

There was some grumbling from senior officers reportedly because they were not in on the discussions. How much of that was innate resistance to change and the scrapping of familiar mind-sets cannot really be assessed by an outsider.

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But the low retiring ages in the US forces soon move dissenters on. This writer cannot see the US settling for anything less than victory in this case. The extra , troops, announced for Iraq on Thursday night, indicates that. Whether they like it or not the Iraqi people are in the middle of a big experiment in high strategy. Let us look at the emergence of high-tech weaponry in the past 11 years and see the effects on government policies in the bigger countries. After the end of the Cold and Gulf Wars there were many demands for a "peace dividend".

Many people thought the need for high military expenditure was gone. Many countries did cash their peace dividends - closing military bases, reducing armed force strengths, postponing new weapons production and procurement. This was done in the early s. The US also made cuts. Problems appeared again.

The former Yugoslavia required peacekeeping troops. The end of the Cold War allowed many problems to surface. The favourable resonance of "peacekeeping" and a hope that the requirement might help to maintain troop strengths made some general staffs take an interest in peace support operations - a broader and more descriptive term than "peacekeeping". There was also a genuine professional interest in this new to many military activity. It goes without saying that information links may be a weakness of the RMA.

Disarmament Diplomacy: - Step-By-Step Control Over Ballistic and Cruise Missiles

They must be continuous, secure and "all-weather workable". There must be considerable redundancy - back-up links that automatically and uninterruptedly replace any failures. They must be "seamless", with no delays in transferring between radio, radar and line links or headquarters.


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None of this is cheap. The danger of "hackers" and cyber-attacks on information networks and guidance systems has been mentioned by Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld was the guiding force on the committee set up to examine whether the US needed a national missile defence NMD system. There was much less opposition than was expected. For the US a new generation of military equipment was due after the Gulf War. This was delayed, but it gave the armaments industry more time to improve things such as Tomahawk missiles, stealth aircraft and electronic countermeasures.

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One year on from Kosovo, disparities in the capabilities of the coalition partners, as well as uneven levels of prior coordination, persist.

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