Hard on the heels of a widely publicized GAO report charging that the Pentagon oversold the high-tech weapons used during...


DIGITAL SOLDIERS: The Evolution of High-Tech Weaponry and Tomorrow's Brave New Battlefield

Hard on the heels of a widely publicized GAO report charging that the Pentagon oversold the high-tech weapons used during the 1991 Gulf War comes an informative, down-to-earth assessment of what arms the US military could and should bear in the years ahead. In providing a service-by-service rundown on the outlook for cyberwarriors, Dunnigan (coauthor of Victory at Sea, 1995, etc.) reviews the evolution of modern weaponry from the earliest missiles (rocks) and delivery systems (slings) through today's ICBMs and laser-guided ordnance. Along the way, he shows how development cycles have accelerated; where the widespread adoption of new arms (e.g., crossbows and muskets) once took centuries, radically different systems are now introduced every decade. The author also warns that the competence and training of troops remains a more decisive factor than their high-tech weapons (many of which are useless in venues like Somalia). In this monitory context, he argues that, despite the lack of a major conflict, another revolution in warfare is imminent, if not in progress. According to Dunnigan, its main elements could include: more effective communications that would allow front-line infantry to employ aircraft, armor, and artillery to better advantage; improved sensors able to make tactical missiles more lethal; thermal gunsights good enough to pierce the dark or smoke; computer-controlled robots; and so-called nonlethal weapons. In the meantime, the author notes, state-of-the-art technology not only permits substantive reductions in the crew requirements of naval vessels and aircraft but also threatens large nuclear-powered carriers. He goes on to conclude that funding is the sine qua non of advanced weaponry, cautioning that defense budgets historically have been a source of corruption and political infighting. An authoritative and enlightening survey of what the future might hold for those who engage in combat on America's behalf.

Pub Date: Oct. 23, 1996


Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 1996