Evolutionary Reality of the Revolution in Military Affairs: Results of a Comparative Study

by Iztok Prezelj, Erik Kopač, Aleš Žiberna, Anja Kolak, Anton Grizold,

Revolution in Military Affairs has been one of the driving concepts for creating modern armed forces capable of coping with the challenges of a contemporary security environment. Revolutionary change in military affairs has been interpreted as discontinuous, radical, non-incremental, and even disruptive change. Evolutionists, however, oppose this view and stress that past military transformations were actually more evolutionary, continuous, incremental, piecemeal, and slow. The third view tried to integrate both views by stressing the patterns of interchange of the periods of evolution and the turbulent periods of revolution. This paper explores the revolution-evolution dilemma quantitatively by setting three logical revolution criteria/thresholds and discovers the number of changes in military affairs on a sample of 33 countries that were actually revolutionary in the period 1992-2010. The paper confirms the argument that Revolution in Military Affairs has been in practice predominantly an incremental evolution in several military dimensions, with rare major (revolutionary) shifts. The statistical results show that only from 2 to 4% of possible revolutionary situations (periods in our measurement) were Revolution in Military Affairs. Only nine countries occasionally reached the revolution threshold of 30% change in one year, 10 countries reached the threshold of 50% change in three years, and only six countries reached the threshold of 70% change in five years. These findings suggest that Revolution in Military Affairs was used more as a promotional slogan, and perhaps even a motivational tool in military affairs.

published in Vol 15 - No 2 - 2015 // General Issue
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  • Alina Mungiu-Pippidi (chair) Hertie School of Governance
  • Larry Diamond Stanford University
  • Tom Gallagher University of Bradford
  • Alena Ledeneva University College London
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  • Helen Wallace London School of Economics and Political Science

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  • Ingi Iusmen

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