cribed previously, will take time to develop with all the technical characteristics that advance them significantly beyond today's weapon systems.

Information capabilities are developing much more rapidly than platforms and weapons can be developed. Personnel and financial management that capitalizes on available technology can be changed significantly in relatively short periods of time. Successive advances in these areas can be integrated into the forces at any stage of evolution of the major hardware systems that take longer to create (where the term “hardware” refers to any durable parts of naval force systems). Conversely, the new hardware systems will be able to take advantage of the advances in the information, personnel, and management areas, and they will be designed to do so. Improvements in the logistic system would occupy an intermediate position, since although conceptual changes can be made rapidly, it will take time to implement some of the hardware and the software process changes needed. Similarly, changes in doctrine and concepts of operation will show the way to the hardware developments needed, but will also have to await the hardware availability for full implementation.

The illustration demonstrates that over the time period covered by this study revolutionary change in the structure and capability of the naval forces can be achieved by a manageable evolutionary path. The resulting forces will be more capable and more adaptable to the unexpected challenges posed by an uncertain world than are today 's forces, warranting the risks entailed in starting down the pathway to such extensive change.

It is difficult to see very far into the future of developing technologies. The study group has been aware that an effort like this one, undertaken at the beginning of the 20th century, would not have predicted two world wars, with one of them using many thousands of aircraft and massed amphibious landings as controlling elements, “in the next 40 years.”

Nor would a study at the end of that war have foreseen in 1945 a strategic weapons balance between world powers, based on nuclear-powered submarines loaded with intercontinental-range nuclear missiles, in another third of a century.

The last third of the current century has given us computer technology and space systems—both even yet of uncertain but surely large impact in the future. If that future has as many “impossible” advances waiting to appear, it surely seems wise for the Navy and Marine Corps to continue an examination of the technological future every decade or so. The members of this study have enjoyed the current exercise in this spirit.



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement