Institute for National Strategic Studies


The Revolution in Military Affairs


Chang Mengxiong

Numerous facts show that we are in the midst of a new revolution in military technology in which electronic information technology is the central technology. This technology provides unprecedented applications for the development of new weaponry. Information acquisition will be the main distinction of 21st-century military forces. Military battles during the 21st century will unfold around the use of information for military and political goals.


This article looks at how weapons and military units will be information intensified, focusing mostly on the years 2010-2020. Information-intensified weapons include precision-guided weapons, (guided bombs, artillery shells, and cluster bombs, cruise missiles, target-guided missiles, and anti-radiation missiles). These are weapons that can acquire and use information provided by the targets themselves to correct trajectory. These smart weapons will be able to be launched from outside the enemy firepower network and identify and attack targets. Their circular probable error of target accuracy will be close to nil. The Gulf War has already demonstrated that accurate guided weapons are the basic firepower of high-technology warfare.

Chang Mengxiong serves on the Committee of Science, Technology and Industry of the System Engineering Institute. This paper first appeared in China Military Science (Spring 1995).

The term information-intensified weapons may inspire a search for weapons that make full use of information. Foreign "smart land mines" and "smart water mines" may automatically head toward and destroy a target after acquiring information about it. Reactive armor on tanks also actually uses information acquired from attacking weapons and detonates them at once. In the 21st century, all weapons, with the exception of rifles and machine guns, will be information intensified.

Combat methods will consequently change: accurate over-the-horizon firepower attacks may become the primary form of firepower attacks; blind firing and carpet bombing will become antiquated combat methods whose cost-benefit ratio is not high; and damage outside the combat target area will also be greatly reduced.


In the 21st century soldiers will carry conventional rifles and hand grenades, and also use small, light-weight, multimedia electronic information equipment. This equipment will have a personal radio communications function, a global positioning system (GPS) direction- finding function, a personal computer and network function, a night- vision function, an identification (friend or foe) function, a warning function, and a launch command function for some information-intensified weapons. The soldiers will wear clothing with adjustable temperature and color; in some circumstances personal flight platforms will be used.

Information-intensified soldiers will be able to receive all sorts of information about combat to receive highly concentrated commands and, when necessary, orders directly from a division commander. Because of this enhanced information, they will have the ability to make their own decisions about enemy bases in combat plans.

Combat Platforms

The battle platforms of the 21st century, including airplanes, vessels, and armored personnel carries, will all be equipped with large amounts of electronic information equipment. They will have various kinds of telecommunications equipment for use in exchanging combat information with higher levels and neighboring units. They will have various kinds of equipment to detect enemy targets, in order to provide information for accurate firepower attacks against enemy targets. They will have ample computer and computer-network capabilities that will be able to provide timely and effective supplementary information for combat actions.

In addition to making full use of information about one's own side and the enemy, information-intensified platforms will also be fully able to counter the use of information about them by the enemy; they will have electronic warfare equipment that has detection, jamming, and deception capabilities.

Stealth technology will prevent the adversary from obtaining information through the use of radar and infra-red detection. Stealth aircraft and surface vessels already exist, and other stealth combat platforms will also appear.

Robot troops, vehicles possessing a certain amount of information-acquisition, information-processing, and lethal firepower, are a kind of unmanned information-intensified combat platform. As electronic information technology develops, these will develop into unmanned information-intensified combat platforms. Early in the next century, robot sentries, robot engineers, robot infantrymen, and even unmanned smart tanks may appear under some battlefield conditions.

Information-intensified combat platforms are bound to bring about major changes in operational concepts. Because the distance over which these platforms can fire accurately is vastly greater than the distance their operators can see, the scale, range, and accuracy of their coordinated operation will greatly exceed the level that non-information-intensified platforms can attain in the 20th century. It is foreseeable that by 2010 the conventional combat methods of the past several decades of groups of short-range fighter planes will be rare, as will attacks by tanks and simultaneous firing of thousands of artillery pieces. It is also possible that large aircraft combat groups will no longer be useful. Robot troops will be used in real warfare in large numbers.

The C I System

The C I system is the nerve center for all information-intensified weapons and military units. When summarizing the lessons of experience of the Gulf War, every country concluded that the C3I system will have a tremendous role in future warfare. They emphasize that a dispersed C3I system that resists destruction is the orientation for development.

Satellite space telecommunications, reconnaissance, monitoring, navigation, and locator systems are the important component parts of the C3I. With improvement of the entire C3I system and satellite performance and widening of satellite applications, by 2010, high-level commanders may be able to know at once about events occurring on any spot on the earth. This will enable pilots and tank drivers, as well as ordinary soldiers, to know accurately their own location on the earth at all times, and it will permit contact with higher-level command organizations anywhere. It will also provide real-time, continuous, accurate guidance information for pinpoint guidance of missile to targets as much as 1,000 kms away. The use of airplanes as carriers of highly mobile radar detection, command and control, electronic warfare, and telecommunications relay equipment or systems holds many advantages. The C3I system of the future will have increased shared information among those engaged in combat, which most likely will develop into an integrated national defense information system. There are two ways to integrate the C3I system into the "high-speed information highway" of individual countries: by resource sharing on the two-way communications portion of a network, and by serving as an integral part of the latter operating in coordination with it. Because the C3I system has such an extremely important position in information-intensified weapons and military units, attacking and protecting the satellites that are an integral part of the C3I system, airborne early-warning and electronic-warfare aircraft, and ground command sites and telecommunications hubs will all become important forms of combat.

Weapons Systems and Battlefields

The weapons systems of the 21st century will be "information-intensified weapons systems" made up of information-intensified combat platforms and weapons and corresponding C3I systems. Various kinds of information-intensified combat platforms in which information-intensified weapons form the basic firepower and carry out different missions will be logically arrayed to form "information-intensified combat groups." The overall combat effectiveness of these combat groups will show a qualitative leap, and they will be the main form of 21st-century combat systems. In combat, if just one side has information-intensified units under control of trained personnel, an "information-intensified battlefield" exists.

On an information-intensified battlefield, many events are transparent. Information about installations of major military value to both sides, such as military bases, information hubs, and command centers, will be stored in a combat data bank to provide information about possible targets against which precision guidance weapons will be aimed. Military movements will find it difficult to fool an adversary's intelligence system. These movements will be reflected in real time in the adversary's data bank. If there is a gap between the information capabilities of the two sides, many events will be transparent only to one side. A statement by Sun Tzu in The Art of War applies to the one who has the strongest information capability: "By knowing the enemy and knowing yourself, you can fight a hundred battles and win them all."

The strategy, tactics, and campaigns suited to the information-intensified battlefields of the 21st century will differ from those of today. The distinction among the three will become blurred, and specific ingredients of each will change.

A realistic point of view on combat methods of information-intensified troops in the 21st century can be provided only after thorough study, and this article can make only some guesses. An analogy can be made about the major changes that will come about: Information-intensified combat methods are like a Chinese boxer with a knowledge of vital body points who can bring an opponent to his knees with a minimum of movement. By contrast, non-information-intensified combat methods are like fights between villagers in which heads are broken and blood flows, but it is hard to distinguish the winner from the loser.

Information Warfare

Information warfare uses firepower and command to obtain and to deny information, to suppress and countersuppress, and to deceive and counterdeceive, as well as to destroy and counter the destruction of sources of information. It is also warfare to win people's minds and boost morale by employing television, radio broadcasting, and leaflets focused on the use and prevention of use of information.

Information warfare and firepower are closely linked. Information warfare is used to find and attack targets for firepower. Full use of information warfare is a prerequisite for full use of firepower. This is expressed clearly in precision guided weapons, as well as in the tracking, aiming, reconnaissance, and fire control of all guns. Information warfare includes countering C3I systems and ensuring the security and accessibility of ones own lines of communications, the effective operation of ones own detection equipment, making sure that it is not jammed or damaged; and the normal operation of ones own numerous combat command computers, protecting them from damage by computer viruses. At both the strategic and campaign levels in information warfare, it is important to decipher and analyze information and to prevent information from being obtained and deciphered.

A newly conceived weapon that will appear in the 21st century is the high-performance microwave weapon that will use powerful electromagnetism to destroy the opponent's electronic equipment and electronic telecommunications systems, thereby rendering enemy weapons ineffective. This is a special kind of information-intensified weapon for waging information warfare.

"Information capability" includes information support for command, operations, precision strikes, and logistical support that military units need to carry out missions. The equipment that supports this capability is the C3I system, electronic warfare systems, and precision-guided weapons. A military unit's information capability equals its combat capability. Like precision-strike capability or an air- defense capability, it is absolutely indispensable to high-technology warfare and may be the most important combat capability.

The term "information superiority" means the party that has the strongest information capability between two opposing parties in combat. In future high-technology warfare, not only will we have to gain air and sea superiority, but even more important, we will have to win information superiority first of all. Possibly new military terms like "contain information power," and "contain electromagnetic power" may appear.

Information warfare will be the most complex type of warfare in the 21st century, and it will decide who will win and who will lose the war.

Information Deterrence

Nuclear weapons appeared an the end of World War II. They were followed by the appearance of the nuclear deterrence concept in military theory. Owing to the appearance of large numbers of high technology conventional weapons during the late 1970s, the concept of conventional deterrence reappeared. Nuclear and conventional deterrence are not just theoretical issues, but real forces that have a powerful and effect on a potential adversary.

"Information deterrence" may appear in the future. Because all weapons used in warfare and the various branches of warfare depend closely on electronic information technology, the power that has a strong information capability and holds the electronic information technology advantage has an overall advantage over the weaker information power. Moreover, if the power with a weaker information capability can deliver a crippling attack on the information system of the power with a stronger information system, it can likewise greatly decrease the capability of the adversary's war machine. In other words, even if two adversaries are generally equal in hard weapons, unless the party with a weaker information capability is able effectively to weaken the information capability of the adversary, it has very little possibility of winning the war. Conversely, if one side can effectively weaken the information capability of the other side, even if its capability in other ways is less, the other side will dare not take any ill-considered action. These two situations constitute "information deterrence." It can prevent war from breaking out. Adroit strategic employment of one's own information deterrence capabilities constitutes an information deterrence strategy.

Combining High Centralization With High Initiative The existence of centralized command, decentralized command, echelon-by-echelon command, transechelon command, and combined command are all recognized to be necessary, but centralized command and echelon-by-echelon command are the basic forms of command. The Gulf War attests that Iraq's highly centralized command system was unsuited to high-technology warfare.

The former chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army General J.W. Vessey, said: "Our command and control are based on the following principle: Make decisions at the lowest possible level. This not only gives flexibility to the on-the-ground commanders, but it also gives them resources, authority, and responsibility, thereby enabling maximum effective use."

Information-intensified weapons systems create the material conditions for highly centralized combat command at a high level. It enables theater commanders to do across-the-board planning of their tactical moves. During the Gulf War, plans for the daily 2,000-sortie aerial combat missions of the allied forces were drawn up by the U.S. Air Force information system, and assigned to each country and to each branch of service for implementation. This capability and trend continue to be strengthened. Information-equipped weapons systems enable independent combat commands. Dispersed C3I systems will be highly resistant to destruction. They will ensure that lower level commanders receive the detailed combat information that they need. This will enable them to make on-the-spot decisions about dealing with ad hoc situations on the basis of the overall combat plans of higher headquarters, thereby gaining maximum combat results.

Combat command during the 21st century is certain to be a combination of high centralization and high independence, the number of echelons is bound to decrease, and existing command systems and doctrine are destined to be revised.

A Smooth Transition

U.S. National Defense Science and Technology Strategy, published in 1992, called for the development of seven military technology capabilities, one of which was "synthetic environment." A synthetic environment consists of a number of simulated systems that are connected to form a network. The environment being completely visual, operators can immerse themselves completely in the simulated environment. Any national defense system that has computer programs, such as various combat platforms, C3I systems, and models, can ultimately be incorporated into this environment for various kinds of network combat simulation. One can create an electronic battlefield by using this synthetic environment, which has a mixture of real and simulated targets from factories to the battlefield and can be used in widely separated locations, thereby enabling subscribers, research and development personnel, and testing personnel to communicate effectively. This environment enables both leaders and combat units to prepare for war and accompanies them to the real battlefield.

Required key technology is electronic information technology, including virtual reality technology, which employs computer technology to create a simulated imaginary world and uses computers to generate a simulated world and a three-dimensional visual environment. Operators can visually wander around in this visual virtual world, and operator actions can change this visual virtual world in real time. This world may be a weapon, a battlefield, a factory, etc. This environment is very helpful when examining a large volume of problems requiring assistance from visual thinking (including visual memories and visual associations). Virtual reality technology has broad prospects for military application.

Further development of the "synthetic environment" that Americans have conceived will provide a unified environment for virtually all military activities including setting requirements for designing and producing prototype machines and manufacturing weaponry; troop training and war preparations; drawing up joint combat doctrine; drafting emergency plans; post-mortem evaluations; and historical analysis. This synthetic environment will help create a relatively smooth transition from virtual (imaginary) weapons and virtual (imaginary) battlefields to real weapons and real battlefields and thus have far-reaching effects on military activities.

Measuring 21st-Century Military Forces

Measures of effectiveness for 20th-century military forces have often been portrayed as static, but they will not suffice for military forces during the 21st century.

Because information-intensified military units make full use of all kinds of information, the intensity concept must be introduced. So-called intensity means the number of events occurring within a certain time and space. The history of warfare shows that real military superiority really means only superiority at certain times and in certain places, or superiority in a unit of time or a unit of space. When one has this superiority, one is victorious within these limits.

Firepower and Destruction Intensity
Once an information-intensified military unit discovers the enemy disposition, it can make a judgment within a very short time and decide what to do. It can concentrate powerful precision-guided firepower to attack the enemy, its firepower figured in terms of unit of time and unit of space, i.e., its firepower intensity is unprecedentedly great. The strike accuracy of precision guided weapons is very high, far higher than the firepower intensity that non-information-intensified weapons can attain. Furthermore, although the total consumption of ammunition is very great for non-information-intensified forms of combat such as blind firing, enemy firepower suppression, and carpet bombing, when looked at in terms of the targets of attack, the intensity of this firepower is really very low.

However, the intensity of destruction is a more direct and more basic concept than the intensity of firepower. It connotes the amount of damage done to an attacked target per unit of time and space.

The intensity of firepower and destruction of information-intensified military units made up of information-intensified weapons, soldiers, combat platforms, and weapons systems tied together by a C3I system is unprecedentedly great. The total firepower that a non-information-intensified military unit can bring to bear may also be very great, but in terms of "intensity," such a unit's firepower and the damage it causes is very small.

Mobility Intensity
Mobility intensity as applied to combat troops and combat platforms means the distance in space possible to move per unit of time (day, hour, minute, or second). Applied to military units, it means the quantity of combat troops that can move at the same time. The continued development of power technology enables continued increases in the dynamic properties of combat platforms. The continued development of electronics technology makes possible accurate coordination of movement on a large scale. By 2010, global mobile warfare by joint forces (a combination of army, navy, and air forces) may be possible. A single highly mobile army battalion may be able to defeat two or more mobile army battalions.

Information Intensity
The special feature of information-intensified military units is full use of information. Information intensity is the amount of information that an organizational unit can use, or prevent the use of, within a unit of time or space. Information intensity is an important indicator of accurate strike, coordinated warfare, command and control, and electronic warfare capacities. A military unit whose information intensity is very low cannot fight a high-technology war. A difference in information intensity between two military forces is bound to translate into a gap in combat capabilities.

Supply Intensity
Supply intensity means the amount of supplies of various kinds that an organizational unit can provide per unit of time to a prescribed area. The total amount of logistical supply for information-intensified warfare during the 21st century will likely be less than for today, but the intensity of supply will increase to meet the requirements of highly destructive and highly mobile warfare.

The Armed Forces Will Require Those Best Skilled

The human factor will be more prominent in high-technology warfare. Making the most of the combat effectiveness of high-technology weapons and application of correct strategy and tactics will depend on the caliber of military personnel.

In the future information society, everything will be affected by the extent to which society uses information. Weapons will become information-intensified weapons; military units will become information-intensified units; and combat will become information-intensified combat. The destructiveness of weapons will increase greatly, but their numbers will decrease. The combat effectiveness of military units will increase greatly, but their numbers will also decrease. Warfare in general will not only become more a mental than a physical contest in which the technology content is high, but this will also be the case in limited warfare and even in soldier-to-soldier combat. This means that the education and technical skills of military officers in the future information society will have to be higher than that those of civilians; otherwise, even with information-intensified weapons, defeat in war will be possible.

Information-Intensified Weapons and Technical Support

The contribution of electronic information technology to weaponry is manifested in the following:

Nevertheless, "fighting fiercely" requires an increase in weapon payloads, and "fighting remotely and rapidly" requires an increase in combat platform payloads.

However, information-intensified weapons do not rule out the application of other new conventional technologies. New technical capabilities will be added. Information-intensified weapons require the support of aerospace, naval, ground, and nuclear technology. One cannot concentrate on electronic information technology to the neglect of other technologies, nor can one proceed with all equally without any particular emphasis.


Naval Captain Shen Zhongchang
Naval Lieutenant Commander Zhang Haiyin
Naval Lieutenant Zhou Xinsheng

The war between Greece and its dependency, Corfu Island, in 664 BC was the first naval battle with a reliable recorded history. Since then, naval warfare has gone through the wooden-warship age, the sail-warship age, the steamship and large-ship cannon age, and the guided missile warfare age. The seas and oceans always having been directly tied to mankind's vital interests, they are going to be tied even closer in the 21st century. In the last decade or two, ever-growing numbers of countries have been realizing the importance of the seas and oceans as a "21st-century resource" for human survival and development. As all countries gain a stronger sense of the values, rights, and interests of the seas and oceans, disputes over matters such as maritime economic zones, continental shelves, and sea-area boundaries are likely to intensify, thus making it hard to prevent sharper conflicts and even outbreaks of war. Today, on the eve of the 21st century, we need to study naval warfare history and experience to determine the naval warfare development track of the new century.

Naval Captain Shen Zhongchang is the Director of the Research and Development Department of the Navy Research Institute, Beijing. Naval Lieutenant Commander Zhang Haiying and Naval Lieutenant Zhou Xinsheng serve as staff officers at the Navy Research Institute. This paper is from China Military Science (Spring 1995).

As the 21st century is also going to be an age of rapid scientific change, with certain cutting-edge technologies likely to be applied first to naval warfare, we need to forecast and explore 21st century naval warfare from the perspective of the coming trends of the scientific and technological revolution.

Naval Warfare Development Trends

More triphibious and multidimensional operations are going to develop in a battle space that integrates land-sea, land-air, surface-subsurface, sea-space, and the full electromagnetic spectrum. By now, warfare has been through the stages of cold arms, hot arms, thermonuclear arms, and high-tech arms. As we have seen scientific and technological advances steadily expand the scope of deployment of combat forces, with armed attack and destructive might growing steadily, battlefields are developing from single to multidimensional, little to greater depth, small to large triphibious operations, and relatively fixed to uncertain battle lines. The battlefield scope in the next century is also going to expand sharply, with the major fields of expansion being outer space, undersea and electromagnetic space. The use of high-tech arms will make direct attacks on naval battlefields possible from outer space, remote altitudes, and remote land bases, while improvement in long-range mobile combat capacity at sea will expand the control and striking range of naval warfare. Naval battle space is going to expand unprecedentedly.

Future naval warfare will display the following types of engagements:

For thousands of years, the theory of "mastery of the seas" has always been praised as the infallible law of decisive naval engagement. As aircraft carriers and carrier-based aircraft have appeared, however, the theory, "Without mastery of the air, there is no mastery of the seas," has found favor throughout the world. Since the 1970s, "electromagnetic dominance" has also been held to be crucial to naval victory. By the next century, as high-tech space technology develops, the deployment of space-based weapons systems will be bound to make "mastery of space" and "mastery of outer space" prerequisites for naval victory, with outer space becoming the new commanding elevation for naval combat. All spacecraft, including military satellites, space shuttles, and permanent space-based platforms, will observe and control maritime operations from high altitudes, with space-based weapons systems probably directly attacking and intercepting warships and their cruise missiles. But ships at sea will take stronger antireconnaissance steps, probably constituting along with seabed-based weapons platforms for direct strikes against space satellites and other space systems. The electromagnetic battle will densely cover all naval battle space, penetrating all combat operations. The side with electromagnetic combat superiority will make full use of that invisible "killer mace" to win naval victory.

In short, on the 21st-century naval battlefield, undersea space, outer space, and electromagnetic space will all become complicated technical fields. Their mutual independence and limitations, with mutual impact and roles, will make future naval battlefields ones of integrated sea-land, sea-air, surface-undersea, and sea-space combat operations, putting the combat activity of sea-land, sea-air, surface-undersea, and sea-space confrontations into a state of alternating and intricate military struggle.

New Weaponry in Naval Combat

In the 21st century, the development of a host of new science and technology fields and new sciences will certainly speed up the development of naval weaponry:

In addition, marine environment technology will also be employed by the navy. In short, the new naval-warfare weaponry will have six features:

So it could be said that smarter, more electronic, and more lethal systems will be the basic development trends of the coming naval-warfare arms.

The appearance of this new equipment will certainly pose a grim challenge to traditional marine strategies, naval warfare campaigns, tactical theory, and naval warfare patterns. On the 21st-century naval battlefield, there will be more long-range that short-range combat, more missile combat than gun battles, electronic warfare across the whole battlefield, and both combatants making full use of smart weapons and drawing on modern command methods of fighting. In future naval warfare, the multidimensional battlefield will reveal naval targets and the marine battlefield perspective, making it impossible for surface ships without air force cover to operate in high-threat maritime zones. Deep strikes by shipboard aircraft will also be unable to do without support and safeguards in the fields of outer space, the atmosphere, and electromagnetism, with a particular need to organize thorough electromagnetic convoys. As future naval forces will be stereoscopically surrounded by air, surface, undersea, space, and electromagnetic threats, naval warfare will put more emphasis on diversified, three-dimensional, and composite service arms, which will constitute the basic form of 21st-century naval warfare. No matter how powerful the isolated service arms, ship types, and power systems, they will be victorious only by luck in the coming highly electromagnetic and high-threat environment.

In 21st century naval warfare, tactics will change sharply, with new tactical concepts proliferating and being used more flexibly and changeably. The concept of using tactical mobility of all weapons-delivery platforms to first seize advantageous positions and then attack will likely become obsolete or even disappear, with long-range battle concepts such as "remote grappling" and "over-the-horizon strikes" becoming the key forms of battle in future naval warfare (such as attacks against surface ships, missile defense, air defense, and strikes on land- or space-based targets). From the local wars since the 1980s, particularly the high-tech Gulf War, it is not hard to see that trend. In future naval warfare, long-range battles will become the major form of battle mainly because:

New Technology is Expensive

High-tech weaponry is dozens or even hundreds of times costlier than ordinary weaponry. In 21st-century naval warfare, while the use on the naval battlefield of large amounts of high-tech weaponry will raise troop operational efficiency, the material input and expenditure will also be unprecedentedly higher. In the recent Gulf War, the multinational forces headed by the United States used over 20 new types of missiles and nearly 10 types of precision-guided bombs, with guided weapons undertaking almost 80 percent of the assault missions, for ideal combat success. The expenditures on both sides were enormous.

In the next century, as technologies such as electronics, lasers, and new materials are further improved and developed, directional weapons such as lasers, particle beams, and microwave beams will also be employed in naval warfare, so that naval warfare weaponry movement and development rates will be faster, strike precision higher, and lethality greater. With much weaponry being guided, personal, and smart, and command and control being automated, mobility and strike precision will be easier. The high input, high expenditure, and destructiveness of warfare will force coming naval warfare to be more time effective, shortening sustained time, speeding up the rhythm, and making battlefield conditions sharply changeable. The content of both sides' forces in naval warfare will change quickly, with belligerent stances also changing in a short time.

S&T developments are making the world smaller. As growing world economic integration more easily subjects naval warfare to economic, political, and diplomatic limitations, shorter battle times and controlled belligerency scales are bound to become new requirements for future naval warfare. When a naval war starts, there will be an attempt to end the fighting before the other side makes an all-out military response, in order to avoid subjecting national human and financial resources to the huge battle expenditures of sustained combat. So 21st-century naval battles will break out much faster, with suddenness likely to play a decisive role in winning wars. Lightning attacks and powerful first strikes will be more widely used in coming naval battles. As both sides will strive to make lightning attacks and raise their first-strike damage rates, while doing all possible to organize a rapid and effective counterattack, speed against speed will become the crux of future naval victory.

In the age of peace and development, the limited objectives of future naval warfare will restrict the scale of battle. The high input, high expenditure, and time effectiveness of naval warfare will all make control of the scale of future naval warfare not only possible but also essential, so it will be very hard to see in future naval battles the past grand scenes of "decisive fleet engagements." As the forms of battle change, there will be few naval engagements beyond the scale of battles; instead, there will be ever-growing numbers of medium and small conflicts with high-tech, small forces.

But that certainly does not exclude the future possibility of large-scale naval warfare. This is because the following conditions will still exist in the next century:

Optimized Force Structure Will Be Crucial
The history of 20th-century naval warfare is one of steadily growing force coordination. In the 21st century, with the development of operational means, and with combat forces being highly mobile, most forces will be capable of being deployed quickly to make a timely response. The joint impact of the multidimensional battlefield and force utilization will require all forces taking part in naval engagements to quickly get into a favorable battlefield stance, as well as adjust their might at any time to steadily maintain their force superiority. That will require the participating forces to have a very high coordination capacity, and pay attention to coordination accuracy and operational-time planning. In naval warfare, it will be necessary to coordinate naval surface ships, submarines, air forces, marines, and other new service arms and combat troops, as well as land, air, and space forces. As only the matched integration of naval, air, space, land, undersea, and electromagnetic fields and multidimensional participating forces can form a partial or overall advantage, coordination accuracy and response speed and quality will be an essential factor in future naval victory. In the Gulf War, the effective cooperation of the multinational naval forces with air, land, and other forces proved this point. In coming naval battles with multiple participating service arms and intricate and diverse weaponry, even small-scale naval battles will need multi-level, highly accurate, and effective coordination.

Future high-tech developments will bring a crucial change to naval composition, with the naval force structure being sharply adjusted to meet naval warfare needs:

Systematic "Soft Casualties"

In the 1970s and 1980s, the emergence of precision-guided weapons, high-efficacy bombs, "smart" bombs, and "ingenious" bombs brought a sharp rise in the "hard casualty" capability. "Soft casualties," characterized mostly by electronic jamming, also showed new might. At present, studies and applications are developing rapidly in the use of high-tech methods such as biochemical and electronic, radio frequency, and secondary waves for "soft casualties" against weapons systems and personnel "internal organizations." Ever-diversifying "soft casualty" means in the 21st century are likely to become even more perfected, with their antipersonnel effects making it ever-harder for certain hard-strike weapons to keep up, as well as making protection correspondingly more difficult. The widespread use and efficiency of "soft casualty" weapons in coming naval warfare will have a crucial impact on war at sea.

Modern, high-tech, local wars often start with an electronic battle, and also occur in a dense, complex, and changeable electromagnetic environment. Future combat systems, especially command and weapons systems, will grow ever more dependent on electronic technology. Many international figures hold that the development of electronic technology in future wars will be no less important than that of the atomic bomb during World War II. A comprehensive overseas study weighing all S&T factors affecting overall military combat capability, which were the eight criteria of deterrence, interchangeability, economics, comprehensiveness, long-term effectiveness, possibility, technology and capacity, and adaptability, noted that electronic technology has the most impact. At present, the more advanced naval ships and aircraft are equipped with electronic warfare instruments, in some cases forming a comprehensive electronic warfare system.

Maintaining efficient communications with and effective command over troops is a prerequisite for the use of naval force. Because using guided weapons to attack enemies is a basic means of naval attack, the "electromagnetic" advantage will become the focus of rivalry between opponents. The Gulf War showed that electromagnetic dominance is a prerequisite for control of the air, sea, and battlefield. The more electronic and smarter naval equipment, combat command, and information controls of the 21st century will pose very high demands on electromagnetic dominance. Steadily developing "electronic warfare technology" equipment and new means of electronic confrontation will push electronic warfare at sea to new heights. Before long, systems such as the C3I multi functional confrontation system, comprehensive combat ships, and enormously powerful electronic confrontation neutralization aircraft and computer "coded virus" confrontation systems will play a joint role in the electronic confrontations of naval warfare.

"Secondary wave radiation" casualties and "beam-capable weapon" casualties are "soft casualty" categories now under development. As such beam-capable weapons are now being developed very quickly, they are expected to be put into the testing stage early in the next century. With future "soft casualties" not only coming in many forms, but also being easy to use, the defensive difficulty will grow steadily. The ingenious "soft casualties" of naval warfare combined with fierce "hard strikes" is an unavoidable development trend.

Command and Control Will Grow in Complexity

Twenty-first-century naval warfare will be a coordinated operation of triphibious, comprehensive, and multiservice operations. Therefore, naval commanders will have to have an overview of the whole battle, be able to quickly learn about ever-changing battle conditions, and then computerize, analyze, and judge data to make a quick response, as well as command troop coordination in a timely and accurate way. This will tie command, control, communications, and intelligence systems into a tightly connected whole, giving it advantages such as remote operation, good communications secrecy, and fast data processing. It can then be applied to both strategic command and battle-tactics command, and even command of individual ships, planes, and troops, thus ensuring battlefield-command efficiency, continuity, stability, and flexibility. This will play a crucial role in the rivalry over naval dominance.

Since the C I system was established in the early 1980s, it has played an enormous role in several recent local wars. In future naval warfare, on the one hand, the participating forces will be more complex in makeup, putting high demands on overall coordination, and even higher demands on better centralized command and better controlled overall command efficiency. On the other hand, the development of C I systems has provided a powerful means for better command efficiency, thus driving battlefield command and control to develop in the direction of more automation. While this will speed up the integration of command, control, communication, and intelligence systems, along with raising command and control efficiency, it will also increase command and control complexity:

Naval Warfare Logistics Security Will Be Difficult and Complex

The enormous destructiveness of future naval warfare, with its extensive spatial limits, diversified participating service arms, and its rapid tempo, will make it more dependent on logistics security:

Naval warfare has developed and changed enormously in this century, and its development and changes in the next century are going to be amazing. Naval warfare in the 21st century is bound to bring about an historic change in its traditional appearance to confront the people of the next century. Today, while our forecast of the major issues of 21st century naval warfare is subject to time limitations and is not immune to mistakes, we can still forecast future naval warfare in order to proceed actively with our future naval preparations.


Naval Captain Shen Zhongchang
Naval Lieutenant Commander Zhang Haiyin
Naval Lieutenant Zhou Xinsheng

Anew military revolution refers to the historical military trend in which warfare is changing from a war of mechanization to a war of information. The Navy is a force that requires high technology. The new military revolution will inevitably have an important impact on sea warfare and naval construction.

The New Military Revolution, Traditional Sea Warfare, and Future War

At present, technology groups, such as technologies of nuclear, space, shipbuilding, microelectronics, satellite, air cushion, surface effect, new materials and marine technology, are becoming the materials bases for the new military revolution to influence naval combat theory and to change concepts. Among the new technologies, electronic and information technologies are of the most profound significance in terms of improving the capacity for obtaining, processing and transmitting information of the battlefield, increasing the transparency of the war, improving the precision and reliability of firepower, and quickening the process of sea warfare. There is no doubt that during the revolution, combat theory and concepts will be largely modified.

Naval Captain Shen Zhongchang is the Director of the Research and Development Department of the Navy Research Institute, Beijing. Naval Lieutenant Zhou Xinsheng and NavalLieutenant Commander Zhang Haiying serve as staff officers at the Navy Research Institute. This paper originally appeared in China Military Science 1 (1996).

Control of Information Is Important
Like nuclear deterrence, information deterrence is a new concept of victory without war and can even prevent escalation of sea warfare. Electronic information is needed to facilitate both naval and land operations and the command and control of vessels and aircraft. The new military revolution will accelerate the digitization of the naval battlefield, increase modes of communication, strengthen the capacity for information processing and improve the efficiency of command and control. High-speed platforms and long-range precision missiles will, to a great extent, rely on effective combat information systems in order to achieve combat efficiency. In addition, such systems will significantly improve the power of platforms and weapons, resulting in a sharp increase in the role of information, control of which then becomes a new and important deterrent. The side controlling information will be able to manipulate the beginning, middle, and end of the war, attack the enemy with advanced information weapons to paralyze enemy aircraft, vessels and various command systems, and destroy important targets with precise firepower. It will be difficult for the other side to initiate sea war against an opponent who controls information, and once a war starts, it will not be able to win. Hence, future naval warfare needs a strategy not only in the air and sea but also in information control.

Concentration of Firepower Will Replace Concentration of Force

In naval combat, vessels are usually organized in task forces or battle groups to fulfill tasks. Concentration is conveniently used for organizing effective command, using massive firepower, and forming the most favorable defense system in order to reduce enemy threats. However, in the informationized battlefield, vessels can have direct communication with the command post. Vessels can have access to each other's location and situation and have information about enemy vessels and aircraft. In addition, the capacity for long-range precision attack is also improved. Information enables dispersal of platforms. Under such circumstances, the firepower needed to attack targets can be allocated through precise information transfer and long-range attack instead of concentration of platforms. Concentrations of battle groups in future warfare will probably be replaced by small formations and single vessels. Vessels will be dispersed "evenly" at sea.

Remote Attack Will Be the Major Combat Concept

With high technology, future sea warfare will adopt the remote attack as the major combat concept. Satellites and other information platforms will provide large-scale monitoring, warning, and target information processing and transmission services. This will supply future vessels and aircraft with targeting information for launching long-range, precision-guided platforms. On the other hand, missiles and other weapons will be produced that have long-range capacity, intelligence, and precision accuracy, all of which provide remote attack. Hence, remote attack will be widely employed on future battlefields and even become the major mechanism for combat platforms to destroy the opponent's strategic targets. Such mechanisms will survive better and extend the range and number of targets that can be attacked by using stealth and sudden strikes. In November 1993, U.S. troops attacking Iraqi "restricted airspace" launched 45 cruise missiles from ships a thousand miles from the targets. In the future, when combat information is transmitted instantly during battle, it will be more common to attack targets with remote firepower from various places

Underwater Raids Will Be an Important Combat Concept

The extensive application of information technology improves the transparency of the sea battlefield and increases the deterrence of vessels and aircraft. Such deterrence is multidirectional but much less serious to submarines, because submarines are more difficult to track. Submarines can fulfill combat tasks and attack land targets according to information obtained from the command post while keeping their movement concealed, and they can move under water for a long time without being discovered. The prospect for using submarines is good, because of their covertness and power. Even without attacking targets, submarines are menaces existing anywhere at any time. Therefore, the role of submarines in future information warfare will be very important.

Digitization of Naval Warfare

Digitization is the connection of various combat platforms, units, and even arms of the services in naval combat through digital communication systems and information systems, including computer information processing systems and terminals, and establishment of a digital command and control chain to inform the units involved precisely and rapidly. In the digitized naval battlefield, information is somewhat transparent. Information about the facilities, military bases, communication networks, and command and economic centers of both sides are kept on a combat data base. Naval weapons will be long range, feature high precision, and have more power. In the future naval battlefield, a single tactical action can probably achieve the goal of the entire campaign or even the strategy. U.S. vessels are equipped with the capacity to launch both strategic and campaign attacks; such capacity will make the boundaries among strategy, campaign, and tactics ambiguous and sometimes concepts integrate to change naval combat. Such change is reflected in three aspects fulfilling strategic missions with nuclear-powered attack submarines; long-range attack from sea to land; and joint actions of cruise missiles and aircraft carriers. With the growing changes in naval tactics, tactical concepts will be expanded tremendously. The employment of tactics will be more flexible and tactical doctrine will be enriched.

The Opponent's Information Network As an Important Target

During the Gulf War, the Iraqi troops were not overly different from the multinational troops in terms of equipment and logistics. However, the situation always favored the multinational troops. As Alvin Toffler commented, the Gulf War was a trial of strength between two military systems. After most radar and monitoring equipment of the Iraqi army was disabled, the army became a conventional military machine, which was at the Second Wave level. It was still strong, but slow. Western countries have become more restless about the shortcomings in developing information war systems. The U.S. military has examined information combat and believes that computer systems and communication networks could be easily destroyed by an enemy. The increase of information systems probably could provide an enemy with targets for attack, thus the U.S. Defense Department has invested $1 billion in establishing a network to safeguard its information system. Some military colleges have added training on computer information security. A new service arm, computer security, is under consideration. In future naval war, destroying the opponent's information network will have important significance in controlling information and taking the initiative in the war. There are many ways to destroy information systems attacking radar and radio stations with smart weapons, jamming an enemy's communication facilities with electronic warfare and attacking communication centers, facilities, and naval command ships; destroying an enemy's electronic system with electromagnetic pulse weapons; and even destroying computer software with a computer virus.

Future Naval War Will Emphasize Joint Actions

To adapt to future war, the structure of the army, navy, and air force will become similar. Command communication among the armed forces will be more integrated. Weapons will be more interchangeable among the services, and rear services will work for various services. In addition, land, sea, air and electromagnetic space will be linked together by an information combat system, which will provide timely and precise technical support to the army. Difficulties and barriers of joint combat will be smoothed. The navy will emphasize joint combat with other armed forces because it can improve the attacks on land targets a development trend of future naval combat actions. In addition, the navy will depend more and more on army and air forces in sea and offshore combat. The U.S. Army believes that joint combat is the key to winning. Any single arm of the service cannot implement a campaign-level operation. Each service on the battlefield should cooperate and give full play to the advantages of air, land, naval and space forces. Today, the U.S. Army has established a doctrine center for naval, army, and air forces to formulate technical and tactical command and control programs.

The New Military Revolution Will Stimulate Reforms

First, technical groups headed by information technology will accelerate the improvement of the navy's combat ability. The offensive and defensive capability of single vessels and aircraft, coordination ability of single force action, and joint combat will all be enhanced. For single navy combat platforms, quick reaction and precise delivery of firepower will be improved because of timely and accurate information. Because of the connection between the of communication systems of submarines, aircraft, and ships, the various combat platforms will be effectively combined into an integral part to attack the enemy. The communication and navigation capacity of the vessels will be strengthened to expand the scope of combat for various platforms. Combat tasks will be emphasized more on the ocean and the defense focus will shift from land to sea. Firepower will play a superb role with the assistance of information technology. Combat capabilities of informationized platforms cannot be estimated by the firepower of weapons, but by the formula "firepower + information force." It is estimated that digitized troops will possess three times the combat effectiveness of conventional troops.

Second, changes of naval combat doctrine and concepts will inevitably impel more effective use of the navy. Development of platforms and weapon systems depends both on the fusion of combat concepts and techniques and on the development of these concepts into a comprehensive combat doctrine. New doctrine will ultimately employ naval technical revisions to improve combat power. Future naval combat doctrine and concepts will abandon the old and obsolete elements and replace them with new and improved ones to suit naval combat requirements. Therefore, doctrine will adapt to the need for more effective firepower.

Third, the establishment of a high-quality navy during the new military revolution will provide a solid foundation for improvement of joint combat effectiveness. To meet the needs of information warfare, countries with a strong navy are reforming the entire naval system. The steps include:

Naval Restructuring

Motivated by the new technological revolution, each country will no doubt reduce force sizes and improve quality. According to the principle of "being rational and sufficient," countries are downsizing and making transcentury military plans. A prominent character of force restructuring is the expansion of the navy and air force. Navy restructuring is regarded as key to military organization. Most countries are reducing the number of military personnel and stressing navy restructuring to bring about a fundamental change in the military structure.

Another character of quality navy restructuring is the emphasis on establishing rapid deployment forces, among which naval forces are an important component. The U.S. rapid deployment forces have aircraft carriers and amphibious ships; the British task force and Japanese fleet both have rapid deployment forces.

Winning Information War Combat

During the Cold Weaponry era, the major mode of operations for the navy were ships that rammed each other. In the Hot Weaponry era, the mode was artillery action within vision distance. Firepower and mobility are the most basic and decisive technical elements in such actions. Early this century, ship speed was limited, so technology focused on increasing firepower. Technical competition was focused on increasing firepower. The development of nuclear technology also brought forth a "zenith" of fire power. Currently, the military revolution is infiltrating into every aspect of naval equipment buildup. The pounding of the revolution on war format, mode, and methods of operations will eventually bring about further change in weapons. Such change is not interested in acquiring new ships and aircraft with faster speeds and higher destructive power but tries to focus on winning information combat.

One requirement of winning information combat is to strengthen the "soft" systems in vessels and aircraft, including systems of reconnaissance, monitoring, communication, navigation and meteorology. These systems can create favorable conditions in the information war to control information and help one survive. In information war, the efficiency of vessels, aircraft and equipment is largely determined by the quality of soft systems. Without the assistance of such systems, ships and aircraft cannot carry out tasks. Today, soft systems are becoming an important symbol of estimating the combat force of vessels. Consequently, during the development of modern vessels, soft systems, especially communication facilities, target- determining installations, and electronic war systems are increasing and becoming more complicated. In designing and building ships, the U.S. Navy gives priority to electronic equipment, installing electronic jamming facilities in many vessels in order to enhance their defense capability. The tactical information data system is a sound comprehensive combat system installed in large vessels. The system can not only command all weapons in the vessel, but also coordinate and command weapon control systems in other vessels in the formation through a data chain. It can integrate the entire formation into one unit. It can be foreseen that the naval C I system based on satellite and computer technologies will be developed as an important soft system during the military revolution and will become compatible with the C I system of the air and land forces.

To prepare for information war, weapons used in the navy will be produced more precisely and with advanced intelligence. These weapons include intelligent missiles, shells and torpedoes. Missiles are the main weapons not only for modern sea war but also for future sea information war. The character and rule of missile operation will dominate the developing trend of sea warfare. Today, there are more than 120 types of missiles in the world that can be used in marine operations. These missiles will be upgraded with information processing technology. Antivessel missiles will be updated to travel at supersonic speed, function at minimum altitude, be precision guided, and use anti-interference features. Air defense missiles will have air defense and antimissile features and have a combination of long, medium and short ranges. Hence, the flexibility of weapons can be improved.

Various combat platforms will be featured with new characters, one of which is the concealing technology. In digitized sea battlefield, platforms face the dangers of being monitored, detected, and attacked from space, air, land, sea, and submarine. It is thus particularly important for vessels and aircraft to conceal themselves well. It is vital to develop and apply stealth technology and upgrade the covertness of navy platforms. Navies in each country have already shown concern about this issue. Another feature is the development of submarine forces, which have higher covertness. It is difficult to determine if information technology will be developed to detect submarines effectively. Therefore, submarines will receive less impact from reconnaissance technology than other platforms. In addition, submarines have a greater attacking power under water. Accordingly, it is an important aspect of navy restructuring to develop and maintain submarine forces. Countries will choose to develop vessels according to situations in neighboring countries and national conditions larger countries will place importance on developing aircraft carriers and amphibious ships; medium-size and small countries will increase destroyer, corvette, minesweeper and minelayer capabilities. However, each country will give attention to developing submarine forces.

China's neighboring countries are already focusing on purchasing and developing submarines for instance, Korea will buy 11 submarines from Germany. Indonesia will increase the number of its submarines from 3 to 5, and Australia plans to build 6 submarines. Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand are also establishing submarine forces. After the Cold War, Russia and the United States downsized their submarine forces but strengthened the modernization of the troops in order to maintain their operational ability. We can conclude that during the First World War, the dominant vessel was the battleship, and in World War II, it was the aircraft carrier. In future global wars, the most powerful weapon will be the submarine. In addition, the navy and other armed forces will develop some new equipment, such as directional weapons, subsonic radiate weapons, high-energy electromagnetic wave weapons and computer virus, to increase the power of weapons.

Higher Quality Personnel and Training

Future navies will consist of scientists, engineers, and technicians. Equipped with information technology, the navy needs a large group of specialists in computer, information engineering, and satellite technology.

With the development and broad application of information technology, it is necessary for navy personnel to upgrade their education and improve professional skills. The new technological revolution has doubled and redoubled the navy's combat capacity; indeed, such is the result of human talent. The navy is a special arm with intensive knowledge and techniques, and navy personnel must be empowered by updated skills. Navy officers must have the ability to command in a high-tech war, and be familiar and coordinate operations with the other services.

To narrow the gap between training and actual operation, future training of navy personnel will be conducted through computer simulated systems, which can simulate sea battles. Such simulated training can replace large-scale maneuvers, save materials and money, and effectively improve the skills and command ability of navy personnel.


Colonel Ming Zengfu

In the last decade of the 20th century, along with other grand changes in the international situation and patterns of war, the air battlefield will become decisively significant.

Air Warfare Weapons and Equipment

Air warfare weapons and equipment in the 21st century mainly will be smart ammunition, thinking operational platforms and integrated automatic C3I systems.

Smart Munitions

In the course of its development, air force munitions went through three stages unable-to-control after launching, able-to-control after launching, and, finally, unnecessary-to-control after launching. The first state of air force munitions was in the decades after aircraft came into being until World War II, when all airborne weapons were aimed by sight, which has a low-kill probability. Along with the rapid development of information technology and control technology after WWII, airborne sight weapons developed into guided target-seeking weapons, and the development of air munitions progressed to the second stage and then to the third. Before early air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles, and precision-guided bombs were launched, information about targets was transmitted to their control section by pilots. In order to control the missiles, pilots continually transmitted information about targets to the control section after launching the missiles or bombs, in order to insure that they flew precisely toward targets. As information technology further develops and is applied to air munitions, active and passive information devices can automatically acquire information about targets after air munitions have left their platforms. Thus the munition is able to change its own flight and destroy targets precisely. "Unnecessary to control after launching" has therefore been largely achieved. According to calculations, if the kill probability remains unchanged, while precision increases by 1, 2, or 3 times, the efficiency equals, respectively, that of 4, 9, or 16 times that of warheads, or that of 8, 27, or 63 times that of ammunition equivalent. Increased ammunition performance enables air warfare to develop toward "one warhead, one target." According to relevant data, to destroy a strong underground fortification in World War II, 9,000 bombs were needed; in the Vietnam War, 600 bombs; in the Gulf War, only 1 or 2 bombs. Thus, "unnecessary to control after launching" air munitions for the 21st century are already under research, and the amount of this kind of munition is increasing rapidly. It is predicted that, with its high precision, this kind of ammunition will play a dominant role in the air battlefield of the 21st century.

Colonel Ming Zengfu serves at the Air Force Command Institute, Beijing. This paper is from "New Changes in Air Defense Operations," in Chinese Military Science (Spring 1995).

Informationized Platforms
An early aircraft was only a machine able to fly in the sky. Only after it was used in war did it become an operational platform. Aircraft have undergone a development course from a mechanical platform to an informationized operational platform and finally to an intellectualized operation platform. The first generation aircraft were jet-propelled and pursued supersonic speed; the second generation could reach bi-sonic speed and a height of over 20,000 meters. On this basis, information equipment on board second generation aircraft began to hold an important position. Fire-control radars were generally used in second generation aircraft. Information equipment in third-generation aircraft holds a more important position. What are generally used on board include pulse Doppler radar, forward-looking infrared devices, night vision devices, low-light TV, navigational and digital headsup displays, etc.

Equaling 50 to 60 percent of the total cost of common aircraft (or over 60 percent of the total cost of stealth planes), information equipment aboard fourth-generation aircraft holds a far more outstanding position. For example, there are more than 700 computers on a B-2 bomber. For this reason fourth-generation aircraft have become intellectualized operational platforms, which have three apparent advantages: they can extensively collect information; they can deal with all kinds of information; and they can carry all kinds of ammunition. With the help of the fire-control system, they can automatically distribute targets and control a number of warheads to attack simultaneously. Their electronic warfare system can authoritatively judge the threatening sources and provide the pilot with conduct methods for him to select. Additionally, their operations assisting system can help drive the aircraft. Nowadays, modern aircraft has become an information-dominated weapon. Compared with that of WWII, the efficiency of the battle aircraft of the 21st century will increase more than 100 times.

Integrated and Automated C3I Systems
Radar is an information-collecting device which was designed to adapt to aerial warfare weapon's characteristics. Its emergence made it possible to control air warfare and brought to an end the epoch when air warfare equaled blind men touching an elephant. However, in the long period ever since, because of low-level of information technology, the command system was restricted to the realm of manual operation, thus the operation or capability of air power was heavily limited. Since the 1950s, when collecting, transmitting, processing and using information were fused, the command system of air warfare has witnessed such a rapid development process "manual operation command became semi-automatic command, which became automated command," resulting in the eventual appearance of integrated and automated C3I systems.

Employment Concepts of Air Power

In the multipolar international framework of the 21st century, a focus of national attention will be on how to cope with local wars and regional crises. In multilevel military operations, in peacetime or in times of neither-war-nor-peace, air power will play a more important role. The employment concepts of air power will become more diversified.

Air Deterrence
Compared with actual combat, deterrence has some limitations. However, because its functions are broad, one may both launch an attack and make peace, achieving goals without sacrifice. So deterrence can be used separately or as the precursor of actual combat. In the 21st century, air deterrence will become the first-choice mode of employing air power.

High-tech conventional deterrence is a new mode of deterrence developed after nuclear deterrence. Although the effect of nuclear deterrence is very strong, its actual value has decreased because of the height of the "nuclear threshold." High-tech warfare requires deterrence strength capable not only of maneuvering rapidly in vast battle space, but also of moving about freely and quickly within hostile borders. It further requires the deterrent force to be able to attack and withdraw quickly after destroying the enemy's strategic targets. Air power happens to possess these characteristics. Air deterrence has three advantages:

Therefore, air deterrence will become the basic employment mode of future deterrence.

No-Fly Zones
A "no fly" zone is a forbidden airspace set up in a conflicted area, using air power as its main force. In the no-fly zone, none of the opponent's air actions is permitted, nor can any opponent install ground-to-air weapons that may threaten one's own air actions. No-fly zones are a new application mode of air power in the last decade of the 20th century. For example, the United States, Britain and France set up a no-fly zone in Iraq to protect the Kurds, and the U.N. Security Council passed a resolution to set up a no-fly zone in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Limited Air Strikes for Peacekeeping Missions

According to relevant resolutions of international organizations and at the request of peacekeeping forces, limited air strikes may be carried out by authorized countries or a group of countries against military targets that violate relevant rules; these are called limited aim air strikes. For example, in November 1994, in accordance with U.N. resolution 958, NATO's air forces bombed Udbey airport in Bosnia-Herzegovinia, which was controlled by Serbs. Soon after, Serbian military targets, such as ground-to-air missile positions and groups of tanks, were attacked by air.


Air Blockades at Sea
The sea-air blockade is one of the basic application modes of air power. It is a military action blockading a certain section of the sea, a certain coastal area, or a certain country by way of aerial mining in order to blockade seaports and sea lanes as well as attack targets trying to break the blockade. Naval blockades against Japan in World War II and against important ports of northern Vietnam in the Vietnam War were enforced mainly by aerial mining. In air battles of the 21st century, air blockades will still be important.


Strategic Air Lift
Strategic airlift is a large-scale operation to transport troops to warring regions by air. With the improvement of air transport, strategic airlift has demonstrated some incomparable advantages which other transport modes do not possess:

Precision/ Surgical Operation Air Strikes
Surgical air strikes are a growing aspect of air power employment in high-tech local wars. Its strategic objective is obtained by precisely attacking the enemy's sensitive strategic targets. Typical examples include the Israeli air force bombing both the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981 and the PLO headquarters in Tunisia in 1985, and the United States striking Libya in 1986. In this kind of operation, air power is the main strength, and sudden attack is the main operational principle.


Large-Scale Air Offensives
By studying the regional wars after World War II, especially recent regional wars, we can conclude that air offensives begin with massive air strikes in rather long and relatively separate phases.


Joint Operation of Various Services
Joint operation of various services means air power joins in an equal partnership with the army and navy. This symbolizes a qualitative change from previous history. In the past, the air force assisted the army or the navy to carry out missions. In past large-scale wars, the air force's operational role was subordinate to that of the army and navy and could only share the victory of the army and navy. When air operations became decisive, a great breakthrough was made in applying air power.


Basic Operational Methods

Before the Vietnam War, when air strikes were carried out by the same type of aircraft, visual coordination was the main type of strike. Air operation methods qualitatively changed during the Vietnam War, when several joint operational methods with various types of aircrafts taking part came into use. In order to cope with the integrated air-defense systems comprising fighters, surface-to-air missiles, anti-aircraft guns and air-defense C3I systems, an operation took shape to include formations such as airborne early warning and command formations, escort and protective formations, strike formations, air defense suppression formations, reconnaissance formations, electronic warfare formations, air refueling formations, air-rescue formations, etc. Among these the strike formations are the main force, with the rest supporting, protecting and assisting.

Along with the further development of the operational mode, joint air strikes were invented. In the Gulf War, a typical daytime strike group of aircraft of the multinational forces comprised 60 aircraft, in addition to the stealth aircraft. The daytime strike formations included 24 F16-A/Cs, "Tornados," and A-10s, escort formations of 12 F15Cs and Mirage-2000s, accompanying jamming formations of EA-6Bs, EF-111As and one EC-130H, and finally hard-target electronic warfare formations of F-4Gs and A-6Fs equipped with antiradiation missiles. There were also some airborne early warning aircraft and air refueling aircraft participating in actions. Joint air strikes became the main operational mode the multinational forces used in the Gulf War.

As the basic operational mode, joint air strikes completely alter the operational state of air battle space. Thus, joint air strikes have the typical characteristics of nonlinear operations. What may be pointed out is that the way air battlefields were dominated by air power completely changed in the Gulf War. Participants in air operations also included army helicopters, navy Tomahawk cruise missiles, reconnaissance satellites, communication satellites, and global positioning systems comprising over 30 satellites. This change lifts the joint air operation to a new height, unlike previous small joint operations. While a great number of digitized troops are going to be established and a large number of digitized battlefields are taking shape, the three-dimensional air strikes that developed in the Gulf War will become a basic mode of air operations in the future.

Global Strike and Global Reach
When the operational mode of global strike and global reach is applied, the battle space is enlarged, and traditional theories and ideas about the battlefield are broken. Any target in any part of the world is within striking range of air power. After the Gulf War, the main military powers in the world decided to enhance their air power's ability to carry out global strike and all-depth operations. In May 1993, the Russian Air Force organized a large-scale intercontinental maneuver operational exercise from its European region to the Far East. According to the military strategy of "forward presence plus troop transport," the U.S. Air Force established an operational doctrine of "global reach and global operations."

Over-the-Horizon Air Combat
Air combat is the main means of air power used to annihilate the enemy air force. According to distance, it is divided into visual air combat and beyond-the-horizon air combat. The main concept of air combat has been to attack from behind at a distance of hundreds to thousands of meters. The precondition of attacking is the occupation the advantageous position at the rear of the opponent, called short-range air combat.

In the Gulf War, most planes of the multinational forces belonged to the third generation. These planes are of advanced performance, their airborne fire-control radars are capable of surveilling a distance of more than 100 km, simultaneously tracking quite a number of targets from scores of kilometers away, and carrying out attacks over a wide range of altitudes. These capabilities provide a reliable launching platform to make beyond-the-horizon attacks. According to materials the U.S. Defense Department released after the Gulf War, 38 Iraqi aircraft were destroyed in air combat, among which 28 were destroyed by Sparrow AIM-7M mi-range missiles; 10 were shot down by Sidewinder AIM-9L short-range missiles; and the rest were ruined by aircraft guns. The Gulf War was the first rather large-scale regional war in which the number of aircraft destroyed in beyond-the-horizon air combat exceeded those destroyed in visual air combat. It indicates that beyond-the-horizon air combat technology is maturing.

Deep-Strike and Stand-Off Munitions
Ever since air weapons came into being, the way to attack ground targets was to bomb right over the targets after penetrating the ground-to-air defense. In the past 10 years, this method has been used less frequently. Instead, a method that has been used more and more often is to stand off and launch munitions from a long range. This tendency is bringing great changes to air-to-ground operations. Primarily because of stand-off air-to-ground missiles, air power is capable of launching attacks from a long distance, out of range of the defense.

Stealth Penetration
In the first air raid in the Gulf War, 30 U.S. Air Force F-117A stealth fighters directly attacked Baghdad after flying beyond Iraqi air-defense troops, instead of attacking air-defense radars and neutralizing airports and air-defense ground positions to open a penetrating corridor for followup units. This new operational method is characteristic of nonlinear operations. It stops the enemy from organizing effective defenses by harassing the enemy's air-defense rhythm. Relying on stealth fighters' being difficult to be detect, stealth penetration neutralizes the enemy's old formula of air-defense operations, which can be described thusly: find incoming targets; judge the nature of the targets and degree of threat; assign targets; order air defense troops to annihilate the targets. With stealth, the enemy is attacked before they detect the incoming targets. Because it is the crucial positions of the enemy's air-defense system that are first attacked by stealth planes, the enemy's air-defense troops have been paralyzed before they are put into action, so it is impossible for them to arrange organized resistance against the air -raid. Therefore, the air raid attacks predetermined targets without facing resistance. Using this method in the Gulf War, the U.S. Army reduced the ratio of assault troops to service troops to 1:1, and kept the loss rate at 0.03 percent. More and more stealth planes will be rushing into the air battlefields of the 21st century, and stealth penetration bombing will be more commonly applied.

All-Weather and Round-the-Clock Air Strikes
The performance of airborne fire-control-radar is being improved, and night-vision devices such as infrared and low-light devices and space-based precision guidance systems are being added. Many midrange air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles, infrared-guided bombs and laser-guided bombs are being used. Air power has greatly enhanced its ability to attack air and ground targets at night and in any meteorological conditions. Meanwhile, air power can perform all-weather and round-the-clock attacks. This was the case in the Gulf War. Throughout the Gulf War, all-weather and round-the-clock continuous operations were carried out by the multinational forces, in which sorties dispatched at night equaled 70 percent of the total. Characteristics. Because all-weather and round-the-clock operations are widely used, the better equipped side benefits from the night and bad weather, which previously favored the less well equipped side. Because of high-technology, night battlefields become transparent. Bad weather is no longer an obstacle to the better equipped side. Meanwhile, the poorly equipped side can no longer utilize the night and bad weather to change its unfavorable situation. This operational mode greatly intensifies operations and speeds up the rhythm of war. Attacking Joints and Ripping Fabric The third generation of precision-guided bombs has an accuracy of less than 1 meter. Modern air strikes tend to be "one bomb, one target." Air power's ability in precision strike is increasing and the mode of long-range precision strike is used. It is possible through joint strikes to achieve fabric ripping.

According to systematic opinions, modern military strength is entirely composed of various services and various weapon systems with different functions. Joining various weapons is decisive in the operational system. We call this striking the seams and ripping the fabric in order to "take down" the enemy's operational system, to weaken or even to paralyze it by way of precisely attacking the system or its crucial positions with a certain number of weapons.

It was by way of attacking the seams of the Iraqi air-defense system that the multinational forces ripped the fabric of the Iraqi air-defense system in the Gulf War. The multinational forces took the Iraqi C3I system as the main target to assault. Twenty hours before the first air raid, electronic warfare began to jam and neutralize the Iraqi C3I system. In the first air raid, Iraqi targets such as command and communication centers were heavily attacked by Tomahawk cruise missiles and F-117 stealth fighters of the multinational forces. Because Iraq's C3I system had been violated, even though it had preserved a great deal of weapons and equipment with the help of advanced defense systems, its anti-aircraft guns could merely fire separately, its ground-to-air missiles could only be launched without aim, and its operational aircraft could not take off. It is predicted that the operational concept of assault on the seams and fabric violation will be commonly used in the air battlefields of the 21st century.


Major General Zheng Shenxia
Senior Colonel Zhang Changzhi

The new military revolution has brought about changes to the entire military sphere, particularly to the reforms in the air force. To study the impact of the revolution on contemporary air power is of momentous significance to China's defense modernization and air force development.

Air Force Development Is a Catalyst of the New Military Revolution

The fundamental cause of the current military revolution is the extensive application of modern technologies, within which information technology is the core. A modern air force is equipped by information technology, whose use in modern local war reveals the great changes in air power and its bright future. The development of air power is the most direct catalyst of such a revolution.

Since the 1950s, information technology has been developed worldwide. Automatic control and artificial intelligence technology have advanced quickly. Modern information technology was first applied in air weapons. Because of computers, automatic equipment and artificial intelligence, weapons have been invented, such as precision-guided weapons, telemetry and remote-sensing systems, electronic confrontation technology, and automatic C I systems. Air weapons have become the epitome of contemporary information technology. The special requirements of developing air weapons are the incentive for developing information technology. The mutual acceleration and simultaneous development of air weapons and information technology have resulted in the following accom-plishments:

Major General Zheng Shenxia is President of the Air Force Command College, Beijing; Senior Colonel Zhang Changzhi is an Assistant Professor at the Air Force Command College, Beijing. Their essay is from China Military Science, (Spring 1996).

The above changes illustrate that space-weapon development is in a transitional period of integrating information technology with weapon production. Space weapon systems have possessed some quasi-human functions (such as observation, memory, analysis and synthesis). Missiles have become "shells with eyes." Future air force C I systems and various weapons will be controlled by intelligence machines, and will have dialogue with human beings through connection with information processing and displaying working stations. The systems will not only change the air combat information process and transmission modes but also integrate humans, combat theory, and computers into a whole. Through the systems, human intelligence can be immediately released in the form of energy to obtain unprecedented combat effectiveness. Since World War II, the conventional destructive capacity of aircraft has increased by 70 percent. Specifically, modern air weapons have developed in seven aspects:

The development and application of air information weapon systems immediately resulted in revolutionary changes in the war field. A lot of concepts only imagined or developed a few years ago became reality in Operation Desert Storm. To a great extent, information combat has been enlightened by the Gulf War, in which multinational troops captured all the high-frequency and ultrahigh frequency radio signals of the Iraqi army and stored the numerous amounts of information gathered by the 34 reconnaissance satellites, 260 electronic reconnaissance planes, and 40 prewarning aircraft. Then, the multinational troops used various information systems and high-tech weapons to destroy the Iraqi communication system and take control of the war. The Iraqi command system, radar, and command systems of missiles, aircraft, and artillery were at a standstill. This demonstrates that information is the key to victory. The side that controls information can give full play to the materials and energy possessed, and thereby increase combat power.

After the Gulf War, the U.S. military gradually increased research centered on information combat. U.S. Defense Secretary Perry put forward the proposal of "military revolution" in early 1994, which officially confirmed the existence of the revolution. A special group was organized to conduct research on how the Pentagon can obtain and maintain decisive military superiority within the next two and three decades. Therefore, modern high technology, the key to the new military revolution, has caused the development of contemporary air power. The application of air power in Desert Storm, on the other hand, is the "trigger" of the new military revolution. It is predicated that future air strength will have much greater development under the influence and acceleration of the revolution.

The Buildup of Air Strength

The Gulf War displayed not only the embryonic form of information combat but also the advantages of air power and revealed the importance of air power in bringing about satisfactory operational effectiveness in information combat. Therefore, each nation has prioritized the development of air strength under the principle of upgrading the entire defense system and developing all forces:

The reasons why each nation lays stress on the buildup of the air force are:

In battlefield command, gaining the upper hand in information confrontation can help commanders make decisions and work out strategies. Hence, information superiority is becoming a tremendous combat strength. The C I system is important to winning information superiority in battle and to improve the flexibility of the army and navy. Under the influence of modern high technology, the ability to obtain battlefield information from air and space has witnessed fundamental changes. Outer space itself becomes a battlefield of monitoring to provide reliable information with the assistance of reconnaissance, communication, navigation, and orientation systems and early-warning systems. Information gathered can be used for strategic command, for campaign and combat command and even by single vessels, vehicles, and soldiers.

From the viewpoint of electromagnetic combat, armed strength in ground and marine battlefields will be greatly heightened by electromagnetic domination obtained through integrated electronic combat. Air and space are the major fields of electromagnetic confrontation in modern war. Air electronic confrontation equipment, compared to that on the ground, can cover a wider space and have a higher fighting efficiency. The U.S. Army has developed more than 600 electronic combat devices, of which 70 percent is installed in aircraft. Electronic combat in air raids can use electronic devices to reconnaissance, interfere, search, position and monitor an opponent's targets, as well as to cope with enemy electronic mechanisms, in combination with automatic command system and electronic suppression and deceiving devices. Thus, enemy communication will be cut off and radar and guided weapons disabled. Losses on one's own side will be reduced to minimum.

As for firepower, the destruction power has seen great improvement because of the combination of space electronic measures, firepower, and application of weapons with high precision and coverage. One prominent change is the growing proportion of air firepower in modern war. According to statistics, the U.S. Army's air munitions have increased dramatically. Today's stockpile is four times that of WWII, three times that of the total ammunition used in the Korean war, twice that of the Vietnam War, and a fifth more than that used in the Gulf War. In addition, 70 percent of casualties and injuries to enemy troops in the Vietnam War was caused by U.S. air firepower. Half the Arab tanks damaged during the fourth Middle East War was destroyed by the Israeli Air Force. During the Falkland Islands war between Britain and Argentina, 90 percent of the 29 vessels that were lost was due to air strikes. All the above indicates that with the rapid development of air weapons, the focus of modern war is gradually shifting to the air. Air firepower is becoming the backbone of joint military forces.

An important feature of information combat is the speed. Strategic air transport serves as the key to releasing and expanding the operational potential of strategic mobility. Speed and strength are the two core elements of measuring the combat effectiveness of strategic mobile force. In contemporary conditions, the contrast of strategic strength is not determined by the military force in a certain area but by the strength of strategic mobility. In modern times, partial wars break out quickly in a vast space, which allows very limited time to carry out an effective reaction. Only through speedy delivery of combat forces to favorable positions can decisive impact be exerted. Among various delivery measures, air transport is the most effective action because of its strong mobility, fast speed, and less restrictive geographic conditions. Air transport in modern times has a greater effect because of its capability of delivering force in large freight size, over a long distance, and at a fast speed between continents. To a certain extent, air transport is the amplifier of the combat strength of the strategic mobile forces of military powers and is an important condition in winning an information war.

On the other hand, military combat strength in the information era is relatively reduced. Coping with local war and controlling crises becomes the strategic concern. Local war, which restricts operational goals, time, and space, puts forward new requirements for air combat ability. To achieve the strategic goal, ground operational measures are greatly restrained and air operations enhanced. Air operations often become the major or even the only force to be used. On the other hand, the air force, which can avoid direct contact with the opponent and quickly deliver strategic proposal, can start and stop operations easily so they will not result in territorial disputes and a cease-fire agreement. This is definitely what military decisionmakers want to apply in today's conflicts, in which no one wants to escalate the conflicts but everyone is eager to restrain the other. The standard of winning and losing is changed to a great extent. The ultimate goal of the parties involved is not to occupy the other's territory but to check the enemy country and take initiative at the negotiation table. Because an air force can achieve such a goal without escalating the conflict, it has more opportunities to be employed. In addition, the attacking side places more importance on reducing human casualties by increasing material loss. As a former U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff said before the Gulf War, the only way to avoid excessive bloodshed by the army was to use the air force.

Because of the strict restriction on use of nuclear weapons and the air force's replacement of nuclear force, nuclear-possessing countries have started to shift their attention from preparing for nuclear war to conventional war. The production of nuclear weapons is slowed down. The principle of using nuclear weapons has been changed from "using in the first place" to "using at the last stage." Strategic rockets are in a declining position and the air force enjoys a rising importance. Both the United States and the former Soviet Union have re-emphasized the role of air force to make up the gap in fire structure caused by restrictions on the use of nuclear weapons.

This analysis shows that strengthening the air force is an inevitable outcome of the development of the new military revolution, and the changes in war format and the world nuclear situation. Further development of the air force will eventually increase the struggle among nations in fighting for air superiority. Future information war will rely more and more on air superiority. The air force will no longer be an important independent strategic force but an effective conventional campaign force that all services will depend upon. Each service will own a troop of airmen. Such a trend will further spur the conventionalization of high-tech equipment, development of information war and nonlinear operation of combat modes, therefore, strengthening the polar position of air force in modern military strategy.

Quality Restructuring of the Air Force

After the Gulf War, each key country adjusted its military strategy and the structure of its armed forces to adapt to the transformed military threat and to ease the tension between demand and possibility of armed force establishment. The core of the adjustment is to promote quality military establishment. As a high-tech-equipped service, the air force will be given these considerations:

In the meantime, these countries have strengthened the establishment of key troops. The U.S. Air Force has sped up the establishment of a mobile speed reaction force, which includes two components the global force, with 20 operational units and bombers, and the air transport troops, which can reach every corner of the world.

The model of the fourth generation fighter of the U.S. Air Force, the F-22, has been chosen and is undergoing flight trials. It is planned to be manufactured in the mid-1990s. The EFA, which was jointly developed by Britain, Germany, Italy and Spain, the JAS-39 of Sweden, and the followup of the M-29 of Russia are all under development. Some Asia and Pacific nations have also joined the trend. Japan has sped up development of its FSX attackers to replace the current F-1 attackers.

Regarding weapons installation, all countries will focus on developing and applying precision-guided technology. The United States and Western European countries are jointly developing the AIM-120 medium-range, air-to-air missile and the AIM-132 short-range, air-to-air missile. The AGM-129 air-launch cruise missile has a range of more than 10,000 kilometers. The new generation of antiradiation missiles will have more intelligence that will allow it to search, trace, and attack targets automatically. Antitank missiles will feature improved attacking power beyond vision and precision.


Colonel Xiao Jingmin
Major Bao Bin

From the very beginning of the 20th century to the end of 1980s, one of the most remarkable features of military revolution was the application of the results of the industrial revolution. With a beginning marked by the appearance of tanks, aircraft, and other weaponry, military firepower and its mobility have created a relatively perfect combination. They provide a powerful assault ability to forces and give rise to various theories on mechanized or mobilized operations such as the "surprise attack" of the Germans, the "deep strike" of the Soviets, and the "joint air and land operation" of the U.S. Army. By the end of 20th century, the arrival of the information revolution and the application of computers, sensors, and other information techniques in the command and control activities of the armed forces, together with long-range guided weapons and automatic, informational and intelligent weapons that have been developed will lead to profound changes in the operational concepts, fighting, and command methods of the 21st century.

Colonel Xiao Jingmin and Major Bao Bin work at the Strategy Department, Academy of Military Science, Beijing. This paper appeared in China Military Science (Spring 1995).

Future Land Battles Will Be Multidimensional and Multidirectional

The fighting capabilities of modern weaponry have been greatly increased, making it possible for armed forces with modern weapons to fight in great depth, in multidimensions and in multidirections. Operations can be carried out against an enemy target not only from a short range, but also from a long range, super long range or even from any corner of the globe. An important developing trend for the land battle is the interlacing of fighting in the far and near distances. Operations will be carried out on the land, on the sea surface, under the water, in the air, or even in space. The attacking weapons at different levels of altitude will be able to strike land targets from optimum altitude. Air strikes and mobility have become the main methods of cooperation with land operations.

The differences of front, rear, and side will be mitigated, the front and rear of the battle field will be attacked simultaneously, and important facilities of the strategic rear area might be the first target of attack. The battle front will not be fixed, the fight will be waged in all directions, and outer space will be a battlefield. All spaces will be full of intense combat. The expansion of land battlefields has greatly surpassed the firing range of guns and attacks by infantry and tanks. Bombers and tactical missiles can cover a fighting radius of several hundred or thousands of kilometers. Confrontation in outer space can be elevated to tens of thousands of meters or even kilometers high. The interlinking of battlefields far and near, or high and low in space, is unprecedented and will make people rethink land-battle concepts, and strategy for future land operations.

Time and Speed Will Have New Meanings

Modern science and technology have greatly improved the fighting capabilities of weaponry, and the concept of time and speed on the land battlefield has greatly changed. Time equals force, and speed is power. Time on the battlefield has been shortened, and operational activities will become faster. Modern weapons make the speed of the operational activities much faster. Armed forces use the high efficiency and high-speed mobile transportation tools not only for fast tactical and campaign mobility, but also for strategic mobility. Various kinds of weapons will shorten the time of reaction and in very short time will carry out fire power mobility and support and transfer, replacing manpower to a large degree. The C3I battle command system can have quasi real-time and fast analysis of all kinds of information and will increase the level of command control of the battlefield, armed forces, and weapons systems.

Operational activities will become all-weather, all-time, and continuous activities. Modern optics, electronics and other sensor equipment have become popular and are widely used, which greatly increases the fighting capability of weaponry and forces at night or in unfavorable weather conditions. Different army corps and their main weapons systems will have high-level and continuous fighting ability at all times and in all weather conditions. Operational activities will proceed at an unprecedented speed over all battle areas. In future land warfare, those who have gained time will have the upper hand on the battlefield, and those who have increased speed will have gained more power.

The Power and Accuracy of Strike

The operational activities of the army have always been restricted by time and other conditions, seeking the unity of the battle objective and efficiency. In the industrial era, the fighting capability of the army was manifested mainly in huge armed forces and mechanized weapons, and the objective of the battle was to destroy enemy forces and weaponry in large numbers. The destruction of the enemy transportation system and supply line was to create better conditions for the destruction of the enemy forces. It was through continuous and intense fighting and large consumption of materials that increased our own strength and decreased the enemy's, and finally led to the defeat of the enemy. During the process of operational activities, the objectives of the battle moved with the battle. The latter part of the industrial era found changes in this strategy. With the development of electronics technology, armed forces can interfere with an enemy's command system through electromagnetic jamming and can destroy the coordination among enemy forces, creating even better conditions for their destruction. In future 21st century land warfare, the primary objective of the battle will mainly be the destruction of enemy command, control, and weapons systems through the combination of counterinformation and fire power attack, and not the destruction of the enemy forces. Increased firepower range and accuracy make the choosing of battle objectives more flexible and more threatening. This kind of fight will be low in consumption of supplies but highly efficient. The destruction of enemy command and control systems means the disintegration of the enemy fighting forces. Though smart weapons carry a small strike load, they are highly accurate and destructive, which makes small-scale operational activities highly efficient. The concept of achieving high efficiency at a relatively low cost has become the basic goal of modern warfare and will be even more so in 21st-century land operations.

Information Superiority Will Become the Focal Point on the Battlefield

The wide application of electronic information technology in the military sphere will integrate information with firepower, resulting in a new type of warfare. The competition for information in future 21st-century land operations will be based on computer technology. With digital communication as the means, the information network collects and processes the data on the battlefield and utilizes these data in the weapon system to ensure efficient attacks against enemy forces, realizing automated, informationized, and intelligence capabilities to the greatest degree at every stage of operations. Under the conditions of information warfare, armed forces will use satellites, high-altitude aircraft, helicopters and unmanned flying equipment, and sensors to collect and process information; use digital communication techniques to transmit computer data within the information network; and use digital modulators and demodulators to retrieve various information and command or control information, which it will display on the information complex with many forms like graphics, data, sound and images, so that the various command organs and units of the armed forces will have relevant intelligence regarding the fighting task. In future land operations, the main activities will be the collection and processing, transfer and utilization, and competition for and countering of battle information. This will be the case during the whole process of the battle. The supremacy of information will replace the supremacy of forces and weapons and will be the key in winning the upper hand in the land operations and the guarantee for defeating the enemy. The side with information supremacy will from the collection of information to command decisions, from detection and positioning to guided strike proceed with automation and at high speed, achieving quasi real-time or even real-time battle results and, discovering the enemy first, will strike first. The traditional concept of "hard kill" and the negligence of "soft kill" apparently will not be suited to the future new situation on the battle fields.

Land and Air Operation Integration and Joint Operations

The integration of fighting forces in the 21st century will not be a simple adjustment in the structure of the army and the multigroupings of the fighting forces. Instead, it will require a new combination of land fighting forces as a result of the development of army weapons and changes in the methods of warfare. The combination of land fighting forces with the air and sea forces will become an integrated fighting force connected by a battle information network and formed by special units of the various army corps. Land fighting forces will be part of integrated forces in battle. Under the circumstances, the role of the army land fighting force will obviously change and become part of the network formed by the land, sea, air and space forces. It will be possible to destroy important military and economic facilities of the enemy without contact with the enemy at the front, and make the enemy lose its ability to resist. At the same time, the land fighting force will continuously receive all-round, all-depth, and all-time support from air and space fighting equipment as well as from fighting forces on the sea. The integrated operations by various army corps will be able to comprehensively use different fighting methods and striking means, thus avoiding the shortcomings of fighting by a single force coordination.

Digitization in the Future Land Operation

On the digital battle field, the units of the armed forces, through a digital information network, will receive orders and decisional information from the commanding organization, feed back the situation on the battle field, exchange information with other units, and carry out a close cooperation. The various units of the armed forces will not only be able to use their own weapons systems but also will be able to use different support weapons systems flexibly and in a timely fashion within the network. They will be able to carry out long-range and accurate attacks, and every unit or even every single soldier will have the information and fire power support of the whole digital information network. In past warfare, attention was focused on the same battle area, and close coordination of fighting activities in different time frameworks. On the digital battle field, more attention will be focused on the close coordination of different fighting areas in the common time framework. Different fighting units will, according to the unified time and objective, strike different battle targets, and achieve coordination of the whole campaign or battle with active fighting activities of their own. For the digital fighting force, every unit will be in contact with the enemy force on the battle field, and there will be no frontline.


Major General Wang Pufeng

Andrew Marshall of the Pentagon believes the information era will touch off a revolution in military affairs, just as the cannon in the 15th century and the machine in the past 150 years of the industrial era touched off revolutions. U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Gordon Sullivan holds that the information era is changing the army and will change the means of war fundamentally. U.S. Secretary of the Army Togo West says, "We place the stakes of winning a victory in the next century on digitization." The U.S. Army believes that the assessment of an army's combat capability used to depend on how good its munitions were, but in the 21st century, it will depend on the operational capability of the C3I system based on information technology. The U.S. Army has presented the concept of Force 21 and makes it clear that it should be armed for information warfare and become a digitized army. Its plan is to build a digitized brigade in 1996 and expand it to a division in 1997. The U.S. Army has taken these actions to prepare for future information warfare.

Major General Wang Pufeng is a former Director of the Strategy Department, Academy of Military Science, Beijing. His paper was excerpted from China Military Science (Spring 1995).

In the near future, information warfare will control the form and future of war. We recognize this developmental trend of information warfare and see it as a driving force in the modernization of China's military and combat readiness. This trend will be highly critical to achieving victory in future wars.

Establishing Concepts of Victory in Future Information Warfare

Looking at the current situation, it can be seen that the authorized strength and equipment, strategy, tactics, and military theory of China's military are still basically the products of the industrial era and are far from satisfying the demands of information warfare. We have much work to do to shrink this gap, and our first task is to clarify our war preparation concepts. We have already made it clear that the basis of war preparation is to achieve victory in modern warfare, especially high-tech warfare, and this is quite correct. High-tech warfare, however, has already developed from an emphasis on guided missiles to an emphasis on information. Firepower superiority depends on information superiority. This has been a phased transition. In keeping with the demands of information warfare, we must base our war preparations on achieving victory in this area and use it to plan China's military and national defense modernization. When we engage in war with strong enemies in the future, we will face comprehensive and powerful information suppression.

There is a question of how to use weakness to defeat strength and how to conduct war against weak enemies in order to use information superiority to achieve greater victories at a smaller cost. It must be confirmed that information and weapons are all controlled by people. People are the main factor in combat power. However, it must also be confirmed that the functions of people and weapons will primarily be determined by the control of information, because information can play an important role in warfare. Hence, the flow of information, under the control of people, is injected into the flow of manpower, capacity, and materials, and will influence the form of warfare and determine victory or defeat. During the industrial age, the combat power of a military was measured primarily by how much capacity that military held and could utilize. During the information age, the efficiency of capacity utilization is even more important. Generally speaking, a military with capacity but no means to use it cannot become a true combat power. If capacity is used to no effect, it will only cause unnecessary damage and waste and will not have practical significance to victory or defeat in the war. A military can become a truly effective combat power only if it can use its capacity effectively. Capacity utilization controlled by information technology can successfully solve this problem. In this way, the thrust of China's military construction and development of weapons and equipment will no longer be toward strengthening the "firepower antipersonnel system" of the industrial age, but toward the strengthening of information technology, information weapons systems, and information networking. Our sights must not be fixed on the firepower warfare of the industrial age, rather they must be trained on the information warfare of the information age. This must be the starting point from which to propel China's military construction forward and raise that construction to a higher grade and standard.

Theory is the new guide to action, and information warfare theory is a new warfare theory. We must understand it, study it, and use it to guide military construction and combat. China's military, which has always had advanced Marxist and Maoist warfare theory, absolutely must not fall behind the times. We must use a practical combination of information warfare and Marxist and Maoist military thought to guide information warfare and issues in military construction. In light of the fact that the military lags behind its strong enemies in information technology and information weapons, the military must emphasize the study of ways to use inferior equipment to achieve victory over enemies with superior equipment. "Using the inferior to overcome the superior" is a tradition of China's military. However, "using the inferior to overcome the superior" in information warfare is definitely much different in content and form from the techniques of war used in the past. The question of how to conduct a people's war in information warfare also requires study. The people's war of the past was conducted in tangible space, but information warfare, in addition to occurring in tangible space on the ground, on the sea, and in the air, is conducted even more in intangible space, such as in electromagnetic fields. It is not only a battlefield in which guns and bombs proliferate, but also a "computer battlefield" in sheltered laboratories and control rooms. There are many new issues here we need to explore.

Improving Weapons and Equipment Through Information Technology

We must put effort into information technology, information weapons systems, and information networking. These are the important aspects of hardware construction for the military when adapting to information warfare. Information is a material good, and information sources, information channels, and information storage are all material goods. The gathering, transmission, processing, and use of information and the development of information into combat power all depend on certain material goods, energy, and technology carriers. Information technology itself is a pinnacle of high technology. The key technologies are remote-sensing technology, communications technology, and computer technology. Key information weapons include precision-guided weapons systems and electronic warfare weapons systems as well as C4I systems (communications, guidance, control, computers, and intelligence) which form the central nervous system. These hardware items are necessary and essential to adapt to and achieve victory in information warfare, and we must make efforts here. Developing this hardware, however, is not easy. It will be restricted by the level of our information technology base and funds. Hence, comprehensive consideration must be given to the direction, goals, and emphases of this development. The overarching demand, for long-term planning as well as short-term arrangements, is to consider fully the threat faced by China, the possible warfare tasks of the near future, the battle regions and battlefield conditions, the state of China's defense technology development, as well as the possible support for military funding. Thus, it appears that we should emphasize in our development the following aspects of information technology.

A Reliable Reconnaissance and Remote-Sensing System
The goal is to obtain timely information, to understand the enemy and ourselves, and to achieve clarity about our situation with great determination. It is especially necessary to establish a strategic reconnaissance warning and air defense system to achieve a capacity for early detection of enemy movements, in order to be forewarned and ready.

Information Weapons Systems
The most important of these are air defense weapons systems, offensive tactical guided missile attack systems, landing and touchdown operations equipment systems, electronic warfare equipment systems, and underwater minelaying systems. These will give China over-the-horizon, high-precision, concealed, sudden defensive attack capability and a stronger survival capacity and make the enemy terrified and worried, providing an effective threat.

Computer Technology and Battlefield Information Networks
First, we should establish battlefield information networks and battlefield databases for the battlefields in priority strategic directions. By bringing all branches of the military into an information network, information may be shared on the network. Near-real-time communication can be gained in all directions and a better solution can be achieved for the problem of vertical and horizontal coordination in warfare.

Firm Control of Battlefield Information

To achieve victory in information warfare, the central issue is control of information.

Preparation and Defense with Attacking and Fighting
In comparison with the strength of potential enemies, the information technology and information weapons of China's military may all be inferior for quite some time. When China's enemies mainly use their air forces and navies to conduct strategic information warfare, China will be in the strategic position of engaging in defensive warfare along interior lines. The progress and outcome of the war will be determined by the state of China's advance preparations and defensive situation during the war. In defensive warfare, China should still thoroughly implement an active defensive strategy. In addition to hiding and concealing forces, in combat, especially during key phases in key areas, we must engage even more actively in air defense warfare and intercept and attack enemy weapons as they arrive in surprise attack. When conditions permit, we should also engage in counterattacks against the enemy and interfere with or misguide their guided weapons, thus damaging or destroying their equipment. Strategically, we should use preparation and defense, and in combat we should use attacking and fighting to achieve victory.

Organize Offensive and Defensive Information Warfare
Information warfare includes engaging in an active offense of information suppression and attack, as well as in the reactive defense of information counter-reconnaissance, resistance to interference, and defense against destruction. The issue of an information offensive can only be discussed if one has superior technology for information suppression. In a strategic defense situation, sometimes information offensives can be undertaken during warfare actions in limited areas. In that case, information technology suppression superiority must first be achieved in warfare actions in that limited area. Under the conditions of modern high technology, an information offensive is often a prelude to a strategic offensive. Take, for example, the surprise attack on Libya by the United States. Before the attack, 18 electronic-warfare aircraft were sent to Libya to engage in powerful interference.

Fighter aircraft were then sent to launch counterradiation guided missiles to destroy Libya's air defense radar stations, then fighter aircraft were sent to launch precision-guided bombs to attack five important targets. The information offensives in this raid included: 1) information reconnaissance to gain information on targets of the raid and to study the target in detail; 2) electronic interference to paralyze the opponents's communications and blind the opponent's air defense guided missiles; 3) information suppression by using counter radiation guided missiles to destroy air defense radar stations, and 4) information attack by using precision-guided warheads to attack pre-set targets.

During the Gulf War, the information offensives of the multilateral forces were even more representative. In addition to the four types listed above at least the following should be added: 1) Computer viruses were used to destroy the computer systems of Iraq's air defense system and thus paralyze it, and 2) stealth aircraft were used to launch precision-guided bombs against the communications building and the command center, thus achieving information suppression.

In situations of information defense, we must strive for an active approach in a reactive situation and use every means possible to destroy the opponent's information superiority and transform our inferior position in information. We must pay attention to:

The information offenses and defenses outlined above, in addition to using information technology extensively, also use information weapons extensively. Thus, during the process of a war, these do not exist alone but accompany strategic offenses and defenses and are consistent with the overall situation of strategic offenses and defenses. Before and after war, information hassling never stops for a moment but usually does not involve the use of information weapons.

"You Do Your Fighting and I'll Do Mine" Using Strengths to Attack Weaknesses

This is the basic warfare style which Mao Zedong taught us, and it is an excellent tradition of China's military. Strengths and weaknesses are in comparison with those of the enemy. What then will China's strengths be in future wars? What will be China's weaknesses? Politically speaking, China's military has the advantage of justness, which is conducive to gaining international sympathy and support, and it has the support of the people domestically. In terms of warfare space, when China's military engages in war on China's soil, it will have the advantages of topography and position. In air, sea, space, and electronic warfare, however, the enemy will have the advantage. In terms of the choice of timing for warfare, because the enemy will have more advanced night-vision instruments, the advantage will not be China's, especially in air and sea warfare at night. The enemy will have advantages in instrumentation. China will have advantages in familiarity with the topography. Each will have half the advantages. In terms of warfare techniques, China's military has a tradition of flexible fighting methods and is more adapted to nonlinear warfare, but lacks practical battle experience in information warfare with high technology. In terms of weapons and equipment, generally speaking the enemy will have the advantage, but in some areas, such as guided missiles and submarines, China can still shock the enemy to a certain degree. China is strong in close warfare; the enemy is strong in distant warfare.

In wars of the future, China will face the enemy's more complete information technology with incomplete information technology. Because sometimes superior tactics can make up for inferior technology, China will still carry out its traditional warfare method of "you fight your way, I'll fight my way," and use its strengths to attack the enemy's weaknesses and adhere to an active role in warfare. To do this, it appears that we must pay even more attention to:

In summary, our warfare methods must adapt to the needs of information warfare. We must use all types, forms, and methods of force, and especially make more use of nonlinear warfare and many types of information warfare methods which combine native and Western elements to use our strengths in order to attack the enemy's weaknesses, avoid being reactive, and strive for being active. In this way, it will be entirely possible for China to achieve comprehensive victory over the enemy even under the conditions of inferiority in information technology.

Cultivating Talent

In the final analysis, information warfare is conducted by people. The basic great plan is to cultivate talented people suited to information warfare. One aspect is to cultivate talent in information science and technology. The development and resolution of information warfare can be predicted to a great degree in the laboratory. Information science and technology talent is the forerunners of science and technology talent is the forerunner of science and technology research. The achievements and practical use of their research will play a key role in the development and advancement of society and military construction and warfare. The second aspect is talented people in command and control. They especially need to have the ability to conduct comprehensive analysis and policy-information processing, to understand themselves and the enemy, as well as the battlefield, and also to have a capacity for scientific strategic thinking and a comprehensive point of view. Senior command personnel especially need to have information knowledge and the ability to control information warfare and must be adept at using information technology to organize and command warfare. They must be very knowledgeable, brave, and talented people.

Combat personnel must also be familiar with the technical and strategic aspects of the weapons and equipment in their hands and must be very well versed in the operation of those weapons and equipment. They must be able to understand accurately the combat plan and resolutely and flexibly utilize weapons and equipment to wipe out the enemy. The combat personnel of information warfare are not only the warriors who charge enemy lines for face to face struggles of life or death, but sometimes are the operating technical personnel who sit before computers and instruments. They stand at the first line in electronic warfare and in the resistance against C4I systems and on the front line in information technology conflicts.

Rear support and technical support are very important in information warfare. Information technology relates to a number of high-technology groups of people and touches on new energy, new materials, artificial intelligence, space travel, marine engineering, systems engineering, and other high-technology subjects. The demands for the technical level of support personnel are quite high. They are required to be able to guarantee that weapons and equipment are always kept in excellent condition. While carrying out rear and front-line support, the use of information technology is a support method just like other methods. In information warfare, the support of information technology penetrates the contents of information resistance and is also one method of warfare support.

The main methods of cultivating talent are study and training. In addition to conducting training in politics, ethics, and psychology, there must also be study of high-tech knowledge and the fundamental knowledge of and warfare techniques related to information warfare. If conditions permit, we want to create as much as possible the conditions necessary for implementing simulation training. We can first consider creating stimulated battlefields with information in key areas of the army, navy, air force, and artillery, and, second, conducting rotational training of cadres and key troops. Colleges and universities should also establish curriculae in information warfare. Scientific research institutions should also engage in research on information warfare.

The large-scale importation of information technology deep into the field of warfare will inevitably bring about a military revolution. This revolution has actually already started. Those who perceive it first will swiftly rise to the top and have the advantage of the first opportunities. Those who perceive it late will unavoidably also be caught up in the vortex of this revolution. Every military will receive this baptism. This revolution is first a revolution in concepts, then it is a revolution in science and technology, equipment, troop strength, strategy, and tactics as well as a revolution in training. Thus, the issue of how to adapt to and achieve victory in the information warfare which we will face from now on is an important question which we need to study carefully.


Senior Colonel Wang Baocun and Li Fei

While the military officials of all countries have not yet defined information warfare (IW) authoritatively, military experts in many countries have delimited its implications. While such definitions may be imperfect and even somewhat biased, they are certainly of great benefit to our understanding of the innate features of information warfare.

In Army magazine (1994), Lieutenant General Cerjan, former U.S. National Defense University President, notes, "Information warfare is a means of armed struggle aimed at seizing the decisive military superiority and focused on the control and use of information." General Sullivan, U.S. Army Chief of Staff, holds that "information is the most crucial combat effectiveness," with the essentials of "battlefield information warfare" being to "collect, process, and use enemy information, and to keep the enemy from acquiring and using our information." A U.S. combat theory analyst sums up the substance of information warfare in six points:

This paper was excerpted from articles in Liberation Army Daily, June 13 and June 20, 1995. The authors work at the Academy of Military Science, Beijing.

Information warfare is combat operations in a high-tech battlefield environment in which both sides use information-technology means, equipment, or systems in a rivalry over the power to obtain, control, and use information. Information warfare is a combat aimed at seizing the battlefield initiative; with digitized units as its essential combat force; the seizure, control, and use of information as its main substance; and all sorts of information weaponry [smart weapons] and systems as its major means. Information warfare is combat in the area of fire assault and operational command for information acquisition and anti-acquisition; for suppression [neutralization] and antineutralization; for deception and antideception; and for the destruction and antidestruction of information and information sources.

We hold that information warfare has both narrow and broad meanings. Information warfare in the narrow sense refers to the U.S. military's so-called "battlefield information warfare," the crux of which is "command and control warfare." It is defined as the comprehensive use, with intelligence support, of military deception, operational secrecy, psychological warfare, electronic warfare, and substantive destruction to assault the enemy's whole information system including personnel; and to disrupt the enemy's information flow, in order to impact, weaken, and destroy the enemy's command and control capability, while keeping one's own command and control capability from being affected by similar enemy actions.

The essential substance of information warfare in the narrow sense is made up of five major elements and two general areas. The five major elements are:

The two general areas are information protection (defense) and information attack (offense). Information defense means preventing the destruction of one's own information systems, ensuring that these systems can perform their normal functions. In future wars, key information and information systems will become "combat priorities," the key targets of enemy attack.

Information offense means attacking enemy information systems. Its aims are: destroying or jamming enemy information sources, to undermine or weaken enemy C&C capability, and cutting off the enemy's whole operational system. The key targets of information offense are the enemy's combat command, control and coordination, intelligence, and global information systems. A successful information offensive requires three prerequisites: 1) the capability to understand the enemy's information systems, and the establishment of a corresponding database system; 2) diverse and effective means of attack; and 3) the capability to make battle damage assessments [BDA] of attacked targets.

Information warfare in the broad sense refers to warfare dominated by information in which digitized units use information [smart] equipment. While warfare has always been tied to information, it is only when warfare is dominated by information that it becomes authentic information warfare. Information warfare in the broad sense has many manifestations, as follows:

Innate Features of Information Warfare

While information warfare in the true sense has not yet arrived in the battlefield arena, the repeated live-troop maneuvers and simulated drills of the armies of Western nations such as the United States, as well as the Gulf War, have enabled us to determine certain innate features of information warfare:

A Digitized Battlefield

A digitized battlefield is a composite network system covering the whole operational space. It is made up of a communications system, a command and control system, an intelligence transmission system, a computerized battlefield database, and user terminals, all of which can provide users with large amounts of operation-related information in real time or nearly real time. This network system's function is to use information technology to acquire, exchange, and use digitized information in real time, promptly meeting the information demand of commanders, combat personnel, and combat support personnel, so that they can clearly and accurately grasp all battlefield conditions needed to draw up and apply operational plans. This system can transmit information such as voice, graphics, text, and data, and can also provide users with a battlefield image portrayed by a common database and the supreme battlefield command knowledge-base (including substance such as one's own posture, the enemy's posture, combat readiness, logistics conditions, and operating environment).

This picture is dynamic, changing with the movements of both combatants and changes in terrain and weather. A digitized battlefield is a prerequisite for information warfare. The establishment of a digitized battlefield has many advantages. For instance, information sharing clarifies the position of the enemy and one's own units, sharply lowering accidental injuries; it enables battlefield commanders to amass key units at crucial sites at critical times; it can effectively coordinate short-distance, in-depth, and rear operations, providing intelligence support for all-out, in-depth, simultaneous offensive operations. As all come to know the battlefield conditions, subordinate commanders can bring their initiative into play, acting promptly at their own discretion in line with their superiors' intentions; it makes logistics support "very accurate," for such activities as material provision variety and quantity "accuracy," logistics support provision-time "accuracy," and wounded treatment "timely accuracy."

The establishment of a digitized battlefield is a sort of systems engineering. Many U.S. military specialists claim that this project is more challenging than the Manhattan Project. To carry out this project, the United States is taking many steps.

In line with Clinton's Presidential Order #29 issued in September 1994, the U.S. Defense Department has set up the National Security Policy Commission and the National Information System Security Commission. The former is charged with formulating military security policy and digitized battlefield establishment principles, while the latter is responsible for controlling the security and secrecy of classified and sensitive information on the military information superhighway and the digitized battlefield. The U.S. Army set up in January 1994 the Army Digitized Special Taskforce under the direct leadership of the Army's first deputy chief of staff. In June 1994, that taskforce was expanded into the Army Digitized Office, and charged with the design and establishment of the digitized army battlefield. In July 1994, the U.S. Navy set up the Theater of Operations Information Warfare Center; in January 1995, it established the Fleet Information Warfare Center. Their joint responsibilities are to study and design the technology and software needed for the digitized naval battlefield. The U.S. Air Force Information Warfare Center was set up in October 1993, and charged with establishing a digitized air battlefield.

To build a digitized land, sea, and air battlefield, the computer system structures, operating programs, program design languages, software applications, database languages, and communications rules of all information systems must be standardized and interchangeable throughout all branches of the military. Thus the U.S. military is now pursuing two information resource standardization plans: 1) the all-service command, control, communications, computer, and intelligence system standardization plan, which will set up a global military information database and a global joint network system, thus deploying throughout the world global information sharing for the U.S. military; and 2) the defense information control standardization plan, which is aimed at upgrading the interchangeable software technology of all Defense Department information systems, to eventually make information control and usage standardized and interchangeable.

To achieve battlefield digitization for all arms of the service, the U.S. military is now pursuing a diversified C&C digitized joint-network plan. For instance, the U.S. Army has seven plans:

An Informationized Military

The second major support for information warfare [IW] is an informationized military. While many developed Western nations are now considering the establishment of technology-intensive informationized armies, the United States is the only one that has drawn up and started to implement plans for an informationized military establishment.

An informationized army is a brand-new "information-based" military category, with its combat theory, system establishment, personnel quality, and weaponry being completely suited to IW needs. The U.S. informationized military establishment plans are in two stages, which are estimated to be completed by the mid-21st century.

In the first stage, the U.S. Army will first be digitized. While digitized units will be essentially the same in authorized strength and structure as units with ordinary equipment, they will be units with digitized communications technology; integrated command, control, communications, and intelligence; smart weaponry; and networking of all operating systems. The major signs that a unit is digitized will be that its main outfits will be equipped with digitized communications equipment, second-generation forward-looking radar, identification friend-and-foe [IFF] equipment, and the global positioning system [GPS]. Such equipment will include M1A2 tanks, M2A2 fire support vehicles, M2A3 fighting vehicles, Black Eagle command helicopters, Apache attack choppers, Kiowa Brave reconnaissance choppers, M109A6 Warrior self-propelled guns, and M106A2 mortars. The U.S. Army now has a digitized battalion and will have established a digitized army by 1999, with all Army units digitized by 2010.

To test the combat capability of digitized units, the U.S. Army has conducted repeated simulated tests and live-troop confrontation exercises between digitized task forces and nondigitized units. The simulated tests show that digitized technology can shorten the time of choppers going into action from 26 minutes to 18 minutes, while raising the hit rate of antitank missiles from 55 percent to 90 percent. The live-troop exercises show that using conventional communications means to send on-site reports to battalion headquarters takes 9 minutes, while digitized communications means takes only 5 minutes; that the repetition rate is 30 percent for (telegram) text sent by conventional means, but only 4 percent for that sent by digitized means; and that the completion rate of on-site reports is only 22 percent by phone, but as high as 98 percent by digitized means. Through repeated demonstrations the U.S. Army has reached the initial conclusion that "digitized units have enormous combat potential," with their combat effectiveness being "about three times that of ordinary units."

In the second stage, the U.S. Army will grow more informationized on that digitized foundation, as well as build the entire U.S. military, including the Navy and Air Force, into a fully informationized force. After 2010, the U.S. Army will probably be the first to draw up "IW theory," as well as act in line with that theory to reform its system establishment, carry out military training, and develop weaponry, to informationize its units. For two reasons this will probably take about three decades, with completion by 2040:

While IW has not yet occurred or at most has only started to show up, as it is an exceptional and new form of warfare with milestone significance, it will have an enormous impact on all aspects of the military arena.

The IW Impact on Combat Concepts

The IW proposition will have an impact on many aspects of combat concepts:

The IW Impact on Military Organizational Structure

Wars during the industrial age have had military structures determined by the "firepower casualty system" base, but wars in the information age will require an "information-based" troop organization. With a changed base, the military system establishment will also be bound to change significantly.

Alvin Toffler noted recently that in the information age, "as the winning of wars will rely on military quality, not quantity, the military will shrink in size." Therefore IW in a certain sense is "precision warfare," with objectives achievable without using large amounts of troops or arms.

The military makeup will change. To adapt to IW needs, changes in military makeup will experience the following trends: In the balance of army, naval and air force might, the ratio of army troops will decline, while that of naval and air force troops will grow; in support units, technical support will grow, while logistics support will decline; in the officer-to-men ration, there will be more officers and less men; in the officer makeup, there will be more technical officers and less commanding and ordinary staff officers. Also, there are likely to be new service arms such as a space force and computer soldiers.

The unit establishment will tend to be smaller, more integrated, and more multifunctional. While Western nations have not yet determined the IW unit establishment, they hold that these units will have the following features: "The best combination of men and machines," with quality personnel and high-tech arms both being as efficient as possible; flexible mobility suited to command, control, and information flow; light equipment that is easy to deploy; high combat effectiveness, fewer command levels, multifunctional commanders, and crack commanding organs.

There are two implications for smaller units. 1) Unit might at all levels will be smaller. For instance, U.S. Army divisions will be cut from 18,000 to 12,000 troops each, with British and French Army divisions likely to be reduced from 12,000 to under 10,000 troops each; 2) The status and role of units at all levels will be obviously higher. For instance, the U.S. military plans to raise the role of the army in campaign planning to the group army level, replacing the division with the brigade as the basic tactical operations unit equipped with all sorts of combat and support platoons. The Russian military is also planning to institute an "army brigade system." The factors in the appearance of such a situation include higher-quality officers and men, weaponry advances, and robot-equipped units.

Unit integration means that composite units will reach new heights, with a transition from composite service arms to composite armed forces. For instance, the U.S. military is considering the establishment of two units, one being a composite army-air force unit the "flying tank" or "air mechanized unit," and the other a land, sea and air "joint task force." This latter unit will be made up of an army brigade task force, an air force fighter squadron, a naval fleet unit, and a marine expedition platoon, suited to countering low-force conflicts and breakouts overseas.

Multifunctional units will mean that units at all levels will have to fulfill diverse combat missions in wars on all combat terms and all degrees of force, including "noncombat operations." Meanwhile, army, navy, and air force combat units are also likely to break the traditional service arm operating limits, and perform the combat operations of other service arms. For instance, land units will fight naval and air battles, with naval and air force units fighting land battles. Therefore, some Western military experts predict that as units diversify, unit establishment categories will decrease.

The IW Impact on Organizational Structure

Because of the "effects" of IW and military spending shortages, developed nations are adopting an equipment establishment policy of "more research and new technology, and less production and arms purchases." To implement this policy, they are taking three steps:

To be able to fight IW in the next century, developed nations such as the United States will place priority on the development of equipment such as the C4I system (command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence system), personal digitized equipment, and stealth weapons.


Major General Wu Guoqing

Ever since the 1970s, when new high technology began to be rapidly developed and widely applied in the military field, the international strategic situation has undergone a series of great changes. Regional wars, especially those under high-tech conditions, have resulted in the profound reform of concepts, modes, and tactics in modern operational doctrine. The traditional doctrine of operations since the World War II has been seriously challenged. Some of it gradually has lost significance. Therefore, new relevant doctrine must be explored and developed for future warfare.

Operational Concepts

The Limitation of War Scale
One significant feature of regional war is its limited scale. Conventional weapons will be applied to achieve operational purposes at low cost in military actions by limiting the war's scope. The new edition of Operational Outlines by the U.S. Army puts forward operational concepts of the early 21st century. It emphasizes limiting future war and requires controlled actions. The concept of limiting the scope of war has now been accepted by a number of Western powers and many underdeveloped countries.

Major General Wu Guoqing is the Director, Department of Operations and Tactics, Academy of Military Science, Beijing. His paper was originally published in China Military Science ( Summer 1994).

Limiting war scope and controlling its effects are possible with new technology and are actually required by the international environment and modern warfare. Operational purposes can be better realized with precision conventional weapons. On the other hand, the high consumption rates of high-tech regional wars require their scope to be limited and that combat remain within the limits a country's economy is able to endure.

New Implications of Joint Warfare
Operations with several services, where the air force and the navy will play even more important roles, will change past patterns where the army played the main role with other services only assisting it. Operational range will increase because joint air force/army actions will gradually be replaced by jointness of the army, the air force, the navy, and the missile force. Battlefields will increasingly depend on outer space. Encouraged by the strategic concept that "whoever controls outer space dominates the world," great powers regard the opening of outer space battlefields as the essential component of military strategies. Development of space weapons will be a critical means to seize hegemony in outer space. An important military part of being a superpower will be military space systems with high performance and multiple purposes. Future wars must be joint with different combat arms throughout the entire battlefield including air, land, sea, and space forces.

The integration of military actions, politics and diplomacy will increase. Military actions will be subordinate to politics and diplomacy. In turn, political and diplomatic struggles will make full use of military success to achieve victory in regional war. All this is subject to the strategic conceptual enrichment of military operations in regional wars. With the deepening and perfection of joint operations doctrine, from now on, is most likely to develop into essentially operational theory early in the next century. By then, though, the doctrine will be further enriched with newer meaning.

The Concept of Quality First
Putting quality first means that the qualitative advantage of an army will be crucial in operations, and particularly superiority in any equipment that helps to achieve victory.

With the rapid spurt of science and technology and its extensive applications in military fields, military equipment has become the key to operational competence for modern forces. An army's fighting competence will largely be affected by its combat equipment. Among the many factors affecting the decisive victory in wars is the increasingly important role of the technology of military equipment. Troops using weapons no longer depend principally on their bodily strength as a standard, but on skillfully mastering and applying equipment, and adapting themselves to high-tech warfare. Quality first and technology first will become more fully embodied in the operational doctrines and practices of the armies in the world.

Operational Principles

Operational principles are developing in three ways. The first is just adding the new to the old. For example, the operational principles in the new edition of U.S. Army Field Manual 100-5, Operations, add "multipurpose" forces to the original "initiative, agile, profound, and coordinated." Further, "operations other than war or non-wartime actions" now have a set of formal theoretical principles. The Russian army has also augmented its operational principles for suddenness and independent operation in defense. Second, principles that have lost significance have been abandoned. For example, there used to be 13 phases of campaign principles in the former Soviet army, but now they have been recomposed into only eight. Those dropped mainly concerned operations under nuclear conditions. Third, new subjects have been added to former operational principles. For example, Operations has added "non-wartime actions" to the operational principles of "initiative, agile, profound, and coordinated." The Russian army's principle of "achieving sudden action" now emphasizes military planning and counter reconnaissance.

High-Speed and Flexible Reactions
After the Cold War, many countries are now confronted with realistic problems such as uncertain operational regions and unpredictable targets. Additionally, the emergent regional actions have become the main task for armies in future fighting. Such actions that frequently result from sudden incidents are characteristic of suddenness. With the high-tech scouting and monitoring system widely applied, it is more difficult to achieve suddenness of actions. However, the sudden actions in operation are much more favored by the improvement of the assault, mobile capabilities, and the technology of camouflage in high-tech weapon systems along with the successful. Therefore, only when an army possesses the strong capability of high-speed and flexible reactions, able to arrive at whatever areas in whichever circumstances to fulfill any task, can it meet the demands of future high-tech operations in a regional war.

Principle of Quick Decision
In order to reach the operational purpose, a war of quick decisions endeavors to shorten the duration and to end a campaign early with increased fighting force. This is chiefly decided by the limitations of high-tech regional war and other factors such as high input, high consumption and high efficiency. The high-tech regional war, whether large or small in scope, is closely related to policies of politics, economy and diplomacy, and to the fundamental interests of a country. Either side of the war, therefore, will inevitably send a high-tech weapon system and picked troops into the decisive campaign and do their utmost to win. The fundamental feature accounts for the limitation of the operational purpose, duration, and range. High-tech weapons are very destructive and can cause great loss; they are also quite expensive to produce, even for large and stronger countries, which may find it difficult to fight a prolonged war of this kind. Ever since the Gulf War, the U.S. Air Force has forwarded the new concept of the so-called "oversleeping war," which would attempt to end a regional war within the shortest period of time through repeated attacks of high intensity. With the development of military technology and combat doctrine, such operational doctrines as "twinkling war," and "brief assault" are likely to be put forward or enhanced.

Hitting Vital Parts of the Enemy
The systems engineering and the experiences of the modern war prove that in the systems of military forces and weapon equipment, there are vital parts or crucial links that can affect the whole situation, e.g., the C3I system that links the operational forces, the supply system that helps maintain strong operational forces, and the operational platform on which high-tech weapon equipment depends. Once these targets are damaged, the fighting capabilities as a whole will certainly be affected, and the functions of the weapons system will be in disorder. Hitting the vital parts of the enemy is quite effective in an operation and is favorable to winning greater victory with little costs. The high-tech systems of scouting and surveillance, the accurate guidance weapons, and the equipment for electronic war all provide advanced measures for hitting the vital parts of the enemy effectively.

Battlefield Dominance Will Change Meaning
Battlefield dominance, the prerequisite in gaining the operational initiative, has long been regarded as a very important operational principle by many armies of the world. To control future battlefields does not mean only control over land, air and sea, but also over electromagnetism, information, and even outer space. The control of the latter three is vital to the former. In a sense, only after dominance over electromagnetism, information, and outer space is achieved can control over land, air, and sea be effectively obtained. This is interrelated and interactive, forming the new meaning of dominance over battlefields. Therefore, only in these ways can dominance and initiative in high-tech local war be really possessed.

Operational Modes

Operational modes are the manifestation of operational concepts. Operational modes in the past, offensive or defensive, were usually mobile warfare, positional warfare, and guerilla warfare. Many factors are reshaping operational concepts, so the traditional three modes are being gradually replaced by high-tech mobile, positional and special warfare.

The Importance of Mobile Warfare
As an operational concept, mobile warfare has a long history. It is, however, only after the 1970s that it began to be recognized as an independent operational mode and was adopted by more and more armies. The application of high technology improved mobile and reconnaissance capabilities, which laid the foundation for mobile warfare. With the end of the Cold War, the probability of high-intensity warfare decreased, and nations focused on how to deal with regional conflicts and wars. Since local war is characterized by multiple threats, uncertain battlefields, suddenness and quickness, the side good at mobile warfare is more likely to be successful. Those who stick to traditional methods and fight along fixed fronts are bound to lose opportunities, be passive, and be defeated. U.S. and Russian armed forces, accordingly, particularly emphasize research on mobile warfare. They even view it as the best mode of operation for the beginning of the next century.

With the development and extensive application of military high technology, the side possessing superiority in high-tech weapons may adopt mobile war tactics, such as launching surprise attacks, laying siege and outflanking over long distances, "frog leaps" by air, and penetration in depth and width. New tactics such as mobile warfare over air and land and over-the-horizon and amphibious mobile warfare can be used one by one. Owing to the greater variations of future battlefields and front lines, uncertain fighting areas, irregular and frequently changing battlegrounds, any operation must act according to the changing situation. Meanwhile, with the substantial advancement of the devastating effectiveness of precision-guided, long- distance weapons, it will become even more difficult to use fixed battlegrounds and fixed positions for covert actions and to protect personnel. The traditional linear positional operation will hardly meet the demands of future military actions. It can be estimated that new mobile warfare, nonlinear operations, unbalanced dispositions, and mobile actions will be adopted by more and more armies of the world.

Special Warfare
Special warfare is an irregular operational action in which special troops adopt special tactics. In its 40 years, special warfare has developed from the original so-called "counterinsurgency" into the actions of special reconnaissance, sabotage and attacks in the enemy's rear area, search and rescue, and psychological war. In the Gulf War, the multinational forces headed by the United States were organized in special units and thousands of servicemen were sent into the rear area of the Iraqi troops to perform special warfare such as reconnaissance, jamming, sabotage, deception, and feint movements, supporting the main attack and assaulting units from the sky.

From now on, every country may strengthen the study of special warfare by determining war purposes by special warfare; coordinating special warfare with mobile and position warfare; and enlarging the content of special warfare. Traditionally, special warfare is an irregular operation. It may in the future include the content that originally belonged to regular warfare, involving political and diplomatic struggles and aerial combat. Currently, studies on special warfare are in their development phase, and their contents will inevitably be enriched and enlarged through practice and theoretical research.

Operational Methods

New Operational Methods
Large quantities of high-tech weapons on battlefields pose serious challenges to traditional methods of operation and also accelerate a series of revolutionary changes in concepts. On the one hand, new methods adapting high-tech tactics will be created one after another, e.g., advances in highly precise and long distance powerful signs may make it possible for remote fire to become important. With this method, operational forces can, instead of entering the battlefields at the front, directly start their actions from bases far from battle.

Opposing sides may not necessarily face each other in battles. Instead, they will launch attacks hundreds or even thousands of kilometers away by fully employing air assaults and missile weapons. Even if a campaign starts within a battleground, attacks are as likely to be launched from outside of the enemy's defense area and actions will occur with opposite sides "never meeting each other."

On the other hand, traditional methods will be reinvigorated and adapted to new operational conditions. With technical development of precision all-weather targeting, stealth weapons, precision guidance, and night fighting, traditional warfare can also be enhanced. Further, night fighting will no longer be confined by the range or parts of a battlefield. Large-scale night fighting in depth and width with combined arms coordination may be extensively adopted in high-tech operations in the future.

Modes and Patterns of Operations Will Be Synthesized
Battle space has drastically increased with the rapid advancement of military technology. Interdependence of operations will strengthen day by day. Any military actions under future high-tech conditions, large or small in range, will be characterized by comprehensive antagonism between the two sides in various battlefields with multiple forces and forms. All military means in the conflict will tend to be synthesized, emphasizing the superiority of some modes and patterns in order to seek maximum system effectiveness. This means that operations will most likely become "combination boxing," the combination of various operational modes and patterns.

Operations of Joint Services Will Increase
Operations will well exceed the range of a single service or battle ground in high-tech conditions. The operations of various services will be further merged, and a basic feature of future operations will be joint operations with integrated services. For example, air strikes are no longer only attacks by the air force. Naval and army air forces can also play very important roles. Missile attacks can be either from aircraft, cruise missiles, or land; information war, electronic wars and psychological war are usually combined actions of all services together. Because of this, operational method must tear itself away from the reach of a single service. The substance of developing operational methods is the pattern of joint trans-service action.

Technology and Art in Operational Methods
Operational methods have never been just the passive adoption of new technology, but are created by new operational art. Applying new technology in the operational field means that instead of rejecting or degrading the role of operational art, conditions are created for combining military technology and operational art. For example, the advancement of simulation will even more forcefully stimulate the merging of deceiving technology and art in operations, thus having better effect in deception warfare. Future methods of operation will be the product of closer combinations of military technology and operational art. More emphasis will be laid on the methods of "attaining high quality with low cost." That is to say more efficient results will be achieved with fewer personnel wounded or killed and minimum loss of high-tech weapons in the shortest time.

Operational Command

The phenomenon of war will fundamentally change with the development of modern science and technology and its extensive application in the military field. This profound change will also occur to the basic elements of operational command with respect to organizations, skills, and patterns.

Highly Synthesized Command Organizations
Future fighting formations will integrate the army, the navy, and the air force, resulting in more and more operations of combined services. Not only will campaigns require multi services and weapon systems, but all combat units will need to be cooperative. The complexity of operational forces determines that the command structure must meet the requirement of integrating the operations of many services. Synthesized command organization with various combat arms, shared information, and compatible communication will certainly emerge, along with development of command theory involving integrated operations.

Intelligently Automated Command
In past decades, operational command efficiency has been greatly improved since the highly automated operational command system was integrated with command, control, communication, and information by computers. This has enabled commanders and staff officers to get rid of much of their complicated manual work and helped to break through the human limits of physical and mental abilities. On the basis of automated information collection and processing, and operational calculation, further improvement of command decisionmaking will enable the artificial intelligence simulation systems to mimic commanding officers' mental activities and be extensively used in command activities in the near future.

In the Gulf War, the multinational forces had their means of command intelligently automated to some extent. The appearance of intelligently automated command will bring about changes in the command doctrines of the armed forces. With the use of intelligently automated command in operations, scientifically determined operational doctrine will be gradually perfected.

Command Concepts Will Synthesize Doctrine
Future high-tech regional wars will provide the platforms for numerous command forms including command and autonomy, centralized and decentralized, hierarchical and overstepping, stable and movable, those on land, in the air and at sea, and even those involving outer space facilities to play their parts based on the situation of the battlefield. These command forms will be flexibly used and make up for each other's deficiencies to raise command efficiency and keep command constant, so that continuous command can be achieved in any circumstances. This is the trend of command doctrine in study and practice.

Defensive Theory

Nowadays, the armed forces of the world are confronted with the contradiction between the increasing dependence of operational activities on defense and the increasing difficulty of defense. A common topic is how to develop defense theory for high-tech regional wars in the future.

Studies on Stereoscopic Defense Theory Will Deepen
In future wars, defensive technology will become more and more advanced and defensive patterns be continuously increased, particularly with outstanding stereoscopic defense protection. As range has been enlarged, range of protection will also increase. The range of operation will quickly expand into the air and outer space along with the stretch towards the two sides and depth of the battlefields. In operational protection, forces will more extensively use various platforms in the air, including reconnaissance and surveillance systems and communication systems based on those in outer space to perform reconnaissance over the enemy. Command centers in the air and outer space will be developed so that mobility, high speed and secure communications will be improved. Logistical protection will be increased, and troops will depend more on airplanes, even space carriers for the protection of materials, technology, and medical service. In future battlefields, combat to safeguard ourselves and destroy the enemy's defenses will take place in the air and outer space, on the ground, on the surface of and under the water, and even under the ground. Winning or losing combat in larger stereoscopic range will decide the success of the defensive forces.

A Mobile Defense Doctrine Will Emerge
Future high-tech regional wars characterized by suddenness, uncertainty of the operational areas, and the rapid shift between attacks and defense, will be more mobile than ever. Unitary fixed defense can hardly meet the requirements of highly mobile future battlefields. At present, therefore, the main military powers have laid great emphasis on the study of mobile defense doctrines. For example, in dealing with the new situation under amphibious mobile operations, the U.S. Marine Corps has proposed that most fixed or semifixed defensive facilities be at sea for mobile protection. Under the condition of remarkably improved operation mobility, the traditional connection of fixed defenses will probably be replaced by a combination of mobile with fixed defenses, taking mobile defense as the dominant factor.

A New Structure for the Defense System
Future defenses will vary with the changing of requirements and the increase of means. The structure of traditional defensive systems will be destroyed. The main features of the new structure will include:

Some new defenses will emerge such as the protection of high-tech weapons by special weapons and the special warfare.

  • The position and functions of some defenses will rise from the ordinary to become the chief defense. For example, in high-tech operations, many technical weapons will be used in battlefields, greatly increasing their role. Defense will be separated from protecting logistics to form an independent category of defense parallel with the protection of logistics and government.
  • The content of some defenses will change, say, into the protection of reconnaissance and surveillance.
  • There will appear the trend of interchangeable defensive and offensive operations. Some activities that used to be within the defense category will be changed into that of offense, while some activities belonging to the offensive field may change into that of protection.
  • The protection of government will require more attention to psychological warfare designed to destroy the cohesive force of the enemy, in addition to strengthening the encouragement of our fighting capacity. The combination of psychological warfare and combat operations will become an important topic for research on protecting government. Integrated Protection and Operations
    In future warfare, the gap between the front line and the rear area will be greatly reduced. Modern protective facilities and their functions, most of which have the double function of protection and combat operations, will become more advanced so that a closer connection between defensive protection and combat operations will gradually fill the gap. This tendency may bring about the following results: on defense, the original function of mere protection will change into both protection and combat operations; in combat operations, the idea that protective troops are just for protection and operational troops are just for combat operations will be replaced by the concepts that operational troops will take responsibility for self-protection while performing their main task of fighting, and that protective troops should share the task of some operations.

    Under today's comparatively peaceful environment, the armed forces of many countries are now paying attention to the shift from the traditional formula of "technology pushing" tactics to that of "doctrine pushing," which means that the progress of military technology and development of weapons will be guided by thinking about future operations. The interactive function of "technology pushing" and "doctrine leading," will bring forth scientific ideas and theoretical principles compatible with our era.


    Cao Benyi
    This article sets forth the important function of stealth weaponry in modern warfare, as well as domestic and foreign research and development in this field. It also points out the crucial technological problems that have to be overcome in research on stealth weaponry in view of Chinese conditions, and offers some recommendations. The purpose is to draw the attention of relevant Chinese specialists to the problems connected with stealth weaponry research.

    The powerful capabilities and special characteristics of stealth weaponry enable evasion of detection by sensing equipment on the ground, breaking through a great variety of the enemy's defensive systems, and penetrating deeply into enemy territory to attack all strategic objectives. As a consequence of the very rapid development of stealth technology, the survival potential and the rate at which stealth weapons will successfully break through enemy defenses in modern warfare have been remarkably enhanced. This has attracted worldwide attention. This article elaborates on four aspects of the functions and future trends of stealth weaponry.

    Cao Benyi contributed this article to the Commission of Science, Technology and Industry, Modern Weaponry, no. 11 (8 Nov 1992).

    Stealth Weaponry in Modern Warfare

    It is characteristic of modern warfare that it stakes everything on technology. Following the rapid development of radar, infrared, laser, and millimeter wave detector and guidance technologies, every kind of weaponry is almost immediately monitored by concentrated radar and photoelectric detectors. It is for this reason that every country is now expending great energy on stealth weaponry research to enhance the operational effectiveness and survival potential of weaponry in modern warfare. Stealth technology is part of high technology; stealth weaponry is extremely important in modern warfare. Several countries have by now developed various kinds of highly efficient stealth weaponry, such as stealth planes, stealth missiles, stealth naval vessels, stealth tanks, etc. Some have indeed already been transferred for use by the armed forces and successfully tried out in actual combat.

    F-117A stealth fighters, developed by the United States, were used in the armed invasion of Panama on December 20, 1989, when they successfully evaded the radar network of the Panamanian defensive forces and unloaded two almost laser-guided bombs on the Rio Hato airfield, 90 km southwest of Panama City. This made it very easy for the U.S. paratroopers to accomplish the great military achievement of occupying the Rio Hato airfield. When the Gulf war erupted on January 17, 1991, F-117A stealth fighters were the main formation in the attacking air force, and they dropped the first bombs on Baghdad. These laser-guided bombs of the "Bao-shi-lu" III type, weighing one ton each, were dropped with unerring precision on the large communications building that housed the information services of the Iraqi armed forces, scoring a remarkable hit. One F-117A stealth fighter dropped two 2-ton laser-guided bombs right into the entrance to the Iraqi Scud Missile storage hangar. Another F-117A stealth fighter dropped one bomb into the air shaft of the Baghdad air defense headquarters, and yet another made a very destructive attack against the Baghdad air force headquarters, bringing this huge building down in a big cloud of fire and smoke. In all these air attacks the F-117A fighters maintained a record of zero losses.

    Used as a strategic and tactical attack weapon, a stealth-guided missile makes it impossible for the target to defend itself. During the Falkland War of 1982, the Argentines used the French-made Exocet guided missile to sink the British destroyer Sheffield. In the Gulf War, the U.S. Navy used 100 highly effective Tomahawk cruise missiles with stealth characteristics to attack Iraqi strategic targets in the early morning of January 17, 1991.

    The great importance of stealth weaponry in modern warfare has gradually been realized by China's scientific and military experts. China has vast territories, vast territorial skies and waters, and long shorelines. To protect its territorial rights over its land, air, and sea against any future aggression, it is necessary for China to make every effort to develop stealth technology, to develop stealth weaponry, and to do what is necessary to enable China's stealth technology to catch up with the world's most advanced level of such technology in a short time.

    Domestic Developments and Critical Technological Problems

    In China, research on stealth weaponry was started in the 1980s, and great progress has been achieved, particularly in aspects of theoretical research on active and exterior stealth applications for entire aircraft and for components. Microwave tests, in dark rooms and in the open, have by now been completed in the case of a number of entire aircraft and a large number of components.

    During the last few years, some units have started research on stealth materials. For example, the research institute of the Beijing Iron and Steel Complex has developed a coating material of superfine metallic particles with radar wave absorption properties. Other relevant units have developed other coating and structural materials.

    Because China was late in starting research on stealth weaponry, it has technically not yet nearly reached the level of such countries as the United States and the former Soviet Union. To offset its underdevelopment, to narrow the disparity with the rest of the world, and to be in control of the initiative in any future war, it is certainly necessary from now on to intensify research in stealth weaponry. The following are some of the critical technical problems that will have to be resolved in China's research on stealth weaponry:

    Suggestions for Development of Stealth Weaponry

    The radar-indiscernible structure of the stealth weaponry is an important research topic. It comprises primarily research on the external structural contours and structural research on power units, power unit installations, exhaust and air intake, directional guidance installations, installation platform for the armament system, and the antenna system. The rational structural composition of stealth weapons is extremely important for a reduction of its radar-reflecting surface area and for enhanced radar-indiscernibility.

    Radar-indiscernible material is one of the key items in stealth weapons; application of indiscernible material and the outer stealth structural contours are of equal importance. Research abroad has already produced various kinds of highly effective radar-indiscernible coatings and structural materials. At present, as far as materials technology is concerned, mixed materials for increased wave absorption have very good prospects. The appearance of such new technologies as sandwich-intertwined wave-absorbing materials and self-programming materials have opened new roads for the development and manufacture of radar-indiscernible materials. Superfine metal particles also have great potential as a radar-indiscernible coating material. It is necessary for China to develop through various technological methods a series of structural and coating materials with radar-indiscernible properties.


    General Mi Zhenyu


    In today's era, filled with various contradictions and complicated interweaving of interests, development of anything is necessarily competitive. The differences in the development of objectives between national defense and politics, economics, science and technology is that the form that the development of national defense objectives must take to be competitive is external competition. This is especially true of our country with our kind of socialistic characteristics where our national defense development is not production methods to meet our own needs but to counterbalance threats from the outside. So, the selection of our national defense development objective must include the following aspects of competition.

    Structure of a Competition
    There is structure to competition. From the point of power, there is total national defense power competition and military power competition, there is actual power competition and potential power competition, there is actual combat power competition and deterrent General Mi Zhenyu is a former Vice President of the Academy of Military Science, Beijing. These excerpts are from China's National Defense Development Concepts (Beijing: PLA Press, 1988), 50-53 and chapter 9. power competition. From the perspective of form, there is the competition of superior over inferior, of the inferior over the superior, and also the competition of sitting as equals at the same table. From the perspective of attributes, there is the competition of material strength and the competition of spiritual strength, obstinate competition and flexible competition; there is the competition that draws one into a war and the competition to accept actively a challenge. There are multilevels in each competition. For example, the competition at a lower structural level of military power could be divided into competition with nuclear power and conventional power; at a level below the nuclear level could be competition of strategic nuclear power, battlefield nuclear power and tactical nuclear power.

    Lower levels of conventional power competition could also be divided into land, sea and air services competitions. In a word, the competition aspects of national defense development strategy objectives requires that one enter into it with an analysis of the specifics of the competition and use the overall competition objective to determine each of the subsystem's competition missions, using the competition functions of each subsystem to assure the competition results of the whole. The basic tactics that competition objectives force us to adopt are to attack the weakness of the enemy and avoid his strength, and to develop our strength and avoid our own shortcomings. If we cannot attain these then we ought to raise competition to a new sphere where the enemy and we are on the same plane, and where we strive to gain the initiative and have the ability to change before the enemy.

    Predicting Competitions
    National defense development strategy is a mentality that we hope to achieve in the future. Thus, its competition possibilities do not deal only with what is before our eyes. We must direct our attention globally, direct our attention toward modernization and find ways to deal with the sciences of the future. It is even more urgent to get a foothold on the capabilities to deal with future threats and planning for the future, especially under the historical conditions where there are no possibilities of a world war being fought. However, to predict the future does not mean to ignore the practical. It means to keep an eye on its development and, based on the revelations of the laws of development of objective reality, scientifically take control of the trends of the future. Think about the potential development in terms of competition in the year 2000, predict the possible ways that the national defense strength can be used, analyze its strong and weak points and, on this foundation, determine the challenges and opportunities that would be faced. We must focus the selection of our strategy objective with the aim of attaining the competition results set by that objective and not just the general efficiency of that objective. For example, the discrepancy in standards between the weapons and equipment we now possess compared to those of advanced countries is 20 to 25 years. If our objective for the year 2000 is merely to shrink this discrepancy to 10 to 15 years, then from the point of view of effectiveness, it would seem to be high, but from the point of view of competitive effectiveness, it would only be an impractical increase in quality, perhaps even a decrease. Indeed, when we compare the discrepancy of one or a half generation of weapons in the year 2000 with the two- to three-generation discrepancy today, the difference in competitive effectiveness could prove even greater. Thus, although it is necessary to close the gap, focusing only on setting objectives to close this discrepancy gap and not set a competition objective could turn out to be useless even if the objectives are reached. This should be of extreme concern to us. Today is the starting point of our future and only when we come up with a competition objective to project the future will it be possible for us to be less sidetracked and gain time. If we do not start today to plan to be better, to be ahead of everyone, how can we possibly make use of the opportunities and become latecomers that surpass the old timers?!

    Elasticity of Competition
    Because the development of objective reality undergoes myriad changes in the twinkling of an eye, especially for competition predictions, and when potential actions and intentions of the enemy are constantly changing, it is not possible for us to entirely understand all his actions and intentions. This, inevitably, brings with it some level of unpredictability and danger when we base our national defense development objective on these projections. Therefore, when we select our development objective, we should do so with a certain amount of flexibility to guarantee that in situations of complex changes, the adaptability and efficaciousness of competition objectives are preserved. This would require that when we formulate our objectives, we must first of all focus on the compatibility of the very best and most satisfactory objectives, most satisfactory and feasible objectives, and the most feasible and possible objectives. Even though there will be changes in this kind of situation and although it may be impossible for us to completely realize our predetermined competition objectives, we will still be able to achieve some benefits from this competition.

    We must build and complete effective feedback loops, change static projections into dynamic projections, continuously make use of feedback information, promptly come out with new assessments and selections, and make timely and necessary adjustments, refinements, and amendments to predefined objectives to ensure a subjectively and objectively unified state. We must also focus on the relationship between the positive flexibility and negative flexibility of the objectives. In terms of its totality, strategy objectives must be sought with keen determination, with an eye towards ensuring positive flexibility and not "holding back a trick or two" but "giving the extra effort" when something comes up. With scientifically based predictions, we must prepare beforehand various plans for selection and be prepared for the enemy changing and our own changes, as well as our changing before the enemy can change. From the partial perspective, even though we may strive to of our own accord to influence change, there are times when we will definitely be forced into a position of reacting to change, hence, we must concentrate on maintaining enough latitude to deal with especially serious key elements so as to ensure the stability of the overall predefined objective. There are times when we must use some negative flexibility to ensure that a positive system can quickly move toward the general development of a predefined objective.

    Strategy for Weapons and Equipment Development

    Weapons are tools used to carry out armed conflicts. It is an important component of the military's combat power. It is the major element that determines the success and failure of a war. The development of modern weaponry, contained and controlled by national defense science and technology and national defense economic realities, have affected a succession of military scientific theories.

    The Development of Modern Weaponry and National Defense Science and Technology
    On June 7, 1981, the Israeli Air Force sent out 14 aircraft and bombed a nuclear reactor 20 km southeast of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad. "The bombs landed precisely on the main building where the nuclear reactor was located." On May 2, 1982, during the Falklands War between England and Argentina, England's SSN Conqueror fired two wire-guided TIGERFISH torpedoes and sank the only 13,000-ton large cruiser, General Belgrano, in the Argentina Navy. Two days later, the Argentina air force flying the French manufactured SUPER ETENDARD fighters needed only one EXOCET AM39 air-to-ship missile to sink the large, superbly equipped and costly ($200 million) SHEPHERD class destroyer from a distance more than 45 km away. On May 25, Argentina sank the British Navy's 18,000-ton troop transport, an ATLANTIC SEA TRANSPORT [Daxiyang Yunsongze] class ship. In June 1982, in the air battle above Syria's Bekka Valley, the Israeli Air Force won an important battle by using all types of jamming methods and precision-guided weapons like air-to-surface missiles and television and in 2 days completely destroyed all the surface-to-air missile sites in the Bekka Valley. In the surprise attack on Grenada on October 25, 1983, the United States used many surveillance methods and sent out an E-2C high-altitude, early-warning aircraft with antijamming capability, and hi-tech F-15s and F-16s, which had been remodeled and equipped with infrared sighting equipment, laser-guided bombs, and radar-guided self-seeking air-to-surface missiles, to achieve its predetermined military objectives with very little cost. During the military conflict over the Gulf of Sidra between the United States and Libya between March 24-25 , 1986, and in the air attack on Libya by the United States on April 15, the United States used hi-tech weapons such as laser-guided bombs, "Rockeye" cluster bombs, TRIDENT radar-guided, self-seeking air-to-surface missiles and for the first time, used its high speed antiradiation missile "HARM" as well as other hi-tech equipment such as new infrared sighting equipment. The United States lost only one F-111 fighter-bomber and in turn sank and seriously damaged two Libyan cruisers, destroyed one missile launching site, destroyed about 5 to 12 Soviet made MIG-23s and 3 to 5 IL-76 transports, and achieved combat successes on 5 predetermined targets. Since the 1980s, several local area conflicts have vividly shown, and people have clearly understood even before the smoke cleared, that modern weapons have assumed some new characteristics under the impetus given them by the advances made in national defense science and technology.

    One is electronics. With the development of microelectronics, computers, satellite communications, lasers, and other technologies and greater improvements seen in communications, navigation, radar, telemetering, remote control, remote sensing, and modern electronic command, control, and communications systems because of electronics and the radio, various kinds of weapons systems are extensively using electronic equipment and technology. From the perspective of the cost accounting of weapons systems, the percentage of the costs of the electronic equipment within each of these weapons systems is relatively sizable. In aircraft, it is 33 percent; in missiles, 45 percent; in space vehicles, 66 percent; in military vessels, 22 percent; and in combat vehicles, 24 percent. Electronic equipment has already become an indispensable component of modern weapons systems. It has also become the nerve center of modern weapons systems. With the development of the fifth generation of computers, artificial intelligence, and robotic technology, it is possible that troops could be equipped with simple artificial intelligence weapons systems in the future.

    Second is the change in guidance systems. Since the 1950s, along with the development and discovery of new technologies like wireless, television, infrared, laser, microwave, inertia guidance, photoelectricity, acousto-electronics, sensors, and precision measuring and automation, precision-guided weapons systems (cruise missile, surface-to-air missile, air-to-surface missiles, air-to-air missiles, surface-to-surface missiles, ship-borne missiles and antitank missiles) have appeared along with terminal precision-guided weapons warheads for guided artillery shells, guided bombs, and guided torpedoes. The guidance system changes in these weapon systems have greatly increased their capabilities for automatic searches and identification and attack, and have increased tenfold the precision of these weapons systems, to the point of near perfect accuracy.

    Third is covertness. Weapons are tools for the destruction of the enemy but at the same time, they are also the major target of offensives by the enemy. The new technological revolution has searched for and provided advanced equipment, ways, and methods for the modern battlefield, and together with troops, weapons have now become a serious threat. In the history of combat, to increase battlefield survivability of weapons, man has thought of many kinds of decoys and camouflage. With the development of invisible light technology (like infrared, ultraviolet, laser, microwave, and others), surveillance technology and various anticamouflage technology, original camouflage mechanisms have lost a great deal of their effectiveness. To increase their battlefield survivability, weapons systems have begun moving toward the direction of concealment. "Concealment" is the use of various types of scientific technology to decrease detection by radar, infrared, photoelectricity, and weapons sighting systems. It is the adoption of a specialized technology through systems research and design. Major "concealment" methods include:

    Fourth, focused energy, is different from radiation mass destruction weapons like chemical, atomic, and nuclear weapons. A focused- energy weapon directs energy into beam power that kills the enemy or destroys a target directly. (It is also called a directed energy or directed beam energy weapon.) The rapid rise of laser technology, particle beam technology, microwave technology, and plasma technology has provided the foundation for the creation of focused-energy technology. In recent years, there has been rapid development in focused-energy weapons, and at present, the phase of theoretical experimentation has largely been completed and has entered the prototype stage of research. According to reports, the Soviet Union is in the process of researching three kinds of high energy laser weapons for its anti-air defense. It could complete the research work for a practical model against a star wars weapon in the 1990s and deploy a small quantity of them. There is intense research going on for various kinds of tactical laser artillery and guns and the coming of directed- energy weapons in theaters of war are not far away. The combined use of these and conventional weapons systems will result in greater casualties and destruction.

    War and the need for the development of weapons power are the motivations for weapons development. As long as war, an abnormal development of mankind, persists, the military will strive to find more sophisticated weaponry and suggest the need for development of weapons. With this "demand as an incentive," opposing sides, all wanting victory, will initiate national defense construction "monitors" for "military expenditures" for large investments in national defense science and technology and support for research work in the leading edge of technology and advanced weapons systems. The greatest "investment returns" in weapons development for national security and arms superiority would be a pioneering spirit in new ideas, exploitation, and creation of new technologies. In other words, national defense science and technology could apply all kinds of new technologies to both the research of weapons and their production, thus acting as "technology boosters." In this way, the research disciplines within national defense science and technology could become the "breeding grounds" for high technology development; furthermore, the new achievements of science and technology would most appropriately find their first applications within the military.

    Weapons Development and the National Defense Economy
    It is common knowledge that modern warfare is not only the competition of weapons on the battlefield but is also, at the same time, an all-out competition of the total strength of the opposing side's politics, economics, military, and science and technology. During the development of weaponry, the four aspects of politics, economics, military and science and technology are completely brought into play. In today's climate of rapid development of national defense science and technology and the daily emergence of new weapons, the material base of the actual national defense economy should be not only strong but also exceptional.

    In addition to the above, research and production of weapons, ammunition, technical facilities and engineering equipment all consume large amounts of metal and various kinds of nonferrous metals. They also need the support of the chemical industry and energy resources, as well as military industrial products. According to the statistics from affiliated departments at the United Nations, 15 to 16 percent of the world's copper output and 10 percent of it tin, nickel, lead, and zinc outputs are used for weapons production and toward the building of other national defense installations. The consumption of energy resources is even greater. During WWI, the consumption of fuel by each soldier for each day averaged about 6 kg. During WWII, it was increased to 20 kg for each person each day. In the several local area wars fought in recent years, the fuel consumption of each man each day increased to 90 kg. The consumption level is shocking! This not only raises problems for logistics support, it also increases the economic and energy resources burden.

    Weapons development is reliant on the development of the national economy. It also encourages the growth of national defense science and technology. Military high-technology also gave impetus to the development of the economy. Looking at this from two-dimensional space, this big "O" cycle could possibly expand further. Analyzing it from a three-dimensional space, this kind of spiraling trend is perfectly suited to the objective laws of material development.

    Weapons and Equipment Development and Military Scientific Theory
    "Technology determines the tactics." The appearance of large quantities of technical equipment inevitably brings about great transformations in military theory and tactics; this in turn leads to great changes in strategic thinking, patterns of combat, combat style, and military structures:

    In addition to nuclear weapons, the emergence of strategic weapons has definitely caused reforms within the military, changing past combat theories that we must go through war and campaigns to achieve strategic objectives to the possibility that strategic weapons could directly attack the opponent's strategic targets and achieve the strategic objectives. The development of various space weapons has not only intensified military struggles in space, it has also increased ways in which strategic objectives could be directly achieved.

    First strike has always been the combat phase that militarists attach greatest importance to. The success or failure of the first strike impacts the whole battle. In modern combat, because of the short time needed for combat, the phases of combat are no longer clearly delineated. The long range surprise attack or the counterattack during the preliminary period of the combat has become the main combat model for first strike. Thus, every nation has given special attention to studying the first strike phase of a war. The United States emphasizes that "every preparation must be made to win with the first strike." The Soviet Union also believes that "surprise attacks are the most effective combat opening moves to implement in future wars. . . . Victory can basically be determined in the first phase of a war." This will demand that commanders make complete preparations for first strikes. Intelligence, reconnaissance, personal observations with automatic and rapid analysis, processing and judgment, decisionmaking, formulating careful plans, and even reactions must be quick and accurate because only then could the "first strike win" objective be achieved.

    The impact of modern weapons on military theory has been profound and extensive. The various sophisticated tools, means and methods of modern policy decision studies, projection studies, and futures studies have scientifically given impetus to and provided directions for military theories and strategic growth. It has allowed the military to grow scientifically so that it can completely anticipate conflicts and play a better leadership role.

    Weapons and Equipment Development Strategy Research
    The weapons development strategy is dictated by the realpolitik of politics, economics, national defense and science and technology. These situations suggest comprehensive ideas for the development of weapons. Weapons development hinges between the needs of combat and military construction, and what is possible economically and in science and technology. At the same time it is also determined by a country's political system, its national defense strategic policies, and its fundamental appraisal of the international condition. Thus, different countries have different weapons development strategies.

    China is a socialist country and a part of the Third World. This is the political basis from which China formulates its national defense development strategy. China espouses a foreign policy of independence and self-determination. It is against all expansionism and aggression. It supports all struggles and movements for justice. China, together with the rest of the Third World, is a major force for the preservation of world peace. This demands that China have the necessary military strength and an appropriate weapons development program to defend itself against outside aggression. It also demands that it have the ability to completely protect its territory and rights, to protect its country's unity, legitimate rights, interests and self-respect, to prevent the breakout of world wars and to protect world peace. China is a country that is still economically, scientifically, and technologically undeveloped. This in itself imposes a limit on the amount of money it can possibly commit to weapons development and makes it even more impossible for it to be involved in an arms race. Thus, the development of China's weaponry must be based on the needs of national defense and military construction and economic strength, the level of potential in construction and its economic strength, the level of potential in the development of its science and technology, and the independent, self-determining and self-reliant road it takes toward developing weaponry. In the near future, our actions must be firmly directed toward transforming our present weaponry, so that our military weapons will be improved by the end of the century and they will have the ability to meet the demands of a localized conflict. We must also face the future by developing weapons systems for our country, striving to reach world advanced standards in weapons in the next century and carrying out the modernization of our weapons. In order to realize the objectives of the above-mentioned weapons development strategy, our military must develop suitable strategic nuclear weapons and tactical nuclear weapons, strengthen its research for precision-guided weapons and electronic and technological equipment, and work even more toward modifying various conventional weapons.

    Strategic nuclear weapons are not only a combat tool of immense destructive power; they also serve as powerful deterrents and an anti-deterrent force. After our country had successfully exploded its first atomic bomb on October 16, 1964, it went on to successfully explode its first hydrogen bomb in June 1967. With every step China takes in the development of its strategic nuclear weapons, the strength of world peace is also increased by those steps. China's development of its limited nuclear capability is completely for the purpose of defense, for breaking up the nuclear monopoly and nuclear threats of the United States and the Soviet Union, and for preserving long-lasting world peace. To win time for the world to stabilize within this nightmarish nuclear situation and to provide our socialist modernization greater security in the international environment, to completely destroy the nuclear blackmail of the U.S. and the Soviet Union, to strive for the thorough destruction of nuclear weapons, to proceed toward preventing a world from exploding into war, and to increase the strength for world peace over war so that China and Third World countries can play a greater role in international affairs, China must continue to develop proper strategic weapons and move toward upgrading their precision, lessening their weight, and increasing their mobile combat capability.

    Field tactical nuclear weapons are an effective antipersonnel weapon. The extent of their destructive area is above 300 km. This weapon not only has the superior tactical technical capabilities of long range, fast firing rate, high accuracy, and great destructive power, but it could also be used as a surprise weapon in major field operations to strive for and grasp the field initiative. In its tactical use, in an offensive situation it could directly break up the effective fire power of the enemy and destroy the defense points of the enemy from a distance, or it could attack the depth defenses of the enemy and cut off the enemy's retreat. In a defensive situation it could attack the enemy rear echelon troops, stop the continuous assault of the enemy, and defend against the enemy making a direct deep push. Coordinated and complementary field tactical nuclear missiles used with various other conventional weapons systems could give the military greater military benefits and battlefield power. In a situation where, temporarily, no global wars are being fought, localized wars will be the major forms of combat for a period of time. In localized wars, the possible use of field tactical nuclear weapons by the enemy cannot be dismissed. Thus, China appropriately and within reason must develop field tactical nuclear weapons in order to further break down the various kind of nuclear threats of the hegemonists and restrain the use of field tactical nuclear weapons by the enemy.

    After the implementation of the strategical changes in the guiding ideologies of military construction, the serious research of various weapons systems for localized wars will become the major tasks of our country's weapons system development for a period of time. The effective use in recent years of conventional precision-guided weapons in several localized combat theaters of operations has been followed with general interest by various countries around the world. Our national socialist characteristics have also determined that the major combat form of our military will hereafter still be that of defending our national territory. In a defensive war, the major missions assumed by our military will be defending against the enemy's surprise air attacks and stopping a mass invasion by the enemy's tanks. In our military's conventional arms buildup, the development of different precision-guided weapons for anti-air and antitank defense will be of special importance.

    The level of modernization of our weapons directly corresponds to how sophisticated our electronic technology is and this will have a direct impact on victory or defeat in modern warfare. After our forces are equipped with a large quantity of electronic equipment and computers, not only will the electronic command, control, communications and information systems (C3I) within our combat and control become highly automated, and simple platforms and partial electronic equipments of warfare like reconnaissance and antireconnaissance, jamming and antijamming, destructive and antidestruction devices be completely transformed for "electronic wars;" they will also allow electronic technology to spread and permeate into all of the other weapons systems until it becomes the mainstay of our modern weaponry. The energetic development of our country's military use of electronic technology is of utmost importance to upgrading the modernization level of our military weapons and closing the weapons gap with advanced countries.

    For a long time, our military had summarized a complete set of combat methods and experience on how to gain victory with inferior equipment over a superiorly equipped enemy. Facing a strong opponent, our military would be inferior in terms of weapons. Our country's economic strength is still very weak, our science and technology is still not very developed and compared to a strong enemy, the gap in our weapons will be difficult to overcome immediately. After our country implemented the strategic change of "transferring the work emphasis towards economic construction," there has been little possibility that military expenditures will be increased greatly and also little possibility that more money will be forthcoming for the research of sophisticated weapons. Thus, we must begin exploring new ways to develop weapons that possesses Chinese characteristics.

    On the one hand, we can track the development of global high technology, build a good technological reservoir, and actively research new weapons systems in order to lay a foundation to close the gap with the advanced standards in foreign countries. On the other hand, we can use what we currently have and what high-technology results we have already achieved to change the low-tech conventional weapons system in our military, and upgrade the tactical technological capability of our present weapons so that with these slightly improved low-tech weapons systems we can still win a victory over our enemy's hi-tech weapons.

    A weapons development strategy is an important component of our national defense development strategy. In the historical situation where our guiding ideology for military buildup is undergoing grave strategic changes, the somber formulation of a military weapons development strategy, the development of military weapons in a planned, focused, and measured way, and the acceleration of the pace of development of our military weapons will all have practical and long term impacts on encouraging our military's modernization and standardization.


    Yang Wei

    Military Forum recently called a "Pen Meeting on Tactical Studies" at the Shaanxi Military Command. Guided by Mao Zedong's military thinking and Deng Xiaoping's thinking on Army-building during the new historical stage, participants at the meeting aired their views, which have provided us with much food for thought, on battlefield environment and basic tactics of modern warfare under future hi-tech conditions, renewing military concepts, and strengthening the study of tactical changes from a technological angle.

    An Era of Tremendous Change

    We believe that the two industrial revolutions took place in the 1760s and the 1870s which brought about qualitative changes in military weaponry and equipment, thus changing the basic form of military confrontation. The current of the new technological revolution that began in the 1970s has led to a sudden change in the arena of military technology. The effects of these changes on the modes of war will be even more profound and far reaching.

    Today, some people believe that the economic arena has been most affected by the technological revolution and has seen the greatest changes. This is true. However, as long as we study closely the Yang Wei serves at the Shaanxi Military Command. This essay originally appeared in the Liberation Army Daily, 28 May 1993, 3.

    several limited wars that have taken place in the postwar world, it will not be difficult to see that the technological revolution has had similarly powerful effects on the military arena. Military technology has undergone changes with each passing day. However, the basic law that the military absorbs and utilizes scientific and technological results the fastest and the most has not changed a bit.

    The PLA enjoys a good reputation in the world after overcoming very strong enemies on several occasions. For the PLA, refraining from remaining satisfied with past glory and being brave enough to stand at the new starting point are key to overcoming one's self. To show indifference and apathy toward changes in weaponry, while being intoxicated with the glorious history of the past, is an great ideological roadblock. Since the 1980s, the powerful message relayed by hi-tech weaponry has resulted in drastic changes in operational methods. We must shift our point of interest and stimulus to high technology. Should we stick to the traditional train of thought, or study medium- or low-tech operations when we are aware of hi-tech weapons, we would be making an error. Under such circumstances, we would become our own enemy and would have defeated ourselves before any action had taken place.

    To overcome the enemy in ourselves, we must seek out our own weaknesses. Compared with the armed forces of industrially developed countries, the PLA is used to studying tactics from the strategic rather than the technological angle. This is chiefly because PLA weapons and equipment have lagged behind those of the enemy for a long time, and there was no other choice; on the other hand, it is undeniable that it was quite beyond PLA ability to study tactics from a technological angle because of knowledge limitations. Obviously, such conditions must be changed today.

    We should never evade our shortcomings; the result of evasion can only be a widening of the gap. It is imperative for us to pursue our glorious tradition of overcoming an enemy with superior weaponry and equipment with our inferior ones and to seek ways of dealing with hi-tech warfare through high-tech study. Meager hi-tech knowledge or even ignorance would be like trying to catch a sparrow when blindfolded, and new tactics would become outmoded even before they were applied. Only by renovating our knowledge and absorbing the results of technology studies done by foreign armed forces will it be possible for us to go deep into modern hi-tech warfare to seek out the laws governing things at a deeper level, while refraining from letting our studies stay at some superficial level characterized by "being extensive in scope for a short period with a quick tempo."

    The PLA has implemented a great change in its strategic guiding ideas since 1985, which was a first step made in transcending the self. However, we cannot expect transcending the self to be completed by a single change. We said long ago that we should not study "minor warfare" with the concept of "a major war"; however, as soon as a study begins in depth, the "major war" train of thought would dominate academic study. From another angle, this shows that the degree of difficulty in overcoming the self can be very great and that there is still a long way to go.

    The impetus for overcoming the self originates from sober judgment and scientific analysis. For example, in hi-tech warfare, tactical effectiveness no longer depends on the size of forces or the extent of firepower and motorized forces, but more on control systems over the war theater and efficiency in utilizing information from the theater. "Superiority in numbers and strength" no longer plays a decisive role. The amount of time modern hi-tech warfare can be sustained is already leaning toward "a quick decision," some even call it "second-count warfare," and great changes have taken place in the relationship between a traditional "quick decision" and protraction.

    The goal of war has changed from attacking cities and strategic locations regardless of the cost, as in the past, to obtaining maximum result with minimum cost, thus paying greater attention to seeking a favorable strategic state. War is now becoming "clean," a demand that hi-tech means are capable of meeting. That "war begins only after a declaration has been made" is now a historical concept, and the traditional "three steps" has been replaced by a new "three steps," namely, "low-altitude, night action, and electronic warfare," and so forth. We should resolutely do away with our outdated "Panorama" of war, broaden our vision, and find a new path for overcoming the self.

    Combine Tactical Studies With Studies in "Shaping Tactics"

    The Army should be built today according to how future hi-tech warfare will be fought. First, tactical studies can lead directly to the development of weaponry and equipment. Successful 20th-century examples are noteworthy. In 1929, when the German military did not have any tanks, a young officer, Heinz Guderian, broke through the bondage of traditional thinking and initiated the theory of lightning tank warfare based on the historical experience of the British use of tanks during World War I. His theory lead to the production, organization, and founding of operational corps with tanks as the main body, which then swept across Europe 10 years later. President Roosevelt accepted Einstein's theory to develop the atomic bomb, and turned a new leaf in the history of war and mankind. Stalin consulted the great and talented aircraft designers Ilyushin and Yakovlev and discussed various issues related to improving aircraft technology; consequently, the air force of the former USSR enjoyed a great global reputation. Mao Zedong, the soldier who introduced the proletarian military theories of people's war and guerrilla warfare to the world of military thinking, saw the far-reaching historical significance of developing the "atomic and nuclear bombs and satellites." The fulfillment of this goal has greatly elevated China's position in the world and has made historic contributions to peace for scores of years. Today, high technology is an important support for a country's military strength and war potential. It is a sign of comprehensive national strength, as well as the material basis for creating new tactics. There is no time to lose in developing hi-tech weaponry and equipment to comply with the needs of our specific tactics. We must seize the opportunity and link it to China's national conditions.

    Second, tactical studies should guide reform in military training. Presently, explorations and discussions of the Gulf war are being approached at a deeper level to seek "new" characteristics and revelations. The tremendous energy released by hi-tech operational forces on the battlefield originates from the long-term accumulation of an army's peacetime building; such quantitative accumulation is precisely the result of strict training aside from breakthroughs in tactical studies and the impetus of technological development. The requirements of hi-tech warfare on our army's training are that training should be implemented according to a program, but it should not go round and round at a low level characterized by achieving "certain scores in shooting, certain times in obstacle clearance operations, certain distances in grenade throwing, and certain skills on the horizontal bar." Military training should not be limited to the traditional repetition and extension of the experiences of officers and men from one generation to the next. High technology should be regarded as the extension of the arm and the expansion of the brain to war as well as the main content of training. An army with low-level intelligence training will be eliminated in war. This has been proven time and again in recent limited wars. If we believe that the ways and principles of traditional military training remain useful, they should not stay in the simple form of whether or not the army's forces are concentrated and whether or not coordinating actions are implemented. Military principles and predetermined operational plans could possibly be "included" in computer software for future operations through the "starter" of military training in peacetime operational studies, joint exercises, the finalization of weapon designs, army formations, seeking optimum tactics, and building automated systems. Such military training is "war behavior" in a higher sense and has unfolded "war" in a comprehensive way in peacetime, where war is but a final solution through one or several contentions.

    Tactical studies may provide new trains of thought or goals for army building; however, how we should combine "tactics" with "the way of building" eventually depends on man's dynamic role. The limited wars of the 1980s and 1990s provide us with a clear picture: the two major factors of arms and man are merging with each other, and man's decisive role is not only embodied in the employment of weaponry, but runs through the weapons systems. In the Gulf War, the multinational air force controlled some 30 airfields, 122 in-flight refueling lines, 660 no-fly zones, and 220 air corridors, involving scores of computers working around the clock. Because computers simulate man's thinking, the extent of its dependence on man is far greater than other technological equipment. What differs from the past is that intelligent weapons systems possess certain thinking "functions," whereas man's intelligence and wisdom is realized through making weapons intelligent. Passing judgment while relying solely on the direct perception of the commander is a long way from complying with modern warfare.

    Modern trained soldiers are the leaders and organizers of a new hi-tech revolution. Many strategists with vision have stated that the next century will be a time for the combination of soldiers and high technology, and soldiers should be the ones who blaze new trails at the forefront of science and technology. Military technology is entering the forefront of military development with a faster development rate, higher practical value, and still greater military and economic results. Should we hesitate to take into consideration the issue of training qualified people until we come across a new technology on the battlefield, we will undoubtedly be doomed to defeat.

    It is not too difficult to play a musical instrument; however, he who plays a musical instrument is not necessarily a musician. An outstanding musician must have a perfect command of musical theory, while having a good knowledge of every single piece of the musical instrument under his baton. Likewise, on a hi-tech battlefield, an accomplished commander should have a perfect command of basic tactics, while being familiar with the use of various technological means in conducting war. Only then will it be possible for him to perform one scene after the other full of the power and grandeur of the arena of war. It is precisely in this way that hi-tech warfare has set such a severe historical requirement.


    Ch'en Huan

    Up to the present, there have been three military revolutions:

    Without the slightest doubt, like all previous military revolutions, the third will have far-reaching effects on military practice and theory.

    This article is from Contemporary Military Affairs, March 11, 1996.

    The Challenge to Traditional Operational Principles

    Concentration of military force is an operational principle universally followed by strategists in ancient and modern times, in China and abroad; it is mainly achieved by increasing the density of unit-space military force. Following the rapid development of technology and its increasingly widespread application in military affairs, the ancient military principle of concentration of military force must be reconsidered and viewed from a new angle:

    From a look at the object of concentration, we see that striking the other side's effective force is no longer the main starting point, and the focus is now on interfering with and destroying the other side's information and cognitive systems. By striking at one point one can achieve the operational objective of paralyzing the entire body. "Destroy the enemy and preserve oneself" is another operational maxim that all armed forces, in ancient and modern times, in China and abroad, have always followed. However, in warfare in the information era the tendency is for military forces to be deployed in a dispersed manner, the demarcation line between the front and the rear to disappear, and weapon systems to reach over the horizon and cross national boundaries.

    The method of the past in which a decisive battle with the enemy's main force was sought makes it difficult to grasp the opportunity for battle and also makes it difficult to achieve ideal results. However, provided the enemy's information system and his command and decisionmaking system are destroyed, countered, or interfered with, thereby destroying his capability to obtain, process, transmit, control, and use information, we can paralyze the enemy's entire operational system and thus he will lose his operational capability. This has more results in actual combat than continually killing or wounding many troops, and continually destroying many ordinary weapons. That is to say, the meaning in the traditional sense of "destroy the enemy and preserve oneself" should be extended to "strike the enemy's information system and ensure our side's capability for information warfare."

    From Physical to Cerebrum Countermeasures

    In the "cold weapons" era, armed forces mainly depended on the physical ability to use weapons when waging war, and their overall combat effectiveness was only the multiplication of the individual combat effectiveness of their soldiers. Even in the "hot weapons" and "hot-nuclear weapons" eras, armed forces were skilled armed forces; among operational units there existed a relationship of a clear division of work and coordination; the overall combat effectiveness was the square of the sum of the collective combat effectiveness. In armed forces with information weapons, rank-and-file soldiers, who originally depended on their physical skill in using mechanized weapons and equipment, will be replaced by specialized software that mainly depends on intelligence in using weapons and equipment that has been transformed by information. This "multiplier" effect of intelligence and information almost leads to a limitless expansion of the combat effectiveness of conventional weapons and equipment.

    In a certain sense, for armed forces in the information era the test of strength is between intelligence capabilities, and the core of the third military revolution is the development and use of information capability. Therefore, some people say: If we say that in the two previous military revolutions, because of the use of chemical, thermal, and nuclear energy, man's physical capability was extended and man's four limbs were liberated, then the third military revolution, which develops and uses information capability, will extend man's intelligence capability and liberate man's cerebrum. The armed forces of the future will be "high-tech forces" with photoelectric specialists, information specialists, aviation specialists, and other outstanding specialized talents as its core.

    Lines Between Front and Rear Will Blur

    In a future war there will be nonlinear attacks on enemy objectives. The concepts in the "hot weapon" era of a battle front and an operational depth will lose meaning. The main reasons for this are:

    Rapid Rise of New Operational Concepts

    The vigorous development of information-transformed weapons will make fundamental changes in the traditional operational concepts, thereby causing many new operational forms to appear in future wars.

    Long-Range Combat
    Previously, because the performance of weapons and equipment was limited, quite a few strategists were fond of the tactic of "close combat." Now, there has been a great increase in the types of long-range antipersonnel methods. Among them, the air arm, the over-the-horizon precision strike force, and the large amount of equipment of electromagnetic units will replace the face-to-face ground attack units of the past and become the main strike forces in future operations. The further development of long-range strike weapons will make long-range combat an operational form in future wars. There will be three main forms of long- range strikes in the future: the first form is the one in which the air arm independently carries out long-range strikes; the second form is one in which the long-range strike combines with the long-range rapid movement of troops transported by land and sea with the vertical airdrops of airborne forces; and the third form is five-dimensional air, land, sea, space, and electromagnetic long-range combat.

    Outer Space Combat
    Under the impetus of information technology and other high and new technologies, satellites, space shuttles, manned spaceships, and space stations have appeared in succession. The following new-concept weapons will come forth in a continuous stream all these weapons will make outer space the fifth dimension operational space following land, sea, air, and electromagnetism:

    Because the efficacy of these new-concept weapons depends on the hard-shell support of a space platform, once the space platform is lost their efficacy will be weakened and they will even become powerless. In this way the two sides in a war will focus on offensive and defensive operations conducted from space platforms in outer space, and these operations will certainly become a new form in future wars. In the U.S. Armed Forces a new service the Space Force is being discussed, showing that the idea of outer space combat is close to moving from theory to actual combat.

    Paralysis Combat
    This tactic does not make the elimination of the enemy's effective forces its objective, but rather takes as its starting point the destruction of the enemy's overall structure for combined arms operations and the weakening of the enemy's overall efficacy in combined arms operations. Under high-tech conditions, all subsystems of combined arms operations are mutually replenishing and inseparable operational groups. If there is no unified command and control monitoring and early warning by the information- transformed C3I system, then it is difficult to obtain timely, reliable intelligence. Additionally, when there is an assault it is also impossible for the subsystems to coordinate without electromagnetic superiority, assaulting units become "blind persons," and even if they have more troops and weapons than the enemy they are nothing but a pile of trash. Therefore, by striking at the "vital point" of the enemy's information and support systems one can at one blow paralyze the enemy and collapse his morale.

    "Thin and Flat" Command Systems

    The armed forces command system in the "hot weapons" and "hot-nuclear weapons" era was a horizontally unconnected "tree-shaped" structure, which from top to bottom was in line with the units in the military arm and branch establishments. This structure was convenient for centralized command, but it had a fatal weak point its survivability was poor. If a branch of a tree-shaped structure is cut, that branch is affected, but if its trunk is cut, the entire structure is paralyzed. When the information-weapon era arrived, because of the large amount of use of the computer and the great improvement in its capability for searching, processing, transmitting, and displaying information, the various command and control systems could form an integral, mutually connected network connecting in one body the state's command authorities to the individual soldier, all of them sharing information.

    Formation of the mutually connected system allows a front-line commander to directly obtain intelligence from general headquarters or space information centers, and the middle-level commander loses the reason for his existence. This will make the command system of future armed forces, because of the reduction in the number of levels, a thin and flat structure that is wide horizontally and short vertically. Therefore, this kind of command system is called a "thin and flat" command system. Its main characteristics are: all the network's nodal points are connected vertically and horizontally, thereby both maintaining the strong point of the past vertical connection between the upper- and lower- level units, which is convenient for centralized command, and have the capability to make direct connections between parallel units, which is convenient for dispersed command. The "thin and flat" command system will lead to a change in the form of command, which will shift from the former centralized command to dispersed command, and, under a unified plan, the lower-level commanders will have a primary role in decisionmaking. This thin and flat command system will be able to reduce the amount of information flow, shorten the line of information flow, ensure that the lower-level commanders obtain real-time battlefield intelligence, improve the capability for decisionmaking response, and fully display subjective capability.

    Operational Simulation Will Play a Major Role

    Modern operational simulation uses an especially large amount of computer operational simulation, applying it to simulate tanks, battle vehicles, artillery, surface ships, submarines, and many other weapons. It will also apply to different levels of strategy, campaigns, and tactics, thereby providing a scientific basis for decisionmaking.

    Operational simulation this "laboratory" for war no matter whether in the domains of military science, armed forces system and establishment, weapon development, and military training, or in the aspects of selection of long-range delivery of military force and firepower, force composition, plan formulation, logistics and technical support, and tactical application, is playing an increasingly important role. For example, in unit training, by providing an operational simulation system that is sufficiently scientific and rational for tanks, armored vehicles, portable weapons, aircraft, helicopters, ground combat units, and other systems, training costs can be reduced, thereby greatly improving the beneficial results of training and increasing its safety. As of now, the U.S. Armed Forces have set up six laboratories for simulation techniques and methods. These six laboratories, by putting all arms and branches of the service on line with computers, can combine in one form the units, weapons and equipment with simulation equipment, and if necessary can conduct large-scale combined arms exercises. Britain, Russia, Japan, France, Sweden, and Israel are vigorously exploring the use of laboratories similar to those mentioned above.

    "Smaller and Divisible" Structures

    Following the development of information technology, any armed force will certainly tend to become smaller. At present the group army- and division-level scale structure widely used by the armed forces of various countries could become obsolete and be replaced by crack, intelligence-type small units that possess the capability for a high degree of mobility. In future operations, the attacking and defending sides will put more emphasis on being economical in the use of their operational strength, only throwing into the operations the essential units. A prominent characteristic of this kind of establishment is that it possesses "divisibility," i.e., based on the nature and need of an operational mission, units can at will be "divided" and combined.


    Major General Zheng Qinsheng

    The end of the Cold War has added many uncertain factors to the international situation. In our efforts to make a greater contribution to the development of our country and nation during this major historical transition period, we should first gain a clear idea of the following two issues concerning military struggle: One is the need to carefully analyze changes in the international strategic setup in our age and be clear about the tasks of military struggle, with a view to keeping to the correct orientation of the struggle; the other is the need to profoundly grasp the law of military struggle in the new period and provide correct strategic guidance, with a view to gaining a sound grasp of work methods.

    Tasks of Military Struggle

    In our study of military struggle in the new period, we should first take a look at "major events throughout the world" and gain a clear idea of the features of our age. Marxists believe that an historical era serves to be the foundation of our decisions. Lenin stressed repeatedly that "only when we make a correct assessment of the international environment, or the basic features of our times, can we correctly formulate our own strategies." In an effort to base the situation analysis on the features of our age, we should pay attention not only to the local situation of our neighboring areas, but also to the strategic setup of the whole world, and not only to changes that have taken place during a recent period, but also to the historical vicissitudes over a considerably long period of time. During the mid-1980s, basing on his correct assessment of the situation then, Comrade Deng Xiaoping vividly summarized the highly complicated international situation into a four-word idea of "East, West, South, and North," with "East and West" referring to the issue of seeking peace, while "South and North" refers to the issue of seeking development. Meanwhile, he also expounded the dialectical relationship between peace and development. This summarization not only identified the major contradictions of today's world, but also analyzed the two sides of these contradictions, thus putting forward the idea of seeking peace and development. Centered around the two major themes of peace and development, in recent years, the central authorities have readjusted the country's diplomatic strategy and foreign relations, and have attained major victories in our diplomatic struggles. When trying to gain a correct understanding of peace and development as the features of our age, we need to grasp the following several basic points:

    This article is from Liberation Army Daily, July 16, 1996, 6.

    In short, seeking peace and development is a great banner for mankind in our age. We need to regard it as the basic ground for our observation of the world trend, and also for our resolution of major problems during the future historical period. In today's world, the main forms of military struggle share the following two distinguishing features: One is the shift from violent confrontation to deterrence based on actual strength; the other is the exercise of effective control over war behavior.

    Ever since the time when countries first appeared, war has always been a major way to seek national rights and interests. The evolution of human history, as well as the rise and decline of countries, are mostly a historical record of war. That is why historians have noted: "War is the normal behavior of mankind." However, during the past 50 years, in the wake of World War II, considerable changes have taken place in the forms of war, unprecedented, savage intercontinental wars have occurred, and the past nearly half a century has witnessed a sustained period of relative stability. During this period, "cold war" has to a great extent, taken the place of the "hot war" of violent confrontation. Instead of causing worldwide turbulence, the over 200 local wars and armed conflicts that have taken place during this period have been effectively limited to a certain scope and intensity.

    Deterrence has become a prominent component of modern national strategy, yet it is not a strategy for staging wars but for avoiding wars. It can be said that every formulator of war strategies will have the same thought: On the one hand, he should try his very best to prevent his country from being drawn into a modern war; and on the other hand, he will also try his utmost to enable his country to win an advantageous strategic position and to realize the ideal of "winning a war without actually going into it." As a result, plans to win wars have been turned into efforts to contain war. Such changes, which have been brought about by the special features of military struggle, are not only a reflection of objective material conditions, but a selection of subjective will and behavior as well. The former is based on the fact that the military revolution facilitated by scientific and technological advances has provided the objective material means for deterrence; while the latter gives expression to a distillation in the understanding of wars shared by strategists.

    Military Strategy in Peacetime

    Demands for survival and development constitute the eternal interests of a sovereign country. Today, the space and resources needed for survival and development remain the focus of contention between all countries, and military struggle is a major expression of such contention. The turn of century witnessed extremely acute competitions for survival and development among different countries in the world. Amidst the rapids of such international competitions, we will inevitably encounter severe challenges in our effort to realize the strategic target of "unifying the motherland, promoting the economy, and safeguarding peace." At present, major countries in the world are vying with each other to readjust their own strategies. Under the new strategies, they will:

    As Chairman Jiang Zemin pointed out in "China's Declaration of the 21st Century," China should first turn itself into a powerful country if it intends to make a greater contribution to both the progress of mankind and world peace. This is the strategic thought of our leaders as well as the voice of all our nationals and comes from the bottom of their hearts. The present relatively stable period of peace is still fraught with many destabilizing factors. The challenges result from competition in comprehensive national strength, which is a pressure in reality, while struggles centering on national reunification, territorial disputes, and arguments over maritime rights and interests may lead to local wars and sudden changes. What merits our special attention is that with the increase in the world's population and the ongoing trend of tighter supplies of natural resources and a relatively smaller space for subsistence, the tasks of military struggle currently facing us have not yet been totally separated from the nature of taking cities and seizing territory.

    With the economic growth of the Asia-Pacific region and the future arrival of the Pacific age in the 21st century, hegemonists have stepped up their economic, scientific and technological, cultural, and military infiltration into the Asian-Pacific region, thus giving prominence to a number of hidden contradictions. In our efforts to attain the strategic targets of economic take-off and national rejuvenation, we hope to have a peaceful international environment in order and a stable neighboring environment; to explore and make use of more resources for the purpose of promoting the economic, scientific, and technological development of the country; to gain greater shares in international markets and successfully practice an export-oriented economic strategy; to arouse the self-confidence and enterprising spirit of our nationals; and to safeguard the integrity of our country and nation. External challenges are unavoidable, and what counts is how we are going to meet the challenges and take countermeasures.

    To fulfill the tasks of military struggle in the new period, the most important issues are those of military strength and strategic guidance. In ancient times, military strategy was called the "principles of commanding generals." In modern times, military strategy was summed up as the "art of wars and battles," a belief shared among Napoleon, Clausewitz, von Moltke, and Schlieffen. Contemporary strategists believe, however, that traditional military strategies dealt only with what an army must do during wartime and failed to make clear what they should do during peacetime. We must be aware that with the rapid development of science and technology in the world today, the issue of the peacetime building and the development of military strength is becoming the focus of attention among military strategists. Defense experts in western countries have stressed that today's military strategy is no longer the "science of military victories." This means that under a longstanding peaceful environment, the emphasis of military strategies has been shifted from wartime to peacetime; and peacetime strategies will not be limited to the planning and guidance of wars, but will also cope with the issue of how to build up and develop military strength during peacetime.

    The Military Revolution

    The Central Military Commission has put forward a military strategic principle for the new period, which calls for efforts to base military struggle on winning local wars, which employ modern technologies, especially wars under high-tech conditions. Meanwhile, stress has been placed on the need to accelerate the modernization building of our Army, contain and win wars, and fulfill the army's major missions in the military struggle of the new period. This new strategic principle embraces both the realistic employment and the long-term building of military strength. Today, the employment of military strength by major countries generally shares the following features:

    We should maintain the modernization and alertness of our military forces at a high level so that we can make rapid responses to contingencies and gain the strategic initiative in any place at any time. To win local wars under high-tech conditions, we need all the more to adhere to the Confucian ideology of "winning victory in a war before actually going into it." If we say that the idea of "winning a war before actually going into it" adhered to by militarists in the past was concerned only with the stage of pre-war preparations, then the idea of "winning a war before actually going into it" held by today's militarists means, more importantly, the design and building of military strength during peacetime.

    The Americans have claimed that victory in the Gulf War was the outcome of 20 years of hard effort. In a sense, the "20 years of hard effort" refers to the whole process of rebuilding their military strength. In the wake of the Vietnam War, the U.S. Armed Forces suffered from low morale and army building remained in the doldrums. To put an end to such a situation, they carried out a series of reforms in such fields as military theory, military technology, military training, cultivation of military officers, and operational formations. The 20 years of of hard effort have brought new life to the armed forces. This is a typical example of "winning a war before actually going into it."

    In a local high-tech war, the first battle is the decisive battle, which will decide the outcome of the entire war. Generally speaking, there will no longer be any chance for wearing down the enemy's effective strength. In view of this, experts have pointed out that most victories on future battlefields will not be "decided by the war itself" but "decided by pre-war building." Therefore, to fulfill the tasks of military struggle in the new period, we must plant our feet on the reform and the quality building of our army. To reinforce the quality building of our army, we must persistently carry out theory-trailed policies. A global review tells us that in the past, the blueprints for army building were mostly drawn up on the basis of experience gained in previous wars. Today, they are designed in accordance with the demands of future wars.

    What are the demands of future wars? We can only gain a clear idea through theoretical thinking, and can only complete such a design through the theoretical study of science. With the emergence of the technology of "virtual reality," the military theories guiding future wars will be produced in combat laboratories, and the inspection of the "product" quality of the army will also be conducted in combat laboratories. This tremendous change has provided new ideas for military development.

    A military revolution is now in the ascendant in today's world. Thoughts on reinforcing the quality building of our army should be conducted against this general background. "After going through the stages of bare-handed battles, cold steel weapons, hot steel weapons, and mechanization, military operations are now entering the information age. These five major military revolutions corresponded with five industrial revolutions."

    What we need to do now is to study the information war under nuclear deterrence; the well-known scientist Qian Xuesen laid bare the essence of the military revolution with one remark. "The world has entered a period of new military revolution, which is a reflection of social, economic, and scientific and technological changes in the military field. Information technology is the nucleus and foundation of this military revolution."

    Information and knowledge have changed the past practice by which military capacities were simply measured by numbers of armored divisions, wings of the air force, and aircraft carrier combat groups. Today, we also need to count invisible strengths, including:

    The well-known scientist Zhu Guangya profoundly pointed out these criteria for judging the quality of today's army.

    In recent years, our troops have attained considerable results in implementing the military strategic principle of the new period, learning high-tech technologies and knowledge, and in studying wars under high-tech conditions. However, where shall we place the nucleus of high-tech development? Where shall we put the main emphasis of local high-tech wars?

    A consensus on these issues has yet to be reached throughout the army. People still tend to place greater emphasis on hardware instead of software, and on the present instead of the future. Such a transitional "optical parallax" is hindering us from gaining a correct grasp of major contradictions.

    In our consideration of the quality development of our military in the context of a world military revolution, we need to appropriately handle relations between universality and individuality and between generality and particularity. Armies have always had a role in the international arena. Therefore, the modernization building of our army will naturally follow the common law guiding the world's army modernization, yet it also needs to maintain its "Chinese characteristics" at the same time. It should not copy indiscriminately the patterns of Western developed countries, yet cannot cut itself off from the general trend of the military revolution. From the strategic change in its guiding ideology to the formulation of a military strategic principle for the new period, our army can be said to have completed the change in its strategic guidance only, and needs to make further efforts to facilitate a change in its overall building.

    In view of this, we have called for the efforts of all officers and men of our army to conduct a conscientious study of

    A philosopher once said: "At the back of the tremendous tension of traditions is an inert force of history." During this important cross-century period, we should conform to the trend of our times, renew our military concepts, and accelerate the quality building of our army amid reform, with a view to adapting ourselves to the needs of the military struggle during the new period.


    Wei Jincheng

    A future war, which may be triggered by a disruption to the network of the financial sector, may be combat between digitized units or a two-man show, with the spaceman (or robot) on the stage and the think tank behind the scenes. It may also be an interaction in the military, political, and economic domains, making it hard to define as a trial of military strength, a political argument, or an economic dispute. All this has something to do with the leap forward of modern technology and the rise of the revolution in the military domain.

    The technological revolution provides only a stage for confrontations. Only when this revolution is married with military operations can it take on the characteristics of confrontation. Some believe that the information superhighway, the Internet, computers, and multimedia are synonymous with commerce, profit, and communications. In fact, this is far from true.

    Thanks to modern technology, revolutionary changes in the information domain, such as the development of information carriers and the Internet, are enabling many to take part in fighting without even having to step out of the door. The rapid development of networks has turned each automated system into a potential target of invasion. The fact that information technology is increasingly relevant to people's lives determines that those who take part in information war are not all soldiers and that anybody who understands computers may become a "fighter" on the network. Think tanks composed of nongovernmental experts may take part in decisionmaking; rapid mobilization will not just be directed to young people; information-related industries and domains will be the first to be mobilized and enter the war; traditional modes of operations will undergo major changes; operational plans designed for information warfare will be given priority in formulation and adoption; and so on and so forth. Because other technologies are understood by people only after they are married with information technology and because information technology is becoming increasingly socialized, information warfare is not the business of armed forces alone. Conditions exist that effectively facilitate the participation of the public in information warfare.

    This article was excerpted from the Military Forum column, Liberation Army Daily, June 25, 1996.

    Ideas Guide Action

    In the information age, an all-new concept of operations should be established. Information is a "double-edged sword." In the information age, information is not only a weapon of combat but also the object sought after by the warring parties. The quantity, quality, and speed of transmission of information resources are key elements in information supremacy. That is why information is not just a piece of news and information weapons do not refer only to such information-based weapons as precision-guided weapons and electronic warfare weapons. The most effective weapon is information itself. Information can be used to attack the enemy's recognition system and information system either proactively or reactively, can remain effective either within a short time or over an extended period, and can be used to attack the enemy right away or after a period of incubation. Therefore, good information protection and launching a counterattack with information weapons when attacked will become the main subjects of preparation against war during the information age.

    Information is intercommunicative and therefore must not be categorized by sector or industry. It is very wrong to think that information in only the military field is worth keeping secret and that information for civil purposes does not belong to the category of secrecy. In fact, if no security measures are taken to protect computers and networks, information may be lost. Similarly, if we think it is the business of intelligence and security departments to obtain the enemy's information and that it has nothing to do with anyone else, we would miss a good opportunity to win an information war.

    In March 1995, Beijing's Jingshan School installed a campus network with 400 PCs, an "intelligent building" design, and multimedia technology. The school runs 10 percent of its courses through computers; students borrow books from the library through a computerized retrieval system; and experiments are conducted with demonstrations based on multimedia simulation systems. This illustrates in microcosm the many information networks that our country has built with its own resources. More than one million PCs were sold in China in 1995, and the figure is expected to reach 2.7 million in 1996. Faced with the tendencies of a networking age, if we looked upon these changes merely from a civil perspective and made no military preparations, we would undoubtedly find ourselves biased and shortsighted.

    Information War Depends on the Integrity of the Information System

    Information warfare is entirely different from the conventional concept of aiming at a target and annihilating it with bullets, or of commanders relying on images and pictures obtained by visual detection and with remote-sensing equipment to conduct operations from a map or sand table. The multidimensional, interconnected networks on the ground, in the air (or outer space), and under water, as well as terminals, modems, and software, are not only instruments, but also weapons. A people's war under such conditions would be complicated, broad-spectrum, and changeable, with higher degrees of uncertainty and probability, which requires full preparation and circumspect organization.

    An information war is inexpensive, as the enemy country can receive a paralyzing blow through the Internet, and the party on the receiving end will not be able to tell whether it is a child's prank or an attack from its enemy. This characteristic of information warfare determines that each participant in the war has a higher sense of independence and greater initiative. However, if organization is inadequate, they may each fight their own battles and cannot form joint forces. Additionally, the Internet may generate a large amount of useless information that takes up limited channels and space and blocks the action of one's own side. Therefore, only by bringing relevant systems into play and combining human intelligence with artificial intelligence under effective organization and coordination can we drown our enemies in the ocean of an information offensive.

    A people's war in the context of information warfare is carried out by hundreds of millions of people using open-type modern information systems. Because the traditional mode of industrial production has changed from centralization to dispersion and commercial activities have expanded from urban areas to rural areas, the working method and mode of interaction in the original sense are increasingly information-based. Political mobilization for war must rely on information technology to become effective, for example by generating and distributing political mobilization software via the Internet, sending patriotic e-mail messages, and setting up databases for traditional education. This way, modern technical media can be fully utilized and the openness and diffusion effect of the Internet can be expanded, to help political mobilization exert its subtle influence.

    In short, the meaning and implications of a people's war have profoundly changed in the information age, and the chance of people taking the initiative and randomly participating in the war has increased. The ethnic signature and geographic mark on an information war are more pronounced and the application of strategies is more secretive and unpredictable.

    Information-based confrontations will aim at reaching tangible peace through intangible war, maintaining the peace of hardware through software confrontations, and deterring and blackmailing the enemy with dominance in the possession of information. The bloody type of war will increasingly be replaced by contention for, and confrontations of, information.

    The concept of people's war of the old days is bound to continue to be enriched, improved, and updated in the information age to take on a new form. We believe any wise military expert would come to the same conclusion.


    Major General Sun Bailin

    History shows that today's scientific dreams can readily become tomorrow's scientific realities and today's scientific explorations can become sources of development for tomorrow's socially productive forces and military combat power. Therefore, people who are concerned about future social development trends inevitably are also concerned with current scientific exploration. While advancing toward a macro world, people are also engaging in unremitting exploration of the micro world. Having undergone the "catalysis" of modern science and technology, certain notions that used to be viewed as wild tales are now approaching mankind "as if coming to "life." Some of man's fancies are to manufacture extremely small-scale electrical machinery that can only be seen under a microscope, an "intelligence chip" that could be transplanted into the brain of an insect, a "remote controlled submarine" that could freely navigate the human circulatory system, small-scale spacecraft and satellites the size of a thimble, an actuator that could respond to a single atom, and so forth. These are microscale electromechanical system technologies that have been discussed with increasing frequency during the 1990s.

    This article by Major General Sun Bailin of the Academy of Military Science is excerpted from National Defense, June 15, 1996.

    The term "microscale electromechanical system" principally refers to controllable and movable microscale electromechanical apparatuses that have exterior dimensions of less than a millimeter and the components of which have dimensions that are in the micron to nanometer range. They are the inevitable result of man's pursuit of the miniaturization of high-technology apparatuses since the advent of microelectronic technology. As early as the beginning of the 1970s, exploratory research into microscale electromechanical systems had already begun, but this field saw substantial development only by the end of the mid-1980s. At that time, it was realized that by using advanced manufacturing technology for large-scale integrated circuits, one could develop microscale prototypes of large-scale mechanized systems. Hence, a "technological revolution" was initiated advancing toward microscale electromechanical systems. The essence of this "technological revolution" was that in the course of transforming man's relationship with nature, we have progressed from the material millimeter-micron stage to the molecular-atomic nanometer stage. It could possibly bring about a leap forward in unit material storage and information processing capabilities. Its basic characteristic is, through precise, perfect control and accurate, subtle discrete forms, to configure molecular or atomic structures rapidly and, according to a person's intent, to control atoms and molecules or atomic and molecular clusters to manufacture microscale devices with a specific function, thereby raising materials processing technology to an unprecedented level.

    Because this revolution's latent prospects for application and its extremely rapid development, and also because of its having opened up several new high technologies of great significance to the national economy and defense, including nano-electronics, the study of nanomaterials, nanomechanics, nanobiology, nanomanufacturing, nanosurveying, nanocontrol, and nanomicrology, it is ushering in the "nano-era" of the 21st century. Experts commonly believe that technology on the micron-nanometer scale is military-civilian dual-use technology that contains extremely great promise. At present, its application in military affairs consists primarily of two aspects: microscale electromechanical systems and their micro-electric connected specialized integrated microscale apparatuses.

    Rand Report

    In 1993, the U.S. Rand Corporation submitted to the U.S. military a research report, "Military Applications of Microscale Electromechanical Systems," which portrayed the latent military applications of microscale electromechanical systems, attracting attention from relevant quarters. The possible military applications of the microscale electromechanical systems conceived of in this report include the following:

    Microscale Robot Electrical Incapacitation Systems
    The microscale electromechanical systems typically conceived for development usually include six sub-systems: sensor systems, information-processing and auto-navigation systems, maneuvering systems, communications systems, destruction systems, and drive generators. These microscale electromechanical systems have a certain automatic capability and mobility. When there is a need to attack enemy electrical systems, one can utilize unmanned aircraft to disperse these microscale electromechanical systems in the vicinity of a target.

    When the target goes into operation, the systems sense the target's location and move in its direction until they permeate the target's interior, thus causing the enemy's electrical systems to malfunction. When releasing microscale electromechanical systems, one should be as close to the target as possible. In this way both time and equipment can be saved. After release, the systems can automatically seek the target and permeate its interior, thus causing it to wholly or partially lose its ability to operate. Microscale robot electrical incapacitation systems have an additional potential use, which is an economic blockade or embargo of the enemy. For example, by slipping into "information superhighway" apparatuses and preventing unimpeded flow along the "information superhighway," these systems could severely harm a modern, information-intensive economy. In addition, strategic targets that are vulnerable to attack by microscale robot electrical incapacitation systems include electrical power systems, civilian aviation systems, transportation networks, seaports and shipping, highways, television broadcast stations, telecommunications systems, computer centers, factories and enterprises, and so forth. Of course, there are those who worry that, were this kind of apparatus ever to used by an international terrorist organization, it could very possibly become a "double-edged sword" that threatens social stability.

    Ant Robots
    These microscale electromechanical systems can be controlled with sound. The drive-energy source of ant robots is a microscale microphone that can transform sound into energy. They can be used to creep into the enemy's vital equipment and lurk there for as long as several decades. In peacetime, they do not cause any problems, but in the event of war, remote control equipment can be used to activate the hidden ant robots, so that they can destroy or "devour" the enemy's equipment. In addition, there are at least 25 specialists who have done many years of research on nanotechnology and microscale electromechanical systems. Speaking from the latter stages of a great deal of scientific investigation, within the next 10 to 25 years, manufacture of these microscale electromechanical apparatuses of molecular dimensions will be possible and may actually sport "changeable hair," like that of Sun Wukong. These ant robots would "self-replicate" and have ultrasensitive reconnaissance apparatuses and remote-control mines for a combat platform. Were the need to arise, ant robots could be released against an enemy and used to search out sensitive military areas that must be controlled. By means of a control program, microscale reconnaissance apparatuses and microscale mines could "self-replicate" to the required density, thereby creating a "strategic threat"or decisive blow against the enemy. It can be conceived that, once ant robots that can "self-replicate" appear on the future battlefield, a "sudden paralysis" of the enemy's macroscopic combat system will occcur by means of the tremendous combat force emitted by microscopic apparatuses, to the extent that the enemy must submit to the combat pressure created by microscopic electromechanical systems.

    Blood Vessel Submarines
    Microscale electromechanical systems can be made yet smaller, being manufactured into "blood vessel submarines." Such devices can undertake patrol missions within the complex human circulatory system, and upon discovering a "focus of infection" or an "abnormality" somewhere within the body, they can both send a warning signal and also undertake activities under the direction of a doctor or engage in mortal combat with bacteria and viruses within the body. If this concept is realized, doctors will be able to call upon microscale electromechanical systems to perform "molecular or atomic surgery."

    Distributed Battlefield Microscale Sensor Networks
    In modern warfare, in order to accurately reconnoiter enemy combat deployments and troop movements in a timely fashion, opposing sides have invested financial, material, and personnel strength to research, produce, deploy, and employ reconnaissance systems and apparatuses throughout the world. However, the solemn facts of the Gulf War tell us that, when hunting the highly mobile and wideranging "scud" missiles, the area covered by existing reconnaissance systems is limited. However, microscale electromechanical systems could solve the problem of crucial areas that must be kept under continuous surveillance.

    One possible case would be to use unmanned aircraft or other methods to distribute a large number of low-cost, use-on-demand microscale sensor systems over a combat zone. High-altitude unmanned aircraft would employ an onboard coded laser of a modulated double-angle reflection communications system to record the position of every microscale sensor. Then, the sensor systems begin to collect, process, and store information, until another unmanned aircraft uses an identical coded laser to send out an inquiry. Each sensor again employs modulated double-angle reflectors to transmit its data back to the unmanned aircraft. This type of microscale electromechanical system has clear advantages in terms of deployment, endurance, and vulnerability. Compared to existing theater long-range monitoring systems, microscale sensor systems are more rapidly and conveniently deployed, and they are more complete. Existing sensor equipment, when in the open, can be seen with the naked eye within a range of 200 meters. However, microscale electromechanical systems, which are measured in millimeters, cannot be distinguished with the naked eye when dispersed in the air and are also difficult to identify with instruments. Certain materials reveal that microscale electromechanical systems are not confined to use in the military arena. They also provide impetus for man's efforts to understand and alter his environment in the fields of information technology, the study of materials, environmental science, biology, and medical science.

    In the application of specialized integrated microscale apparatuses, such apparatuses currently being developed can acquire environmental information on the local area or in remote areas and, through the specialized integrated microscale apparatuses' gene-fragment communications system, transmit the information to nearby microscale apparatuses. They can also transmit to a central processor. The uses of specialized integrated microscale apparatuses with the most vitality are the infield of space navigation. They will be able to gradually replace all sorts of subsystems on current spacecraft and carrier rockets, and then develop further into independent space systems, thus leading to the advent of microscale satellites and "nanosatellites."

    "Nanosatellites" represent a revolutionary breakthrough in future satellite development. They are a type of distributed satellite structural system. Such distributed systems, in contrast to integrated systems, are able to avoid the damage that follows the malfunction of an individual satellite, and thus will increase the survivability and flexibility of future space systems. The best application of nanosatellites is their deployment in local satellite groups or in distributed constellations. For example, if we launch nanosatellites in solar stationary orbits, with 36 nanosatellites placed evenly into each of 18 equally spaced orbits, then there would be a total of 648 nanosatellites in orbit. Thus, we could ensure that at any given time, there would be continuous coverage and surveillance of any spot on the Earth. Currently, there are already a few western countries that are researching "microscale" satellites.

    Japan Making Greatest Investment

    Since the beginning of the 1990s, the topic of microscale electromechanical systems has been raised many times in scientific publications, and this field's specialized deliberations have attracted attention. A few experts in Japan, Western Europe, and the United States believe that with the rapid development of science and technology, microscale electromechanical systems will be a research topic of the utmost importance over the next 10 years. According to the Rand Corporation report, Japan is the nation making the greatest investment into research and development of microscale electromechanical systems at present. Japan's Ministry of International Trade and Industry has formulated a 10-year plan for developing microscale electromechanical systems; furthermore, it has already built a "molecular assembler." At the end of 1993, the Hitachi Corporation announced that it had, under room temperature conditions, built a working single-electron memory chip. Just like current chips, this type of chip can store one bit of information, but the newer memory devices only require 1/1,000,000 of the power consumption of older memory devices, and they require only 1/10,000 of the surface area.

    U.S. Military 3-Year Plan

    According to the Rand Corporation, the investment of the United States in research into microscale electromechanical systems is probably an order of magnitude lower than that of countries such as Japan or the Netherlands. In order to turn around this lag in the area of microscale electromechanical systems, the United States has already included such systems in its "U.S. National Critical Technologies" plan, and the U.S. military has especially drafted a 3-year plan for developing and applying microscale electromechanical systems.

    Of course, whether one discusses microscale electromechanical systems or specialized integrated microscale apparatuses, their research and development are not easy to accomplish. For microscale electromechanical system technology and specialized integrated microscale apparatus technology to move from the laboratory into engineering practice, and finally into application, there are still quite a few difficulties that must be overcome. However, a variety of indications show that "nanotechnological weapons" could well bring about fundamental changes in many aspects of future military affairs. "Nanotechnology" will certainly become a crucial military technology in the 21st century!

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