The Prusso-German RMA, 1840–1871

TitleThe Prusso-German RMA, 1840–1871
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2001
AuthorsShowalter, Dennis E.
EditorMurray, Williamson, and MacGregor Knox
Book TitleThe Dynamics of Military Revolution, 1300-2050
PublisherCambridge University Press

From colonial times Americans have sought force multipliers against an unforgiving physical environment. American analysts have in consequence defined revolutions in military affairs as technological–organizational asymmetries between combatants, usually embracing three distinct but interrelated areas. The first and most obvious is straight-line improvement in the capacity to destroy targets. Second is an “information edge” generated through exponential and synergistic increases in the ability to collect, process, and distribute information. The third decisive aspect of the American-style RMA is the provision of doctrines, skills, and force structures necessary to optimize the potential of new materiel. The fate of French armor in 1940 and of the Arab air forces in 1967 demonstrates the uselessness of hardware without appropriate concepts for its use and competent personnel effectively organized to implement those concepts. The Prussian army from the 1840s onward provides an almost classic model of technological innovation that acted as catalyst for radical changes in tactics, operations, military organization, and state policy. Those changes in turn allowed Prussia between 1866 and 1871 to alter the very structure of the European state system. The "Prussian RMA" thus fits neatly - at first glance - into the American conceptual framework. But it also entails a stern warning: within twenty-five years all other European great powers except Britain had adopted its chief technological and organizational features and had nullified any asymmetric German advantage.

Entry by GWC Assistants / Work by GWC Assistants : 

Type of Literature:

Time Period:


Library Location: 
Call Number: