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Sir Michael Howard's observation is particularly relevant as we approach the turn of the century and a new millennium. In recent years many armies of the world have been reviewing their doctrine and developing new plans for the future. The Canadian army, although later in starting than some of our Allies, is also in the process of writing new doctrine and developing plans for the future. (2) The list of studies on future requirements grows each year as more and more nations try to develop a road map to get them from now to some time frame in the future. Force XXI, Army After Next, Joint Vision 2010 and Army 2025 are just a few of the studies that have been published by our Allies.
One of the key issues driving this renewed focus on doctrine and future requirements is the dawning of the so called information age. In the military context, it is more often referred to as the Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA). The notion of information age warfare and information dominance is tied to the ability to process information faster and to have situational awareness on the battlefield. It is considered by many as one of the defining characteristics of the RMA. (3) As well, most of the new technologies that facilitate the revolution are linked to providing a system of systems that allows information to be processed quickly and shared on the battlefield at all levels of command.
There is an enormous amount of literature available on the RMA and it covers a wide spectrum of ideas and areas of study. Previous work by this author reviewed this literature and discussed the Canadian context for the RMA debate. (4) This paper is a further examination of the RMA subject with the intent of exploring a particular area of the debate.
For Canadians, one of the more important issues in the RMA debate is to establish the type of force structure, equipment and doctrine needed to meet the challenges of the future security environment. This is a significant task because of the lack of clear strategic and political guidance from the Canadian Parliament and the government of the day. (5) Nevertheless, there are personnel looking at the issues and the Army's future development plan is the first step in a long process to move the Army of Today to the Army of Tomorrow and beyond. (6)
As the Army goes through the process of developing new structures and doctrine for the future, there are a number of issues that must be addressed. For example, how will the army fight in the future and will that be different than today? Will the current principles of war articulated in our new doctrine manuals remain relevant in the future? Will leaders require different skill sets and capabilities to command and lead soldiers on the battlefield? Will new technology provide the information awareness required for new precision strike weapons or will the amount of information simply overwhelm the commanders to the extent that they can not make decisions? These are just a few of the questions that must be discussed, debated and resolved as the Army moves into the future.
Returning to Sir Michael Howard's observation, the aim of this paper is to examine just one of the issues mentioned above, the principles of war, with a view to discussing whether or not they will remain relevant, in need of adjustment or become obsolete within the context of the RMA. The paper will provide a general overview of the theoretical literature available on the future security environment and the expected nature of future warfare. Within this context, the Canadian army's principles of war will be examined and the utility for future application assessed. Specifically, the paper will discuss whether or not our principles of war are appropriate to the future and what amendments, if any, are necessary.
AN UNCERTAIN FUTURE
A significant portion of the existing RMA literature discusses the nature of future conflict and the characteristics that will define warfare in the future. Hammes notes that "there is a growing consensus that the world is on the cusp of a fundamental shift from an industrial society to an information based society." (7) As well, Metz and Kievit indicate that "the basic premise of the RMA is clear: throughout history, warfare usually developed in an evolutionary fashion, but occasionally ideas and inventions combined to propel dramatic and decisive change. This not only affected the application of military force, but often altered the geopolitical balance in favour of those who mastered the new form of warfare." (8) Metz and Kievit see the defining characteristics of future conflict as the alteration of the relationship of accuracy and distance in application of military force. They also see the increasing interest in information warfare and the reduction in both casualties and collateral damage normally associated with military operations. (9)
In the context of this paper two general themes in the literature on strategy and future conflict are important. First, there is the notion of nation states becoming irrelevant. Linked to this notion is the argument that we are depending on technology and smart weapons and losing our ability to use strategy and operational art as a means to prosecute and win wars. Second, is the discussion on the actual nature of conflict in the future.
At this point, the literature is not conclusive and there are many views and opinions on both points. For example, the notion that nation states are becoming irrelevant is perhaps overstated. Nation states may be less relevant in some parts of the world but for those trying to enter NATO, for example, the notion of nation states may be more relevant at this juncture. Also, the argument that we are losing the ability to exercise strategy and operational art could be viewed as the opposite side of the technology and weapons coin. Using the German blitzkrieg as an example, most nations had access to the technology but only the Germans applied operational level thinking to create something different from the previous model. The important point appears to be the ability to think and be flexible in thought.
In today's environment defence planners are trying to reshape forces and resources to meet new challenges and threats. We are in an age where the enemy will not be the monolithic Warsaw Pact force of the past but rather any one of a variety of threats ranging from the possibility of high intensity combat to a mid to low intensity semiconventional conflict. (10) The environment will be anything but predictable and the previously neat and tidy method of state departments dealing with each other is not a given in the future.
Jablonsky observes that the structure of international relations is changing and with that change will come a return to the First Wave conflict of the 1600s and not Third Wave conflict. (11) The notion of first, second and third wave conflict is tied to the writings of Alvin and Heidi Toffler and the wave theory of conflict. The Tofflers' use an economic basis and argue that …