The Arms of the Future: Technology and Close Combat in the Twenty-First Century

The Arms of the Future analyses how the emergence of novel weapons systems is shaping the risks and opportunities on the battlefield.

Book description

  • The Arms of the Future

    The Arms of the Future

    From sensor-fuzed munitions and autonomous weapons, to ground moving target indication radar, laser vibrometers and artificial intelligence, the weapons of warfare are undergoing a rapid transformation, with modern technologies reshaping how armies intend to fight in the twenty-first century.

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The Arms of the Future analyses how the emergence of novel weapons systems is shaping the risks and opportunities on the battlefield. Drawing on extensive practical observation and experimentation, the book unpacks the operational challenges new weapons pose on the battlefield and how armies might be structured to overcome them.

At a time when defence spending across NATO is on the rise, and conflict with Russia raises new questions of what it means to fight a truly 'modern' war, Watling examines not just the arms to be employed but how they can be fielded and wielded to survive and prevail in future wars.

You can put down your 'future war' novels and read instead the actual study of the deployment of modern weapons and systems from someone who has seen many of them in action, often as a frequent visitor to the battlefields of Ukraine. Jack Watling examines critically and thoughtfully how forces will fight in the mid-decades of the century, exploding the hyperbolae, war-scares, and myths with some very hard truths. For each technology, working from the tactical to the strategic, he focusses on its functional logic and its dependencies. If you want to know how to 'find, fix, and finish' in the battlespace, and you want to know how the technology works in practice, you have just found the book you need.

Dr Rob Johnson, Director of the Office of Net Assessment and Challenge

Ministry of Defence

In the last ten years, Dr Jack Watling, a research fellow at RUSI, has become a leading commentator on military affairs in the UK. In this perceptive, timely and provocative book, Dr Watling lays out his vision of the future of 'informationized' land warfare. In the light of ubiquitous sensors and long-range precision fires, the twentieth century doctrine of manoeuvre and its associated forces structures, so ingrained in contemporary military thinking, may now have become obsolete. In its place, Dr Watling describes a new battlefield geometry in which attacks forces will have to remain dispersed and concealed out of range of enemy strikes, until they have created the opportunity to concentrate for an attack on an objective, which will almost certainly be urban. To prevail on this battlefield, Dr Watling convincingly argues that land forces will need to be re-organised. This book represents a major contribution to current debates in military science and will be of profound interest to military professionals, scholars, and policymakers.

Anthony King

Warwick University

Dr Jack Watling

Senior Research Fellow, Land Warfare

Military Sciences

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