Remotely effective: unmanned aerial vehicles, the information revolution in military affairs, and the rise of the drone in Southeast Asia
Cassingham, Grant J.
Dahl, Erik J.
Malley, Michael S.
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The information revolution in military affairs (IRMA) has changed the way that wars are fought and won. Exploiting the revolution's core principles enables a net-centric, informationalized force to outmaneuver and defeat its adversaries. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) represent a critical advancement in intelligence collection capability, but are they as revolutionary a technology as one might expect? Is UAV acquisition without IRMA exploitation the equivalent of purchasing surface-to-air missiles without their radars? This thesis argues that IRMA exploitation is a necessary precondition for effective UAV employment, especially in the maritime domain. By examining the maritime UAV use of several countries across the IRMA exploitation spectrum, one can see that UAV deployment without an underlying information architecture undermines the utility of an unmanned asset. Southeast Asia is the world's fastest growing UAV market. While analysts have predicted that UAVs will disrupt the regional balance of power, this analysis finds that due to a lack of IRMA exploitation, the chances of disruption are extremely remote. This thesis identifies the IRMA-related deficiencies of future UAV users, and provides recommendations for increasing the chance of effective UAV use and ultimately, combat efficiency.
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