American Military Technology
MIL 311 American Military History II
Instructor Trevor Albertson
March 2, 2014
“Technology shapes the conduct of war in a tremendous way. It determines how wars are fought, how armies are organized and also many of the limitations they have,” according to Krishnan (2008, p. 1). The United States armed forces have seen many innovations in military technology that have helped project the United States as a global leader in politics and military matters. World War II was the catapult that launched the United States onto the world stage and began the shift of American armed forces swing towards advancing military ...view middle of the document...
Technology dominance for the U.S. army was not practical at the onset of World War II, but advances throughout the war would continue a trend of advancing technology. The U.S. army would find itself concentrating “efforts to catch up with the rest of the world as war began in Europe” during World War II, when considering technology, according to Larew (2005, p. 670). While there were advances in mechanized technology like tanks and artillery, they “were neither new in concept nor strangers to the battlefield. Rather they were simply more capable versions of earlier machines tested in battle and improved incrementally through the interwar period, a process that continued, indeed accelerated, during the war itself,” according to Hacker (2005, p. 262). However, the army signal corps made huge advancements to battlefield communication with FM radios that would increase the tactical capabilities of the mechanized efforts. “In 1940, Colonel Roger B. Colton, chief of the Signal Corps Laboratories in 1938–41, decided to move FM radio from research and development into production and distribution,” according to Larew (2005, 673).
As with mechanized units like artillery and tanks getting upgrades in technology, so too did the Army Air Corps during World War II. “Jet aircraft first flew in combat near the end of World War II” and helicopters “entered service late in World War II; the army used them for liaison and observation, the navy for reconnaissance and air/sea rescue,” according to Hacker (2005, p. 263). Technology for jets and helicopters would be aided with radar and other electronic advances. “Electronics emerged as a major focus of research in World War II. Radar was only the most important of a wide range of applications that dramatically improved the integration of combat arms, the control of battlefield action, and the destruction of enemy forces,” according to Hacker (2005, p. 264). As the war came to a close the most significant advancement came in nuclear form, as the United States Army’s invested research at Los Almos, NM resulted in the culmination of two bombs that would be dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
The end of World War II and the use of atomic bombs on Japan, would usher in an arms race for technology dominance in an age known as the nuclear era. While the nuclear research and use of atomic bombs meant technological dominance was ushered in for the United States, it also meant that the rest of the world was now in a rush to compete for that dominance and the Soviet Union would be the leader of the pack. This constituted a change from “the chief purpose of” the U.S. “military establishment to win wars,” to that of averting them, according to Doughty, Flint, Grimsley, Gruber, Herring, Horward, Lynn, and Murray (1996, p. 590). This came as the risk of the employment of nuclear weapons was thought to be too catastrophic on the world. The advances in this age would become tools for foreign policy or more along...