In recent years, physics and other sciences have contributed extensively to an emerging national-security goal that “for every desired battlefield outcome there should be a precise and well-defined action.”
Since before World War II, the US military has been benefiting from an accelerating cascade of scientific and technological advances: turbojet engines, radar, nuclear weapons, missiles, computers, high-resolution sensors, navigation aids, satellites#a continuing and expanding list. These capabilities revolutionized the effectiveness of military forces in their day. But, over the past two decades, we have seen a new revolution in the precision of military capabilities, once again underwritten by science and technology: precision weapons, precision navigation, precision surveillance, and precision command and control.
Precision plays a key role in the present reality and future expectations of military force application. Achieving a desired precise outcome requires precision across a spectrum of activities ranging from geopolitical judgments to weapons accuracy. Much of what one needs for improving geopolitical judgment is, of course, beyond the purview of science. But even there, the products of science and technology make important contributions. Nonetheless, we focus here primarily on the contributions of science and technology to achieving the desired result against military targets, and on the need for their future contributions to improving precision in selecting and engaging such targets.
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