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Title: Are Drones Revolutionary?: Assessing the Impact of Unmanned Systems within the Revolution in Military Affairs Theory
Authors: Brandfield-Harvey, Winnie
Advisors: Crocker, Ryan
Department: Woodrow Wilson School
Class Year: 2020
Abstract: This thesis analyzed the military theory known as the “revolution in military affairs,” or RMA which explains the subsequent changes in war that follow the changes in technology. In this thesis, RMA is used as a theoretical framework in which to understand the role of drones in the US military and how this innovation has revolutionized the way the US has fought over the past few decades. I used the history of the definition to assess the common elements of technology, organization, and doctrine. I then reviewed historical perspectives on RMA to conclude the general idea surrounding the theory which is that there is no revolution without the consequence of new organizational structures and doctrines as well. This is made clear through the example of the Gulf War which served as the turning point in the development of the current RMA. Using the current RMA as a guide, which tends to focus heavily on airpower, I assess the background of drones, their attractiveness, their features, and their limitations and argue that drones are, in fact, an RMA. I make this argument on the basis that structures, and strategies changed in war when the Predator drone was introduced and employed. After examining drones as an RMA, I then examine drones and their use by non-state actors, finding that a revolution is no longer exclusive to large nation-states like the US. This thesis concludes with recommendations for future research which include analyzing more examples of past wars and different models of drones, as well as more investigation into the acquisition and employment of drones among terrorists and insurgents.
Type of Material: Princeton University Senior Theses
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Princeton School of Public and International Affairs, 1929-2020

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