Senior soldiers: The thin gray line

By B. R. Allenby, September 1, 2014

The confluence of deep cultural, social, and demographic trends with technological change can create conditions to which fundamental aspects of military organization and structure must rapidly adjust. Nomadic steppe warriors with composite bows and stirrups changed balances of power from China to Western Europe and throughout the Middle East; corned gunpowder and naval cannon technology, combined with powerful commercial, religious, and imperialistic forces, made the world a European realm for centuries; nuclear weapons have made civilization-level wars unthinkable (if not, unfortunately, impossible). Today a similar adjustment becomes necessary, as demographic shifts change the worker pools that the military will need to draw on, and technology increasingly removes the warrior from direct combat, changing fundamentally the types of skills that the military will need to cultivate, from the aggression, emotion, and physical stamina of youth to the judgment, wisdom, and patience of older age.

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