The technological capabilities in modern era

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Speaker: LTG (R) Ilias LEONTARIS

Emeritus Commander of 1st ARMY/Greece &

Ex Chief National Guard, Cyprus

Your Excellencies,

Minister and Deputy Minister of National Defense,

Honorable Chiefs of the Hellenic National Defense and the Hellenic Army General Staffs Distinguished Guests and Participants,

Ladies and Gentlemen

It is an honor and accepted with pleasure the invitation to address this distinguished audience, the Chiefs of The European Armies including the Commander of the US Army EU, Gen Christopher G. Cavoli, a friend of mine and I would like to, once again, thank him, in public, for the great support he offered to me and the cooperation we developed during my service as the Chief of the National Guard ( The Armed Forces) of the Republic of Cyprus. Thank you, Chris, ……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………. I will never forget it.

I could not proceed to my lecture/introduction though without expressing my warm thanks to Gen Lallousis for his kind invitation to be with you today and to contribute your efforts in adapting your armies in to the “New Era” or the Modern Era.

The New Era of what? The Era of the Next War is the easy answer that I can read in the lips of many of you!

And then a new question comes up.. what the Next War will look like?

The Next War is the evolution of the current war, and this is the evolution of the yesterday and the past wars.

In 1898, a Polish banker and self-taught military expert named Jan Bloch published The Future of War.

“War is the continuation of politics by other means ”

So, what this Next War will be? I can assure you that it will definitely not be like this

or even like this

I expect to see features like this

However, we should all be prepared to see again, something like these

And you know what? We are already here.

We have moved from the battlefield to the Battlespace,

and we should be prepared for something even further advanced!!!!

However, someone could ask. Were the Military and/or the Operational Requirements that pushed technology to advance and find solutions for us? or it is the technology that drives us to step forward and adapt our strategies, concepts, and tactics to the Modern Era in order to fight the “Next War”.

The war which has been given several titles.

I Personally prefer the term “Multi-Domain Warfare”

Let’s see where we stand today at how we got here.

Everybody or at least many agree that we experience the results of the 4th Industrial Revolution or for some others those of the 2nd Technological one.

It is common sense that Technology has affected or influenced most of our everyday activities.

Could the Army be excluded from that reality???

The obvious answer is Not.

We are in the “Adapt or Die” era, as General [Lt Gen (Ret)] Rick Lynch, describes in his book and in this era, we are called to define the role of the Land Forces, that is to say, how we imagine the land forces for the next 30 years.

What we see today like Artificial Intelligence, Autonomous Systems, Global Sensors, Advanced Manufacturing, and Quantum Science (almost here) have partly transformed and will continue transforming warfare as radically as Bloch could not imagine.

This is the revolution that is unfolding today. The real revolution in Military Affairs and while it happens the basic idea has remained the same. The emerging technologies will enable the new battle networks of sensors and shooters to rapidly accelerate the process of detecting, targeting, and striking threats, what the military calls the “kill chain.”

(There are different approaches to what “Kill Chain” stands for. It could be seen as a military concept related to the structure of an attack, consisting of Detect, Deny, Disrupt, Degrade, Deceive, and Destroy

Another approach goes for Target identification, force dispatch to target, decision, and order to attack the target, and finally the destruction of the target).

So, if ever there were a time to get serious about the revolution in military affairs, it is now. This reality demands more than a revolution in technology; it requires a revolution in thinking. And that thinking must focus more on how the military fights than with what it fights.

The question, accordingly, is not how new technologies can improve the military’s ability to do what it already does, but how they can enable it to operate in new ways.

A military, an Army made up of small numbers of large, expensive, heavily manned, and hard- to-replace systems will not survive in the future battlefields, where dozens of intelligent machines will deliver violence at a greater volume and higher velocity than ever before.

Success rather requires a different kind of military. An Army or Military built around large numbers of small, inexpensive, expendable, and highly autonomous systems.

The Governments should allocate the money, prepare the human capital, and develop technologies to assemble that kind of military based and supported by New Technologies. However, we are still facing with the same Old Problems.

It is obvious that Artificial Intelligence and other emerging technologies will change the way war is fought, but they will not change its nature.

Whether it involves longbows or source codes, war will always be violent, politically motivated, and composed of the same three elemental functions that new recruits learn in their basic training:

  • Move,
  • Shoot,
  • and Communicate.

Movement in warfare entails hiding and seeking (attackers try to evade detection; defenders try to detect them) and penetrating and repelling (attackers try to enter opponents’ space; defenders try to deny them access). But in a world that is becoming one giant sensor, hiding and penetrating – never easy in warfare – will be far more difficult, if not impossible.


The future of movement will be also characterized by a return of mass assets to the battlefield. The sensors, which I referred before, will generate rapidly greater quantities of data, which in turn will drive both the development and the deployment of artificial intelligence.

And as machines become more autonomous, militaries will be able to field more of them in smaller sizes and at lower costs.

In addition, new developments in power generation will allow these smaller systems to travel farther and faster than ever. Where once there was one destroyer, for example, the near future we could see dozens of autonomous vessels with similar capabilities in striking targets.

Technology will also transform how those systems remain in motion.

Let me proceed with the second of the basic training function, Shooting.

The militaries of the future should and will also be able to shoot farther than those of today. Eventually, hypersonic munitions (weapons that travel at more than five times the speed of sound) and space-based weapons will be able to strike targets anywhere in the world nearly instantly.

Militaries will be able to attack domains once assumed to be unthinkable, such as space and logistics networks.

There will be no rear areas or safe havens anymore. All these autonomous systems will not only be able to find targets everywhere; they will also be able to shoot them accurately.

The ability to have both quantity and quality in military systems will have devastating effects, especially as technology makes lethal payloads smaller.

Coming to the third one, the way militaries communicate has and will further change drastically. Traditional communications networks will not survive. Instead, technology will push vital communications functions to the edge of the network.

Information networks based on 5G technology will be capable of moving vastly larger amounts of data at significantly faster speeds.

Similarly, the same quantum science that will improve military sensors will transform communications and computing.

Every autonomous system will be able to process and make sense of the information it gathers on its own, without relying on a command hub. This will enable the creation of radically distributed networks that are resilient and reconfigurable.

I referred to the influence or impact that technology brings to recruiters’ basic training. We should also consider Logistics which has traditionally been the limiting factor in war. With technology in place autonomous militaries will need less fuel and no food.

Advanced manufacturing methods will allow the production of complicated goods at the point of demand quickly, cheaply, and easily. It will reduce the need for huge, risky, and expensive military logistics network and enhance the ability to supply forces with food, fuel, and replacements.

Technology is going to have an impact on other military functions or procedures, as well, like:

The Command-and-Control System

The Data Load and Transformation Speed

Strategic Communication Process

Leadership Development

Training and Education

Cyber and Space domains

Concepts, Doctrines and Tactics

Human Resources management and

Personnel Behavior, to mention some.

We all understand that this large scale of Military modernization cannot happen at once.

This should take place in a well-planned and coordinated process and it will require significant changes.

We must change. We all know that any “big or/and sudden” change in any organization is followed or linked with a “Major Shock”. So, it is necessary for an “Anti-Shock” treatment, to be in place in order to absorb the “turbulences” that this change may cause.

My experience though concerning changes, in the Greek Army, is not very positive and I have publicly expressed it.

In fact, I have said that… All the compound words, with the first synthetic being the Re-..

and mean all kinds of change, have been used.. and failed… Not any of the planned changes has

been completed… for many and different reasons. I hope it does not happen in your time….

Instead of sudden of broad changes I would rather prefer the “Transformation” process by which one figure, expression, or function or even an organization is converted into another one ofsimilar value where changes in form, nature, or appearance are gradually implemented.

For me “Transformation” goes for “Adaptation”. It is obvious that “adaptation” needs changes. However, making the changes as part of a process you may avoid the “Major or Big Shock”.

Dear Generals, Distinguished Guests and Participants, Ladies and Gentlemen we should realize that the goal of military modernization is not simply to replace the military platforms we used for decades. We must focus instead on how to buy systems that can be combined into networks or kill chains in order to achieve specific military goals, such as air superiority or control of the seas.

General Joseph Dunford, the19th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, ringed the bell in 2017 saying that…

“In just a few years, if we do not change the trajectory, we will lose our qualitative and quantitative competitive advantage”.

I started with what Jan Bloch had predicted, said, and published 120 years ago. Let me proceed with his mistake.

He thought that the ultimate carnage of modern combat would be so horrific that war would become “impossible”. “He was wrong”.

War is here and in order to avoid you should be ready to fight it.

In other words, the purpose of preparing for war will remain to never have to fight one. We should try to follow what the military strategist Sun-tzu recommended, to “win without fighting.”

Nonfighting means no loses…. Keeping humans alive, safe, and comfortable inside machines is difficult and expensive—and no one wants to pay the ultimate price of lost human life.

Technology provides us with these Autonomous and Unmanned systems which are cheaper to field and cheaper to lose and they free humans from doing work that machines can do better, such as processing raw sensor data or allocating tasks among military systems.

Liberating people from such work will prove crucial for managing the volume and velocity of the modern battlefield, but also for enabling people to focus more energy on making moral decisions about the intended outcomes of warfare. In this way, greater autonomy can not only enhance military effectiveness; it can also allow more humans to pay more attention to the ethics of war than ever before.

Building this kind of military is not only desirable; it is becoming technologically feasible.

Putting together, all these technologies will displace decades-old, even centuries-old, assumptions about how militaries operate. The militaries that embrace and adapt to these technologies will dominate those that do not.

Dear Generals, you should «Train your Armies as they are going to fight» and Ifully agree with the 40th Chief of Staff of US Army, Gen. James McConville, who has said that “Future conflicts will manifest at a longer range, across all domains, and at a much greater speed, both physical and cognitive. We must therefore continue to implement a 21st century talent management system, develop and field new weapon systems, transform our doctrine, build new organizations, and change the way we train”.

We must realize the importance and implement the «Mission Command» concept as well and to the extent that circumstances allow, we should encourage our subordinates to act with a «Disciplined Disobedience» in order to accomplish their mission as another friend of mine has said the 39th US Army Chief of Staff and current Chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen Mark Milley.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is no longer possible (to some extent it never was) to speak for the role of land forces in a future conflict without taking seriously into consideration the missions of naval and air forces or even better all the other forces.

Missions, in the accepted military sense, should rather be assigned to what we term Joint Force, or in some cases to a Task Force, which are always a balanced team consisted of all of the so-called services (air, cyberspace, land, sea, and space) and vary greatly in size and composition in accordance with the assigned mission.

However, the combination of geo-strategic conditions and the technological innovation provides us with the opportunity to reconsider and better understand the role of the Land Forces.

Land Forces can carry out the broadest range of military operations and constitutes “the ability to gain, sustain, exploit control over land, resources, and people (by threat, force, or occupation) ”.

It offers policymakers tremendous utility in peace, crisis, or war, as it can defeat, deter, compel, reassure, engage, and support the national interests and objectives.

In closing I will summarize by saying, it is Technology that brought us here and it will lead us to the Future and the future will be defined by artificial intelligence, autonomous systems, and other emerging technologies that are revolutionizing global industries and are now poised to overturn the current model

However, we must have in mind that, the future is by origin uncertain and not predicted! It is planned! and it belongs to whom are prepared for.

The ball is at your terrain…………

I thank once again the organizers for the invitation, all of you for your attention and I am at your disposal to answer any questions you might have or were created by my thoughts.

Thank you


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