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Technology and Adaptation on the Modern Battlefield: A Battlefield Perspective on the Adoption of Unmanned Aircraft

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Document pages: 46 pages

Abstract: How do individuals respond to the introduction of new technologies on the battlefield? What explains variation in the ways in which these new technologies are adopted? Existing literature within security studies highlights bureaucratic, organizational, and cultural barriers to the adoption of new military technology. Largely missing from these discussions is an understanding of human responses to technological change, and how these responses might impact the use of new technologies on the battlefield. In this paper we explore tactical level barriers to the adoption of one particular technology – unmanned aerial vehicles. Indeed, despite a burgeoning interest in UAVs, we know little about how they are perceived from the battlefield. These perspectives are important since tactical level operators are often the first to experience new technologies and play an important role in determining how these technologies impact the course of conflict. To access tactical-level views, we employ survey experiments and interviews of ground fires personnel from 2003 to 2014 and find that these personnel have psychological reactions to the introduction of new technology that shape the ways in which it is used. In the case of UAVs in particular, tensions between the desire to mitgate risk to aircrew on the one hand, and a lack of trust in unmanned platforms on the other, creates a strong preference for manned aircraft with implications for the future role of UAVs on the battlefield.

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