Can Information Displace Mass? Armour In The Future Operating Environment
Mobile and heavily protected forces are mainstays in the conduct of land combat. The platform best exemplifying the characteristics of mobility, protection and firepower for land forces is the tank. The last century of land warfare featured the dominance of the tank as a decisive tool of battle. Tanks were crucial to overcoming the stalemate of the trenches during battles in the last years of the First World War. They decided battles in the European, North African, and Eastern theatres during the Second World War. Heavy armoured forces formed the nucleus of a credible conventional deterrent force during the Cold War. Most recently, tanks delivered unparalleled protection to ground forces and lethal fires as an infantry support weapon during counter insurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Maintaining a heavy armour capability, however, comes at significant costs in terms of capital, personnel and resources. In an era of increased resource competition and where technological advances promise to offset conventional applications of hard power, many question if tanks remain operationally relevant.