Silentstalker: When we today take a look at some of the 20th or even 19th century predictions of how the 21st century world would look like, we can’t help but laugh at the naivety of our ancestors, born from a different world. But… were they really so off all the time?
CaptianNemo: All of the following is a direct word-for-word transcript from Army Ground Forces: Equipment Review Board (Part I Board Study and Annexes) June 1945. aka the Cook Board. Headed up by Major General Gilbert R. Cook. Specifically this transcribe is from Annex “A” Pages 1-3. No edits have been made.
1. It is difficult to predict the nature of warfare of the future. When one considers the advances in weapons and means of’ transportation that have taken place during the past twenty years, or even during the four years we have been in the present war, the magnitude of the task and the degree of imagination required in setting up characteristics tor weapons and transport for the next war become apparent. These advances apply not only to increases in calibers, weights, and fire power of conventional weapons, improved self-protective features, ability to move, by air, water and on the ground, weapons of weights hitherto considered immobile, but also to the extensive, uses being made, w1th the prospects of greatly enlarged uses, of such weapons and equipment as radar, free rockets, guided missiles, recoilless guns, television, and others.
a. During the early phases of the next war, it is not unlikely that this country will be on the defensive. Destruction of our war potential will be the first objective of a hostile country. We must be prepared to meet massed saturation attacks from every conceivable type of airborne weapon, as well as by concentrated attacks from very long range, highly destructive guided missiles launched from land, sea, or air platforms.
b. Planes will be armored, will fly at speeds up to 1000 miles per hour and will be able to bomb accurately in all kinds of weather and under all conditions of visibility from altitudes up to 60,000 feet, And to place accurately guided bombs on a ‘seen target.
c. Improvement in the science and the means for conducting airborne and amphibious operations will make these the accepted rather than the excepted methods of operation during the next liar. This country must have the weapons and the other means to fend off attacks of this nature during the critical phase when we are mobilizing for offensive warfare.
a. The final phase will be a struggle for mastery on the battlefield. The infantry soldier, as in all past wars, will remain the primary agent for taking and holding ground. In this mission, he will be supported by greatly improved weapons of ground and air types. Super-heavy tanks, super-velocity highly mobile anti-tank guns and greatly improvedindividual anti-tank weapons of the bazooka or recoilless types, rocket weapons and improved weapons of the conventional artillery type, and guided anti-aircraft missiles will be among the weapons necessary to permit the infantry to advance without unnecessary losses.
b. As a means of presenting an actual picture to what is transpiring on the ground, ground units will be equipped with low speed, low performance aircraft carrying television sets.
c. Radar will be used to locate ground as well as air targets, to obtain firing data, to guide projectiles to the target and/or to explode them when they come within lethal distance of the target.
d. Electronic equipment will provide the ground force commander with a means of determining at all times the location of his units and supporting units, will provide means for identification, and will provide position-determining and homing devices for moving units.
e. The trend thus far has been toward the development of increasingly high speed aircraft. It is within the realm of possibility’ to visualize new types of aircraft for use by ground troops in supporting operations on the ground. Highly armored and heavily armed aircraft, subject to control from the ground, and capable of hovering in position which will enable an observer to see and to bring accurate tire on ground targets, could perform the role of flying artillery and flying tanks.
f. In addition to using the conventional types of troop-carrier aircraft, ground troops in the future will utilize small, slow moving and landing planes, for quick vertical envelopment by relatively small units. Planes of this type organic to ground force units will also be utilized extensively for battlefield supply and evacuation purposes.
a. Armament is in the most fluid and progressive period of its long history. This fluidity will continue for the-foreseeable future.
b. Since for each weapon developed, there is eventually developed a counter weapon, it fallows that weapons are primarily offensive or primarily defensive. This, however, does not interfere with their use in a role opposed to that for which they were designed.
5. The Board has endeavored to foresee and to indicate trends for development, and, where possible to set up firm characteristics for weapons for the next war. It fully realizes the risks in such an attempt at long range, prediction. Progress must not be blocked by rigid adherence to any program which may become outmoded by advances in technological developments. To obviate this possibility it is recommended that this program be reviewed and revised where necessary, at least every five years.
a. The normal instrument for accomplishing the mission of the Ground Forces on the battlefield is a force of, the combined arms and services, organized and equipped for a specific task. The tactical, development, and supp4r agencies must work together closely to the end that each task force of the future will be so trained and equipped that it can, accomplish its mission with the minimum unnecessary loss of human life. This objective will be attained if each task force is properly trained and has, at the proper time, equipment suitable for its mission, in adequate quantities, and substantially superior in quality to that of the enemy.
b. To provide, on the highest level, the integration of effort necessary to attain the objectives listed in the preceding paragraph, there should be established a unified Department of National Defense.
END OF SECTION I.