The Information Revolution and Offense-Defense Balance in U.S. Doctrine

43 Pages Posted: 23 Nov 2021

Date Written: November 20, 2021


Today's information revolution has created a world of flying “clouds” of data, autonomous and lethal aircraft, and artificial intelligence-enabled decision-making. Did the advent of the microprocessor, computers, and the internet create an offensively dominated world? Or did US defense decisionmakers invest in technology that would enable the offensively-dominant campaigns they preferred? This article looks at the evolution of US doctrine from ActiveDefense to AirLand Battle and finally AirSea Battle to disentangle whether technology or politics drive the offensive or defensive bent in US information revolution doctrines. In tracing these doctrines, I find that politics initially trumps technology, but that AirLand Battle becomes a critical juncture for US weapons, creating a path dependency for offense-dominant information technology that defines the offense defense balance of subsequent doctrine. Finally, I conclude that the advent of cyber may threaten that dominance of information technology enabled campaigns of the future.

Keywords: offense defense balance, information, doctrine

Suggested Citation

Schneider, Jacquelyn, The Information Revolution and Offense-Defense Balance in U.S. Doctrine (November 20, 2021). Available at SSRN: or

Jacquelyn Schneider (Contact Author)

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States

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