WHINSEC students learn how new tech advances military capability at Columbus’ Civil War naval museum

Dr. James Embrey, Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University, answers student questions Oct. 12, 2017. (Photo courtesy of Capt. Barrios, Ejército de Perú)

By Ruben D. Colon, School of Professional Military Education, WHINSEC

FORT BENNING, Ga. (Oct. 31, 2017) – To study how technological changes accelerate the U.S. military’s warfighting capabilities, 54 students of the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation’s Command and General Staff Officer Course recently visited the National Civil War Naval Museum at Port Columbus in Columbus, Georgia.

In particular, the museum visit was an opportunity for the students to examine the effects the Industrial Revolution had on combat and its impact on the future.

The museum features an array of exhibits that include murals, paintings, firearms, national and military flags, and a life-size replica of a reconstructed wooden-hulled ironclad boat built for the U.S. Navy.

Dr. James Embrey, from the Institute for National Strategic Studies, National Defense University, facilitated a conference, during which he related the images on displays at the museum to the theme of the military changes.

Embrey led students in analyzing how the Civil War came to define the concept of revolutions in the military for the U.S. He focused on the technological advances that were industrialized during the war. These technical developments not only had a direct impact on the future of the United States military, according to Embrey, but were a turning point in introducing innovative changes to the western way of war.

Embrey used several contemporary examples of technology’s enabling the military. The telegraph made communication between commanders more efficient on the battlefield. The railroad allowed for the quicker movement of Soldiers. Steam-powered ships dominated the water ways for a more effective system of logistical support to troops on the front lines. Weapon systems became more lethal, and a massive manufacturing system increased the production capacity of the state’s economy. These developments were just a few of the changes that altered the nature of combat and increased the potential for greater success on the battlefield.

U.S. and partner nation students from WHINSEC participated in this visit. The students included field-grade officers from the U.S. Army’s active-duty component, U.S. Army Reserve, National Guard, U.S. Air Force, International Police, and Navy as well as from the partner nations Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Peru, Paraguay, Honduras and Panama.

Contributor Ruben D. Colon is the director of History, Leadership and Ethics at the School of Professional Military Education, Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. He is a retired colonel with 32 years of federal government service and holds two master’s degrees from Yale University.

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