The Elements and Theory of High Energy Warfare: A Twenty-First Century Revolution

Date of Graduation

Summer 2007


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

William Van Cleave


Can Directed Energy (DE) weapons change the way wars are fought and if so, how? When analyzed from a technical perspective it is obvious that for the past few decades there have been considerable improvements in the efficiency and durability of DR technologies. A number of these DE technologies show promise as weapons systems as seen in the recent introduction of the Active Denial System (ADS) a High-Power Microwave (HPM) non-lethal weapon for security forces. Although this device and other technologies may offer some combat capability for current operations, there is a new generation of DE technologies that offer significantly more impressive effects with greater energy-conversion efficiency. When these weapons are combined with new high density energy storage technologies such as fuel cells, it is possible to conceive of widespread field employment. Moreover, from a tactical perspective DE weaponry offers effects that may be far superior to the traditional arms. It offers sensor-shooter synchronization, faster than response attack, global range engagement and denial of space, forms, and levels of combat. This could significantly alter the ways wars are fought, bringing about an era of High Energy Warfare (HEW).


laser, microwave, directed energy, future warfare, technology

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


© Daniel Andrew Shellenbarger