Buying Military Transformation: Technological Innovation and the Defense Industry

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Columbia University Press, Aug 14, 2012 - Political Science - 224 pages
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In Buying Military Transformation, Peter Dombrowski and Eugene Gholz analyze the United States military's ongoing effort to capitalize on information technology. New ideas about military doctrine derived from comparisons to Internet Age business practices can be implemented only if the military buys technologically innovative weapons systems. Buying Military Transformation examines how political and military leaders work with the defense industry to develop the small ships, unmanned aerial vehicles, advanced communications equipment, and systems-of-systems integration that will enable the new military format.

Dombrowski and Gholz's analysis integrates the political relationship between the defense industry and Congress, the bureaucratic relationship between the firms and the military services, and the technical capabilities of different types of businesses. Many government officials and analysts believe that only entrepreneurial start-up firms or leaders in commercial information technology markets can produce the new, network-oriented military equipment. But Dombrowski and Gholz find that the existing defense industry will be best able to lead military-technology development, even for equipment modeled on the civilian Internet. The U.S. government is already spending billions of dollars each year on its "military transformation" program-money that could be easily misdirected and wasted if policymakers spend it on the wrong projects or work with the wrong firms.

In addition to this practical implication, Buying Military Transformation offers key lessons for the theory of "Revolutions in Military Affairs." A series of military analysts have argued that major social and economic changes, like the shift from the Agricultural Age to the Industrial Age, inherently force related changes in the military. Buying Military Transformation undermines this technologically determinist claim: commercial innovation does not directly determine military innovation; instead, political leadership and military organizations choose the trajectory of defense investment. Militaries should invest in new technology in response to strategic threats and military leaders' professional judgments about the equipment needed to improve military effectiveness. Commercial technological progress by itself does not generate an imperative for military transformation.

Clear, cogent, and engaging, Buying Military Transformation is essential reading for journalists, legislators, policymakers, and scholars.


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1 Buying Transformation
2 Implementing Military Innovation
3 Small Ships
4 Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
5 Communications
6 Systems Integration and PublicPrivate Partnership
7 Military Innovation and the Defense Industry

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About the author (2012)

Peter Dombrowski is professor and chair of the Strategic Research Department at the Naval War College in Rhode Island. He is the author of more than thirty journal articles, monographs, book chapters, and governmental reports in the fields of international relations, international political economy, and national security.

Eugene Gholz is an assistant professor at the University of Texas in Austin. He is an expert on the aerospace and defense industries and studies innovation, business-government relations, defense management, and US foreign military policy.

Peter Dombrowski is an Associate Professor in the Strategic Research Department at U.S. Naval War College. He has published more than twenty-five articles and chapters on national security strategy, international political economy, and international relations, and one academic press book, Policy Responses to the Globalization of American Banking. He is an editor of International Studies Quarterly and director of the Strategic Research Department's Economics and International Security Project.

Eugene Gholz is an Assistant Professor at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky. He is also a Research Associate of the MIT Security Studies Program and of the Strategic Research Department of the Naval War College, and he is a team member of the Council of Foreign Relations.

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