The Pursuit of Technological Superiority and the Shrinking American Military

The Pursuit of Technological Superiority and the Shrinking American Military

by Daniel R. Lake

Hardcover(1st ed. 2015)

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Why has the US military begun to suffer from overstretch in recent decades? Why is one of the largest militaries in the world, and the most expensive by far, periodically stressed by the operational demands placed upon it? This book argues that recent problems with overstretch are the result of a heavy reliance on technology to solve tactical and strategic problems. Over the last seven decades, the US armed services have consistently chosen to push the technological frontier out in an effort to first gain, and then maintain, qualitative superiority over potential foes. The high procurement and support costs associated with cutting-edge weapon systems has resulted in a military that is shrinking in both absolute size and in the relative share of combat forces. The culmination of this process is a US military that increasingly lacks the capacity needed to conduct operations without putting significant stress on its personnel and equipment.

Lake argues that this pattern is a manifestation of an American cultural disposition favoring technology. He shows that this affinity for technology is present in the organizational cultures of all the armed services, though not to the same degree. By examining procurement programs for each armed service, this book reveals how attempts to develop and leverage superior technology has resulted in some notable program failures, high procurement costs for the latest generation of equipment with associated production cuts, and the high support requirements that are causing the relative share of combat forces to shrink. Lake’s analysis of recent initiatives by the armed services suggests that this pattern is likely to continue, with the US military remaining prone to overstretch whenever its operational tempo increases above the peacetime baseline.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781137330628
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan US
Publication date: 06/08/2015
Edition description: 1st ed. 2015
Pages: 280
Product dimensions: 5.83(w) x 8.27(h) x (d)

About the Author

Daniel R. Lake is Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the State University of New York College at Plattsburgh.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The Problem of Overstretch

1.1 The Argument in Brief

1.2 The History of this Issue

1.3 Summary of Contents

Chapter 2: The Shrinking American Military

2.1 Trends in Personnel and Equipment

2.2 The Shrinking American Military in Context

2.3 US Military Equipment Cost Growth

2.3.1 Design, Performance, and Cost Growth

2.3.2 The Procurement Process and Cost Growth

2.3.3 Cost Growth Feedback Loops

2.4 The Changing “Tooth-to-Tail Ratio”

2.4.1 The Growth of the “Tail”

2.5 Conclusion

Chapter 3: The Pursuit of Technological Superiority

3.1 The Pursuit of Technological Superiority in Historical Context

3.2 Instrumental Rationales for the Pursuit of Technological Superiority

3.3 The Culture of Technological Superiority

3.4 Why Now?

3.5 Conclusion

Chapter 4: The Air Force and Technology

4.1 The Air Force and its Way of War

4.2 The Air Force and Tactical Aircraft

4.3 The F-22A Program

4.4 The F-35 Program

4.5 Remotely Piloted Aircraft

4.6 The Air Force and Overstretch

Chapter 5: The Navy and Technology

5.1 The Navy and its Way of War

5.2 Naval Aviation

5.3 Large Surface Combatants – the DDG-1000 and DDG-51

5.4 Small Surface Combatants – the Littoral Combat Ship and FFG(X)

5.5 The Navy and Overstretch

Chapter 6: The Army and Technology

6.1 The Army and its Way of War

6.2 The Airmobile Concept, Helicopters, the RAH-66 Comanche, and its Successors

6.3 The Future Combat System, Ground Combat Vehicle, and Beyond

6.4 The Army and Unmanned Systems

6.5 The Army and Overstretch

Chapter 7: The Marine Corps and Technology

7.1 The Marine Corps and its Way of War

7.2 The Marine Corps and Amphibious Warfare

7.3 Amphibious Vehicles

7.4 Marine Corps Aviation – Helicopters, the V-22 Tiltrotor, and V/STOL Jets

7.5 The Marine Corps and Overstretch

Chapter 8: The Potential for Further Overstretch

8.1 Will Recent Reforms Help?

8.2 The Prospects for Fundamental Change

8.3 The Risks of the Status Quo

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