Military Magic | 2023 | Events

Military Magic: Innovation and Combat Effectiveness in Modern War
Kendrick Kuo headshot
Kendrick Kuo
U.S. Naval War College
November 1, 2023


Conventional wisdom suggests that innovation consistently improves military power. Militaries that oppose it invite defeat, but those that innovate secure victory. Innovation is considered a sign of organizational health because the ever-changing character of war constantly threatens to render existing capabilities obsolete. Conversely, misfortune comes to those who allow the march of historical change to overtake them. The notion that innovation and better military performance go hand in hand is thus intuitive. My work challenges this intuition—innovation can indeed harm combat effectiveness—and identifies conditions under which such self-defeating outcomes are more likely to occur.


Kendrick Kuo is an assistant professor at the U.S. Naval War College’s Strategic and Operational Research Department. His work examines military effectiveness, military innovation, and grand strategy. In another vein of research, he studies identity politics and nationalism, with country expertise in China. Previously, he was a Pre-Doctoral Fellow at Texas A&M University’s Albritton Center for Grand Strategy, a Hans J. Morgenthau Fellow at the University of Notre Dame, and a PhD Candidate-in-Residence at the Elliott School of International Affair’s Institute for Security and Conflict Studies.

Prof. Kuo holds a Ph.D. in political science from The George Washington University, an M.A. in international affairs and economics from Johns Hopkins SAIS, and a B.A. in international affairs and religion from The George Washington University. During my courses of study, he was also a Boren Scholar at the University of Jordan and received a FLAS to study at Tsinghua University