The defense innovation machine | 2021 | Publications

The defense innovation machine: Why the U.S. will remain on the cutting edge

Harvey M. Sapolsky, Eugene Gholz

Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol. 44, No. 3 (2021)



American security policy discussions commonly warn that the United States is falling behind technologically, especially vis-à-vis China. However, the U.S. military remains at the cutting edge because of its well-developed defense innovation system. No nation (or combination) comes close to U.S. investment in defense R&D. Unmatched political concerns about avoiding casualties, inherent rivalry among participants in the U.S. defense innovation system, and traditional American openness to immigration and new ideas drive the investment. The overly alarmist warnings come from a thriving threat assessment system that continually searches for potential military dangers and technological challenges. The warnings feed the defense innovation system.