Warfighting and Disruptive Technologies: Disguising Innovation

Warfighting and Disruptive Technologies: Disguising Innovation

Warfighting and Disruptive Technologies: Disguising Innovation

Warfighting and Disruptive Technologies: Disguising Innovation


Occasionally, during times of peace, military forces achieve major warfighting innovations. Terry Pierce terms these developments 'disruptive innovations' and shows how senior leaders have often disguised them in order to ensure their innovations survived.

He shows how more common innovations however, have been those of integrating new technologies to help perform existing missions better and not change them radically. The author calls these 'sustaining innovations'. The recent innovation history suggests two interesting questions. First, how can senior military leaders achieve a disruptive innovation when they are heavily engaged around the world and they are managing sustaining innovations? Second, what have been the external sources of disruptive (and sustaining) innovations?

This book is essential reading for professionals and students interested in national security, military history and strategic issues.


This work by Captain Terry Pierce advances our understanding of military innovation in several important ways. First, it makes good use of the concept of disruptive innovation. A concept which emerged from the business school literature. Previous work, including my own, had difficulty in defining just what an 'innovation' was, as opposed to incremental improvements in existing tasks. The works by Major Suzanne Nielsen, USA, on military reform, on the one hand, and now by Captain Pierce on disruptive innovation, on the other hand, give us a much better empirical and conceptual understanding of the full range of changes in military behavior, and the issues particular to the different kinds of change. Captain Pierce, specifically, shows us which kinds of change are more likely to encounter organizational opposition. Second, Captain Pierce also helps us understand the organizational strategies that have been successful in bringing about disruptive innovation. These are the kinds of innovation Machiavelli had in mind, I believe, when he wrote that new orders have enemies in those who see their interests damaged by change. Concealing the long-term implications of disruptive innovations has been an important element in bringing them about. It will be interesting to see how publishing this finding will affect the dynamic between military innovators and advocates of incremental change. Third, Captain Pierce successfully brings together the study of technological and doctrinal change within military innovations. Beyond that, Captain Pierce has added several new historical cases of military innovation, previously unexamined to my knowledge, for us to study along with the more familiar cases.

This book emerges from a dissertation that Captain Pierce wrote under my supervision. Its quality will speak for itself. Let me only conclude that in the course of writing his dissertation, Captain Pierce faced and overcame greater obstacles than are usually encountered in getting a Ph.D.

Stephen Peter Rosen

Harvard Professor of Political Science . . .

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