The Challenges Facing The Pentagon's Innovation Push

America's military power is great, but what about their technological innovation?


There isn’t a single country in the world that can boast a military as strong as America’s – they spend as much on military defense as the next 12 military powers combined. Although willing to spend considerable funds on defense, technological innovation has been somewhat left to the wayside by the Obama administration.

Former President, George Bush, had initiatives in place that would have seen an airborne laser enabled on Air Force jets. This would have allowed pilots to shoot down ballistic missiles- just one example of how technological innovation could have helped the American army.

A recent white paper released by the American government stipulated that due to cuts in military innovation, America’s superiority in regard to military technology wasn’t assured and was far away from being indomitable.

It’s certainly a good sign that the white paper addressed these concerns and shows that there is at least some scope from the democratic party to adapt their policies in order to foster innovation. At the same time, there are still a number of challenges facing the Obama administration.

Since Ronald Reegan’s presidency there has been almost no investment in new weapons – Bill Clinton was quite happy ‘to skip a generation’ and much of George Bush’s attempts either never came to fruition or were quashed by the Obama administration. In effect, the heavy investment that the American’s made in the 70s and 80s was the last time the Americans gave their weapons and overhaul.

If it ain’t broke don’t fix it comes to mind and perhaps shows the American government’s systemic fear of investing in innovative technologies. It’s been reported that there is almost no room to maneuver when it comes to budgeting, so it’s unlikely that there will be the money to invest in new technologies. This is obviously a challenge for Obama and shows that if America is to continue its dominance in this field, it will have to find money from other sources.

To add to this, the Democratic Party is historically more prone to vetoing investments in weapons than their Republican counterparts. Even with fears of a nuclear war stemming from unstable nations like North Korea, the Obama administration has seen it fit not to invest much money into technlogies to aid missile defense. This shows that investing in defense innovation is not something that comes naturally to Democrats.

If the Obama administration is to act on the proposed reforms in the white paper then there’s no doubt that the US can once again lead the field in military technological innovation. There are certainly challenges facing them, but they’re challenges that can and should be overcome.

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