Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

I am not happy with the term ‘disruptive defense’ but at the same time I hope we’re on the eve of some creative destruction

I like some of the people using the term “disruptive defense,” but I don’t think I like the term itself. I know what they mean by disruptive technologies, but the term standing alone makes it seem like disrupting is an end in itself. I don’t care if something is disruptive, I care if it makes ...

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Wikimedia
Wikimedia

I like some of the people using the term "disruptive defense," but I don't think I like the term itself. I know what they mean by disruptive technologies, but the term standing alone makes it seem like disrupting is an end in itself. I don't care if something is disruptive, I care if it makes our military more effective and our society better and safer. Some of those changes will be disruptive, others will not.

Still, I am sympathetic. The more I look at today's defense establishment, the more I think it is mired in the industrial age, especially its personnel policies -- which I believe are at the core of how our military operates and adapts, or doesn't. If we are to continue as a topmost military power, those policies are going to have to be overhauled entirely. And not by the people currently in charge of them.

We also probably need to see the defense industrial base go the way of the trolley. In five years, Amazon and Google probably are going to know more about drones and robots than anyone in the military. So yes, I hope we are on the eve of creative destruction. Disrupt away, fellas.

I like some of the people using the term “disruptive defense,” but I don’t think I like the term itself. I know what they mean by disruptive technologies, but the term standing alone makes it seem like disrupting is an end in itself. I don’t care if something is disruptive, I care if it makes our military more effective and our society better and safer. Some of those changes will be disruptive, others will not.

Still, I am sympathetic. The more I look at today’s defense establishment, the more I think it is mired in the industrial age, especially its personnel policies — which I believe are at the core of how our military operates and adapts, or doesn’t. If we are to continue as a topmost military power, those policies are going to have to be overhauled entirely. And not by the people currently in charge of them.

We also probably need to see the defense industrial base go the way of the trolley. In five years, Amazon and Google probably are going to know more about drones and robots than anyone in the military. So yes, I hope we are on the eve of creative destruction. Disrupt away, fellas.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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