Best Defense

Revising our armed forces (7): The right time to innovate is during peace, not war

Rule no. 7 is, as I said earlier, the central point in Rosen’s book, which I hope you have bought by now.

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Rule no. 7 is, as I said earlier, the central point in Rosen’s book, which I hope you have bought by now.

Often it is simply too difficult to do in wartime, he writes. And by the time the innovation is ready, the war is over.

The British spent three years of World War I working with the tank, but not using it effectively. This was because of the distractions of war, because of enemy countermeasures, and because of the lack of a system to collect, study and apply the lessons being learned by tank crews and their commanders.

It is not enough to have a new technology on hand. It is equally important to have a way for the institution to have a way to find the time, people and energy to learn how to employ it.

Photo credit: L’Aube de la Gloire, by Alain Gougaud/Wikimedia Commons

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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