AEIOpeners: Mackenzie Eaglen's reading list

Mackenzie Eaglen is a resident fellow at the Marilyn Ware Center for Security Studies and specializes in defense strategy, budget, military readiness and defense industrial base. Here's what's current on her reading list.

"Creative Destruction: Why Companies That Are Built to Last Underperform the Market — And How to Successfully Transform Them," Richard Foster and Sarah Kaplan, 1995

I’m currently working on a paper that explores how the Pentagon reacts to periods of wholesale change, or what Andy Grove of Intel has termed “strategic inflection points.” In order to better understand the Pentagon’s reaction to change, I think it will be useful to explore how corporations have dealt with similar periods of rapid and revolutionary change.  The key issue is why some organizations have withstood the test of time while so many others have gone the way of Bear Stearns and AIG.

"Military Innovation in the Interwar Period," edited by Williamson Murray and Allan Millett, 1998

In many ways, this book serves as a nice complement to Creative Destruction. At their core, both books are about how organizations stay — or fail to stay — competitive over a long period of time.  In the case of the interwar period, Britain and France misunderstood how technology was prompting changes in warfare while the Germans, Japanese and Americans largely understood that they were living through period of discontinuous change. Today, we would do well to consider these lessons and avoid the fate that befell the formerly dominant British.

"War Plan Orange," Edward S. Miller, 2007

"War Plan Orange" chronicles the history of the American war plan against Japan, from its inception around the turn of the 20th century to its final triumph in the Pacific in 1945.  Not only is the story of America’s struggle with Japan compelling for historical reasons, but it provides a timely comparison given the “pivot” to Asia and the Pentagon’s emerging Air-Sea Battle concept.  As American defense planners try to explain what Air-Sea Battle is not — namely a 21st century version of a Plan Orange — they would do well to consider the strategic and operational challenges faced by their 20th century counterparts and how America’s military leaders a century ago approached strategic competition with a Pacific rival.

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