My interest in military technology and strategic affairs began while an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania, where I interned at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. My early interest was in the area of arms control, the central strategic issue of the Cold War. Most arms control research focused on the contemporary dynamics of mutually assured destruction. I chose a historical perspective, seeking to understand naval arms control in the 1920s and 1930s, the topic of my Ph.D. dissertation. Parallels with the interwar period resurface in my research because of the strategic uncertainty both then and now.My work on naval arms control attracted the attention of the US Naval War College and I was selected as a Secretary of the Navy Senior Research Fellow. My fellowship coincided with the end of the first Persian Gulf War when the military community was debating the appropriate lessons of that war and the "revolution in military affairs." The issues I encountered during my year at Newport have shaped my research ever since: how strategic and technological discontinuities in the international system affect military strategy and policy, with a particular focus on the impact of revolutionary changes in military technology. My commitment to making scholarship policy relevant was reinforced during that year. Looking for new ways to integrate research and practice, in 1994 I co-founded the Joint Center for International and Security Studies (JCISS), a partnership between the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey and the University of California, Davis. JCISS brings together scholars and practitioners to address contemporary national security problems such as the RMA, the implications of an IT-dominated U.S. military, and the international spread of military technologies. Given that the international system is in a period of revolutionary change, the principles and concepts of the Cold War may no longer be relevant. By pooling the knowledge of theoreticians and operators, scholars as well as practitioners, we seek to develop new approaches. This kind of collaboration has become imperative given the progressive blurring of the dividing line between the civilian and military spheres of competence in the information age. My recent work examines how military innovations diffuse across national borders and how nations respond to new capabilities as they are demonstrated. Most scholars focus on how to transform the U.S. military without fully considering how innovations are being adopted and adapted elsewhere. My most recent volume, The Diffusion of Military Technology and Ideas (Stanford University Press, August 2003) explores this theme through case studies by scholars covering many countries and historical periods. A follow-on project investigates the spread of the information technology RMA in Asia. Another examines how new practices spread among terrorist organizations and how developments designed to offset terrorist tactics can be diffused and implemented successfully. At the Wilson Center I will be focusing on strategic adjustment under uncertainty. How do states adjust their strategic postures when confronted with major discontinuities in the security environment, e.g., the disappearance of a major threat or rapid technological change? As with all my previous work, my goal is to improve the context for current policy formulation by providing historical perspective on current strategic problems.


B.A. (1983) Political Science and Fine Arts, University of Pennsylvania; M.A. (1986) Political Science, Stanford University; Ph.D. (1989) Political Science, Stanford University


Military Transformation,National Security


  • Associate Professor, Department of Political Science, University of California, Davis, 1995-present
  • Co-Director, Joint Center for International and Security Studies, University of California, Davis and Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, 1993-present
  • Director, International Relations Program, University of California, Davis, 1994-2000
  • Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, University of California, Davis, 1989-95
  • Visiting Professor, Department of National Security Affairs, U.S. Naval War College, 1991-92


National security; U.S. foreign and defense policy; military innovation and transformation; organizational change; diffusion of military technology; revolution in military affairs

Project Summary

This project examines the conditions under which dramatic military transformation preserves, augments, or undermines state power and influence. It provides historical perspective on current U.S. efforts to leverage the information revolution in military affairs to preserve American power. The study analyzes cases of strategy formation and threat assessment in the late nineteenth to early twentieth centuries, the inter-World War years, and the current period to understand how political and military leaders manage strategic and technological uncertainty, how they balance the need to respond to present challenges with the need to prepare for future unforeseen contingencies, when they opt to aggressively transform and with what consequences for power and position. This study is designed to contribute to an understanding of the conditions under which military transformation will preserve America's long-term strategic position.

Major Publications

  • Diffusion of Military Technology and Ideas, co-editor (Stanford University Press, 2003)
  • "The Spread of Western Military Models to Ottoman Turkey and Meiji Japan," The Sources of Military Change: Culture, Politics, Technology (Lynne-Rienner, 2002)
  • "Systemic Effects of Military Innovation and Diffusion," co-author Security Studies, vol. 8, no. 4, Summer 1999
  • "The U.S. Military in Uncertain Times: Organizations, Ambiguity, and Strategic Adjustment," Journal of Strategic Studies, vol. 20, no. 2, Spring 1997