The politics of innovative military doctrine : the U.S. Navy and fleet ballistic missiles
Author(s)Cote, Owen R., 1960-
Harvey M. Sapolsky.
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The Polaris and Trident II SLBM weapon systems were developed by the U.S. Navy during periods of major strategic nuclear modernization, when national leaders were concerned about the vulnerability of U.S. Air Force land based nuclear forces to Soviet attack. Both Navy systems provided a superior alternative to bomber and ICBM weapon systems of the time, but only Polaris provoked innovative changes in U.S. nuclear doctrine. These cases of innovative and stagnant doctrine are compared and used to test the explanatory power of three competing theories of the sources of innovative military doctrine. The three theories hypothesize independent, explanatory roles for civil-military conflict, intra service bargaining, and interservice competition. The first case shows a strong causal link between intense interservice competition, a Navy decision to develop Polaris as an alternative to Air Force land based forces, and an ensuing improvement in the survivability of those land based forces. The second case shows a somewhat weaker correlation between institutionalized interservice cooperation, a Navy decision to develop Trident II as a complement rather than an alternative to land based forces, and the absence of any ensuing improvement in the survivability of those forces. Thus, Polaris caused an innovative change in nuclear doctrine while Trident II did not, and the cases show that differing patterns of interservice relations had more to do with these outcomes than civil-military or intraservice relations. The thesis concludes with a discussion of the sources of different patterns of interservice relations, and argues that civilian defense leaders can manipulate interservice competition to cause doctrinal innovation.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Political Science, 1996.Includes bibliographical references.Vita.
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Political Science
Massachusetts Institute of Technology