“Adaptability as Military Power in Modern Conflict”

My dissertation explores various ways that adaptability—the capacity to successfully change in response to new or unpredictable situations—affects military power, in order to better understand both wartime and peacetime outcomes. In the first part of my project, I develop a theoretical model to explain military doctrinal adaptability, which highlights important tradeoffs between diversity and lower-level initiative, on the one hand, and both speed and effectiveness of organizational-wide doctrinal change, on the other. I then evaluate my explanation in several historical case studies of counterinsurgency operations from the 20th and 21st centuries. The second part of my project considers how political leaders can attempt to force adaptability during wartime by removing or replacing commanding officers. Using new battle-level and individual-level data on military commanders, I explore the causes and consequences of military commander replacement during militarized conflicts, which has important implications both for understanding individual battle and overall war outcomes, as well as for broader issues of civil-military relations and military effectiveness during wartime. Finally, the third part of my project turns to the international security environment to explain the consequences of increased threat-response adaptability for the way states view alliances, security partnerships, and international crises. As part of this project, I develop a new index of state-level force projection capacity from 1970 to 2018. I use this index of force projection capacity to evaluate how states’ troop deployment trends have changed over time and explore the implications these changes have for alliance commitments and other force projection behavior.

You can view a sample chapter of my dissertation here.