“Adaptability as Military Power in Modern Conflict”

Image: Proteus, an ancient Greek god with the ability to adapt by changing into different forms.

Image: Proteus, an ancient Greek god with the ability to adapt by changing into different forms.

Adaptability—the capacity to successfully change in response to new conditions—is an important but often overlooked feature of military power in existing theories of international security and armed conflict. My dissertation explores various ways in which adaptability affects military power, in order to better understand both wartime and peacetime security outcomes. The first part of my project develops an explanation for doctrinal adaptability based on organizational features, and evaluates the explanation in several historical cases of counterinsurgency operations from the 20th and 21st centuries. The second part of my project considers operational adaptability in conventional conflicts, analyzing the causes and consequences of military commander removal during wartime. Finally, the third part of my project turns to the international security environment to explore the consequences that increased threat-response adaptability has for the way states view alliances and other security partnerships.