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Catalysts of Military Innovation: A Case Study of Defense Biometrics


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COL Glenn Voelz, USA

Military innovation is a central component of U.S. strategic advantage; however, the precise conditions that enable such innovation remain a matter of debate. The recent introduction of biometrics onto the battlefield offers a useful case study for examining catalysts of military innovation and specific factors that enabled the Department of Defense to rapidly field new technologies in response to urgent operational requirements. This article considers how doctrinal design and warfighting strategies became important catalysts, and how challenges associated with rapid fielding, interoperability, and training limited U.S. forces from realizing the full potential of these new technologies. This case study proposes that military innovation can occur only by using an integrated approach that encompasses the interdependent elements of technology, acquisition, doctrinal design, and warfighting strategies. It offers general conclusions on conditions that create fertile environments for military innovation and identifies lessons learned for future efforts at introducing new technologies into the field.


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