Innovation: An Austrian Model for the American Military

  • September 17, 2016
  • Lieutenant Colonel Bob Krumm

The U.S. military has proven itself adept at creating a decentralized culture that produces innovation during long periods of conflict, as in World War II and more recently during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. However, the military has been less successful at being able to maintain that type of culture in peacetime. This paper analyzes the concepts of entrepreneurship, competition, and knowledge through the filter of the lessons of the “Austrian school of economics” and applies them to the current U.S. military. This analysis concludes that the military retains vestigial conscription-era controls that inhibit a culture that encourages disruptive innovation. This paper proposes that DoD move to a post-conscription professional model, redefine and make greater use of mission command, add bottom-up experimental units, and create an internal, competitive marketplace by giving greater requirements validation and funding authorities to the regional combatant commanders instead of to the service chiefs.