Students will be required to write one paper, and to present that paper to the seminar at the end of the semester. Depending on class size, auditors may be required to make presentations as well, though not to write papers. Students should meet with Prof. Sapolsky or Prof. Posen to develop suitable paper topics. Students should be encouraged by the fact that the literature on military innovation is underdeveloped. It tends to be discursive, atheoretical, and unsystematic. But, there is a wealth of case material available for exploitation in student essays and doctoral dissertations. For purposes of this seminar, single case studies or comparative case studies will likely prove the best format. We expect to see a substantial theoretical component in every paper.

Possible Paper Topics

The seminar syllabus is a good starting point for paper topics. Students should feel free to explore any of those topics in greater depth. A sample of other possible topics is offered below, but the list is only suggestive.

  • The adoption of the helicopter and the development of airmobile tactics.
  • The adoption of the helicopter to naval warfare.
  • The creation and use of SOSUS.
  • The adoption of the machine gun in later 19th and early 20th century armies.
  • A comparative study of the development of the aircraft carrier in Britain, the U.S., and Japan in the interwar period.
  • The development of air defense suppression tactics and capabilities during and after the Vietnam war.
  • The development of "precision guided" air and ground conventional munitions.
  • The evolution of mine warfare at sea (19th century) and on land (the 20th century).
  • The development of dissimilar air combat training in the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force.
  • The development of U.S. armor and anti-armor forces in the Second World War.
  • The development of the National Training Center.
  • The creation of light infantry divisions in U.S. Army.
  • The development of the cruise missile.
  • The creation of airborne forces in U.S. and other armies.
  • The development of Marine Pre-positioning Ships or air refueling.
  • The military use of space.
  • The likely role of unmanned aerial vehicles in military operations.