Professionally converted for accurate flowing-text e-book format reproduction, this excellent book by the U.S. Air Force examines the role of technology in military innovation, with a case study of the false faith of the military in air-to-air missiles and the subsequent installation of an external cannon gun on the F-4 Phantom jet aircraft. Some subjects covered include Schriever, Eisenhower, LeMay, Momyer, and the Vietnam War.
When Airmen think about technology, it is typically in terms of how best to achieve military effects. This paper explores the deeper and more crucial issues of how organizations and individuals resist, embrace, and shape technological innovation. Steam-powered warships, machine guns, aircraft carriers, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and remotely piloted aircraft all threatened established practice and faced the resistance of entrenched bureaucracies and dogmatic tradition. Yet such rigidity of mind and habit contrasts with the imperative of achieving military advantage and the sparkling allure of the new, the scientific, and the powerful. Lt Col Steve Fino explores the tension between such technological skepticism and technological exuberance—a tension that "weaves itself through the fabric of US military history," with his concept of technological dislocation. In this light, he examines how various factors can dislocate the predicted evolutionary pathway of emerging or even established technologies and steer them in new, perhaps surprising, directions.
The development of air-to-air armament in the initial decades of the jet age provides an intriguing case study of technological dislocation. On this stage, various actors such as fighter pilots, senior leaders, institutional preferences, cutting-edge technologies, and enemy combatants played out the first scenes of aerial combat's missile age. The Air Force's inflated rhetoric on missile efficacy, based on misassumptions and technological exuberance, was punctured by the failure of missiles in actual combat. Still, the institution persisted in its belief that "all the missiles worked." Fino examines why senior leaders—some of them renowned combat pilots—clung to this fiction despite dramatic failures spotlighted in Korea and Vietnam. Nevertheless, a handful of relatively junior officers effected a dislocation from the dominant missile technology and installed an external air-to-air cannon on the F-4 Phantom, an aircraft previously exalted as a missile-only guarantor of air superiority. Their clashes with the enemy and the bureaucracy created long-lasting results and demonstrated how the concepts of technological skepticism, exuberance, and dislocation instruct military innovation. Indeed, this study provides today's leaders and strategists much needed insights into how to bring about change and create advantage in the swirling complexity of modern technology and bureaucracy.