Speaker: J. Andrés Gannon, Postdoctoral Fellow, International Security Program

Why do capable states sometimes possess seemingly inefficient militaries that leave them vulnerable to security threats? The speaker argues that vulnerable force structures are not just the result of poor planning or resource constraints; rather, these observed "inefficiencies" are often a strategically motivated decision to specialize one's force structure. States can engage in strategically motivated functional differentiation by specializing their militaries when they engage in cooperative security alignments. When a collection of states facing a similar threat environment are able to minimize the risk of defection and ensure effective coordination, they can engage in a division of labor where each state individually specializes in different military capabilities that, when brought together, still comprise a full spectrum military force.

The speaker substantiates these arguments with evidence from a new data set on the distribution of military capabilities from 1970–2020 and find that 1) states in cooperative security alignments have more specialized militaries, and 2) cooperative security alignments with more closely aligned interests and higher vertical integration have a higher division of labor.

Everyone is welcome to join us online via Zoom! Please register in advance for this seminar:

For more information, email the International Security Program Assistant at susan_lynch@harvard.edu.