Commentary on the value of domestic arms industries: security of supply or military adaptation?

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Abstract

Few issues are more important yet less understood than how the domestic production of armaments impacts military power. Scholars generally explain states' drive to develop defense industries in terms of a quest for supply security. Technological changes are, however, rendering an "autonomy preference" increasingly unaffordable. This raises the question of whether states can still derive strategic value from their defense industries. This study addresses the issue by examining whether Israel?s and Serbia's defense industrial bases contributes to either the traditional goal of supply security or the alternative objective of military adaptability. To preview the conclusion, the strategic value that most states can extract from domestic defense firms lies in enhanced military adaptability. This advantage is far from negligible. Since war is unpredictable, it is often the side that adapts most rapidly to unexpected circumstances that prevails. Domestic defense industries contribute significantly to adapt both because of their technical capabilities and their patterns of routinized cooperation with a states' armed force. Supply security, by way of contrast, is today unattainable for all but the largest states.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)242-259
Number of pages18
JournalDefence Studies
Volume17
Issue number3
Early online date31 Jul 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2017

Keywords

  • Armaments
  • Defense industries
  • Military adaptation
  • Israel
  • Serbia
  • Security of supply

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