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Massachusetts Institute of Technology Security Studies Program Annual Report, 1996-1997

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Annual rept.

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The search is on for a military peer competitor for the United States. During at least the first half of the Cold War the United States had a challenger for world influence that clearly matched its huge potential for generating military might and creating cultural temptation. The Soviet Union was a big and mobilized society with an ideology both that was appealing to some and that drove it proselytize. Today, there is nothing left of the once feared Soviet Empire its remnants and rivals wandering about dazed over its swift and near bloodless demise. Although the defense budget has not fallen below its Cold War low, there is a nervousness in the American military. When will another peer competitor arise Who will it be Will we have the technology to surpass them According to the Quadrennial Defense Review, we must innovate, modernize, and keep our forces trained as if that test were at hand. The academic conference circuit forms the national peer competitor early warning system. Will the peer competition be an emerging China made rich making all that stuff for Americans, a resurgent Russia, enraged by the Soviet defeat and NATOs eastward expansion, or MIT inspired, MIT educated computer hackers out to seize power and your bank account via the Internet There is much talk, but little agree- agreement on the identity of the next peer competitor. It is amazing how well the defense budget has in fact held up without the identification of a convincing rival. A combination of contractor lobbying and political spinelessness may be the reason. Despite the recent reluctance of Congress to allow for more base closings, its been public defense jobs not private defense jobs that have been most at risk since the end of the Cold War. Our review of DOD data shows that there are now 400,000 more defense contractor jobs than there were in FY 1976, the low point of Cold War defense budgets, but 700,000 fewer military personnel and 250,000 Department civilian employees.

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  • Defense Systems
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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