In the end, the answers to “how do we build a powerful army” remain painfully simple. States that have access to enthusiastic populations with high human capital, that can cull the most innovative technologies from robust, modern economies, and that can structure their civil-military relations with just-enough-but-not-too-much independence will tend to do very well. Experience doesn’t hurt, either. The simplicity of the answers does not imply that the prescriptions are easy to achieve, however.
Robert Farley, a frequent contributor to the National Interest, is author of The Battleship Book. He serves as a senior lecturer at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky. His work includes military doctrine, national security and maritime affairs. He blogs at Lawyers, Guns and Money, Information Dissemination and the Diplomat.