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Course Description

This course focuses on the institutional relationships that affect the raising, maintenance and use of military forces in the United States. It is about civil/military, government/industry, military/science and military service/military service relations. The course examines how politicians, defense contractors, and military officers determine the military might of the United States. It analyses the military strategies of the nation and the bureaucratic strategies of the armed services, contractors, and defense scientists. It offers a combination of military sociology, organizational politics, and the political economy of defense.

Course Requirements

Midterm examination plus final paper on a defense politics topic selected in consultation with the instructor. Papers are 25-35 pages in length and require citations and bibliography. Sample topics: the role of retired officers; likely access of foreign defense contractors to US market; the politics of ballistic missile defenses; the relationship between the Service Chiefs and the Combatant Commander.


For undergraduate students, grades in 17.460 are based on a midterm examination (30%); final paper (50%); and class participation (20%).

For graduate students, grades in 17.460 are based on a class paper of 25-30 pages that is on a defense related topic approved by the instructor (80%) and class participation (20%).


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