Let’s look at this a different way. I’d argue that militaries don’t adopt new technologies. The tech is simply out there, but whole nations must adapt to fulfill the desires of a particular military strategy, not simply the military.
Here is the M1-Abrams. It was designed in the 1980’s. It has few secrets left, but other nations around the world still fail to produce a better tank. Why?
Because technology isn’t simply “unlocked” or “adapted”. It must be built. For that, a nation… not the nation’s military… must be capable of creating the thing. Not only this, they must also be able to balance building enough of them for a meaningful strategy, with not spending so much that the nation goes bankrupt. So for the Abrams, that means that each of its 10,000 parts (baseless guestimate) must be built in various factories. They must then be assembled together in other factories. They must then be brought together somewhere else, and they must then be shipped to wherever they need to go. Furthermore, ammunition needs to be produced, fuel refined, and replacement parts fielded. There are very few nations on Earth who could meet this demand.
Let’s look at that another way. Why does Australia not produce cars? They are well educated, wealthy, capitalist, and with many trade partners. So why not build cars?
For a nation to be profitable in the automotive industry, it must produce and sell in excess of 200,000 cars a year. The process to build a car from raw ore to a revved-up engine is so extensive that it is virtually impossible to achieve economies necessary for national profit until about the 200,000 mark. Long ago, Australia could do, even though the industry was heavily subsidized by the government. But as cars became more complex, more technical, and requiring more specialties to produce the new parts and equipment, Australia couldn’t keep up. Simply put, Australia doesn’t have enough people to sell that many cars. More than that, they don’t have enough people to build that many cars. Just as important, they don’t have a logistical trade network to connect all the people who can make that happen, nor do they have resources cheap enough to make it economical. A better way to think about it is that Australia may have enough for all these, but to do so, they would have to stop doing other profitable activities, which would hurt them in the long run. The massive investment the government would have to make to retooling their economy is such that no matter how much was spent, no matter how much technology they incorporated, Australia would never be able to profit from such as venture. So they don’t make cars. There is a reason that only a few nations in the world even try.
Keeping economics in mind, 99% of nations in the world would never in their wildest hopes be able to build an Abrams tank, even if they had the plans sitting on their president’s desk.
Nevermind this guy:
Or these puppies:
And don’t even get me started on these:
In fact, there is only one nation in the world that has the education base, technical proficiency, scientific support, economic capital, logistical networking, and manufacturing infrastructure to build all of the examples above…
The one that has them.
While there are some Top Secret classified technologies in the world, most of them could be copied in a lab almost anywhere in the world. Even a small nation could invest a great deal into solving most problems of producing one revolutionary new technology… on paper. Larger nations would have little problem figuring out how anything anyone else is doing could be done. But simply discovering it in a lab doesn’t mean much. Can you use it?
In that way, Generals don’t adapt to new technologies. They know everything that is available, to anyone. With that, they are inspired with a wishlist of everything they would need for a strategy they have in mind for the particular goals of their particular country. They must understand their nation, it’s people, it’s culture, the resources, and if its nation can fulfill that wishlist. Invariably, it won’t be able to, so a new strategy must be made with a new wishlist. At some point, someone will say that we simply can’t do more, and nations must scale back somewhere.
This isn’t a failure to adapt. It’s a failure of the nation’s economy to be capable of fulfilling the wishes of its planners.
Simply put, Russia could produce a design for a wondrous Aircraft Carrier, but they don’t have the nation to make it anything more than a model in a box.
Is this a failure to adapt?
No, it’s just the geopolitical realities facing nations. They all know what they want and they know what it takes to get it, and more importantly if what they want is possible. When all that information is compiled they have nice reports from well-educated analysts that say something to the effect of:
“We will not win with war. Play nice for a few decades until we figure out a cheaper solution.”
So the short answer: When a country can’t adapt its production capabilities to the needs of its military, it must reinvest into new infrastructure, maybe even changing its culture to produce new technologies in a quantity that is reasonable for its goals. While that is happening, it must be diplomatic. If it can’t do either of these sufficiently, it must change its goals, or else it won’t be around for very much longer.
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