Lessons from Failure and Success in Navy History

American Defense Reform

The US military must continually adapt to evolving technologies, shifting adversaries, and a changing social environment for its personnel. In American Defense Reform, Dave Oliver and Anand Toprani use US naval history as a guide for leading successful change in the Pentagon.

American Defense Reform provides a historical analysis of the Navy during four key periods of disruptive transformation: the 1940s Revolt of the Admirals, the McNamara Revolution in systems analysis, the fallout from the Vietnam War, and the end of the Cold War. The authors draw insights from historical documents, previously unpublished interviews from four-star admirals, and Oliver's own experiences as a senior naval officer and defense industry executive. They show that Congress alone cannot effectively create change and reveal barriers to applying the experience of the private sector to the public sector

Ultimately, Oliver and Toprani show that change can only come from a collaborative effort between civilians, the military, and industry, each making vital contributions. American Defense Reform provides insights and practical recommendations essential to reforming national defense to meet future demands.

Buy the Book


"Oliver and Toprani have brilliantly written about a proven model to transform our military for the 21st century, and specifically succeed in the peer competition with China. Deeply insightful and underpinned by matchless historical analysis, herein lies a strategic path ahead vastly different from the normal weapons system by weapons system assessment to which we typically revert. Every serious national security expert should be informed by this extraordinary book."

Mike Mullen, ADM, USN (Ret.)
28th Chief of Naval Operations
17th Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff