West Point colonel explains military’s need for innovation during UT lecture

Rachel Freeman

Colonel Liam Collins, director of West Point’s Defense and Strategic Studies Program, advocated military wartime innovation improvements over the past few decades at a lecture held Monday.

Collins came to UT as part of The Robert S. Strauss Center’s International Security Speaker Series, a series of global policy lectures featuring experts from various disciplines. His speech included topics such as Special Operations Forces and counterterrorism, in addition to military innovation. Collins said he thinks military innovation is important as a way for the military to constantly improve and adapt to new situations.

“We need innovation because no matter what we predict the next conflict will be, we will always be wrong,” Collins said. “Innovation cycles, though, can always be used to adapt to whatever situation we find ourselves in. We have to understand what allows us to innovate and have leaders that can innovate.”

In a change from previous years, the topics and speakers of the series were determined based on the research of the graduate students in The Brumley Next Generation Fellows Program. This program is in its inaugural year and pulls students from different graduate departments on campus to study issues across the spectrum of international security and foreign affairs.

Jodi Rosenstein, a Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs second-year Ph.D. student, is a member of this program, and her research was the basis for inviting Collins to speak. Rosenstein said she was grateful to have an expert such as Collins give insight into the topic she is researching.

“His contributions to national security are too many to go into detail,” Rosenstein said. “His academic and military accomplishments are impressive, and now he is honing the next generation of military minds. We are lucky to have him as a speaker. It gives us all an opportunity to benefit from his strategic and academic knowledge.”

Sierra Miller, international relations and global studies freshman, said she appreciated Collins’ perspective on the country’s armed forces and said she believes Collins’ speech is applicable to her life even though she is not entering the military.

“I was happy to get the viewpoint of someone who was on the inside and interacted with the process and didn’t just observe,” Miller said. “Innovation is always good in both the military and in any profession. I think I’ll be able to take what I learned today into any career I have.”