"If the United States wishes to retain its primacy in modern nation-state conflicts, technological strategy must be restored to the prominence it enjoyed during the Cold War period."
A recent paper by Dr. Carlo Kopp in July's Joint Force Quarterly, "Technological Strategy in the Age of Exponential Growth" walks you through technology growth patterns over the years. Read the whole paper from the beginning. I promise it won't hurt your head understanding it.
For anyone interested in the well-being of U.S and allied military superiority, this paper is a warning that time is up. We better get strong logic fused into our senior leadership or the consequences could be loss of deterrence. With loss of deterrence comes war.
The inevitable consequence of failing to practice good technological strategy is that opponents will produce breakthroughs. A smart opponent will produce repeated “capability surprise” events to an advantage, as the United States did to the Soviet Union, contributing crucially to the eventual bankruptcy of the Soviet bloc.
Technological Strategy vs. Exponential Growth
The presence of exponential growth in key current technologies is a double-edged sword because these technologies have been commodified and are globally accessible in the commercial marketplace. A Russian or Chinese weapons developer will have access to much of the same basic technology as his peers in the United States. This represents a leveling of the technological playing field unseen since World War II. For instance, the well-developed Russian technological strategy intended to defeat U.S. airpower is disciplined and well-considered, leverages exponential growth in key technologies, and displays a deep understanding of critical ideas and how to leverage globalized exponentially growing technologies.
On a level playing field, with exponential growth in critical technologies, the player who can best exploit talent to an advantage—all else being equal—will inevitably win. For the United States and its technologically competent allies, this period should be one of critical reflection. Many recent high-profile programmatic failures display numerous symptoms of poor practice and implementation of technological strategy during program definition and later development, beginning in the decade following the end of the Cold War. Moreover, poor understanding of exponential growth and concomitant early component obsolescence has contributed to severe life-cycle cost problems across a wide range of programs.
A good case can be made that these failures directly reflect the diminished role of technological strategists in the post–Cold War environment, where imperatives other than defeating peer competitor nation-states became ascendant and dominant, while the last generation of Cold War–era technological strategists progressively retired from government service or retired altogether, with few if any replacements trained or appointed.
Bold emphasis mine.