Roberts, Lee Habib. “Apples to Apples, Fighters to Submarines: Comparative Analysis of Conventional Capability-Based Signaling Capacity through Technologically Weighted State Arsenal Indexing.” N.p. Under review by Journal of Military Studies, 2021.


In this paper, I propose a new contribution to the field of comparative analysis of state conventional military capabilities. First, I review other scholars’ perspectives on the merits of comparing capabilities, arguing that the most accessible insights lie in the signals sent by state arsenals rather than in predicting conflict outcomes judging from state armament. Second, I present the conventional firepower potential indexing (CFPI) method and demonstrate that coding for tactical role and degree of technological sophistication enables previously unfeasible estimative comparisons of deterrent signaling value. Third and last, I apply CFPI scoring to the conventional arsenals of the United States and the four prospective adversary states named in that country’s most recent National Defense Strategy (China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran), deriving conclusions that would be more difficult without accessible comparative analysis.

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