Bryan Nakayama's research focuses on the relationship between technology and ways of warfare, specifically in the United States military. Examining topics ranging from strategic bombing to the rise of cyber warfare, he is interested in understanding how social beliefs held by military officers about the future vis-à-vis technology affects how the United States prepares for and wages war.
In particular, Nakayama's research takes a broad view: rather than focusing on the development of a specific weapons systems he connects the strident debates and prognostication of military planners facing technological change with large-scale shifts in the theories, methods, and ways of warfare.
He is currently preparing a book manuscript entitled "From Aerospace to Cyberspace: The Development of New Military Domains" in which he develops a set of theoretical claims over how and why new spaces of warfare are developed by the United States military. The "domain," he argues, is the foundational category of inter-state violence because it defines military divisions of labor and undergirds military strategy. Drawing on theories of military innovation and a constructivist lens, he argues that imaginative bureaucratic advocacy inspired by technological change that is foundational to the major shifts in military practice since World War II. In the manuscript he has four case studies-Undersea, Air, Orbital Space, and Cyberspace-that demonstrate why imaginative advocacy in the face of technological change either succeeds or fails in the creation of new military domains.
In addition to the book manuscript, he is also working on several article-length manuscripts that cover the dynamics of space warfare, how to understand the emergence of the Cyber domain, and how the nature of vulnerability between states has changed due to cyber weapons.