While the aim of Foreign Military Financing may be to strengthen U.S. geopolitical alliances, it has also caused grated nerves and violent conflict. The alternative—Russian and Chinese arms transfers—is likely worse for the U.S. Ultimately, there is no ideal option, but leveraging aid to improve human rights or protect U.S. objectives is the least the U.S. can do for a world where weapons can fuel resentment and strife.
This is the beginning of a theory on the use of technological tools in the battlespace. This theory seeks to guide technologists in the thinking of technology design for the battlespace, and to guide soldiers and commanders in selecting the right technological tool for the tactical action to achieve the desired strategic effects. More importantly, this theory serves as a common language for the tactical and technical experts to communicate about needs in the battlespace and technology advancement as it pertains to warfighting.
The popular conception of World War I centers on hellish trench warfare and all its horrors. While it is undeniable that the war was won and lost on the Western Front, the lines stretching back across the Atlantic that brought men and desperately needed supplies into the theater of operations played an essential part in Allied victory.
Greek mythologies, while not perfect analogies, provide ample cautions for military leadership faced with the prospect of future algorithmic warfare. Advanced military technologies named after Greek mythological characters—Harpy, Gorgon, Athena, Aegis, Talos, etc.—suggest an analogical construct reminiscent of ancient heroes who relied on the favor of the gods to tip the enigmatic scales in their favor.
The return of great power geopolitics has transformed Afghanistan’s strategic circumstances, affecting both its future and the long-term interests of the United States. These conditions reinforce the enduring importance of Pakistan to America’s strategic flexibility, particularly in an era of renewed great power competition.
Art is what allows America to create extraordinary futures out of chaos. And art, once again, will allow America to achieve policy and military success out of science. America embraces and disciplines chaos to create strength and power. For “liberty is power,” John Quincy Adams said. “The nation blessed with the largest portion of liberty must in proportion to its numbers be the most powerful nation upon earth.” An artist who begins with a vision and nurtures and disciplines the power of chaos with a lightness of being and a firmness of mind, will be rewarded with the surprise of creating something that exceeds his or her original vision at the end.
Organizational learning is an important component of military success. The German military adapted its small unit tactics to trench warfare, but its failure to thoroughly ask if attacking was the best way to destroy the Entente’s armies or if that should be their goal at all combined with other factors to lead them to failure. Militaries that follow the German example and focus on method optimization while neglecting method selection and goal selection will be able to adapt and succeed at the tactical level, but will often be unable to translate that into broader successes.
July 15th 1918 saw the start of the fifth and final German offensive of the First World War. On that day, the Germans launched the opening phase of the Second Battle of the Marne, Codenamed Operation Marneschutz-Reims, shifting the entire momentum of the war from the Central Powers to the Entente. One of the key factors contributing to this shift was tactical combat intelligence.
Weinberger’s history of DARPA is an enthralling read and especially recommended for professionals in acquisition or research areas. It should appeal far beyond the defense community, it is perhaps the best institutional case study in innovation management and adaptive organizational design available.
In the Year of the Tiger still deserves serious consideration by scholars as a worthwhile book in the growing field of academic investigation into the First Indochina War. Despite shortfalls in commission and omission at points, Waddell provides a cogent and useful analysis on which others may usefully build. That should, after all, be the goal among those who seek to understand how the First Indochina War conditioned the disaster the United States chose to pursue after final French defeat in 1954.
This book reveals very little about national strategy or defense policy, or even about the effectiveness of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, but it is a worthwhile read for those interested in the ground-level experience of war and Americans who want to know more about the actions committed overseas in their name.
McArthur’s Operations Analysis in the United States Army Eighth Air Force in World War II is not always the easiest read, but anyone interested in operations research, the history of World War Two, strategic bombing, the United States Air Force, or improving military operations would gain value from its pages. Most importantly, future war will almost invariably involve another Great Experiment as warfighters try to implement new ideas of warfare whose vision on paper do not live up to the cruel reality of war.
The American experience in Vietnam defined a generation, spurring civil unrest and the degradation of trust in important political and military institutions. Spanning the course of two decades, the United States’ engagement in the conflict reflected the heightened global tension of the Cold War. American involvement in Vietnam began as early as 1950, initially in the form of assistance to the French during the First Indochina War. By the end of the Kennedy administration, the United States had begun to send American advisers and military forces to Vietnam, aiming to prevent the spread of communism to Southeast Asia.
In the two largest wars this planet has ever experienced, the authority and influence of civilians over military affairs assured victory in one and the lack of such brought total and utter defeat in another. Therefore, in the grand scheme of things, civil control of the military has proven its value not only as an avenue for better governance, but as a strategic asset capable of providing the necessary leverage to achieve victory in wartime.
The rise of China is not the only distinguishing structural factor for the strategic environment in which the United States finds itself. Many scholars will discuss the role of terrorism, increased globalization, and non-state actors in the current strategic environment. These are all important, but from a classical view of the structure of the international system, what the U.S. today is facing is not just a rising power, or even a bloc of powers: it is also facing a declining power—Russia.
Membership in the profession of arms is a tightrope walk. Just warriors manage a delicate balance between respecting human life and taking it. This is no new phenomenon, but instead has been a fact about war from the beginning. We judge Achilles, but not for killing Hector; that was his soldierly duty. There was a hope, though, that even in death, Achilles might honor Hector’s life. This was not to be. In defiling Hector’s body, Achilles dehumanized his enemy and fell to one side of the tightrope.
Russian annexation of Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine that followed negatively affected Russia’s international prestige. However, in contrast to the external reaction, the domestic population demonstrated higher support for national policies. Not only did the Russian public perceive the return of Crimea as a glorious military victory, the government-controlled narrative also managed to spread the effects of such success to positively perceiving the domestic situation as well.