"Monday Musings” are designed to get quick, insightful thoughts based around three questions from those interested in strategy, from the most experienced and lauded, to our newest thinkers/writers.
1 — Who had the greatest impact on you intellectually (whether through writing, mentorship, etc.)?
I have to steal Francis Park’s idea and list two… my boss in my first planning job, Colonel (Retired) Jim Klingaman. He taught me to question my underlying assumptions about what I was doing. Whenever I start a new project I can still hear him during a mission analysis brief asking me “What is the problem you are trying to solve?” Second is Dr Mike Matheny at the Basic Strategic Art Program (BSAP). I went to the course somewhat under duress. I was already the Chief of Plans of a theater army and was not sure what “another” Army course was able to teach me. But the Functional Area 59 (Strategist) Career Manager badgered me (thankfully) into going. Well, BSAP was not just “another” Army course and I learned to look at and understand the theories that underpinned the work I was doing.
2 — What book (fiction, history, or academic) do you think best explains strategy?
It would be easy to say Clausewitz or Sun Tzu here, and I actually find it difficult to limit it to one book. Makers of Modern Strategy edited by Peter Paret or Masters of War by Michael Handel help explain classic strategic thought. But I will go a little unconventional and say that to explain strategy, you need to understand the cultural context of the nation whose strategy you are trying to understand. For me, the best book about the cultural development of the United States is A History of the American People by Paul Johnson. It traces the development of the US from 1580 the late 1990s. It goes in depth on understanding not only political events, but social and cultural developments that led our nation to become who it is today. (Or at least who it was in 1997 when the book was published.)
3 — What do you want your legacy to be?
I don’t have too many aspirations of grandeur. I think most of all I would like those soldiers who I worked with — subordinates, peers, and superiors alike — to look back on their career and, when they think of me, know that I was working to make our unit better. Whether it was the infantry platoon I led as a 2LT or the Strategists whose career field I am currently managing.
Andrew Ajamian is a U.S. Army strategist and infantryman, currently serving as the FA59 (Strategist) Proponent Manager. Connect with him on Twitter @andrew_ajamian. The views expressed in this article do not reflect the policy or position of any official organization.
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