#Monday Musings: Mick Ryan

“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 can’t boil this down to a single person — I have to give credit to three people who have equally challenged and developed me intellectually over the past 15 years or so. First, Dr. Michael Evans, who I think is one of the preeminent land power theorists around today. He has published on a range of topics, from combined arms close combat to strategic and military culture to the development of an ‘oceanic consciousness’ in Australian strategy. This, and his very powerful commitment to Army officer professional military education in this country, has had an enormous impact on me. He is a prolific writer and much of his work is also available on the Australian Army’s website. The second person is Dr. Anne-Marie Grisogono. Anne-Marie’s examination of complex adaptive systems, the utility of this military organisations, and decision making has been core to how I have thought about and worked on operations and projects such as our 2008 Adaptive Army initiative. Finally, Professor Eliot Cohen from Johns Hopkins University. He really demanded that I step up intellectually and honed my capacity to critically think and write. And all three are fantastic mentors.

2 — What book (fiction, history, or academic) do you think best explains strategy?

I think it is hard to go past Colin Gray’s “Modern Strategy.” Gray’s examination of strategy, and its aspects such as strategic culture, have been really useful to me over the past decade or so. It is one of my first choices when I take a ‘ready bin’ of books anywhere. My copy is extensively marked up and book marked, and currently resides in my bookshelf next to my desk at work.

3 — What do you want your legacy to be?

My very simple desire would be that everywhere I go, every appointment I have had, I have left these in better shape than I found them. If I can do this throughout all my life’s endeavours, I can hopefully one day look back and know I have made a difference during my short time on this planet.

Brigadier Mick Ryan is an Australian Army officer and commander of its 1st Brigade located in Darwin. A graduate of Johns Hopkins University and the USMC Staff College and School of Advanced Warfare, he is a passionate advocate of professional education and lifelong learning.

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