"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.)?
Charlie Simpson and Andrew Exum at abumuqawama, Jason Fritz and Chris Mewett at Ink Spots, and Adam Elkus and Dan Trombly at every national security blog on the web were really influential when I started studying strategy. And since establishing myself somewhat, Dr. Rebecca Johnson at Marine Corps University has been a constant source of academic and professional advice. Lastly, B.J. Armstrong is responsible for getting my foot in the professional writing door and has provided excellent advice since then. I'm more of a melting pot of influences than one mentor's protégé.
2 — What book (fiction, history, or academic) do you think best explains strategy?
I wish I could be less cliché, but On War defined the modern field of strategic studies. It organized and defined its limits. It's influence on strategy is just unmatched. Even Clausewitz's detractors take him on in terms first codified by him.
3 — What do you want your legacy to be?
There's no way to say this without sounding arrogant, but my all-consuming intellectual goal right now is my upcoming book, On Tactics: A Theory of Victory in Battle (from Naval Institute Press). All major strategic theorists since Sun Tzu wrote about tactics, but it was never their focus. So, tactical theory remains disorganized as a field of study. Using Clausewitz's definition successful theory, I set out to do for tactics what he did for strategy, to write a text on how to think about, study, and organize tactical concepts, defining the field of study and its limits in a manner accessible to a broad, non-academic audience. If On War is the necessary text for generals and policymakers, I want On Tactics to be the necessary text for corporals and lieutenants. If I can accomplish that, even temporarily, I'd be happy with that legacy.
Captain B. A. Friedman is a field artillery officer in the United States Marine Corps. He has written for numerous military journals and sites and is the author/editor of 21st Century Ellis: Operational Art and Strategic Prophecy from the Naval Institute Press. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not represent the official position of the Department of the Navy, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.
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