"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.)?
To this point, it has been a combination of multiple people really. First, my former Battalion Commander, COL Fred Crist, was a great mentor as I was trying to determine what path I’d take post-company command. Ultimately he was the one who recommended I apply to become an Army Strategist. Without his mentorship, advice, and encouragement I’d likely not have had the recent opportunities I have had. Second, during my time in graduate school, Dr. Audrey Cronin had a great impact on me. I started her Grand Strategy course at George Mason thinking I knew how to write. Little did I know I’d finish that course ten times the writer I was going into it! Not only did she challenge my writing, but she opened my mind to new readings and to different ways of thinking. I still carry her insights on strategy, terrorism, and conflict termination with me. Third, Dr. Mike Matheny at the US Army War College’s Basic Strategic Art Program continued my maturation as a thinker. Like Dr. Cronin, his advice and mentorship on writing, reading, and critical thinking helped me grow. I’ll always be in debt to these three for how they have helped me develop intellectually.
2 — What book (fiction, history, or academic) do you think best explains strategy?
I firmly believe you can learn some of the best lessons on strategy, grand strategy, and statecraft from the History of the Peloponnesian War, especially Robert Strassler’s The Landmark Thucydides. This book captures the essence of how all elements of national power impact a nation’s fate, the challenges of balance of power politics, and the pitfalls of each.
3 — What do you want your legacy to be?
I’m a simple man, and leaving a legacy is very low on my priority list. I’m grateful to continue to serve, and what I want most is to learn something every day, teach something when I can, and do my best to leave everything I touch in some way better than when I found it.
Steven L. Foster is an officer in the U.S. Army with experience in logistics and a current emphasis in operational and strategic planning. He holds a Master of Public Policy in National Security Policy from George Mason University, and his writing interests include policy, strategy, history, leadership, and talent management. Follow Steve on Twitter at @slfoster22. The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the U.S. Army, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.
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