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.
Professional military education needs tools to look at the past as a guide, as a way to learn the practice of discovering solutions that meet present needs by knowing enough to ask the right questions. History supplies these military professionals with the tools to shape models of the present and visions of the future.
The authors acknowledge that each engagement is unique and that no single metric could ever fully account for the complexities of war. However, in order to make informed decisions with the goal of improving the lethality of its force, the United States needs to at least attempt to develop a rudimentary lethality metric that could be applied to comparatively analyze the impact of policies, equipment, operations, tactics and training.
In theory, policy, and strategy are the product of extensive analysis, detailed cost-benefit calculations, and rational criteria for decision-making. In practice, good strategy development is also about compromise and consensus building, resolving problems, mitigating uncertainty and constraints, and steering downstream through the fluid dynamics of international and domestic politics.
Alison McQueen’s Political Realism in Apocalyptic Times offers a refreshing approach to religion in political theory. The book builds on the work of political scientists and political theorists over the past two decades to insert religion into international relations studies. Rather than dismissing apocalyptic language or confining it to political idealism, McQueen finds apocalyptic language in texts of political theory normally associated with political realism, leading her to consider these (purportedly realist) political theorists’ works as responses to apocalypticism.
The premise of Michael Pillsbury’s controversial book is alarming yet straightforward. Western strategic thinkers have been the victims of a massive deception campaign perpetrated by a group of Chinese hardliners who have convinced the West that China’s intentions are benign, but who are, in fact, driven by one overriding goal, to overthrow the U.S. as the world’s sole superpower. If this conjures up images of a thriller from the pen of Dan Brown, it may be the intent of the author.
Fifty years ago, Vermont Royster wrote that “it may seem cruel, this tradition of asking good and well-intentioned men to account for their deeds.” This accounting should not stop with the commanders at sea, but should also go to actions ashore, including how incidents like this are handled, and learned from.
This single volume is perfect for the student or military accession looking for a fantastic introduction on the history of war in the air. Serious scholars might consider going so far as to obtaining multiple copies of this work to hand out to colleagues in other fields. It is a book perfect for classes on the history of warfare. It will find itself on numerous college syllabi and a place as one of the great air power textbooks for the foreseeable future.
Overall, Ways of War provides a solid history of the military and warfare in the United States from the colonial era to the present. It is not without its shortcomings, though considering its objectives as a textbook for survey classes, needing to provide enough information for students to become knowledgeable in the field while also not losing them in the details and keeping the amount of material manageable for the time constraints of a course, it accomplishes a lot
Lansdale was a colorful figure, who revealed in his maverick status and his disdain for the sprawling national security apparatus. Perhaps if Lansdale had been a bit more of an adept bureaucratic knife fighter he would have been more successful. Yet, if he had, it is likely that he would never have been the agile advisor who helped Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay defeat the Hukbalahap rebellion.
German troops to the southeast, at Verdun, were advancing further into French territory and the French Army was hurling itself at their lines to try and force the Germans to retreat. The entire idea behind the Somme offensive was to take pressure off the French forces at Verdun, while success or failure at the Somme was almost an afterthought. If there was any doubt in Foch’s mind, there does not seem so to those looking at the Somme from the remove of a century.
It was America’s good fortune—Manifest Destiny if you will—to rise on a temperate continent with abundant resources. Great Britain ceded its empire in part because it could trust and rely on the United States. America does not share this luxury. Pragmatism must be America’s watchword, for neither isolationism nor unilateralism will work.
National security officials who want to know more about the formation of the American national security state or who are searching for a role model in conducting public service may be interested in this book. In his effort to pass on Goodpaster’s insights regarding national security affairs to subsequent generations of officials, Nelson strikes the tone of a how-to guide: how to become Goodpaster, or at least emulate this thoughtfulness and charisma.
Modern readers will find parallels and similarities between the intervention of a century ago and those more recent. Churchill’s Secret War with Lenin engagingly illuminates the history of a small war that served as both part of the Great War and the dawn of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the West. Wright masterfully presents the history of a failed campaign in compelling human and strategic terms through his use of primary sources, synthesis of other works, and his own analysis. Strategists, planners, and tacticians will all take something away from the work.
A successful strategy is usually not the result of one single factor such as advanced technology. Effective strategy depends on a closely interlocking set of systems that need to work smoothly together. Technology, people, doctrine, organizational structure, and training must work in a coordinated and complementary manner. Failure to integrate all these elements will create leaders who are just as frustrated such as the submarine skipper of the USS Tinosa in July 1943––when he spent the entire day firing torpedoes into an enemy ship only to see it sail away intact.
Just as the leaders and thinkers within the joint force are becoming more dedicated to the notion that a “post-joint” understanding of complex future military operations should be framed by the concept of multi- or cross-domain operations, the Joint Warfighting Department at the Air Command and Staff College has similarly altered its instruction of joint capabilities and planning. The department exchanged the traditional service-centric presentations, and discussions of capabilities and employment of forces, for a series of seminars covering military operations within the various domains of battle. So, instead of viewing military operations through the lens of a service structure, the department is emphasizing holistic joint force capabilities; the manner in which these capabilities facilitate access to, and maneuver within, the battlespace; and the various effects they can achieve by combining and synchronizing actions within and through the land, air, maritime, space, and cyber domains.
A major power confronts another across a wide expanse of ocean. Neither opponent is able to significantly threaten the other’s mainland without mastering and crossing the waves. But the vast distances involved are daunting even for the opposing navies. One side then executes an east-to-west island hopping campaign, using the possession of islands to control the sea and project force far beyond the capacities of lesser powers.
Between 1963 and 1975 the Sultanate of Oman was the scene of one of the most remarkable, and forgotten conflicts of the Cold War. The British-led Sultan’s Armed Forces (SAF) would battle and defeat a formidable Marxist guerrilla movement based in the southern province of Dhofar. The Dhofar War remains one of the few examples of a successful Western-led counterinsurgency in a postwar Middle Eastern country.