Victory. That is why we are all here. But, does anyone know what victory in war looks like over the next several decades, or how to achieve it? There is no shortage of authors in the ever-growing literature on strategy and national defense telling us both what victory in war will look like and how to get there. Count me a skeptic. I find a whiff of moonshine and snake oil surrounds most in this crowded field, and I struggle to find thoughtful analysis among the raft of novelists selling books, technocrats fighting for budgets, and thought leaders peddling warmed-over and outdated scholarship. In a further turn of the screw, one often encounters real insight and snake oil in the same work.
Friedman intentionally authored a quick read, believing the work should fit in a leader’s cargo pocket, and he strikes the perfect balance between brevity and gravity. Beyond the main effort of introducing an outline of tactical tenets and concepts, Friedman’s work also introduces strategic titans to the new tactician. This foreshadowing is an invaluable secondary benefit, as it creates scaffolding for later exploration in leaders yet unexposed to these thinkers. One could be excused for thinking Friedman’s work might lose coherence through the frequent calling forth of these tactical and strategic visionaries, but he altogether avoids the trap of confusing the narrative and masterfully weaves a tapestry of their individual thoughts that surgically and powerfully complement his work.