Publications

Jan. 23, 2019

War in 140 Characters

How has social media reshaped the way war is fought? Brett Swaney reviews War in 140 Characters: How Social Media Is Reshaping Conflict in the Twenty-First Century by David Patrikarakos. Every war, says the author, is essentially a clash of narratives. The author’s hypothesis that social media has reshaped not just the nature of conflict but also the entire discourse surrounding warfare remains an open question. Nonetheless, this book is required reading for national security professionals who seek a better understanding of the power of social media and the contemporary conflict increasingly shaped by homo digitalis.

Jan. 23, 2019

Just War Reconsidered

The greatest blind spot of Just War Theory is the accountability of senior civilian and military leaders for wartime decisions. Anthony Pfaff reviews Just War Reconsidered: Strategy, Ethics, and Theory by James Dubik. This book covers the responsibilities and obligations of civilians for the decision to go to war, and the higher obligations of military leaders and soldiers pertaining to unnecessary harm, impermissible weapons, the acceptance of surrender, and the treatment of combatants and noncombatants, among others. This book is critical reading for national security professionals in positions where they will make or advise decision-makers regarding warfare.

Jan. 23, 2019

Vietnam

This book tells the tragic story of the Vietnam War. Williamson Murray reviews Vietnam: An Epic Tragedy, 1945–1975 by Max Hastings. In this case, the word tragic is not an overstatement. Vietnam weaves the stories of American and Vietnamese soldiers and civilians on all sides of the struggle into a terrifying and impressive tale of both man’s inhumanity to his fellows, and the heroism of those on the sharp end. Perhaps the saddest result from the American point of view is that our political and military leaders learned so little from the high price we paid.

Jan. 23, 2019

The Drone Debate

Since the first drone strike outside of a conventional battlefield in 2002, the U.S. has carried out at least five hundred covert strikes in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia killing 3,500 people, including civilians. Matthew Mueller reviews The Drone Debate: A Primer on the U.S. Use of Unmanned Aircraft Outside of Conventional Battlefields by Avery Plaw, Matthew Fricker and Carlos Colon. This book contributes to the growing literature on the use of drones outside of conventional battlefields, and deals with important ethical questions on the use of drones, which makes The Drone Debate ideal for classroom use.

Jan. 23, 2019

Building Militaries in Fragile States

Why does the U.S. have such an uneven record when it comes to building foreign militaries? John Hewitt reviews Building Militaries in Fragile States: Challenges for the United States by Mara Karlin. The U.S. has been involved in building militaries since World War II, which provides ample case material. Karlin surveys the nuts and bolts of building militaries abroad, and investigates alternative strategies. This detailed, informative and prescriptive book should elicit robust conversations, deeper analysis and decisive action among foreign policy analysts, policy wonks, military personnel and anyone interested in foreign affairs.

Jan. 23, 2019

The Ghosts of Kasserine Pass: Maximizing the Effectiveness of Airpower

The American defeat at Kasserine Pass during the 1943 North African Campaign illustrates the consequences of allowing technological development to outpace doctrine. This article reviews the doctrine that constrained airpower during the North African Campaign and traces the development and evolution of modern doctrine that followed. Ideas conceived in North Africa seventy years ago, such as centralized control, decentralized execution, responsiveness and flexibility have stood the test of time, says the author, and remain applicable to today’s Joint Force. To achieve even greater efficiencies, the author recommends updating doctrine continually and establishing a new command structure with global reach.

Jan. 23, 2019

Getting American Security Force Assistance Right: Political Context Matters

Security assistance depends on supporting both the militaries and the governments in weak states. Critics argue that security assistance undermines local government institutions and enables undisciplined host-nations to abuse human rights. Why should the U.S. struggle to build strong armies in weak states? Engaging weak states is in our interest, say the authors, because weak states often have governments that lack legitimacy and national identity, and thus provide environments conducive to insurgency and terrorism. Nonetheless, if we offer the right combination of carrots-and-sticks, we can encourage host-nations to reform their armed forces without undermining domestic political stability.

Jan. 23, 2019

Evasive Maneuvers: How Malign Actors Leverage Cryptocurrency

The emergence of cryptocurrencies is a new frontier with profound implications for national security. Bad actors take advantage of innovative digital technologies and global connectivity, which makes it difficult to follow the money. Because of the risks, the U.S. should continue to influence world financial markets and perhaps integrate DOD cyberspace operations into a whole-of-government response. The U.S. Government already has significant defensive and offensive capabilities in cyberspace, but must reimagine its role. The U.S. can lead the way, say the authors, by writing and enforcing new rules and regulations which would ensure the integrity of this new financial landscape.

Jan. 22, 2019

Thinking Differently about the Business of War

Military strategy in protracted competition is similar to organizational strategy. In a fiercely competitive and constantly shifting strategic environment, the authors ask whether success is more about the willingness to change or the ability to focus on fundamentals. In response, the authors apply the business concept of competitive advantage to the military context. This article explains how the Joint Force can organize, train, and procure equipment based on informed assumptions about what will matter most in future wars. As a result, military leaders and strategists can balance current and future requirements, make wise investments and mitigate risk.

Jan. 22, 2019

Force Protection from Moral Injury: Three Objectives for Military Leaders

Moral Injury is an occupational hazard that affects the Joint Force. All combatants are moral actors, say the authors, because they make life and death decisions influenced by their core values and lethal skills. Leaders at every level need to understand how combatants develop and use core values to judge perceptions of their military service and cope with maladaptive emotions, thoughts and behaviors. Today’s leaders cannot control the traumatic effects of combat, but they can prepare service members for the risks they will encounter by embedding moral reasoning within mission command, and by providing resources which facilitate the healing process.