Interview on BBC/PRI’s ‘The World’

I had the privilege of being interviewed for Strategy Strikes Back on the May 4, 2018 (“May the Fourth Be With You…”) edition of BBC/PRI’s ‘The World’ – here’s the link – it’s the   last seven minutes of the show. Enjoy! (I did!)

The Universal War

*Note: This essay was published at From the Green Notebook on May 1, 2018. It can also be found online here.

Whether I was with cadets or Koreans, I had a problem.

As a military officer assigned to teach military strategy at West Point, and then on a staff alongside officers from the Republic of Korea, I kept bumping into the same challenge. Whenever I wanted to talk strategy, I could never get my point across.

We were just never on the same page. You see, for two people to talk strategy, both must be familiar with the case in question, whether it’s in business, politics, or war. To discuss even something as studied as strategy in the American Civil War requires both parties to be deeply knowledgeable about the conflict. This necessary baseline quickly creates communication problems, particularly across national divides. Continue reading “The Universal War”

Remarks at Army War College: What will the generals of 2030 look like?

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On April 24, 2018, I was honored to speak at the US Army War College’s 29th Annual Strategy Conference. This year’s subject was future leadership, and my panel in specific looked ahead to what strategic leaders would look like in 2030. The full video can be seen  here, and my remarks are available at Lawfire (a selection of which can be found below).  Continue reading “Remarks at Army War College: What will the generals of 2030 look like?”

Don’t Be Evil, Support the Troops

*Note: This essay was published in the Wall Street Journal print edition on April 16, 2018. It can also be found online here.

More than 3,000 Google employees have signed a letter to CEO Sundar Pichai, saying that the company “should not be in the business of war.” Specifically, they object to Project Maven, Google’s partnership with the Defense Department on an artificial-intelligence platform for reading data from aerial drones. The letter argues that continued work with the Pentagon would “irreparably damage Google’s brand.” Continue reading “Don’t Be Evil, Support the Troops”

Remarks at New America Future of War Conference & “Losing Our Profession” at Just Security

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On April 9, 2018, I was privileged to be a panelist at the New America Foundation/Arizona State University Future of War Conference in Washington. Video from the event is available here, and my remarks were subsequently published at JustSecurity.org on April 30, 2018, a selection of which follows and the rest can be read at Just Security under the title, “Losing Our Profession: The Dire Consequences of a More Partisan Military.”

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“Do the generals have too much power?”

That was the prompt I was originally asked to answer on a recent panel which discussed the relationship between civilian society and its armed forces.

My answer was, perhaps not surprisingly as a mid-career U.S. Army officer, a firm “No.” Military leaders do not have too much power. But to ask that question of someone in uniform is a little like asking a servant on Downton Abbey whether they think the master, Lord Grantham, has given the “downstairs” servants too much power. A servant’s answer, I suspect, would be something like, “the servants have as much power as Lord Grantham thinks we need.” I feel the same way.

Setting that issue aside, I drove the discussion in the direction of another issue I think matters a little more. Too often, when we talk about the relationship between civilians and their military, we quickly gravitate upward, toward presidents, prime ministers, generals and admirals. Instead, I think we ought to consider that “downstairs” perspective for a moment, because there’s a lot going on, and it’s not all good.

Read the rest at Just Security

Strategy Strikes Back: Remarks at the Hinckley Institute, University of Utah

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On Wednesday, March 28, 2018, I spoke at the Hinckley Institute (University of Utah) for the first book talk on Strategy Strikes Back: How Star Wars Explains Modern Military Conflict.

To view the talk, click here!

Reel War at the Oscars: Lessons for Warriors from the Red Carpet

*Note: This essay was originally published on the Modern War Institute’s Commentary & Analysis site.

He’s turning ninety, so he’s seen a lot of war. Even at thirteen and a half inches tall, with a golden body weighing only eight and a half pounds—Oscar’s been around and has some stories to tell.

The little statuette, of course, nicknamed “Oscar” (which may or may not be due to his having resembled someone’s “Uncle Oscar”), is more formally referred to as the “Academy Award of Merit.” Twenty-four of these will be handed out by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Sunday night at Hollywood’s annual gathering to applaud great artistic and technical achievement. The competition is fierce among the fifty-ninenominated movies; it’s almost surprising there hasn’t been more real blood on the red carpet beyond James Cameron nearly bludgeoning Harvey Weinstein with his Oscar twenty years ago.

The Oscars also have a distinct martial heritage. The first Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role was given to Emil Jannings, in part for his role in the 1928 silent film The Last Command, set during the Russian Revolution, a story that was inspired by a real-life general in the Imperial Russian Army named Theodore A. Lodigensky who fled the communist revolution and opened a restaurant in New York City (Lodigensky would also go on to play an “ex-military man” in several silent films himself). Continue reading “Reel War at the Oscars: Lessons for Warriors from the Red Carpet”