Weekend Reading: April 10-12 Edition

April 10, 2015

Here’s what we’re reading this weekend and you should be too.

What will replace American’s aircraft carriers? “Our submarine advantage gives us the ability to operate inside the A2/AD envelope,” said former Navy Captain Jerry Hendrix, a naval analyst at the Center for a New American Security. “They’re a very potent weapon that can operate with impunity in an A2/AD environment.” — Dave Majumdar explores the options for maintaining America’s future naval dominance as new weapons challenge the U.S. Navy’s aircraft carriers.

Want more? Benjamin Jensen explains on War on the Rocks how the concepts required to implement distributed maritime operations are within the U.S.’s reach despite looming budget cuts and force structure reductions.

Eargasms for nerds. Two podcasts you need to check out: John Gans, who teaches American national security at John Hopkins University, explains to our own Mark Stout the role of the National Security Council staff. And Frank Hoffman argues the four ways that the current definition of the word “strategy” needs to change on Federal News Radio.

Boko Haram + ISIS = bff4L. “While it seems that Boko Haram joining ISIS is a propaganda coup for both groups, it also shows that the two groups need something from each other. … [Boko Haram] is currently facing a regional coalition of African nations supported by Western military advisers and trainers. While the group still remains strong, it is now facing a more unified and purposeful military opposition compared to previous ineffective and sometimes controversial Nigerian military operations.” — Scott Lasan writing for a blog we just started following, Ramen IR (yes, it is referring to the microwavable noodles), writes on the implications of Boko Haram pledge of allegiance to ISIS.

But you know who isn’t besties with ISIS? Anonymous. “There is no accountability in place for the allegations and actions of Anonymous activists targeting suspected Islamist militants and those sympathetic to their cause. Without coordinating with investigators and the intelligence community, an Anonymous activist might disrupt an ongoing operation or spark retaliatory actions by the Islamic State. …  The involvement of businesses like Twitter in efforts to combat violent extremism complicates policymaker decision-making.” — Steven T. Zech, writing for Political Violence @ a Glance, on the pros and cons of utilizing the hacker group, Anonymous, to fight ISIS’ virtual presence.

“The battle to shed a painful, lasting stigma.” “But the betrayal from within, that shattered their trust in the institution. It defied the core values instilled in these men from the moment they joined the Corps: honor, courage, commitment. ‘This still haunts us,’ one of those Marines explained, ‘because no one has publicly acknowledged we did the right thing that day. We did our jobs — and we were crucified for it.'” — Military Times reporter Andrew deGrandpre concluded his five-part series this week, which is the first complete account of Marine Special Operations Company Foxtrot’s controversial 2007 firefight in eastern Afghanistan. deGrandpre’s reporting gripping reporting examines how those Marines survived a roadside ambush only to then be portrayed as war criminals by senior military leadership and had to endure a grueling ten-month public trial.

The soldier versus the state. “Junior officers must spend the bulk of their time becoming experts; mid-grade officers must employ and manage that expertise in an expanded scope of responsibility; senior officers must apply the lessons learned from decades of responsibly applying their expertise in order to lead the organization itself, ensuring cohesion within and appropriate representation and support from without.” — Lt. Commander Kevin Duffy on why Samuel Huntington’s analysis of the military’s relation to civil society in his book “The Soldier and the State” produced a leadership development model that officers should still follow today.

Preparing for the fight. “The men are part of a new, mainly Sunni Arab army known as the national mobilization force. They’re also preparing to help retake Islamic State-held Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city which is just 13 miles away. But unlike other forces which might take part in a battle for Mosul, these men call the city and the surrounding Nineveh province home. For them, this war is personal.” — Matt Cetti-Roberts reporting from inside an Iraqi camp as Bedouins trained for battle against the Islamic State.

The wisdom of Churchill. “Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter. The statesman who yields to war fever must realize that once the signal is given, he is no longer the master of policy but the slave of unforeseeable and uncontrollable events.” — Winston Churchill on the cost of war as a political leader. April 6 marked the 60th anniversary of his resignation as prime minister of Great Britain. — Task & Purpose editor-in-chief Brian Jones compares Churchill’s view of warfare to Dick Cheney’s.

WOTR Weekly Roundup: In case you didn’t get your War on the Rocks fill this week, check out these articles from our contributors.

  • Paul Lewandowski writes about Gen. George Washington’s confidence in the appeal of American beer, which served as the impetus to launch his assault on Trenton in 1776.
  • Frank Hoffman answers the question, what is a strategist?
  • David Barno and Nora Bensahel look at how Defense Secretary Ashton Carter’s vision for the future of the force and the Army’s repeal of its strict tattoo policy are related.


Lauren Katzenberg is an editor at War on the Rocks. She is also the managing editor of Task & Purpose, a news and culture publication covering veterans and military affairs. Follow her on Twitter @lkatzenberg.


Photo credit: Official U.S. Navy Imagery