Most Read War on the Rocks Articles of 2016


This year may have been a dog’s breakfast, but it sure provided grist for some powerful and – dare we say – important articles on strategy, defense, and foreign affairs. Below we list our top 25 articles published in 2016, measured by unique pageviews. There are some items omitted from the list, including “evergreen” articles published in previous years that still get strong traffic and the open letter by Republican national security experts denouncing the candidacy of Donald Trump (because it was a letter and not an article). Dave Barno, Nora Bensahel, Sam Heller, Michael Kofman, and the pseudonymous Cyrus Malik all make more than one appearance on this list. Taken as a whole, this list reflects our greatest strategic challenges as well as our fears, anxieties, and preoccupations.

  1. Outnumbered, Outranged, and Outgunned: How Russia Defeats NATO,” by David A. Shalpak and Michael W. Johnson (4/21).
  2. Trolling for Trump: How Russia is Trying to Destroy Our Democracy,” by Andrew Weisburd, Clint Watts, and J.M. Berger (11/6).
  3. Washington’s Sunni Myth and the Civil Wars in Syria and Iraq,” by Cyrus Malik (8/16).
  4. The Decay of the Syrian Regime is Much Worse Than You Think,” by Tobias Schneider (8/31).
  5. Six Ways to Fix the Army’s Culture,” by Dave Barno and Nora Bensahel (9/6).
  6. The Catastrophic Success of the U.S. Air Force,” by Dave Barno and Nora Bensahel (5/3).
  7. I Love Mattis, But I Don’t Love Him as SecDef,” by Erin Simpson (11/25).
  8. The Three Faces of Russian Spetsnaz in Syria,” by Mark Galeotti (3/21).
  9. West Point and American Exceptionalism,” by David McCormick (3/14).
  10. Preparing for the Next Big War,” by Dave Barno and Nora Bensahel (1/26).
  11. Wargaming in the Classroom: An Odyssey,” by James Lacey (4/19).
  12. Demands on the Marine Corps are Slowly Breaking Marine Aviation,” by Jesse Sloman (2/10).
  13. The Coming of the Russian Jihad, Part I,” by Leon Aron (9/23).
  14. The End of the America Empire,” by Chas W. Freeman, Jr. (4/11).
  15. Russia is in Charge in Syria: How Moscow Took Control of the Battlefield and the Negotiating Table,” by Sam Heller (6/28).
  16. The U.S. Air Force and Stealth: Stuck on Denial Part I,” by Mike “Starbaby” Pietrucha (3/24).
  17. Washington’s Sunni Myth and the Middle East Undone,” by Cyrus Malik (8/23).
  18. There Is No Russian Withdrawal from Syria,” by Dmitry Gorenburg and Michael Kofman (3/18).
  19. Russian Hybrid Warfare and Other Dark Arts,” by Michael Kofman (3/11).
  20. Are CIA-Backed Syrian Rebels Really Fighting Pentagon-Backed Syrian Rebels?” by Sam Heller (3/28).
  21. The End of Globalization: The International Security Implications,” by T.X. Hammes (8/2).
  22. ‘Assad or We Burn the Country’: Misreading Sectarianism and the Regime in Syria,” by Emile Hokayem (8/24).
  23. The Crimean Crisis and Russia’s Military Posture in the Black Sea,” by Michael Kofman (8/19).
  24. The Price of Perpetual War,” by Dave Barno and Nora Bensahel (5/24).
  25. The Battle of Midway: The Complete Intelligence Story,” by Mark Munson (6/3).

Image: DoD