Most Read War on the Rocks Articles of 2017


What does this year’s slate of most popular articles tell us? It would be reckless to read too much into this list. After all, these are, by virtue of being on this list, articles that all broke out beyond our core tribe of readers. But that gives them a power of their own. They resonated broadly.

On this list, we can see an understandable preoccupation with Asian security affairs this year (eight articles this year compared to none in 2016 and four in 2015). “Strategic Outpost” columnists David Barno and Nora Bensahel had six (!) articles on the list this year, outdoing last year’s showing of four. Michael Kofman had another good year, with two articles on a topic that has been hot for years: Russia. Ankit Panda and Vipin Narang, who wrote for War on the Rocks for the first time in 2017, made it onto the list twice as a pair. Bryan McGrath, who holds the top spot (by a large margin) and our editor-in-chief, Ryan Evans, made the list for the first time since 2013. This year’s list is also joint: The Army, Navy, and Air Force are all represented this year, as well as our special operators. Yes, the Marine Corps is absent from this list (although certainly not from War on the Rocks), but given that they now control the Department of Defense and the office of the White House chief of staff, they shouldn’t feel too put out.

  1. Bryan McGrath, “How Could This Happen? The Fitzgerald, the U.S. Navy, and Collisions at Sea
  2. David Barno and Nora Bensahel, “Three Things the Army Chief of Staff Wants You to Know
  3. David Barno and Nora Bensahel, “The Growing Danger of a U.S. Nuclear First Strike on North Korea
  4. Van Jackson, “Why Mattis Versus Kim Jong-Un Will End Badly for Us All
  5. Thomas Shugart, “Has China Been Practicing Preemptive Missile Strikes Against U.S. Bases?
  6. David Barno and Nora Bensahel, “How to Talk to a Veteran
  7. Ryan Evans, “Trump’s Attack on Syria: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
  8. Michael Junge, “Something’s Wrong in the Surface Fleet and We Aren’t Talking About It
  9. Jeff Smith, “High Noon in the Himalayas: Behind the China-India Standoff at Doka La
  10. Ryan Evans, “Mattis the Great, Mattis the Exploited
  11. Michael Kofman, “A Comparative Guide to Russia’s Use of Force: Measure Twice, Invade Once
  12. David Barno and Nora Bensahel, “The War Among the Generals
  13. Molly Kovite, “The Dark Side of Gender Segregation in the Military
  14. Michael Kofman, “The Moscow School of Hard Knocks: Key Pillars of Russian Strategy
  15. Jason Shell, “How the IED Won: Dispelling Myths of Tactical Success and Innovation
  16. Oriana Skylar Mastro and Arzan Tarapore, “Countering Chinese Coercion: The Case of Doklam
  17. Ankit Panda and Vipin Narang, “Welcome to the H-Bomb Club, North Korea
  18. David Barno and Nora Bensahel, “What We Saw in War Machine
  19. Doug Livermore, “It’s Time for Special Operations to Dump ‘Unconventional Warfare’
  20. James E. Hayes III, “A Green Beret’s Ode to Big Army’s New Security Force Assistance Brigades
  21. Tim Ball, “Replaced? Security Force Assistance Brigades vs. Special Forces
  22. Adam Chitwood, “The False Promise of OA-X
  23. David Barno and Nora Bensahel, “Mirages of War: Six Illusions from Our Recent Conflicts
  24. Hussain Nadim, “There Is No Other Way with Pakistan
  25. Vipin Narang and Ankit Panda, “Command and Control in North Korea: What a Nuclear Launch Might Look Like


Image: U.S. Army, Staff Sgt. Micah VanDyke