Most Read War On The Rocks Articles of 2023


As we look back on 2023, the crises that dominated 2022 continue, while another war has begun in the Middle East. At this time last year, the world was concerned about Russian nuclear weapons use in Ukraine, even while many believed that the Russian leadership was mired in a conflict that it could not win. Now, Russia may still not be able to achieve President Vladimir Putin’s maximalist war aims, but as winter begins anew, there is growing pessimism about the Ukrainian military’s ability to force the Russian military from all territory it has captured since 2014.

In the Middle East, the horrific Hamas attacks on Oct. 7 once again sparked the cycle of violence between Israel and Palestine. The war in Gaza is a regional and humanitarian catastrophe with no clear end in sight, and many questions remain about whether Israeli soldiers will return to the Gaza Strip and what government will take control there and inherit a myriad of crises. 

All of this is reflected in what you, our readers, enjoyed most this year. In 2022, our readers were focused on the return of war to Europe and the impact of the Russo-Ukrainian war. In 2023, the wars in Europe and the Middle East galvanized our readers’ interest, but many of you also looked to the future. The many issues that the Russo-Ukrainian has revealed — from defense industrial base weakness to the resurgence of nuclear war risk — also are also very prevalent on this year’s list.

  1. Michael Kofman and Rob Lee, “Perseverance and Adaptation: Ukraine’s Counteroffensive at Three Months
  2. Liam Collins, Michael Kofman, and John Spencer, “The Battle of Hostomel Airport: A Key Moment in Russia’s Defeat in Kyiv
  3. Adam Lowther and Derek Williams, “Why America Has a Launch on Attack Option
  4. Emma Salisbury, “The Sinking Submarine Industrial Base
  5. Blake Herzinger, “It’s Time to Build Combined Forward Operating Base Sierra Madre
  6. Nick Danforth, “Mid-Afternoon Map: Occupied America
  7. Robert Rose, “Biting Off What It Can Chew: Ukraine Understands Its Attritional Context
  8. Ian Strebel and Matt McKenzie, “Embrace the Nerd: Dungeons & Dragons and Military Intelligence
  9. Bruce Hoffman and Jacob Ware, “Israel’s 9/11? How Hamas Terrorist Attacks Will Change the Middle East
  10. Nick Danby, “Carrier Strike Groups Should Be Ready to Go Dark in Conflict
  11. Brian Petit, “U.S. Special Operations and the Shadowy Promise of Irregular Campaigns
  12. Raphael S. Cohen and Gian Gentile, “The Four Questions The U.S. Military Should Be Asking About Operation Swords of Iron
  13. Lucas Myers, “The Myanmar Military Is Facing Death by a Thousand Cuts
  14. David Barno and Nora Bensahel, “Addressing the U.S. Military Recruiting Crisis
  15. Mackenzie Eaglen and Todd Harrison, “It’s Not About Where U.S. Space Command Goes But Whether It Should Exist At All
  16. Shawn Bunting, “Iran’s Proxy Fleets-in-Being
  17. John Barrett, “You Go to War With the Industrial Base You Have, Not the Industrial Base You Want
  18. Afshon Ostovar, “Iran, Israel, and War in the Middle East
  19. Hanna Notte, “The West Cannot Cure Russia’s Nuclear Fever
  20. Devorah Margolin, “A Major Pivot in Hamas Strategy



Image: U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Devin M. Langer