August 1, 2008  

In this issue

Southern Command commander Adm. James Stavridis, in his address to the Joint Warfighting conference in June, offered this appeal to service men and women and defense industry people: Read; think; write.

Everyone in the defense industry, he said, needs “to be in the business of reading, thinking, writing and publishing because launching free ideas is what makes our country so strong. In the world we face today, we are going to have to launch some Tomahawk missiles, and there is no question in that, but we need to do a better job of launching ideas.”

There’s no better place to start the reading and thinking part than T.X. Hammes’ recommended reading list. His 12 choices may not be obvious military must-reads, but the list is all the better for that because these books are designed to change the way we think and better understand the implications of the technological and social changes we face.

“Over the last couple of years, these books have clarified for me how the world actually works — and it does not align with the planning processes we use in the defense industry,” T.X. told me.

For the writing part, AFJ invites readers to submit a short essay on the book that most changed your career path. We’ll send a set of T.X’s recommended books to the author of our favorite entry. Go to http://armedforcesjournal.com for details.

And on the subject of good reads, Phil Meilinger and Ralph Peters have penned compelling articles on the emotional, biological and cultural motivations for war. Phil dismisses Clausewitz’s dictum that war is an instrument of policy; Ralph describes as “fantasy” the idea that states act in rational self-interest. This is writing that’ll have you thinking.

Even more nectar for the gray matter: Mark Herman makes the case for greater attention to be paid to war-gaming cyber-security threats, while Malou Innocent proposes that Central Command create a lighter, nimbler version of Iraq’s Anbar model to address the threat emanating from western Pakistan’s tribal regions.

Capt. Charlie Kels keeps the debate flowing with an essay that questions the rationale of military officers who abstain from voting.