Bing West

Biography: 

Military historian F. J. “Bing” West is the best-selling author of ten books on strategy and battle. He served as assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs in the Reagan administration. A graduate of Georgetown and Princeton Universities, he served in Vietnam with Marine Force Recon and Combined Action Platoons. His articles appear in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.

While serving as assistant secretary, he chaired the U.S. Security Commissions with Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Oman, South Korea, and Japan. He also supervised advisory and special operations in El Salvador, Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt, and Pakistan.

He is the author of ten books on national security. These include The Village, that has been on the Marine Commandant’s Reading List for 40 years; New York Times Bestseller The Strongest Tribe, a history of the Iraq War; No True Glory: the Battle for Fallujah; The Wrong War, a History of the Afghanistan War; and Into the Fire, also a New York Times Bestseller. West embedded with our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan on more than thirty occasions, deploying on hundreds of combat patrols. His latest book is One Million Steps: A Marine Platoon at War. With retired Marine General James N. Mattis, he is writing a book about combat leadership.

A member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Infantry Order of St. Crispin, West has served on several boards of trustees. Among other awards, he is the recipient of the Department of Defense Distinguished Public Service Medal, the Colby Military History Award, the Marine Corps Heritage Award (twice), the Goodpaster Prize for Military Scholarship, the Father Clyde E. Leonard Award, the Free Press Award, the Marine Corps Correspondents’ Distinguished Performance Award, the Veterans of Foreign Wars’ National Media Award, and the Marine Corps Russell Award for Leadership.

He and his wife Betsy reside in Newport, RI. His website is www.westwrite.com.

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Recent Commentary

The Vietnam Documentary and Military Lessons

by Bing West via Military History in the News
Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Military History Working Group at Hoover concentrates upon logic, facts, and trends communicated via the written word. At the same time, more people in all strata of society are basing their judgments upon social media and digital images. Consider: almost 60 million people watched Steven Spielberg and Tom Hank’s Band of Brothers miniseries. Video attracts audiences one thousand times larger than bestselling books.

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Responding To Hurricanes While Assuming No More Wars

by Bing West via Military History in the News
Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The 1938 hurricane season resulted in 700 fatalities. The lack of technology to provide early warning caused that high number. In the current cases of Texas and Florida, casualties are far less because we have early, accurate warning and have learned how to prepare. But since we cannot change nature, we cannot prevent the physical damage and so Congress appropriates vast sums—likely to exceed $150 billion—to repair.

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Treat North Korea Like Other Nuclear-Armed Adversaries

by Bing West via Military History in the News
Tuesday, September 5, 2017

The backward tyranny of North Korea has again conducted a nuclear test and fired a ballistic missile. This has garnered global attention, including much discussion of what should be done in response.

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The Middle East: Terrorism Forever?

by Bing West via Strategika
Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The short response is yes. Crime forever? Also, yes. Turbulence, terror, pestilence, famine, love, procreation, taxes, families, sunsets, rain, shine, etc.—all are components of the human condition. There is no arc toward perfection in human nature.

Related Commentary

The Key Technological Breakthrough: Avoiding Death

by Bing West via Strategika
Wednesday, March 15, 2017

What technological breakthroughs could recalibrate military operations in the tradition of the tank, guided missile, jet aircraft, or nuclear weapon? It’s not the technologies; rather, it is the motivation driving the technologies that has changed. The American Way of War has reverted back to the pre-1775 style called “skulking”: you try to kill your enemy while staying alive. 

Featured CommentaryAnalysis and Commentary

Trump’s Strategic Realignments

by Bing West via Strategika
Thursday, January 26, 2017

“Likely,” when considering what strategic realignments the Trump administration will embrace to restore American deterrence and enhance global security, is the least likely adverb to apply to predictions. A Wall Street Journal review of 6,500 market predictions by economic experts found that most were wrong. 

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Blinded by the Light? What It Will Take for the Iran Deal to Succeed

by Bing West via Strategika
Friday, May 27, 2016

Before addressing history, it should be pointed out that the Obama agreement (it is not a treaty) provides Iran with the expertise, systems, and unimpeded bridge to nuclear weapons within about twelve years. Iran can abide by the agreement and still become a power with nuclear weapons.

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Are We Our Own Worst Enemies?

by Bing West via Strategika
Friday, April 29, 2016

Since Vietnam, American technological advances have swept military competition. Today, no nation can stand up against us in industrial warfare. That is, if the battle is decided by the 20th-century means of supplies and manpower, both dependent upon the internal combustion engine, any opposing force will be defeated swiftly and with low American casualties.

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America the Weak

by Bing West via Defining Ideas
Thursday, March 31, 2016

We’re losing our wars because our enemies do not fear us and our allies don’t trust us.

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How We Fight in the Twenty-First Century: Winning Battles While Losing Wars

by Bing West via Analysis
Thursday, December 10, 2015

The intent of this essay is to shed light upon why the United States is performing so poorly in twenty-first-century warfare. War is the act of relentlessly destroying and killing until the enemy is broken physically and morally, and no longer resists the advancement of our policy objectives. By that definition, President Obama eschews war. Plus, our generals have imposed rules of engagement that prevent the application of our relative advantages in air and precision firepower. Our enemies do not fear us and our friends do not trust us. Sensible steps can turn that around, but that depends upon the next commander in chief. Our beloved nation does not have a martial spirit, and perhaps does not need one. It does need a military inculcated with a warrior spirit.

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