Military History/Contemporary Conflict Working Group

Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict

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Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

October Man: Mikhail Gorbachev

by Christopher R. O’Deavia Military History in the News
Friday, October 18, 2019

October is the month for bringing in the harvest and consolidating power. According to his biography on the Gorbachev Foundation website, the last leader of the Soviet Union is proud of his ability to detect a fault in a combine harvester just by the sound of it. His acumen with agricultural machinery—learned from his father—helped the younger Gorbachev become the youngest winner of the Order of the Red Banner of Labor award for his part in bringing in the bumper crop of 1949 at the age of just seventeen. The award helped secure him a place at the Moscow State University, where he studied law.

Weapons & Technology

John E. Clark, Jr., Railroads in the Civil War: The Impact of Management on Victory and Defeat (2001)

by Christopher R. O’Deavia Classics of Military History
Monday, October 14, 2019

This short volume illustrates the importance of management practices and political culture in adapting an emerging technology to the demands of war. The author’s position is clear—Clark contends that despite having a considerable number of rail lines within its territory, the basis of the claim that the South had an advantage early in the conflict in the form of “internal lines of communication,” and the legal authority to take control of the railroads for military purposes, the Confederate leadership “proved unable” to recognize the increasing importance of logistics as the conflict wore on.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

Sputnik I—The Beeps Heard Round The World

by Christopher R. O’Deavia Military History in the News
Thursday, October 10, 2019

The Space Age opened in October 1957 when the Soviet Union’s Sputnik I became the first satellite to orbit the earth. Launched during the International Geophysical Year, Sputnik I orbited earth every 96 minutes for 21 days, traveling more than 40 million miles as it transmitted a steady beep signal that was soon recorded and broadcast to American radio listeners. The satellite itself was visible to viewers in the United States during dawn and twilight, providing directly observable evidence that the United States—for the moment at least—was trailing its chief geopolitical rival in the emerging technology that would define the balance of power in an era of nuclear stand-off.

Period Military History

Rear Admiral Worrall Reed Carter, Beans, Bullets, and Black Oil: The Story of Fleet Logistics Afloat in the Pacific During WWII (1953)

by Christopher R. O’Deavia Classics of Military History
Thursday, October 10, 2019

In the introduction to this detailed history of the operations that kept his combatant forces supplied with everything from ordnance to water, Admiral Raymond A. Spruance writes, “a sound logistic plan is the foundation upon which a war operation should be based.” That might leave the impression that this is a dry treatise in logistics science, but this overlooked gem tells the story of how the U.S. Navy created mobile logistics service squadrons to support Spruance’s “island-hopping” assaults on Japan’s eastern defense perimeter in the Central Pacific.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

Alliances: Past, Present, And Future

by Williamson Murrayvia Military History in the News
Monday, September 30, 2019

In the 1930s, the British military pundit B. H. Liddell Hart argued vociferously that traditional British conduct of war in the seventeenth and eighteenth had represented a strategy of minimal commitment to the wars on the European Continent while focusing on a blue-water strategy to attack the enemy on the periphery. Thus, Britain’s effort in the First World War with its emphasis on the British Expeditionary Force in France had been a terrible mistake. He could not have been more mistaken. 

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Intelligence And Imagination

by Williamson Murrayvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Military historians tend to spend far too much time on the combat arena in which armies, navies, and air forces contend. Yet, underlying their performance is the organizational behavior of intelligence agencies which should be responsible for guiding and framing their actions and reactions. Nothing displays this more clearly than a comparison of the cultures of the British and German intelligence organizations during the Second World War. The latter was hierarchical, compartmentalized, and separated the military from the civilians. Within the German system, there was virtually no tolerance, much less interest in, passing opinions and original ideas up the chain of command. But perhaps the greatest weakness in German military culture was the general contempt for intelligence and its purveyors.

Who Carried the Burden in the Second World War?

by Williamson Murrayvia Military History in the News
Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Over the past several decades, as historians have unraveled the archives of the Red Army after the collapse of the Soviet Union, the new narrative of the history of the Second World War that has emerged has emphasized the fighting on the Eastern Front as the crucial theater of the war in Europe. Certainly, the casualties that the Soviet peoples endured were far beyond the losses the Western Allies suffered, while the fighting on the Eastern Front contributed substantially to breaking German ground forces. Yet, an overemphasis on Soviet casualties, no matter how impressive, fundamentally distorts the extent of the effort that the Western Powers waged against the Third Reich.

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On the Eightieth Birthday Of WWII

by Williamson Murrayvia Military History in the News
Monday, September 16, 2019

Eighty years ago this month the most catastrophic war in history broke out. On September 1, 1939, Nazi Germany invaded her neighbor, Poland. From before dawn German shells and bombs fell across the breadth and width of the country. Despite the obvious buildup of military forces on the other side of the frontier, the Poles had not fully mobilized because British and French statesmen worried that such a mobilization might encourage Hitler to go to war—as if he needed any encouragement. In every sense, the German invasion of Poland proved to be a disaster for Poland, a disaster exacerbated by the willful policies of appeasement that the British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had fostered over the previous two and a half years.

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How Civil War Ignites

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Military History in the News
Monday, August 26, 2019

On August 10, 1932, General José Sanjurjo, commander of Spain’s army and former commander of its Civil Guard, declared rebellion against Prime Minister Manuel Azaña’s government. The General treated the Prime Minister as a Leftist enemy, and the Prime Minister treated the General as a monarchist enemy. Both were correct. Both were trying to use the government to harm their least favorite causes and people. The rebellion failed. The General was condemned to death, but only exiled. The level of mutual hate was yet insufficient for civil war. That changed.

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The Power Of Retreat

by Angelo M. Codevillavia Military History in the News
Monday, August 19, 2019

On August 18, 1812, General Mikhail Kutuzov, 67 years old, took command of Russia’s army, which had been forced to retreat as Napoleon’s Grande Armée, the world’s best fighting force and three times its size, advanced into Russia. Destroying the Russian army was Napoleon’s objective. Preserving it had become the Russians’ proximate objective. 

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Chair
Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow
Member
Payson J. Treat Distinguished Research Fellow in Contemporary Asia
Research Fellow
Tad and Dianne Taube Senior Fellow
Senior Fellow
Annenberg Distinguished Visiting Fellow
Milbank Family Senior Fellow
Distinguished Visiting Fellow
Fouad and Michelle Ajami Senior Fellow
Senior Fellow
Roger and Martha Mertz Visiting Fellow
Robert and Marion Oster Distinguished Military Fellow
W. Glenn Campbell Research Fellow
Research Fellow
Contributor
Research Fellow / National Security Affairs Fellow 2008-2009
Featured

Military History Workshop Explores Great Power Rivalries

Tuesday, October 9, 2018
Hoover Institution, Stanford University

Great power rivalries are replacing the post-Cold War global order, with some nations rising while others are declining, according to Hoover Institution military historians.

News
From left to right: Bing West, Peter Mansoor, Ralph Peters, Victor Davis Hanson

Military History Working Group meets at Hoover

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The Working Group on the Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict met for a workshop during October 7 and 8 to chart its long-term objectives and review its new online journal, Strategika.

News

The Working Group on the Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict examines how knowledge of past military operations can influence contemporary public policy decisions concerning current conflicts. 


As the very name of Hoover Institution attests, military history lies at the very core of our dedication to the study of "War, Revolution, and Peace." Indeed, the precise mission statement of the Hoover Institution includes the following promise: "The overall mission of this Institution is, from its records, to recall the voice of experience against the making of war, and by the study of these records and their publication, to recall man's endeavors to make and preserve peace, and to sustain for America the safeguards of the American way of life." From its origins as a library and archive, the Hoover Institution has evolved into one of the foremost research centers in the world for policy formation and pragmatic analysis. It is with this tradition in mind, that the "Working Group on the Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict" has set its agenda—reaffirming the Hoover Institution's dedication to historical research in light of contemporary challenges, and in particular, reinvigorating the national study of military history as an asset to foster and enhance our national security. By bringing together a diverse group of distinguished military historians, security analysts, and military veterans and practitioners, the working group seeks to examine the conflicts of the past as critical lessons for the present.

Victor Davis Hanson on War in the Contemporary World — WATCH

The careful study of military history offers a way of analyzing modern war and peace that is often underappreciated in this age of technological determinism. Yet the result leads to a more in-depth and dispassionate understanding of contemporary wars, one that explains how particular military successes and failures of the past can be often germane, sometimes misunderstood, or occasionally irrelevant in the context of the present.

The working group is chaired by Victor Davis Hanson with counsel from Bruce S. Thornton and David L. Berkey, along with collaboration form the group’s distinguished scholars, military historians, analysts, journalists, and military officers.