Military History/Contemporary Conflict Working Group

Role of Military History in Contemporary Conflict

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Thanksgiving Redux

by Bing Westvia Military History in the News
Wednesday, November 27, 2019

In describing the first Thanksgiving in 1621, the prominent Pilgrim farmer Edward Winslow wrote, “Our harvest being gotten in, our governor sent four men on fowling, that so we might after a special manner rejoice together…many of the Indians coming amongst us…by the goodness of God, we are so far from want that we often wish you partakers of our plenty.” About half of the small Pilgrim party had perished since landing at Plymouth the preceding year. 

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

American Naval Initiative—The Next Time Around

by Bing Westvia Military History in the News
Wednesday, November 20, 2019

In November of 1942, the U.S. Navy wrested the warfighting initiative from imperial Japan and set the course toward victory. Less than a year after Japan had attacked Pearl Harbor and proclaimed that all of Asia belonged to Emperor Hirohito, American successes in two naval battles permanently altered the course of the war. In the words of the Naval War College, the “operational initiative” lay with the American Navy.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

Comrade, Can You Spare a Swine?

by Christopher R. O’Deavia Military History in the News
Friday, November 8, 2019

As the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) takeover of mainland China recede into recent history, a look at the Communists’ heritage suggests that for all its foreign-exchange reserves and tech manufacturing know-how, and despite its military hardware and far-flung infrastructure investment portfolio, China may not have come that far.

Period Military History

Lt. General William G. Pagonis (U.S. Army, Ret.), Moving Mountains: Lessons in Leadership and Logistics from the Gulf War” (1992).

by Christopher R. O’Deavia Classics of Military History
Monday, November 4, 2019

Consider the 3x5 card. In all the video and still images of the Gulf War—lines of tanks and armored personnel carriers stretching to the dusty horizon, ships unloading supplies and ordnance, aircraft delivering a weeks-long bombardment before the ground invasion—there was no sign of what the author calls the “humble little cards” that played a crucial role in the logistics operations that underpinned the planning and execution of the conflict and the post-combat redeployment.

Blank Section (Placeholder)Analysis and Commentary

Marshalling The Troops: The Proliferation Of Defense Cooperation Agreements In The Age Of Alliances

by Christopher R. O’Deavia Military History in the News
Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The announcement that the United States had signed a new security agreement with Greece in early October highlights the increasing use of bilateral “defense cooperation agreements,” or DCAs, during an era of multilateral security alliances covering large geographic regions and numerous countries.

Weapons & Technology

Sextus Julius Frontinus, Stratagems (after 84 A.D.) & The Aqueducts of Rome (97–98 A.D.), Loeb Classical Library 174 (Mary B. McElwain, ed.; Charles E. Bennett, trans.)

by Christopher R. O’Deavia Classics of Military History
Wednesday, October 23, 2019

The Roman Empire flourished in large measure because it built logistics infrastructure to support civil administration of conquered territories. Roman roads enabled commodities and other goods from interior estates to be transported to coastal ports for shipment to the capital, and also provided an efficient network for moving its legions among the growing roster of provincial seats. But those provincial cities, often in arid areas, could not have grown beyond the size of military garrisons without the water supplied by Roman aqueducts.

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.

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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.

Pages

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
Visiting 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.