Review: Strategy for Chaos: Revolutions in Military Affairs and the Evidence of History

5 Star, Military & Pentagon Power, Strategy
Amazon Page
Amazon Page

Colin Gray

5.0 out of 5 stars Colin Gray is THE top strategist in the Enlgish language, January 1, 2013

I have been a huge fan of Colin Gray since reading and reviewing his Modern Strategy. My own particular interest is “intelligence with integrity” and my motto is “the truth at any cost reduces all other costs.” This is not a motto the current Secretary of Defense in the USA is familiar with. After reading Leon Panetta's recent speech on “strategy” to the National Press Club, I was moved to create a remedial reading list for any aspiring Secretary of Defense, and this book as well as Modern Strategy are on that list.

Colin's key points are points that many of us have made over time after first learning them from Colin, among others — the US Army Strategic Studies Institute is a node of excellence that has employed both Colin and myself, and all that they offer free online in the way of strategically-oriented monographs is priceless. They are working on beginning to offer their books on Amazon.

01) Spending is neither revolutionary nor a strategy.

02) Technology is neither revolutionary nor a strategy.

03) To devise a strategy (connecting ends, ways, and means) one must first get a grip on reality.

04) A proper strategy must be Whole of Government, multinational, multiagency, and rooted in truthfulness.

05) People and thinking are “root” for any strategy that aspires to be successful.

I would add to Colin's diplomatic writing the raw fact that if a Secretary of Defense is willing to tell any lie to get his or her way with the President (rule one in Morton Halperin's Bureaucratic Politics and Foreign Policy is “lie to the President if you can get away with it”), Congress, and the public, that Secretary of Defense will inevitably fail. Our problem in the USA is that no one is held accountable for failure — everyone is long retired before massive failures of intelligence and integrity in strategy are visible to the public. This is one reason that I as a former spy have turned my back on secrecy (except in counterintelligence and especially religious and while collar crime counterintellignece). To devise a proper strategy that will stand the test of time demands transparency, truth, and trust. Industrial Era governments accustomed to Weberian stove-piping, budget share, and “anything goes” in the battle for money, have lost sight of the raw fact that the only sustainable strategy is the affordable strategy.

Colin Gray remains the master of strategy — if I were to be developing a strategy for a Secretary of Defense, I would not conceive of doing so without the persistent advice of Colin Gray and several others. What he knows is worth tens of billions in avoiding wrong turns and instead doing the right thing. Despite Winston Churchill's confidence in Americans, they have not run out of the wrong things to do first, and their ability to conceive of new wrong things is without parallel in modern history.

The other books I recommend, within Amazon's ten-link limit:

Who the Hell Are We Fighting?: The Story of Sam Adams and the Vietnam Intelligence Wars
The Dynamics of Military Revolution, 1300-2050
Dereliction of Duty
Wilson's Ghost: Reducing The Risk Of Conflict, Killing, And Catastrophe In The 21st Century
The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today
Andrew Jackson Higgins and the Boats That Won World War II
Very Special Intelligence
DVD: The Fog Of War
DVD: Why We Fight

Best wishes to all in the new year,
Robert Steele

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