A Vision So Noble



Welcome to the website!

Most of the papers here are from my studies at King's College London in an online "programme" for mid-career British Army officers called War in the Modern World (MA "with distinction," 2010). About half were indeed British Army, including a captain who deployed to Afghanistan midway through the four years. The rest were from militaries and civilian careers, from Denmark to Singapore. I learned a great deal, and this website is to share it more broadly.

Anti-drone warfare

USS Portland downs a drone

The Times of London reports that a US Navy ship has destroyed a drone at a considerable but unspecified distance using a 150-kilowatt laser beam. The weapon was developed by Northrop Grumman and is believed to have a range of "considerably more than a mile." It apparently would be effective not only on small unmarried aircraft but also against lightweight raiders like those used by Iran to harrass ships in the Persian Gulf. The current laser is mounted aboard USS Portland, an "amphibious transport dock" that includes both a flight deck for helicopters and a well deck like that of Second World War landing craft, from which amphibious vehicles can be launched to attack a hostile shore. The US has eleven such craft, China has six, and many other navies have smaller numbers of ships with similar capabilities, though usually of smaller size.

The Times says that an older amphibious transport dock, USS Ponce, was deployed to the Middle East between 2014 and 2017 while armed with two smaller laser weapons, one with a firepower of 30 KW, the other with 15 KW. For a time there was talk of selling Ponce to Argentina, which of course the UK saw as a threat to the Falkland Islands, site of a brief and bitter war in 1982. Now it seems more likely that Ponce will be decommissioned altogether. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

Cowboy: interpreter, warlord, one more casualty

The essays (in more or less chronological order)

A Rebel in the County Cork, 1915-1923: case study of an insurgency
Was the Cold War an Inevitable Outcome of World War 2?
The Clayton Theorem: Did George Marshall Save the US from Economic Collapse?
To what extent is the US experience in Iraq comparable to their experience in Vietnam?
'Not Right, but British': The Superpower Role in the Falklands War
'But the Russians won, after all!: lessons from the Chechen wars
China: O brave new hegemon!
That's what presidents are for! (Why is 'planning' not the same thing as 'strategy'?)
When Sun-tzu met Clausewitz: John Boyd, the OODA Loop, and the invasion of Iraq
War sucks. Get over it. (on the novelty of 'Hybrid war')
How would John Boyd have waged a counterinsurgency?

Other good stuff to read

Gaddis: George Kennan: An American Life
Finkel: The Good Soldiers
Arreguin-Toft: How the Weak Win Wars: A Theory of Asymmetric Conflict
Luttwak: Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace
Smith: The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World
Galula: Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice
van Creveld: The Transformation of War
Bobbitt: 'Terror and Consent: The Wars for the 21st Century'
Ricks: 'The Gamble: Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq
Wright: 'The Looming Tower: The Road to 9/11'
Adams: 'The Army After Next: The First Postindustrial Army'
Was John Boyd a new Sun Tzu? (books about the OODA Loop)
A counterinsurgency reading list by John Nagl
50 best books about terrorism, by Joshua Sinai
more reviews of books about war as it has developed since 1945

Question? Comment? Newsletter? Send me an email. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

Poland's Daughter

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