Armistice Day: An Encounter at the Cenotaph

On a chilly October day, the Cenotaph stands on an island in the middle of a bustling London thoroughfare; black cabs and double-decker buses whisk by in either direction, black Mercedes loiter in the median while their high profile passengers jaw-jaw inside the government office buildings of Whitehall. Bureaucrats and tourists alike amble past, hardly casting a glance at the unassuming monument. Its simple aesthetic and white Portland stone all but blends into the stately Victorian buildings surrounding it. Once every year, though, at the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, this teeming street comes to an absolute standstill for two minutes. The solemn, empty tomb is transformed into the centerpiece for a ritual of collective mourning that has spanned the former British Empire for nearly a century.

Continue reading here

Read More
It's Time to Bring Back this Cold War Agency and Stop Ceding the Propaganda War to Russia

The United States has recently been ridiculed for losing the ongoing information war, and has fallen victim to successive propaganda and disinformation campaigns orchestrated by Russia without a significant response. Given Russia’s aggressive meddling in the 2016 US elections, along with other concerted efforts to delegitimize Western democracies and their institutions, it is imperative for the United States to adequately respond to Russian “active measures” in the information environment.

Continue reading here

Read More
War Books: 1LT Adam Maisel on Intelligence, Forecasting, and Modern War

Top Books

Alec Ross, The Industries of the Future

Ross served as a senior adviser to the State Department on innovation and his book envisions the generally positive effects of five key areas in technological advancement: robotics, genomics, the increased importance of big data and analytics, the rise of cryptocurrencies, and the importance of the cyber domain. Though optimistic, Ross does not shy away from the negative impacts these advances may have on society and their impact on warfare. Reading between the lines, Ross offers a primer on future trends that will have significant impact on the battlefield in the decades to come.

Continue reading here

Read More
The Adviser's Dilemma: Endemic Challenges and Unrealized Opportunities in the Training Mission in Afghanistan

As the Trump Administration prepares to roll out its Afghanistan policy, much remains unclear on one of the most critical functions: advising of Afghan defense and security personnel. Though preliminary plans recommended to the president call for an increase of between 3,000 and 5,000 US troops and loosening of Obama-era restrictions on military advisers’ proximity to the frontlines, little has been said to address the incoherence of advising efforts across the country.

Continue reading here

Read More
The Ghosts of Soviets Past: Do Bulgaria's Historical Russian Ties Spell Trouble for NATO on the Black Sea Coast?

The November election of Rumen Radev as president of Bulgaria has contributed to growing concerns that several former Soviet satellite states are drifting back into the orbit of Putin’s Russia. European anxieties have remained heightened since the 2014 Russian annexation of Crimea, state-sponsored proxy war in Ukraine’s eastern borderlands, and a myriad of other events including meddling in elections that allow Russia to impose soft power. A rash of pro-Russian candidates have expanded Russian influence over former Soviet states, and many worry that Bulgaria may become the next Trojan horse state.Considering Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unabashed ambitions to restore Russian greatness by hook or by crook, such political shifts take on more alarming context.

Continue reading here

Read More
An Outdated Message to Garcia: Why Hubbard's Essay Needs to be Shelved for Good

Long a staple of military professional reading lists, “A Message to Garcia,” written by Elbert Hubbard continues to be considered among the most important literary works on leadership—and followership. It held a place of prominence on the Marine Corps Commandant’s reading list from the first list in 1989 all the way through 2015. We have both personally witnessed it being praised in various military education and professional development venues. And our experiences raised serious questions about the work’s enduring value. The lesson intended to be derived from the story is unclear, and its applicability to the modern military professional is far from certain. Despite being written over a century ago for a world that no longer exists, “A Message to Garcia” is still frequently referenced as a seminal text for young officers and NCOs. It’s time to retire it from that vaunted position in the professional development canon.

Continue reading here

Read More
The Ghosts of Soviets Past: Unearthing the Memory of Occupation in Estonia

The opening lines from Adele’s hit song suddenly came on the car radio after a long stretch of Slavic folk music. It was minutes before midnight, and a detour along our northbound route through the Eastern Baltics had led us straight toward a Russian border crossing. Slightly delirious from hours of driving, we saw an opportunity for amusement and began to sing along to the eerily timed lyrics, attempting to outdo each other with impressions of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. The rows of stadium lights leading to the crossing cast an uneasy glow across the otherwise dark Estonian countryside. Briefly dismounting for an impromptu photo-op, we continued on to the next chapter of our next Baltic journey: Narva, a city transformed entirely by the Soviet period.

Continue reading here

Read More
War On The RocksWilliam Duval
The Ghosts of Soviets Past: Crawling Through the Decayed Nuclear Missile Bases of the USSR

“Da?” (Да) muttered the broad-shouldered man behind the diner counter, eyes apathetically glancing at the television mounted in the corner of the room playing Russian pop music videos. The place was a far cry from a favorable Yelp review, but it was the only open restaurant in the isolated municipality of Gulbene.  We occupied a table in the corner and noticed two other patrons giving us a piercing stare. It seemed we were more interesting to them than the scandalously-dressed teenage Russian pop-stars on TV, and the gaze lasted the full duration of our Latvian truck stop dinner.

Continue reading here

Read More
The Ghosts of Soviets Past: Two Army Intelligence Officers Explore an Abandoned Cold War Military City in Latvia

A few hundred miles southwest of the Latvian capital of Riga, near the Lithuanian border, lies the town of Skrunda, a bucolic municipality not unlike hundreds of other small towns and villages in the Latvian countryside. But several miles outside of the town center stands the inconspicuously named Skrunda-1, a ghost town that was once a closed city home to 5,000 Soviet soldiers, technicians, and their families.

Continue reading here

Read More
Why an On-Campus Experience is More Valuable Than You Think

The professional and personal benefits of having a college degree in the 21st century are undeniable. Service members and veterans working multiple jobs while raising families see the value in devoting time and money to higher education. Unfortunately, they don’t always consider applying to brick-and-mortar campuses because of a flurry of misconceptions regarding the experience and outcome of an online education. Online programs are notoriously marketed to service members by emphasizing low tuition costs and unparalleled convenience, but potential applicants are ill-informed about what an on-campus experience could offer.

Continue reading here

Read More
Task & PurposeWilliam Duval
The Future Of The Total Army Requires More Than A Report

he much-anticipated report from the National Commission on the Future of the Army was released on Jan. 28. In 208 pages of findings, the commission proposed 63 recommendations on force structure, organizational alignment, and balancing of the Total Force. It also took on relationships between the Regular Army, Army National Guard and Army Reserve, offering roadmaps to a more integrated Army. Below are some of the key highlights of the report.

Continue reading here

Read More
Task & PurposeAdam Maisel
8 Things Only Cadets Understand About ROTC

As the largest commissioning source for officers in the U.S. military, ROTC programs for each branch span across the country. Comprised of wise cadre and (usually) enthusiastic cadets, they strive to build effective military leaders out of American college students. However, there are plenty of frustrations and absurdities along the yellow brick road to commissioning. The program’s long institutional history is culminated here into eight genuine aspects of being a cadet in ROTC.

Continue reading here

Read More
4 Recommendations For The Future Of The Total Army

Here’s how the Regular Army, National Guard, and Reserve can work better to maintain U.S. land power dominance.

After nearly two years of bitter skirmishes between the three components of the U.S. Army — Active, National Guard, and Reserve — a congressionally mandated commission of retired Army leaders and Department of Defense officials will study the current force structure of America’s land force and make recommendations on its future composition. Though the National Commission on the Future of the Army was formed as a result of sparring between the three Army components and their interest groups, it presents an opportunity to create an Army capable of meeting the complex security threats our nation faces today and into the 21st century. With the Islamic State still controlling large swaths of Iraq and Syria, renewed uncertainty in Afghanistan and Russia’s perpetuation of “frozen conflicts” along its western border, the need for a decisive land force capable of meeting conventional, asymmetric and hybrid threats is as critical as ever.  So how can the Regular Army, Army National Guard, and Army Reserve work better to achieving that end? Here are four recommendations for the National Commission on the Future of the Army to consider.

Continue reading here

Read More
Task & PurposeAdam Maisel
NATO at the Tactical Level

Amid ongoing debate and anxiety over the future of NATO and the defense spending of its member states, one aspect of the alliance is rarely mentioned: How does NATO work in practice? Commentators often write of NATO’s strategic position vis-à-vis Russia, but we hear little of how cooperation between the allies takes shape on the ground. During my recent deployment to Afghanistan — the only conflict zone where NATO’s Article V has been invoked — I had the chance to see exactly that: a view of NATO at the tactical level.

Continue reading here

Read More
War On The RocksAdam Maisel
Give Millennials A Chance To Show Their Patriotism The Right Way

With a little help, patriotism among millennials can look less like a problem and more like an opportunity.

Customs and traditions are firmly ingrained in those who serve in the military. Symbols such as our nation’s flag and ceremonies that surround it evoke powerful emotions to service members and veterans. So when I read Will DuVal’s Task & Purpose article on millennials’ problem with patriotism, I completely agreed with his argument that the American flag is often misrepresentative on boardshorts and bikinis and that patriotism gets boiled down a cheap tagline of “U-S-A! U-S-A!” at a frat party. And it’s not just at frat parties. At sporting events, concerts, and political rallies, you can hear the chant over and over again. To some, it can appear cheap and hollow — a cop out to display patriotism without the required investment and sacrifice. But for many, this appears to be the only way to demonstrate such emotion. For millennials who may not have been old enough to serve immediately after the Sept. 11 attacks, how do they spontaneously respond to the death of Osama bin Laden? Are millennials really doomed to show their love of country through half-hearted displays of patriotic fervor?

Continue reading here

Read More
Task & PurposeAdam Maisel
5 Reasons Millennials Should Consider Joining The Reserve Or National Guard

Experience in the Reserve or National Guard will undoubtedly separate you from your peers.

Let’s face it. Talented young Americans are driven away from joining the active military for a multitude of reasons. They may want to maintain their freedom to live wherever they want, pursue higher education at their own pace, or have a full-time civilian career. Despite these barriers, many millennials still feel inclined to serve in some capacity.

Here are five reasons why millennials should consider joining the Reserve or National Guard component of any branch.

Link to Article

Read More
The Millennial Generation’s Problem With Patriotism

One can only imagine how often student veterans facepalm as they walk across their college campus and see a hungover 18-year-old stumbling out of a dormitory wearing an Air Force pilot’s jumpsuit, a camouflage Boonie hat, and an American flag as a cape. Surely, this kid isn’t trying to impersonate a service member by rocking military garb, but such an occurrence raises the question of whether the wear of surplus military uniforms and the American flag violate the inherent respect civilians should have for objects of such symbolic importance.

Continue reading here

Read More