Along with Mark Cancian and Eric Heginbotham, I designed a wargame, ran it 24 times, and wrote a report which can be found here: https://www.csis.org/analysis/first-battle-next-war-wargaming-chinese-invasion-taiwan
The flagship article from my thesis was recently published in the Journal of Conflict Resolution
In a recent article in the Naval War College Review, I present my analysis of the potential for a minelaying campaign against China.
During a recent trip to the Kurdistan Region, I commented on the situation in Iraq during an appearance on Rûdaw: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXf19zHLdWM
To support a review of America’s force posture in East Asia by the Quincy Institute, I designed and ran two wargames with Eric Heginbotham (author of RAND’s ‘US-China Military Scorecard’). Here, I am rolling down air superiority over Taiwan with Rachel Odell.
The first pickup laid down suppressive fire with its .50-caliber heavy machine gun; the other pickup—called a “technical” in the many places such makeshift combat vehicles are found—then advanced to the next fold in the sand, braked hard and took up the thundering cadence with its own weapon. The first technical used that suppression to resume its advance, and the two vehicles continued their alternating progress down a football field-length of Iraqi desert.
The principles of fire and movement were developed by German stormtroopers in World War I, yet were new to these Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, recently trained by Western Special Forces. The multinational observers clapped after the demonstration, held near Mosul Dam during the war with the Islamic State group.
This article about the Christrian militias in northern Iraq first appeared in the Winter 2018 issue of Providence‘s print edition. To read the original in a PDF format, click here. To receive a complete copy of future issues as soon as they are published, subscribe for only $28 a year.
Religious and ethnic minorities live a precarious existence during civil wars. In a war between the incumbent state and an insurgent challenger, minority group leaders may pick one side over the other. However, if they choose the loser they will be open to charges of collaboration and become vulnerable targets of vengeance. On the other hand, if the minority chooses to stay out of the fight altogether, the failure to mobilize may itself leave them defenseless. Moreover, some civil wars and insurgencies are more complicated than others. Multiple actors fighting or competing for control of the state make things even more complicated, especially if minority groups themselves fragment into multiple factions.
The popular blog John Q. Public caricatures every development in the Air Force as causing impending doom for the service’s pilot retention crisis: One article describes “the worst decision in [the Air Force’s] institutional history,” while another narrates “the exact day the tailspin started”, leaving readers unsure whether it’s tongue-in-cheek or histrionic.
The pilot retention crisis has also been the subject of insightful commentary and in-depth studies, citing root causes ranging from competition with civilian airlines to cultural shifts. While all of these explanations are valid, some are probably more pertinent than others. If everything is a huge problem, it’s hard to triage — to separate what’s merely annoying from what’s truly defeating the morale of the aircrew. Now the Air Force needs to determine where to operate to save the patient.
How can we study modern warfare through the lens of culture? Different armies fought in different ways for reasons that don’t look very rational without considering cultural context. The ritualized tribal warfare of twentieth-century New Guinea looks more like middle school dodgeball than battle to us, but it probably would have been very familiar to the Mycenaean Greeks of the Iliad. When different cultural systems collide, the results can be devastating to one side until it adapts: in the initial Mongol invasion of Japan in 1274 the samurai challenged the invaders to single combat, only to discover with disastrous results that the Mongols did not share their idea of what a battle was supposed to be. And this isn’t just a topic for military historians. Understanding how culture bounds the way we (and our enemies) think about warfare will help to ensure we’re on the winning side in future conflicts; better to be the marauding Mongols than the stupefied samurai, looking for a divine wind to save them from their lack of cross-cultural understanding.