17.482 | Spring 2015 | Undergraduate, Graduate

U.S. Military Power


1 Introduction: The Past, Present, and Future of the U.S. Force Structure



O’Hanlon, Michael E. The Science of War: Defense Budgeting, Military Technology, Logistics, and Combat Outcomes. Princeton University Press, 2009, pp. 1–7. ISBN: 9780691137025. [Preview with Google Books]

Context of American Defense Planning

“Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds.” (PDF - 23.1MB) National Intelligence Council (2012): ixiv.

Long Term Implications of the 2014 Future Years Defense Program.” Congressional Budget Office (2013): 1–4.

U.S. Department of Defense. “Executive Summary.” Quadrennial Defense Review (2014): iiixv.

Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense.” U.S. Department of Defense Strategic Guidance (2012): 1–8.

Bumiller, Elisabeth. “Words and Deeds Show Focus of the American Military on Asia,” The New York Times, November 10, 2012.

Steinhauer, Jennifer. “Back in Asia, Hagel Pursues Shift to Counter China’s Goals in Pacific,” The New York Times October 2, 2013.

Baker, Peter. “As Russia Draws Closer to China, U.S. Faces a New Challenge,” The New York Times, November 8, 2014.

Landler, Mark. “Fruitful Visit by Obama Ends With a Lecture From Xi,” The New York Times, November 12, 2014.


Students should get to know both the Pentagon and Congressional Budget Office websites.  
Both are important sources of information for this course.

2 U.S. Grand Strategy


Posen, Barry R., and Andrew Ross. “Competing Visions for U.S. Grand Strategy.” International Security 21, no. 3 (1996–97): 5–53.

Posen, Barry R. “Pull Back: The Case for a Less Activist Foreign Policy.” Foreign Affairs 92, no. 1 (2013): 116–28.

Williams, Cindy. “Accepting Austerity: The Right Way to Cut Defense.” Foreign Affairs 92, no. 6 (2013).

Brooks, Stephen G., G. John Ikenberry, et al. “Lean Forward: In Defense of American Engagement.” Foreign Affairs 92, no. 1 (2013): 130–42.

Slaughter, Anne-Marie, Bruce W. Jentleson, et al. “Strategic Leadership: Framework for a 21st Century National Security Strategy.” Center for a New American Security (2008): 9–32.

“National Security Strategy of the United States of America.” (PDF) 2002.  
“National Security Strategy of the United States of America.” (PDF 1.5MB) 2010.


“The National Military Strategy of the United States America.” (PDF) 2011.

Gaddis, John Lewis. Chapters 2 and 12 in Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of American National Security Policy during the Cold War. Oxford University Press, 2005. ISBN: 9780195174472. [Preview with Google Books]

Slaughter, Anne-Marie, and G. John Ikenberry. “Forging a World of Liberty under Law, Final Report of the Princeton Project on National Security in the 21st Century - Final Report of the Princeton Project on National Security.” Council on Foreign Relations Events (2006): 11–61.

Brooks, Stephen G., G. John Ikenberry, et al. “Don’t Come Home America: The Case against Retrenchment.” International Security 37, no. 3 (2012 / 13): 7–51.

3 The Fundamentals of Campaign Analysis


Biddle, Stephen. “Strategy in War.” Political Science and Politics 40, no. 3 (2007): 461–6.

———. Chapter 3 in Military Power: Explaining Victory and Defeat in Modern Battle. Princeton University Press, 2006, pp. 28–51. ISBN: 9780691128023.

Mearsheimer, John J. “Why the Soviets Can’t Win Quickly in Central Europe.” (PDF 3.6MB) International Security 7, no. 1 (1982): 44–78.

Posen, Barry R. “The Balance of Ground Forces on the Central Front.” Chapter 3 in Inadvertent Escalation: Conventional War and Nuclear Risks. Cornell University Press, 2013, pp. 68–128. ISBN: 9780801478857. [Preview with Google Books]

Cohen, Eliot. “Toward Better Net Assessment: Rethinking the European Conventional Balance.” International Security 13, no. 1 (1988): 50–89. (For a critique of this literature students should read.)


For responses to Cohen’s critique, and Cohen’s defense, review the “Correspondence.” (PDF - 5.4MB) International Security 13, no. 4 (1989).

Central Intelligence Agency. CIA Analysis of the Warsaw Pact Forces: The Importance of Clandestine Reporting. Edited by Joan Bird and John Bird. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014. ISBN: 9781497352377.

Lepingwell, John W. R. “The Laws of Combat? Lanchester Reexamined.” International Security 12, no. 1 (1987): 89-127.

Homer-Dixon, Thomas F. “A Common Misapplication of the Lanchester Square Law.” International Security 12, no. 1 (1987): 135–9.

4 History and Role of Airpower


Major Modern Air Campaigns

Pape, Robert. “Coercive Air Power in the Vietnam War.” International Security 15, no. 2 (1990): 103–46.

Keaney, Thomas, and Eliot Cohen. “What Did the Air Campaign Accomplish?” Chapter 3 in Gulf War Air Power Survey Summary Report. United States Government Printing, 1993, pp. 55–119. ISBN: 9780160419508.

Press, Daryl. “The Myth of Air Power in the Persian Gulf War and the Future of Warfare.” International Security 26, no. 2 (2001): 5–44.

Kopp, Carlo. “Evolving Technological Strategy in Advanced Air Defense Systems.” Joint Forces Quarterly 57, no. 2 (2010): 86–93.

Air Power, Allies, Limited War

Andres, Richard, Craig Wills, et al. “Winning with Allies: The Strategic Value of the Afghan Model.” International Security 30, no. 3 (2005–6): 124–60.

Biddle, Stephen. “Allies, Airpower, and Modern Warfare: The Afghan Model in Afghanistan and Iraq.” International Security 30, no. 3 (2005–6): 161–76.

Borghard, Erica D., and Constantino Pischedda. “Allies and Airpower in Libya.” Parameters 42, no. 1 (2012): 63–74.

Mayer, Jane. “The Predator War: What are the Risks of the CIA’s Covert Drone Program?The New Yorker, October 2009.


Singer, Peter. “Robots at War: The New Battlefield.” The Wilson Quarterly (2009): 30–48.

Bermudez, Joseph. “A History of Ballistic Missile Development in the DPRK.” Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Occasion Paper No. 2, 1999.

5 The Last Fair Fight? The Battle of the Bulge, 1944



Weigley, Russell. Eisenhower’s Lieutenants: The Campaigns of France and Germany, 194445. Indiana University Press, 1981, pp. 1–31. ISBN: 9780253206084.

United States War Department. “Handbook on German Military Forces.” Chapter 2, Figures 14 & 15. March 15, 1945.

The Battle

Cole, Hugh. The Ardennes: Battle of the Bulge (U.S. Army in World War II - The European Theater of Operations). Center of Military History (United States Army), 1994, pp. 52, 649–60, and 685–6.

MacDonald, Charles B. Chapters 6, 12, 13, and 14 in A Time for Trumpets: The Untold Story of the Battle of the Bulge. William Morrow Paperbacks, 1997, p. 629. ISBN: 9780688151577.


MacDonald, Charles. A Time for Trumpets. William Morrow, 1985 is recommended in its entirety for those interested in ground warfare when it does not go entirely right. Alternatively, students may wish to review Dupuy, Trevor. Hitler’s Last Gamble: The Battle of the Bulge, December 1944-January 1945. Perennial (HarperCollins), 1995. ISBN: 9780060921965.

6 Intelligence and Military Operations


Skim: The Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the U.S. Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction (PDF - 3.3MB) and “Appendix C: An Intelligence Community Primer” (PDF) (2005).

Skim: Daggett, Steve. “The U.S. Intelligence Budget: A Basic Overview.” Congressional Research Service (2004).

Betts, Richard K. Chapters 1 and 2 in Enemies of Intelligence: Knowledge and Power in American National Security. Columbia University Press, 2007. ISBN: 9780231138888. [Preview with Google Books]

Kahn, David. “The Intelligence Failure of Pearl Harbor.” Foreign Affairs 70, no. 5 (1991-1992): 138–52.

Mahnken, Thomas. “War in the Information Age.” Los Angeles Times (1995–1996): 39–43.

Shanker, Thom, and Matt Richtel. “In the New Military, Data Overload Can Be Deadly,” The New York Times, January 16, 2011.

Woods, Kevin, James Lacey, et al. “Saddam’s Delusions: The View from the Inside.” Foreign Affairs, 2006.


Nye, Joseph, and William Owens. “America’s Information Edge.” Foreign Affairs, 1996.

Wallace, Lieutenant General William S. “Network-enabled Battle Command.” Military Review 85, no. 3 (2005): 2.

Pillar, Paul R. “Intelligence, Policy, and the War in Iraq.” Foreign Affairs 85, no. 2 (2006): 15–27.

Budiansky, Stephen. Battle of Wits: The Complete Story of Codebreaking in World War II. Sviking, 2000, pp. 1–24. ISBN: 9780670884926. [Preview with Google Books]

Joseph, Uri Bar. “Israel’s 1973 Intelligence Failure.” Israel Affairs 6, no. 1 (1999): 11–35.

———. The Watchman Fell Asleep: The Surprise Of Yom Kippur And Its Sources. State University of New York Press, 2005, pp. 201–34. ISBN: 9780791464823. [Preview with Google Books]

7 Naval Power and Power Projection



Posen, Barry R. “Command of the Commons: The Military Foundation of U.S. Hegemony.” International Security, 28, no. 1 (2003): 5–46.

Naval Operations: The Nexus of Air and Surface Warfare

Smith, Gordon. Battle Atlas of the Falklands War 1982. Naval-History, 2006. Chapters 8, 9, and 24. ISBN: 9781847539502.

Hastings, Max, and Simon Jenkins. The Battle for the Falklands. Book Club Associates, 1983. Read pp. 82–84 before the Woodward piece and pp. 150–7 after Woodward.

Admiral (retired), and Sandy Woodward. One Hundred Days: The Memoirs of the Falklands Battle Group Commander. Naval Institute Press, 1997, pp. 1–22 and 146–64. ISBN: 9781557506528.

Jewell, Angelyn, et al. “USS Nimitz and Carrier Airwing Nine Surge Demonstration.” Center for Naval Analyses Alexandria, VA (1998): 3–13, 25–29, and 121–49.

Rubel, Robert C. “The Future of Aircraft Carriers.” (PDF) Naval War College Review 64, no. 4 (2011): 13–27.

Anti-submarine Warfare (ASW)

Lindsey, George. “Tactical Anti-submarine Warfare: The Past and Future.” Adelphi Paper 16, no. 122 (1976): 30–39.

Cohen, Eliot, and John Gooch. “Failure to Learn: American Antisubmarine Warfare in 1942.” Chapter 2 in Military Misfortune: The Anatomy of Failure in War. Free Press, 1990, pp. 59–94. ISBN: 9780029060605.

Posen, Barry. “Sea Control.” Chapter 5 in Inadvertent Escalation: Conventional War and Nuclear Risks. Cornell University Press, 2013, pp. 159–96. ISBN: 9780801478857. [Preview with Google Books]


Cote, Jr., Owen R. “Assessing the Undersea Balance between the U.S. and China.” (PDF) SSP Working Paper No. 11–1 (2011).

8 The Guadalcanal Campaign

Chen, C. Peter. “Guadalcanal Campaign: 7 Aug 1942 - 9 Feb 1943.” World War II Database.

———. “Solomon Islands Campaign.” World War II Database. Read sections: “Battle of Eastern Solomons” and “Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands.”

Roskill, S. W. “The Pacific and Indian Oceans.” Chapter IX in The War at Sea 19391945, Vol. 2: The Period of Balance. Her Majesty’s Stationary Office, 1956.

Quantock, David. “Disaster at Savo Island, 1942.” U.S. Army War College, 2002.

9 The New U.S. Way of War: Desert Storm to Operation Iraqi Freedom


Gulf War I

For orientation, skim: Gordon, Michael, and Bernard Trainor. Chapters 18–20 in The Generals: The Inside Story of the Conflict in the Gulf. Back Bay Books, 1995. ISBN: 9780316321006.

Mueller, John. “The Perfect Enemy: Assessing the Gulf War.” Security Studies 5, no. 1 (1995): 77–117.

Biddle, Stephen. “Victory Misunderstood: What the Gulf War Tells Us about the Future of Conflict.” International Security 21, no. 2 (1996): 139–79.

Press, Daryl. “Lessons from Ground Combat in the Gulf.” International Security 22, no. 2 (1997): 137–46.

Cohen, Eliot. “A Revolution in Warfare.” Foreign Affairs 75, no. 2 (1996): 37–54.

Krepinevich, Jr., Andrew F. The Military-technical Revolution: A Preliminary Assessment. Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (2002): 11–22.

Review: Keaney / Cohen and Press readings from week 5 on airpower in Gulf War.

Gulf War II

For orientation, skim: Gordon, Michael, and Bernard Trainor. Chapters 13 and 14 in Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq. Atlantic Books, 2006. ISBN: 9781843543527.

Boot, Max. “The New American Way of War.” Foreign Affairs 82, no. 4 (2003): 41–58.

Biddle, Stephen, et al. “Toppling Saddam: Iraq and American Military Transformation.” (PDF - 4.5MB) U.S. Army War College (2004).

Gordon IV, John, and Bruce Pirnie. “‘Everybody Wanted Tanks’: Heavy Forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.” Joint Forces Quarterly, no. 39 (2005).

Lessons from Israel / Lebanon War 2006

Biddle, Stephen, and Jeffrey Friedman. The 2006 Lebanon Campaign and the Future of Warfare: Implications for Army and Defense Policy. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2008, pp. xi–xix. ISBN: 9781461085003.


Keaney, Thomas A. “The Linkage of Air and Ground Power in the Future of Conflict.” International Security 22, no. 2 (1997): 147–50.

Fontenot, Gregory, E. J. Degen, and David Tohn. Chapters 3–6 in On Point: The United States Army in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Combat Studies Institute, 2004. (Skim these pages to get a sense of how the campaign unfolded. Also review maps and other graphics in these sections.)

Moseley, Michael. “Operation Iraqi Freedom: By the Numbers.” (PDF) U.S. Air Force Assessment and Analysis Division (2003).

Cohen, Eliot. “Change and Transformation in Military Affairs.” Journal of Strategic Studies 27, no. 3 (2004): 395–407.

10 Afghanistan, Iraq, and Counter-insurgency: An Old Problem Returns


Theory and Strategy

Long, Austin. Chapter 4–5 in On Other War: Lessons from Five Decades of RAND Counterinsurgency Research. RAND Corporation, 2006, pp. 21–55. ISBN: 9780833039262.

Quinlivan, James T. “Force Requirements in Stability Operations.” Parameters (1995–96): 59–69.

Sewall, Sarah. The U.S. Army / Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual. University of Chicago Press, 2007, plus pp. 1–24 and 1–29. [foreword] (U.S. Army and Marine Corps, FM 3–24)

Biddle, Stephen. “The New U.S. Army / Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual as Political Science and Political Praxis [Introduction].” Perspectives on Politics 6, no. 2 (2008): 347.

Luttwak, Edward. “Dead End: Counterinsurgency Warfare as Military Malpractice.” Harper’s Magazine, February 2007, 33–42.


Cole, Juan. “Iraq’s Three Civil Wars.” MIT Audit of Conventional Wisdom (2008).

Filkins, Dexter. “In Falluja, Young Marines Saw the Savagery of an Urban War,” The New York Times, November 21, 2004.

Ollivant, Douglas A. “Countering the New Orthodoxy: Reinterpreting Counterinsurgency in Iraq,” (PDF) National Security Studies Program Policy Paper, 2011. (New America Foundation)


Skim: Jones, Seth G. “The Rise of Afghanistan’s Insurgency: State Failure and Jihad.” International Security 32, no. 4 (2008): 7–40.

Woodward, Bob. “McChrystal: More Forces or ‘Mission Failure’,” Washington Post, September 21, 2009.

Fick, Nathaniel C., and John A. Nagl. “Counterinsurgency Field Manual: Afghanistan Edition.” Foreign Policy, January 2009.

Long, Austin. “Small is Beautiful: The Counterterrorism Option in Afghanistan.” Orbis 54, no. 2 (2010): 199–214.

Biddle, Stephen, Fotini Christia, et al. “Defining Success in Afghanistan.” Foreign Affairs 89, no. 4 (2010): 48–60.


Biddle, Stephen, Jeffrey A. Friedman, et al. “Testing the Surge: Why Did Violence Decline in Iraq in 2007?International Security 37, no. 1 (2012): 7–40.

Kalyvas, Stathis N. “Review of the New U.S. Army / Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual.” Perspectives on Politics 6, no. 2 (2008): 350–3.

Ollivant, Douglas. “The New U.S. Army / Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual.” Perspectives on Politics 6, no. 2 (2008): 357–60.

Johnson, Thomas, and Chris Mason. “Refighting the Last War: Afghanistan and the Vietnam Template.” Military Review (2009): 2–14.

Long, Austin. Chapter 6 in On “Other War”: Lessons from Five Decades of RAND Counterinsurgency Research. RAND, 2006, pp. 57–73.

———. Begin at “COIN Doctrine, 2003 to 2005.” In Doctrine of Eternal Recurrence: The U.S. Military and Counterinsurgency Doctrine, 19601970 and 2003–2006. RAND Corporation, 2008, pp. 20–29. ISBN: 9780833044709.

———. “The Anbar Awakening.” Survival: Global Politics and Strategy 50, no. 2 (2008): 67–94.

11 “Humanitarian Military Intervention”: Kosovo and Related Applications


The Logic and Definition(s) of Humanitarian Intervention

Posen, Barry R. “Military Responses to Refugee Disasters.” International Security 21, no. 1 (1996): 72–111.

Luck, Edward C. “The United Nations and the Responsibility to Protect.” Stanley Foundation Policy (2008).

Operation Allied Force

Posen, Barry R. “The War for Kosovo: Serbia’s Political-military Strategy.” International Security 24, no. 4 (2000): 9–84.

Roberts, Adam. “NATO’s ‘Humanitarian War’ Over Kosovo.” Survival: Global Politics and Strategy 41, no. 3 (1999): 102–23.

Cohen, William S. Secretary of Defense and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Shelton, Henry H. “Kosovo / Operation Allied Force After-action Report.” Department of Defense, Report to Congress, 1999.

Thomas, Timothy L. “Kosovo and the Current Myth of Information Superiority.” Parameter 30, no. 1 (2000): 13.


Barrie, Douglas. “Libya’s Lessons: The Air Campaign.” Survival: Global Politics and Strategy 54, no. 6 (2012): 57–65.

Review: Borghard, Erica D., and Constantino Pischedda. “Allies and Airpower in Libya.” Parameters 42, no. 1 (2012): 63.


Pape, Robert A. “When Duty Calls: A Pragmatic Standard of Humanitarian Intervention.” International Security 37, no. 1 (2012): 41–80.

United States General Accounting Office. “Kosovo Air Operations: Need to Maintain Alliance Cohesion Resulted in Doctrinal Departures, GAO-01-784.” (2001).

Review these key resources on international law relating to humanitarian operations:

Visit the Black Hawk Down website set up by the Philadelphia Inquirer based on a series of stories by Mark Bowden about the U.S. Military Intervention in Somalia in 1993. Read the book, available in paperback: Bowden, Mark. Black Hawk Down: A Story of Modern War. Atlantic Monthly Press, 1999. ISBN: 9780871137388 or see the movie.

12 The Nuclear Age and Nuclear Proliferation


Waltz, Kenneth N. “Peace, Stability, and Nuclear Weapons.” Chapter 22 in The Use of Force: Military Power and International Politics. 5th ed. Edited by Robert Art and Kenneth Waltz. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 1999, pp. 357–71. ISBN: 9780847695546.

Sagan, Scott. “The Perils of Proliferation: Organization Theory, Deterrence Theory, and the Spread of Nuclear Weapons.” International Security 18, no. 4 (1994): 66–107.

Posen, Barry R. “U.S. Security Policy in a Nuclear Armed World.” Security Studies 6, no. 3 (1997): 1–31.

———. “A Nuclear-Armed Iran: A Difficult But Not Impossible Policy Problem.” (PDF) The Century Foundation, 2006.

Kroenig, Matthew. “Time to Attack Iran.” Foreign Affairs 91, no. 1 (2012).

Press, Daryl, and Kier Lieber. “The Rise of U.S. Nuclear Primacy.” Foreign Affairs 85, no. 2 (2006).

Glaser, Charles, and Steve Fetter. “Counterforce Revisited: Assessing the Nuclear Posture Review’s New Missions.” International Security 30, no. 2 (2005): 84–126.

Nuclear Proliferation: Avoiding the ‘Greatest Possible Danger.’Strategic Survey 2004 / 5. International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2005, pp. 37–50.

Course Info

As Taught In
Spring 2015