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Who’s the pointy-headed pen-pusher who put the Department of Defense in a polygon? How did the most fearsome military establishment in human history end up in a squat, dull office building with miles of cookie-cutter corridors, no elevators, and twice the toilets it needed?

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Brad Hardy photo.

War is destructive in nature, obviously. For Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz, “destruction of an enemy’s armed forces is the means to the end…[and] the only means of destroying the enemy's armed force is by combat….” The timelessness of destruction is grounded in Army doctrine of the offensive, “to defeat, destroy, or neutralize the enemy force” with an aim to take or maintain the initiative in operations. Destruction of two cities proved critical to ending the Second World War, but left a lasting wound in Japan and set the tone for the Cold War arms race. Yet in many cases, destruction can be a source of renewal despite the scars it leaves behind. A nation often uses the fragments that war creates to build cultural artifacts that not only reflect, but look forward.

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