Carl von Clausewitz is one of the most profound military thinkers of all time. His famous book On War is our bible and he is a god among military strategists. But we should stop teaching Clausewitz in the U.S. military.
Most will view this discussion as blasphemy. How dare I advocate that we stop teaching the divine inspirations of Clausewitz. Sean McFate provides a similar discussion in his new book The New Rules of War: "A hagiography exists around the man, and his book On War is enshrined in Western militaries as a bible. When I teach this text to senior officers at the war college, the room grows silent with reverence. His ideas constitute the DNA of Western strategic thought."
On War was published in 1832 and we continue to look to it for timeless principles of warfare, but why? As Ian T. Brown wrote in A New Conception of War, "We must move beyond the past."
Cris Weisbecker, Education Services Officer at the Wiesbaden Education Center, gives a presentation to U.S. Army Signal Soldiers about higher education opportunities and Army services during the 102nd Strategic Signal Battalion, 2nd Theater Signal Brigade, quarterly Soldier Development Program Jan. 18, 2018 in Wiesbaden, Germany. The Soldier Development Program provides Soldiers with information on a wide variety of personal and professional topics, including higher education, designed to grow junior Soldiers into future leaders. (U.S. Army photo by William B. King) (Photo Credit: William King)
In a recent open letter to Microsoft President Brad Smith and CEO Satya Nadella, a group of Microsoft workers demanded that Microsoft cancel its $479 million contract with the United States Army. Established last year, this contract committed Microsoft to supply technology for the Army's Integrated Visual Augmentation System (IVAS), leveraging its HoloLens augmented reality technology to design headsets for use in combat and training. The letter is the workers' refutation of creating technology for "warfare and oppression," arguing that the contract is Microsoft's foray into weapons development.
Rather than provide insight or commentary on the ethics of corporate cooperation with government, the letter lays bear the signatories' ignorance of warfare and combat trauma.
It is virtue signaling masquerading as thought leadership.
A U.S. Soldier with D Company, 1st Battalion, 3rd Aviation Regiment (Attack Reconnaissance), 12th Combat Aviation Brigade, conducts routine maintenance on a AH-64 Apache helicopter on Aug. 29, 2018, at Katterbach Army Airfield in Ansbach, Germany. The Army continues to identify ways that existing technology could be employed or re-combined to produce better products at lower cost.(Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Charles Rosemond)
One of the recurring complaints about the military is that it doesn't take well to new ideas. By its very nature, the military has a structure that lends itself to ideas becoming orders from the top down.
The path of least resistance is certainly to shut up and color.
An ad from Gillette blew up the Internet earlier this month. You've seen it. The one that says men need to do better. It strikes against bullying and sexual harassment...you know, toxic masculinity.
The usual vetflakes and emotionally fragile reactionaries immediately went into spasms of rage over the idea that a company was telling them that they shouldn't catcall women or let a kid get beaten by an unruly mob chasing him.
Some people are legitimately outraged by the idea that young men shouldn't be giving each other beatdowns. A not insignificant group feels seriously threatened by being told to be better.
The Nation's newest Coast Guardsmen from Recruit Company Lima 188 march in front of family and friends during Pass and Review during recruit graduation at Training Center Cape May, Aug. 2, 2013. (U.S. Coast Guard/Chief Warrant Officer Donnie Brzuska)
First you hear them. The dull roar of voices calling and repeating. Hundreds of rubber soles begin pounding the pavement of an empty Beach Avenue. It sounds like an oncoming train.
Then the recruits of United States Coast Guard Training Center Cape May are upon you.