Tom Ricks has covered the U.S. military for several decades and is the author of six books, most recently Churchill and Orwell: The Fight for Freedom. He has won some prizes.



The Guantanamo Mystery Novel That Captures Military Life Between The Cold War And 9/11

October 17, 2018

guantanamo bay 1990s
How does the old joke go? “Nostalgia is heroin for the middle class.” Which explains why recent war-related fiction and nonfiction feels so punishing, the opposite of a relaxed, stoned haze – it is hard to get nostalgic about events still beating you on the head. This well-meaning literature gives a limited perspective, can’t reflect … Read More

The Military Decision-Making Process Is An Inflexible Mess. Here’s How To Fix It

October 16, 2018

military decision making process
Skilled leaders have discovered ways throughout history to take advantage of ambiguity. And it can counter the overdoses of established measures we use in military planning, by which I mean the Military Decision-Making Process (MDMP). The historian David Fraser described the ponderousness of operations as a major flaw in the British military during World War … Read More

Coast Guard Policy, Sharks, And Poe: 3 Military Facts We Didn’t Know

October 16, 2018

coast guard separation policy
Edgar Allan Poe dedicated his third volume of poetry to the cadets of West Point. The skipper of the USS Indianapolis, who was court-martialed after the ship was sunk and 900 sailors were lost, many to sharks, killed himself in 1968. The Coast Guard allows its members to temporarily separate from the service and then … Read More

The Disturbing Meaning Of Kanye West’s Visit To The White House

October 15, 2018

President Donald Trump meets with musician Kanye West in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018, in Washington.
Donald Trump is the first president to rise to that office by being a celebrity, and that carries enormous implications for his behavior and for how many people react to him. He is also the first president to not have served in another office or in the military before ascending to the White House. He … Read More

Why I Never Liked Those Videos Of Deployed Soldiers Surprising Their Kids At School

October 15, 2018

xaver boston soldeirs surprising thewir kids
It always seemed kind of unfair to me. Kids with deployed parents have enough uncertainty in their lives. I think kinder to say, “I’m coming home tomorrow,” and then meeting in private. Lots of emotions flow at such moments. Give the kid some room. I mention this because an Army Reserve MP featured in a … Read More

Movies And Shows You Need To Watch To Understand The US Military, By A British Army Officer

October 12, 2018

band of brothers
I’m not sure that books are necessarily the best medium for understanding the US military. I’m inclined to think that a combination of television and movies (the ultimate expression of American culture as they are) are probably more help in understanding the US military. At the very least they show us (foreigners) how the Americans … Read More

A Vietnam Vet’s Reflections: ‘When I Think’

October 12, 2018

My mind’s eye sees the truly great. The line of grunts, stooped and low. Running to the fire. Grasping life by the handguard. Always to the front. Exhaustion, pain, frustration, and fear. They walk through each soul’s history. Through corridors of light, dark, and haze. The memories firm and the pain less. The fog of … Read More

Friday Dog: War Dogs In The Phillipines During World War II

October 12, 2018

military working dogs war dogs world war II philippines
Is it just my eyes, or are those soldiers looking particularly skinny, especially the one on the left? Surprisingly little information on this photo, only that it is a pre-patrol briefing on Luzon.