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 Biggest Equalizer In The Military Is A Piss Tube In The Middle Of The Iraqi Desert

October 19, 2018

iraq piss tubes
Once upon a time in a little desert as a young 88M Sergeant attached to a Calvary Troop and Infantry Platoon, I found myself in a part of Iraq close to the Syrian border in a tiny Combat Outpost known as COP North. It was not the most distinguished of areas for the glory of … Read More

Finally, A Morsel Of Good News For True Fans Of The French And Indian War!

October 19, 2018

Fort Ligonier
You know the cliché about how “amateurs talk tactics, professionals talk logistics, people who know what they’re talking about talk personnel policy”? The American military history equivalent, I suspect, is “amateurs talk Civil War, professionals talk World War II and Vietnam, and people who know what they’re talking about talk the French & Indian War.” … Read More

Friday Dog: What The Heck Is Going On In This Photo?

October 19, 2018

military working dog pool
Here’s the full shot: No, I do not have a good explanation for this photo, but I wonder if DARPA has been doing some gene experiments.

Eisenhower On ‘Leading From Within’ And The Art Of Collaborative Leadership

October 18, 2018

Being the middle brother was a special burden, or blessing, as the case may be. Young Ike. did not carry the expectations or enjoy the deference of being the eldest. He did not carry any of the usual insecurities of being the youngest. Yet being in the middle, he could, if he tried, empathize with … Read More

How Likely Is A New American Civil War? Surprising Lessons From Lebanon’s Conflict

October 18, 2018

lebanon civil war
What is the likelihood of civil war in the United States? Few Americans ask me this question, despite the fact that I am a scholar of civil war. The wars I study took place in the Middle East, though, and few Americans believe the United States shares any similarities with the benighted nations of that … Read More

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