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.



An Australian Army General Recalls The Smackdown That Saved His Career

February 23, 2018

australian army beatdown leadership
The last time I saw Major General Day, I was an 18-year-old first-year cadet at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra.  He was the Commandant. It was November 1987.  And I was standing in front of his desk.  Being kicked out of the Academy.  And I owe him big time because it was a … Read More

Civil War Watch: Two More Signs Of Strains On The American System

February 23, 2018

civil war federal government
No, not Grant vs. Lee war between the states. But signs that the ties that bind us are fraying. The leader of the NRA suggested that the FBI’s rank and file consider resisting their leaders. Trump also threatened to reduce the federal presence in California because he doesn’t like how they do. For newcomers, when … Read More

When Too Many Cooks Spoil The Strategic Pot: Edgar on Strategy, Part XII

February 22, 2018

From the series editor: This series on strategy began on Foreign Policy’s Best Defense site but now lives here. The next three articles in the series deal with practical aspects of strategy development and implementation, the stuff of executive and middle management. It is not enough to have a good strategic vision. People, organizations, and … Read More

Book Excerpt: Karlin’s ‘Building Militaries in Fragile States: Challenges for the US’

February 22, 2018

In 2014, much of the Iraqi Army dissolved as ISIS overran Iraqi cities like Ramadi and Mosul. After more than a decade of U.S. training and more than $20 billion in assistance to strengthen the force, training was for naught as Iraqi soldiers fled battles and holed up in their homes, military leadership disappeared, and … Read More

Military Rhymes: A Collection Of The Phrases That Capture Part Of A Culture

February 21, 2018

military rhymes
I’ve long been a fan of military rhyming couplets. I think they seem to be such an intriguing aspect of American military culture. Here, with a lot of help from my Task & Purpose colleagues, are some I and they remembered. Please add yours in the comments section. Lots of these are infantry sayings, but … Read More

Quote Of The Day: When To Get Nervous

February 21, 2018

the quantum spy david ignatius
“I get nervous when people tell me that everything’s fine.” — A character in David Ignatius’ new novel, The Quantam Spy.

The View From Afghanistan: The Dark Stain Of American Gun Exceptionalism

February 20, 2018

second amendment florida shooting suspect Nikolas Cruz
I fear American gun culture isn’t cancer, it’s late-stage CTE—that is, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease that results from repeated blows to the head. During my current deployment, nearly 100 people have been slaughtered in the United States, many of them children, a number more befitting a war zone than an ostensibly advanced … Read More

China’s Getting Feistier In Space

February 20, 2018

china hypervelocity weapons space
So says a report that a Chinese interceptor warhead hit a target missile in space.  Like we told you, they’re not kidding about being able to conduct offensive military operations in space.