Reviewing history through the lens of the Allied victory in World War II, it is easy for us to forget that the only armed forces (arguably) prepared for war at its onset were those of Japan and Germany. Both had experienced cadre and formations, Japan’s honed in China and Manchuria, Germany’s in the Spanish Civil War. The Allies, lulled into complacency by a combination of popular wishful thinking and artful propaganda, were, even in 1942, still catching up with the Axis forces. Nowhere was this more the case than with the American forces thrown into combat in North Africa.
For the U.S. Army Air Forces, still far behind the Royal Air Force and the Luftwaffe in experience and equipment, North Africa was the beginning of a brutal learning curve in arts of tactical air support and what was then known as pursuit aviation. This book, while a service history, gives a good overview of operations without getting so granular as to make it pedantic. A worthy addition to the library of anyone with an interest in the period, or in the history of aviation.
These proceedings of a RAND conference diving into policy options on climate change suggest taking a systemic rather than a single-industry approach to sustainability policy. Setting aside the controversy over climate, there are convincing reasons to operate the nation and its economy in a manner far less wasteful than at present. The framers of these papers seem to think it is time do de-politicize the debate and move toward a non-partisan, integrated, and multifaceted approach the the problem of sustainability.
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It was never a given that air forces would be a part of the U.S. armed forces, and while the uses and efficacy of air power have been the subject of much hyperbole from advocates in the past, the U.S. and its allies were fortunate that a few outspoken leaders made the case for military aviation in the wake of opposition from ground and sea forces.
How those advocates evolved as the Air Force and Naval Aviation migrated from being outsiders to establishment is a fascinating study, because it explains why the public is frequently oversold – or mis-sold – on the capabilities of those who fly through the air.
This is particularly germane because in the wake of the “Long War” and more intensive budget pressures on the U.S. armed forces, there is once again a growing voice for the disestablishment of the U.S. Air Force as a separate service, and the considerable downsizing of naval aviation. With its focus on some of the more colorful personalities in the history of American military aviation, this book is a fascinating as well as topical read.
When even the Air Force admits that they have not paid enough attention to a field of aerial warfare, you can be assured that they have nearly ignored it.
At the risk of sounding pedantic, a study of military history yields the unfortunate conclusion that air strategists have paid far too much attention in their planning to strategic bombing (reducing the enemy’s political, economic, and communications infrastructure) and air-to-air combat (shooting down the enemy’s fighters and bombers) and not enough to other fields where, perhaps, credit for success could not be attributed to the air arm. Politics does more than empirical evidence or threat analysis to determine doctrine, strategy, tactics, and weapons, and this is a dangerous vulnerability.
Mind you, the Air Force is not alone in this failing – each of the five services (Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Navy, Marines) suffers from this malady in some degree, though the Marines and Coasties, used to making a little go a long way, suffer somewhat less so. To the zoomies’ credit, the historians they fund at the Center for Air Force History are going back and analyzing the lessons of the past to try to keep America’s birdmen from having to relearn some valuable lessons.
What Dr. Eduard Mark has uncovered – much, I am sure, to the chagrin of his blue suited sponsors – is that the Air Force has learned the wrong lessons from its experience in aerial interdiction (defined as the effort to sever enemy forces from their lines of supply, reinforcement, movement, and communication). Worse still, Dr. Mark delivers the scathing conclusion that the Air Force is making the wrong assumptions about hardware, tactics, and acquisition, and that these have dangerously undermined the force’s ability to conduct interdiction.
A fascinating, well-documented read.
A pdf book that offers a loose (not causative) link between greater freedom and higher corporate profits. After reading Richard McGregor’s The Party it is not hard to see how strong states can lead to reduced corporate profits, even for favored enterprises.
A host of critiques have been made about the issues plaguing the U.S. effort in Afghanistan, but when the Strategic Studies Institute dives into an issue, it is worth a read. Unity of command is a core principle of leadership – this book presents a damning examination.
An interesting working paper from the Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan that probes whether speed of economic reforms is linked to the speed of improvements in human rights. A casual, mainstream-media read on China would suggest no correlation, but Krishna Chaitanya Vadlamannati of the University of Santiago de Compostela suggests a more nuanced read on the situation in China and other countries in this pdf book.
A RAND opinion paper calling on Obama to cut the role of contractors in government. Contractors per se are not a bad thing, suggests this report, but when you start replacing core government functions with outsiders you not only lose something, you frequently wind up paying private sector rates for people who before had been happy taking government compensation.
I’m no fan of oversized bureaucracies, but I think our debate about government has become far too focused on size, and not focused enough on efficacy. While RAND to a certain extent has skin in this game, their point of view is less politicized than what is popularly discussed.
This is a question that over the longer term will occupy the governments of China and India as well. Both have long-standing traditions of bloated, multilevel bureaucracies that develop lives and power bases of their own, and will at some point need models to help them “right-size” and make more effective their legions of apparatchiks.
This book does not offer what one would call engrossing narrative, but for the serious student of World War II it provides a unique global and chronological overview of the progress of the war. Reading through these offers a glimpse of what it must have been like to be an aide in Hap Arnold’s office as the reports came in from abroad.
A fascinating study by Demos and Orange that dives into the role of social networks and formal organizational structures. A must-read for anyone trying to figure out the role of social media in the workplace.
There are many making ideological and emotional appeals for political reform in Myanmar (Burma). This pdf book from a Council on Foreign Relations Task Force makes a dispassionate and persuasive case for the country to move beyond its current stasis.
A pdf book describing the role played by the “fast movers” and big bombers in the Vietnam War.
One would be tempted to take a skeptical approach to reports like this, seeing them (particularly today) as a means of justifying the role of expensive aviation hardware in combating an insurgency. But there is more happening here.
This is really an account of the challenges of operating in an environment with restrictive rules of engagement, and the work hints that not only tactics but strategy, platforms, and force structure must change when fighting a “limited” or hybrid war.
The service history of America’s air war over North Africa and Southern Europe during World War II. A pdf book.
A Deutsche Bank report that formed the underpinning of Alan Hellawell’s comments at the China 2.0: The Rise of a Digital Superpower conference last week.
I don’t agree with all of Hellawell’s conclusions, but I particularly concur with his suggestion that business-to-consumer e-commerce in China is going to be most successful when brands rely on platform providers rather than trying to build their own sites. Adidas’ recent announcement that it will be partnering with Taobao is an excellent example.
A pdf book from the RAND Corporation looking at the mental health effects of modern warfare.
A collection of vignettes from the U.S. Army Command & General Staff College on leadership under fire. A pdf book.
A pdf book that takes a look at how many aspects of law enforcement will change over the next ten years.
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A pdf book that dives into the issues U.S. law enforcement agencies face. Naturally there is a great emphasis on organizational behavior, efficiency, constitutional practices, and racial matters. What caught my eye was the discussion about corruption: not that it was there, but that it seemed to merit only a passing mention.
Reading through the report, one gets the impression that U.S. law enforcement is rather troubled. What would do a real service would be to benchmark U.S. police practices both between US cities and between US cities and the police forces overseas (and not just Japan, Australia and Europe.)
A two-volume pdf book covering the progress (or lack thereof) in the global effort to control narcotics.
A pdf book from RAND examining the role played by the Revolutionary Guard Corps in Iranian politics. This pdf book continue’s RAND’s ongoing effort to end the ignorance about Iran’s internal drivers among both policymakers and the public in the U.S.
A RAND monograph that describes Iran and its political system in compelling detail. In the case of no other country is our collective ignorance such an impediment to effective international relations, and the RAND team takes a first, big step toward rectifying that. A pdf book.