Recent Voices

Voice

The Greener Pope

Francis is about to put climate change front and center on his papal agenda. But can his Holiness heal the political divide?

Best Defense

CGSC: Despite an internal report, it is still screwed up — and may become more so

A year and a half ago a short article for Best Defense blasted the Army’s Command and General Staff College for the problems inherent in its bloated schedule. Indeed, CGSC’s own research into its officer course, as part of its Campaign Plan 2014, found that its “schedule is unpredictable, poorly synchronized, and overtaxes students while under-challenging them.”

Best Defense

Hezbollah in Iraq: Hey, our new pals!

I hear, second-hand, but from an unusually reliable source, that as many as 2,000 Hezbis are now fighting against the Islamic State in Iraq.

Voice

Operation Charlie Foxtrot

The entire Middle East is at war right now, and the Obama administration's strategic incoherence is aiding and abetting the chaos.

Best Defense

Rebecca’s War Dog of the Week: The Military had mushers

This past Sunday, the last of the mushers competing in the 2015 Iditarod crossed the finish line in Nome, Alaska. According the the race's official website, each team averages about 16 sled dogs, meaning that "1,000 dogs leave Anchorage for Nome." Tales of dog sled racing are legendary, but the first Iditarod to Nome wasn't that long ago in 1973. But decades before racing dogs were mushing across the tundra, Alaska produced some fine war dogs.

Best Defense

A very British list of war memoirs

It leaves out a lot of my favorites, even British ones, by authors such as Robert Graves, Keith Douglas and Field Marshal Slim. Still, an interesting list for including people like Spike Milligan.

Best Defense

What a veteran combat commander wants from any reporters covering his unit

Recently, among the several blogs I read, there was a particularly vitriolic repost to a journalist by a veteran. His contention was that since the journalist had never been in the military and never commanded any unit in combat, he was unfit to comment about combat or the management of same. I disagree — strongly.

Best Defense

Is our country setting women up to fail?

By allowing women to attempt to try to perform functions for which they are highly challenged, are we setting most women up for failure?

Voice

The Obama-Bibi Two-State Two-Step

The soap opera of the special relationship has gotten even more dramatic. But when it comes to Palestinian statehood, the United States and Israel are just playing games.

Best Defense

A lesson in every war: Survive the first few missions — your chances improve greatly

“If you lived the first three, four, five or six sorties, you cottoned on very quickly and learned the business of rubbernecking,” recalled a British pilot quoted in Joshua Levine’s Forgotten Voices of the Blitz and the Battle for Britain. “Because far more pilots were shot down by aircraft they never saw than by ones they actually did see.”

Best Defense

What do you know about the Lusitania?

As a kid, in grade school, we saw an old movie about the sinking of the Titanic. I don’t remember, but it might have been Roy Ward Baker’s A Night To Remember. Whatever it was, the sinking of the Titanic was always in the front of my mind when someone mentioned the words “passenger ship” and “sunk.” The attack and sinking of the Lusitania, however, was a footnote in our history books; maybe it made half the page — if that.

Observation Deck

Is a Nuclear Iran a Threat or a Distraction?

Why the Obama administration’s focus on negotiations to stop Tehran’s nuke program overlooks the real problems in the Middle East.

Best Defense

A few brass tacks: Why gender arguments blind the military to bigger problems

In two recent essays on the subject of women in combat, Marine Captain Katey Van Dam directly addressed the issue of women's physical aptitude for infantry combat. She is justified in taking up the case because so many opponents have used the matter of physicality as an argument against their presence in infantry units. However, no matter how well either side presents its view, both sexes have much more in common physically than they realize. What they share is a lack of physical ability that constitutes a dangerous threat to ground troops' battlefield success.

Best Defense

Name 10 good graphic novels about war?

After seeing a tweet about a graphic novel about Gettysburg, I realized that I’ve never seen many graphic novels about war. I did mention one about Bosnia a few months ago, but aside from that, I haven’t seen many.

Best Defense

Enoch Powell’s amazing WWII career

When people remember Enoch Powell today, if at all, it is as an anti-immigration Tory politician in Britain.

Voice

Has the Caliphate Come to Kabul?

Fear of the Islamic State is making for strange bedfellows in the land of warlords and the Taliban.

Best Defense

Air Force weird news roundup

In weird Air Force news: An Air Force historian at MacDill AFB was charged with pointing a laser at aircraft and an Air Force LTC in SpecOps support was charged with sexual assault.

Voice

Soccer Is the Continuation of Putin’s War By Other Means

Organizers have done their best to keep Russia and Ukraine from facing off against one another in Europe’s second-biggest soccer tournament. But they may not be able to keep them apart for much longer.

Voice

Objects on Your TV Screen Are Much Smaller Than They Appear

Realizing that Bibi, Barack, & Co. are even less important than they seem can actually be comforting.

Best Defense

Rebecca’s War Dog of the Week: A Insider’s Lesson in War-Dog Vocabulary

There are a lot of things one learns quickly when they make introduction to the Military Working Dog community: The first rule, always: Do not approach an MWD — no matter how friendly they might appear from a distance -- unless you have the OK from the handler.

Best Defense

In Tikrit, no matter who wins, we lose

In the 1981 movie, “Zorro the Gay Blade,” Zorro’s brother tells a peasant: “There is no shame in being poor, only in dressing poorly.” There is a corollary to that in war: There’s no shame in fighting, only in fighting poorly.

Best Defense

Some lively old military slang, WMP

One of my odder hobbies is reading through specialized dictionaries. It may sound boring, but to me is like sorting through the bargain bins of the tools of my trade, writing.

Argument

High North or High Tension?

How to head off war in the last frontier on Earth.

Argument

Pirate Droves

How to deal with ransom on the high seas.

Best Defense

We need a cyber corps as a 5th service

At U.S. Cyber Command at Fort Meade last week, newly appointed Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said that a new, independent branch is “one of the futures cyber might have.” He is right.

Voice

Trading Centrifuges for Child Brides

The world shouldn’t let Tehran off the hook for its egregious human rights violations just because Rouhani came to the nuclear table.

Voice

The Secret to Making China’s Economy Grow Forever

Developed countries from the U.S. to Korea have all hit a growth rate ceiling as they've grown richer. Will this be China's fate? Not if Li Keqiang has anything to say about it.

Best Defense

The future is here: Drones, kids, and more

As I was lazing on a beach in steamy Puerto Rico on Sunday afternoon, a toy drone zoomed over the sands and then hovered at the end of the beach.

Best Defense

Best places to read certain books?

It is always great to read a book about a place when you are in that place — for example, reading Killer Angels while on a trip to walk the Gettysburg battlefield, or Son of the Morning Star while driving across Montana or Wyoming.

Shadow Government

Choose Your Own Nuke Deal Adventure

On Iran, the Obama administration is running a master class in how to trap yourself between a rock and a hard place.

Voice

Hypothetical Herzog

What an Israeli government will look like if Bibi Netanyahu loses the election to the Labor Party candidate -- and what it could accomplish.

Voice

Choose Your Own Nuke Deal Adventure

On Iran, the Obama administration is running a master class in how to trap yourself between a rock and a hard place.

Best Defense

A George Marshall photo new to me

Tom Ricks shares a photo he found of Gen. George Marshall and some other World War II luminaries.

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    March 2015 Issue Cover