Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

The perils of peacetime (I): Militaries laden with ‘regulation and routine’

It’s been so long that we’ve been at peace that I fear we may have forgotten what it is like. But in preparation for our wars ending (not with a bang but with a whimper), it is worth starting to think about it, and how our militaries will be affected. I bring this up because ...

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons

It's been so long that we've been at peace that I fear we may have forgotten what it is like. But in preparation for our wars ending (not with a bang but with a whimper), it is worth starting to think about it, and how our militaries will be affected.

I bring this up because of a comment I read the other day in General Sir Archibald Wavell's first lecture on generalship:

It is in peace that regulations and routine become important and that the qualities of boldness and originality are cramped. It is interesting to note how little of normal peace soldiering many of our best generals had-Cromwell, Marlborough, Wellington, and his lieutenants, Graham, Hill, Crauford.

It’s been so long that we’ve been at peace that I fear we may have forgotten what it is like. But in preparation for our wars ending (not with a bang but with a whimper), it is worth starting to think about it, and how our militaries will be affected.

I bring this up because of a comment I read the other day in General Sir Archibald Wavell’s first lecture on generalship:

It is in peace that regulations and routine become important and that the qualities of boldness and originality are cramped. It is interesting to note how little of normal peace soldiering many of our best generals had-Cromwell, Marlborough, Wellington, and his lieutenants, Graham, Hill, Crauford.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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