The Science of War: Defense Budgeting, Military Technology, Logistics, and Combat Outcomes

Princeton University Press
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The U.S. military is one of the largest and most complex organizations in the world. How it spends its money, chooses tactics, and allocates its resources have enormous implications for national defense and the economy. The Science of War is the only comprehensive textbook on how to analyze and understand these and other essential problems in modern defense policy.

Michael O'Hanlon provides undergraduate and graduate students with an accessible yet rigorous introduction to the subject. Drawing on a broad range of sources and his own considerable expertise as a defense analyst and teacher, he describes the analytic techniques the military uses in every crucial area of military science. O'Hanlon explains how the military budget works, how the military assesses and deploys new technology, develops strategy and fights wars, handles the logistics of stationing and moving troops and equipment around the world, and models and evaluates battlefield outcomes. His modeling techniques have been tested in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the methods he used to predict higher-than-anticipated troop fatalities in Iraq--controversial predictions that have since been vindicated.



The Science of War is the definitive resource on warfare in the twenty-first century.


  • Gives the best introduction to defense analysis available

  • Covers defense budgeting

  • Shows how to model and predict outcomes in war

  • Explains military logistics, including overseas basing

  • Examines key issues in military technology, including missile defense, space warfare, and nuclear-weapons testing

  • Based on the author's graduate-level courses at Princeton, Columbia, and Georgetown universities

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About the author

Michael E. O'Hanlon is a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who specializes in national security policy. His many books include Bending History and The Wounded Giant.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Princeton University Press
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Published on
Aug 31, 2009
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Pages
280
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ISBN
9781400830930
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Military / General
Technology & Engineering / Military Science
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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What happens if we bet too heavily on unmanned systems, cyber warfare, and special operations in our defense?

In today's U.S. defense policy debates, big land wars are out. Drones, cyber weapons, special forces, and space weapons are in. Accordingly, Pentagon budget cuts have honed in on the army and ground forces: this, after the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, seems like an appealing idea. No one really wants American boots on the ground in bloody conflicts abroad. But it is not so easy to simply declare an end to messy land wars. A survey of the world's trouble spots suggests that land warfare has more of a future than many now seem to believe.

In The Future of Land Warfare, Michael O'Hanlon offers an analysis of the future of the world's ground forces: Where are large-scale conflicts or other catastrophes most plausible? Which of these could be important enough to require the option of a U.S. military response? And which of these could in turn demand significant numbers of American ground forces in their resolution? O'Hanlon is not predicting or advocating big American roles in such operations—only cautioning against overconfidence that we can and will avoid them.

O'Hanlon considers a number of illustrative scenarios in which large conventional forces may be necessary: discouraging Russia from even contemplating attacks against the Baltic states; discouraging China from considering an unfriendly future role on the Korean peninsula; handling an asymmetric threat in the South China Sea with the construction and protection of a number of bases in the Philippines and elsewhere; managing the aftermath of a major and complex humanitarian disaster superimposed on a security crisis—perhaps in South Asia; coping with a severe Ebola outbreak not in the small states of West Africa but in Nigeria, at the same time that country falls further into violence; addressing a further meltdown in security conditions in Central America.

Defense against nuclear attack—so natural and seemingly so compelling a goal—has provoked debate for at least twenty years. Ballistic missle defense systems, formerly called antiballistic missile systems, offer the prospect of remedying both superpowers' alarming vulnerability to nuclear weapons by technological rather than political means. But whether ballistic missile defenses can be made to work and whether it is wise to build them remain controversial. The U.S.-Soviet Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty of 1972 restricts testing and deployment of ballistic missile defenses but has not prohibited more than a decade of research and development on both sides. As exotic new proposals are put forward for space-based directed-energy systems, questions about the effectiveness and wisdom of missile defense have again become central to the national debate on defense policy.

This study, jointly sponsored by the Brookings Institution and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, examines the strategic, technological, and political issues raised by ballistic missile defense. Eight contributors take an analytical approach to their areas of expertise, which include the relationship of missile defense to nuclear strategy, the nature and potential applications of current and future technologies, the views on missile defense in the Soviet Union and among the smaller nuclear powers, the meaning of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty for today's technology, and the present role and historical legacy of ballistic missile defense in the context of East-West relations. The volume editors give a comprehensive introduction to this wide range of subjects and an assessment of future prospects. In the final chapter, nine knowledgeable observers offer their varied personal views on the ballistic missile defense question.

For four decades after World War II, U.S. Special Operations Forces—including Army Special Forces, Navy SEALs, Air Force special operations aircrews and Special Tactics Group—suffered from mistrust and inadequate funding from the military services. They were nearly eliminated from the active force following the Vietnam War. But in the past fifteen years, special operations forces have risen from the ashes of the failed 1980 rescue of American hostages in Iran to become one of the most frequently deployed elements of the U.S. military. They are now adequately funded, better-equipped, and well-trained. Special operations forces are often the nation's first military response when faced with a crisis in today's uncertain and unstable international security environment.

What caused this dramatic turnaround? As this book shows, it was a long way from congressional outrage at TV images of burned bodies of U.S. servicemen in the Iranian desert to the establishment of a special operations force of nearly 45,000 active and reserve personnel. The drama of how this happened sheds light on how public policy is made and implemented. It illustrates the complex interaction between internal forces within the special operations community, as well as between the executive and legislative branches of the U.S. government. The implementation of legislation establishing a special operations capability is seen to rebuild and protect these forces to an extent never imagined by the early "quiet professionals."

While offering insights into how the U.S. government makes policy, Susan Marquis also offers a revealing look at the special operations community, including their storied past, extreme training, and recent operational experience that continues to forge their distinctive organizational mission and culture. She describes the decade-long struggle to rebuild special operations forces, resulting in new SOF organizations with independence that is unique among U.S. military forces, an independence approaching that of a new military service.

What happens if we bet too heavily on unmanned systems, cyber warfare, and special operations in our defense?

In today's U.S. defense policy debates, big land wars are out. Drones, cyber weapons, special forces, and space weapons are in. Accordingly, Pentagon budget cuts have honed in on the army and ground forces: this, after the long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, seems like an appealing idea. No one really wants American boots on the ground in bloody conflicts abroad. But it is not so easy to simply declare an end to messy land wars. A survey of the world's trouble spots suggests that land warfare has more of a future than many now seem to believe.

In The Future of Land Warfare, Michael O'Hanlon offers an analysis of the future of the world's ground forces: Where are large-scale conflicts or other catastrophes most plausible? Which of these could be important enough to require the option of a U.S. military response? And which of these could in turn demand significant numbers of American ground forces in their resolution? O'Hanlon is not predicting or advocating big American roles in such operations—only cautioning against overconfidence that we can and will avoid them.

O'Hanlon considers a number of illustrative scenarios in which large conventional forces may be necessary: discouraging Russia from even contemplating attacks against the Baltic states; discouraging China from considering an unfriendly future role on the Korean peninsula; handling an asymmetric threat in the South China Sea with the construction and protection of a number of bases in the Philippines and elsewhere; managing the aftermath of a major and complex humanitarian disaster superimposed on a security crisis—perhaps in South Asia; coping with a severe Ebola outbreak not in the small states of West Africa but in Nigeria, at the same time that country falls further into violence; addressing a further meltdown in security conditions in Central America.

These are extraordinary times in U.S. national security policy. America remains engaged in both Iraq and Afghanistan while facing a global economic downturn. Homeland security concerns still abound in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Even as the financial crisis places considerable pressure on the U.S. budget, President Obama will have to spend a great deal of time and money on national security, hard power, and war. How should these competing demands be prioritized? How much money will be needed? How much will be available, and how should it be spent?

Budgeting for Hard Power continues the long and proud tradition of Brookings analysis on defense spending. As with previous volumes, this book examines the budgets of the Pentagon and the Department of Energy's nuclear weapons programs. But Michael O'Hanlon takes his analysis further, addressing the wide range of activities crucial for American security as a result of 9/11 and the ongoing wars. He considers homeland security resources and selected parts of the State Department and foreign operations budgets—offering a more complete overall look at the elements that make up America's "hard power" budget, a concept that he and Kurt Campbell wrote about in Hard Power: The New Politics of National Security (2006).

With future federal deficits projected to top $1 trillion, O'Hanlon calls for Defense, State, and Homeland Security budgets to be as frugal as possible. At the same time, he recognizes that resources should be selectively increased in certain areas to compensate for years of systematic underfunding, especially in certain areas of homeland security, diplomacy, and foreign assistance. In his typically clear and concise manner, O'Hanlon shows policymakers how to wrestle with the resource allocation decisions affecting the national security of the United States.

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