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"War no longer exists," writes General Sir Rupert Smith, powerfully reminding us that the clash of mass national armies, the system of war since Napoleon, will never occur again. Instead, he argues in this timely book, we must be prepared to adapt tactics to each conflict, or lose the ability to protect ourselves and our way of life. General Smith draws on his vast experien "War no longer exists," writes General Sir Rupert Smith, powerfully reminding us that the clash of mass national armies, the system of war since Napoleon, will never occur again. Instead, he argues in this timely book, we must be prepared to adapt tactics to each conflict, or lose the ability to protect ourselves and our way of life. General Smith draws on his vast experience as a commander in the 1991 Gulf War, in Bosnia, Kosovo and Northern Ireland, to give us a probing analysis of modern war and to call for radically new military thinking. Why, he asks, do we use armed force to solve our political problems? And how is it that our armies can win battles but fail to solve the problems? From Iraq to the Balkans, and from Afghanistan to Chechnya, Smith charts a stream of armed interventions that have failed to deliver on promises of resolution. He demonstrates why today's conflicts must be understood as intertwined political and military events. He makes clear why the current one-size-fits-all model of total war, fought out on battlefields, that politicians still cling to must be abandoned in favor of new strategies that take into account the fact that wars are now fought among civilian populations. And he offers a compelling new model for how to fight these battles and secure our world. Clear, incisive and provocative, The Utility of Force will fundamentally change the way we understand war.


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"War no longer exists," writes General Sir Rupert Smith, powerfully reminding us that the clash of mass national armies, the system of war since Napoleon, will never occur again. Instead, he argues in this timely book, we must be prepared to adapt tactics to each conflict, or lose the ability to protect ourselves and our way of life. General Smith draws on his vast experien "War no longer exists," writes General Sir Rupert Smith, powerfully reminding us that the clash of mass national armies, the system of war since Napoleon, will never occur again. Instead, he argues in this timely book, we must be prepared to adapt tactics to each conflict, or lose the ability to protect ourselves and our way of life. General Smith draws on his vast experience as a commander in the 1991 Gulf War, in Bosnia, Kosovo and Northern Ireland, to give us a probing analysis of modern war and to call for radically new military thinking. Why, he asks, do we use armed force to solve our political problems? And how is it that our armies can win battles but fail to solve the problems? From Iraq to the Balkans, and from Afghanistan to Chechnya, Smith charts a stream of armed interventions that have failed to deliver on promises of resolution. He demonstrates why today's conflicts must be understood as intertwined political and military events. He makes clear why the current one-size-fits-all model of total war, fought out on battlefields, that politicians still cling to must be abandoned in favor of new strategies that take into account the fact that wars are now fought among civilian populations. And he offers a compelling new model for how to fight these battles and secure our world. Clear, incisive and provocative, The Utility of Force will fundamentally change the way we understand war.

30 review for The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mason

    General Rupert Smith published his book, “The Utility of Force – The Art of War in the Modern World”, to critical acclaim. The UK's Evening Standard called it “provocative and startling … an update of Clausewitz and Sun Tzu for our time”. The popular military historian and journalist Max Hastings added in the Sunday Telegraph that it was “hard to overstate the devastating nature of this book as an indictment of almost everything the West has done in recent years, and is doing today. If [it] does General Rupert Smith published his book, “The Utility of Force – The Art of War in the Modern World”, to critical acclaim. The UK's Evening Standard called it “provocative and startling … an update of Clausewitz and Sun Tzu for our time”. The popular military historian and journalist Max Hastings added in the Sunday Telegraph that it was “hard to overstate the devastating nature of this book as an indictment of almost everything the West has done in recent years, and is doing today. If [it] does not prompt red faces in Downing Street and at the White House, it is only because their occupants are too shameless to be capable of embarrassment.” Nick Ryan called it “fascinating” and “essential reading for all politicians and supporters of military ventures.” After receiving such critical acclaim, I was expecting a book that would be a rival of Sun Tzu, Niccolò Machiavelli and Carl von Clausewitz, but I was so wrong. Put bluntly, it is simply very long-winded, repetitive and rather banal. Moreover, more than half of the book is just an overview of military history: starting from the French Revolutionary/Napoleonic wars; the impact of Napoleon, Clausewitz and Moltke the elder on the development of military theory (it also goes into a bit of Clausewitz and highlights his concept of the “trinity”); the impact that technology had on the development of warfare; the World Wars; the Cold War and how this conflict led to the demise of industrial war; finally, on page 267 of 404, Smith begins to discuss his conception on the new paradigm of warfare – “wars amongst the people”. Throughout the entirety of the book, Smith tends to drift towards a narrative description of events and away from a critical analysis of history. For example, he spends around 10 pages just describing what happened during the Korean war – which, for those who do not know much about the war, is appropriate – he does not use this war to develop ideas, rendering the narrative description of what happened in the war to be rather pointless. Then, and this is the biggest problem with the book, it takes Smith too long to convey and develop rather simple ideas. For instance, when trying to state that a military’s overall capability is dependent upon means, way and will, the author raves on for 419 words (it needs to be quoted in full because it is emblematic of Smith’s writing style): “Throughout these pages we have seen how political will is an essential ingredient to success in war. The will to triumph, to carry the risks and bear the costs, to gain the reward of victory, is immense; as Napoleon had, ‘The moral is to the physical as three to one.’ And, indeed, in assessing capability we should weight this factor accordingly. But as with the means and the trial of strength, here too the way is important: the way the force is being used will have a direct impact on the will to take the risk, bear the burden and endure to the end. And once again the way is the business of the general: he must have the confidence of both his command and his political masters that he knows the way. And so, having analysed and understood the necessary components, we can finnaly attempt to assess the overall capability of a force as a product of the trial of strength and a clash of wills: the means multipled by the way multiplied by the will times three. For those of a mathematical bent I express it as a formula: “Capability = Means x Way^2 x 3Will “But always remember Foucault’s dictum: power is not a possession but a relationship. So we must only ever understand the capability of a force as being relative to that of its opponent. We must therefore assess the capability of each, and then complete the two. “I use the mathematical formulation to illustrate the complexity of judging a force’s true capability as opposed to counting its inventories. It allows an assessment of the other factors, the role of the leaders in particular, in prosecuting a conflict or confrontation in the face of the opponent’s action. Indeed, seen this way it is clear that the capability of a force is the product of all three factors compared to the opponent’s; if any of them is zero then there is no capability. As we will see, one of the endemic problems of our modern conflicts is the lack of political will to employ force rather than deploy forces – meaning will is close to zero – which is why many military interventions fail: the force capability is voided. Equally, the means of war, particularly the availability of manpower, are crucial: there must be at least one man or once again the capability will be zero. To go in the other direction it is well to remember Lenin’s dictum that ‘quantity has a quality of its own’.” (242-243) Moving to the General’s ideas we must answer a question: how do they hold up? “War no longer exists”, writes General Smith at the opening of his book. He attempts to clarify this statement by the end of the paragraph and suggests that “war as cognitively known to most non-combatants, war as battle in a field between men and machinery, war as a massive deciding event in international affairs” are over. Clearly, though, they are not because most “non-combatants” would regard the events that the General participated in during the 1990s, and events in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq, as war. Moreover, as demonstrated by the fact that the author can no longer sustain this assertion for more than a page, Smith’s argument is that war, nowadays, is just “war amongst the people”. Moving past this sloppy and, quite possibly, deliberate hyperbolic statement, General Smith argues in this book that “industrial war” – aka. the interstate wars of the Napoleonic and early twentieth-century era – have been replaced with wars “amongst the people”. This change in paradigm has resulted in a change in the utility of force. While many have recognized this change to have taken place, not many have come up with effective solutions to the problem. The need to adapt and the inflexibility of the American military was evident during their Kosovo campaign – a campaign where Smith became involved as DSACEUR three months prior to the commencement of operations. As identified by the General, except for General Wesley K. Clark – who paints a similar picture in his book “Waging Modern War” – most senior US military personnel were deeply set in their industrial air-power ways. General Smith has identified six characteristics of contemporary war: • “The ends of war have changed from the pursuit of outright victory to the creation of conditions which would allow for the “The ends for which we fight are changing from the hard objectives that decide a political outcome to those of establishing conditions in which the outcome may be decided • We fight amongst the people, not on the battlefield • Our conflicts tend to be timeless, even unending • We fight so as to preserve the force rather than risking all to gain the objective • On each occasion, new uses are found for old weapons and organizations which are the products of industrial war • The sides are mostly non-state, comprising some form of multinational grouping against some non-state party or parties.” While I may disagree with the General’s previous statement that interstate warfare is over (for example, the First and Second Gulf War were all examples of interstate war, and the Western intervention into Libya was, as some people may forget, a limited interstate war), the General’s view on the characteristics of “wars amongst the people” is largely correct. In the concluding section of the book he provides some ways for us to deal with this “new” style of warfare. Overall, though, I do not think the General’s recommendations and his identifying characters of wars amongst the people are that unique and are rather obvious. The fact that this book is being hailed as a work of scholarship comparable to the flawed classics by Sun Tzu and Carl von Clausewitz is disturbing: has our knowledge of military history and ways to adapt to changing circumstances degenerated to the point where we need the obvious to be stated?

  2. 5 out of 5

    James

    One of the most far-sighted and at the same time down-to-earth studies of modern warfare I've ever read; General Smith is brilliant, and I would like to have served with him (wrong country's military, though, as he's British.) If it is possible to take a stance on war that is simultaneously humane and ruthless, utterly pragmatic and deeply moral, this book illuminates that philosophy. The author traces the evolution of how people have thought about and fought wars from the beginnings of history un One of the most far-sighted and at the same time down-to-earth studies of modern warfare I've ever read; General Smith is brilliant, and I would like to have served with him (wrong country's military, though, as he's British.) If it is possible to take a stance on war that is simultaneously humane and ruthless, utterly pragmatic and deeply moral, this book illuminates that philosophy. The author traces the evolution of how people have thought about and fought wars from the beginnings of history until now. He makes a strong case that due to habit, laziness of thought, and the prioritization of pleasing corporate campaign donors and pork-barrel constituencies rather than building the most effective military we can, we are absolutely ready to fight the USSR in Europe, which will never happen, but not at all organized, trained, or equipped to handle fourth generation warfare, i.e. what General Smith calls 'war amongst the people', and offers the Palestinean Intifada and the IRA's tactics in Northern Ireland as examples. He is refreshingly candid about his own experiences, both some mistakes from which he learned and some deeply frustrating ones in which forces of which he was part were given an impossible mission in the Balkans, expected to bring about peace without being allowed to do more than make empty threats against the Bosnian Serbs until late in that war. To sum it up, we're ready for high-intensity nation-versus-nation industrial warfare but not for what we've been facing since the end of World War II. To the extent that recent events indicate things are getting better in Iraq, it's because General Petraeus is smart enough to take an approach that is basically the same as that recommended by this author, i.e. the military equivalent of beat cops doing community policing in neighborhoods vs. SWAT teams roaring in with guns blazing. Not nearly as dramatic but much more effective, and not nearly as hard on the civilian population caught in the middle. Anyone interested in national security, military affairs, or the defense industry should read this book, at least once, preferably multiple times with a highlighter.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Katie Bayford

    Recommended to me by somebody that had served with the author, and for good reason - Gen. Rupert Smith displays a dazzling knowledge of military history and theory, pairing them with insights and recommendations for the modern military. I found plenty of notable ideas here, but they were all too often buried within numerous long-winded reiterations of the same point. "Ah" I would think, "That's a great point!". I would then read that point again five times over the next ten pages. Five chapters l Recommended to me by somebody that had served with the author, and for good reason - Gen. Rupert Smith displays a dazzling knowledge of military history and theory, pairing them with insights and recommendations for the modern military. I found plenty of notable ideas here, but they were all too often buried within numerous long-winded reiterations of the same point. "Ah" I would think, "That's a great point!". I would then read that point again five times over the next ten pages. Five chapters later he would decide to insert it once more. Five stars for fine analysis of military history and bringing strategic theory up to date. One star docked for repetition and inane sentences that added padding to a fine book, such as "You should conceal your intelligence because your opponent can deduce your intentions and actions from that knowledge, and by keeping him unaware you can surprise him".

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jens

    I'm giving it five stars in advance, because it is not aimed at the junior officer levels. Nevertheless, it is amazing in explaining some basic ideas (Trinity of People/army/government, clash of will, trial of strength) and explaining them through ample and well-researched examples from 1750 until 2003. It gave me a sense of what the challenges are at the most senior level. In addition, it's much more practical and thought-out than 'the new rules of war' I read lastly, while even introducing the I'm giving it five stars in advance, because it is not aimed at the junior officer levels. Nevertheless, it is amazing in explaining some basic ideas (Trinity of People/army/government, clash of will, trial of strength) and explaining them through ample and well-researched examples from 1750 until 2003. It gave me a sense of what the challenges are at the most senior level. In addition, it's much more practical and thought-out than 'the new rules of war' I read lastly, while even introducing the same elements of changing paradigm. I recommend it to anyone interested in the phenomenon of conflict. 

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tyler Tidwell

    Smith posits that a new paradigm of warfare now exists ("War Amongst the People") yet our military institutions are still wildly geared towards conventional/industrial war (the paradigm of a now bygone era according to Smith). Smith's rendering of this new paradigm (and how to effectively adapt to it) make the book a worth while read. However, he seems to give the impression that this new paradigm of "War Amongst the People" has (or at least should) completely replaced the old paradigm of conven Smith posits that a new paradigm of warfare now exists ("War Amongst the People") yet our military institutions are still wildly geared towards conventional/industrial war (the paradigm of a now bygone era according to Smith). Smith's rendering of this new paradigm (and how to effectively adapt to it) make the book a worth while read. However, he seems to give the impression that this new paradigm of "War Amongst the People" has (or at least should) completely replaced the old paradigm of conventional/industrial warfare. However, as Mearsheimer's writings show , Great Power rivalries are far from over, and as long as these rivalries exist (or even their mere possibility exists), nation-states have no choice but to maintain robust conventional military capabilities. I ultimately accept Smith's notion of "War Amongst the People"; I don't accept it as a panacea though. We need to be able to operate effectively in both paradigms he discusses. As a British General, I think his nation's declining role in the world, their concept of collective security in the international realm, and his own personal experiences (some of which he discusses in detail later in the book) predisposed him to see all the answers to Western militaries' problems in understanding and adapting to his new paradigm. All that being said, if you do you find yourself in "War Amongst the People" (which Western militaries certainly have a lot lately- and may continue to), Smith has plenty of important lessons to impart. For me, the real question is: how do we man, train, equip, and organize in order to function in both modes of warfare? War Amongst the People: SOCOM, Marine Corps? Conventional/Industrial War: Army, Air Force, Navy? Crossover and compliment as required?

  6. 5 out of 5

    get stuffed

    I bought this book after it was recommended by someone who served with the author. It is very good and discusses warfare from it's early days right up until recently. I've no doubt it's required reading in military academies. His thesis revolves around how force is utilised (The Utility of Force) and it explains many paradoxes on armed conflict - for example how the French and the Americans were both defeated in Vietnam. A must read for anyone who wonders why countries with massive armed forces c I bought this book after it was recommended by someone who served with the author. It is very good and discusses warfare from it's early days right up until recently. I've no doubt it's required reading in military academies. His thesis revolves around how force is utilised (The Utility of Force) and it explains many paradoxes on armed conflict - for example how the French and the Americans were both defeated in Vietnam. A must read for anyone who wonders why countries with massive armed forces cannot defeat a infinitely smaller force and how the new dimension of Media in Warfare is such a powerful multiplier for organisations like Daesh and Boko Haram.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Maria

    War can't be separated from politics. General Smith agrues that with the shift to asymertical wars, or "wars among the people" as he called it, that has taken even great significance. And yet, we still try to fight wars and prepare for wars between two countries. Why I started this book: I checked out a digital version from the library. Why I finished it: Sheer stubborness. This book was so hard to me to plow through, something about the style of Gen. Smith's writing stopped me in my tracks. The c War can't be separated from politics. General Smith agrues that with the shift to asymertical wars, or "wars among the people" as he called it, that has taken even great significance. And yet, we still try to fight wars and prepare for wars between two countries. Why I started this book: I checked out a digital version from the library. Why I finished it: Sheer stubborness. This book was so hard to me to plow through, something about the style of Gen. Smith's writing stopped me in my tracks. The combination of British author and military jargon made it very dense reading.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Bill T.

    I had a very hard time getting myself to sit down and read this book. The various historical bits were interesting, especially the opportunity to read about the Vietnam conflict through foreign eyes, but it seemed like a hard slog -- whether that was caused by or the cause of me having a hard time sitting down to read it isn't obvious. So, no rating. I had a very hard time getting myself to sit down and read this book. The various historical bits were interesting, especially the opportunity to read about the Vietnam conflict through foreign eyes, but it seemed like a hard slog -- whether that was caused by or the cause of me having a hard time sitting down to read it isn't obvious. So, no rating.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    A little long-winded but I feel like I better understand the military perspective regarding international affairs now. Definitely worth a read.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jeroen

    Bit dated as he didn't take in account new phenomena like ISIS. Main principles remain valid though. Bit dated as he didn't take in account new phenomena like ISIS. Main principles remain valid though.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Natasha

    Military view but good brush up on history. Very male and selective though. Needs to be read with other things

  12. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Van Hoeserlande

    Very clear insights that are well illustrated.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Natalia Wojtowicz

    Too much history for my taste and too little reflection on the career and events the author has participated in.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Louis

    General Rupert Smith (UK, Ret.) wrote this after reflection on 40 years of service, including UN duty in the Balkans. The theme of the book is that the nature of conflict has changed, and those who think about the use of national power (diplomatic, information, military, economic). Smith identifies 6 major trends: - The ends for which we fight are changing - We fight amongst the people - Our conflicts tend to be timeless - We fight so as not to lose the force - On each occasion new uses are found for General Rupert Smith (UK, Ret.) wrote this after reflection on 40 years of service, including UN duty in the Balkans. The theme of the book is that the nature of conflict has changed, and those who think about the use of national power (diplomatic, information, military, economic). Smith identifies 6 major trends: - The ends for which we fight are changing - We fight amongst the people - Our conflicts tend to be timeless - We fight so as not to lose the force - On each occasion new uses are found for old weapons - The sides are mostly non-state As he discusses the evolution of modern conflict, and the information(media) and intelligence focus (as opposed to purely physical) of future conflict, he has as a backdrop the United Nations intervention in the Balkans during the 1990s. And the ineffectiveness of the UN forces there, culminating in the massacre of 7,000+ Bosnians by the Serbs in the "safe area" of Srebrenica. Smith points out that the UN members essentially employed a tactic (use of blocking forces) to counter a strategy (Serbian desire to dominate the Balkans) and the Serbians used a wide range of means (propaganda, military, diplomatic) to make the UN military forces irrelevant. Smith is mostly documenting a problem, one that he views as difficult, and something for U.S. and western nations need to deal with. Because as long as there is a desire to have a world that is not full of the arbitrary violence, ethnic massacres, generators of hate, the west and those that have allied with them will ask their militaries and other instruments of power to enter these parts of the world. And these militaries will have to learn how to operate in these settings. Smith's challenge is that they be sent in a thoughtful way, that the ends are considered with the quality, quantity and purpose of the forces made appropriate to the ends desired. And just how you decide this, are lessons yet to be learned. This is not an easy book to read. Every passage is meant to be read, then the consequences of every idea thought through. Even the descriptions of historical events have to be mulled in consideration of many facets and the environment around them. But the reader is rewarded with many considerations of thought and issues to debate. And a context for reading anything else in this subject area.

  15. 5 out of 5

    William

    Rupert Smith's "The Utility of Force" is part of a growing number of books that looks at the practice of peacekeeping and counter-insurgency, topics that seem to get more newspaper coverage than book-length treatments. Smith, who had previous experience commanding the peacekeeping mission in Bosnia, ponders about why conventional forces are pretty useless in counter-insurgency and peacekeeping missions, and examines what change of thinking is needed in the employment of force (as opposed to depl Rupert Smith's "The Utility of Force" is part of a growing number of books that looks at the practice of peacekeeping and counter-insurgency, topics that seem to get more newspaper coverage than book-length treatments. Smith, who had previous experience commanding the peacekeeping mission in Bosnia, ponders about why conventional forces are pretty useless in counter-insurgency and peacekeeping missions, and examines what change of thinking is needed in the employment of force (as opposed to deployment, where you send them there to do what?). The "change of thinking" part is a little tricky, since force is being used to create a condition of stability so that local political institutions can become functional again. But the time element doesn't get addressed well enough. We're used to measuring our wars by definite measure--battles won, ground gained. If you can do that in less than a few years, then a democracy can maintain political support from the voters. Maintaining a security regime and waiting for the locals to get their act together is not easily measured and can take years. To the folks back home, it is a pointless repetition of bad news or no news. Smith correctly notes that most wars today are going to be guerilla conflicts and peacekeeping missions. The practical elements of policing these situations is evident in the book. The political element, while addressed at the prescriptive level, receives little practical treatment. Smith the general had to deal with elected and appointed political officials, but his job obviously did not require him to deal with selling a policy to voters. How to do that will be found in somebody else's book.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jansen Wee

    Excellently written, very readable, and timely too. General Rupert Smith takes the reader the relevant tracks of early modern military history to demonstrate present societies' fixation with the interstate, industrial war model. He also illustrated the parallel development of the war of the people, which has also made itself felt in the same period, and through the wake of the Second World War, the Cold War, and enjoys a stronger currency today. He advocates that force, when used, must be of the Excellently written, very readable, and timely too. General Rupert Smith takes the reader the relevant tracks of early modern military history to demonstrate present societies' fixation with the interstate, industrial war model. He also illustrated the parallel development of the war of the people, which has also made itself felt in the same period, and through the wake of the Second World War, the Cold War, and enjoys a stronger currency today. He advocates that force, when used, must be of the right tool, the right time and place, used the right way, and must fit the purpose, which in the very first instance must be correctly formulated, particularly at the highest political levels. Gen. Rupert does not mince his words, and his use of both military history and recounting of his personal experiences (the pertinent ones), ensures that his ideas are clearly put across. A highly recommended read for those who formulate policies that require use of armed force, and also for those at the vanguard of force and doctrine transformation.

  17. 4 out of 5

    FiveBooks

    Professor Mary Kaldor of LSE has chosen to discuss Rupert Smith’s The Utility of Force on FiveBooks as one of the top five on her subject - War , saying that: “… This book is really the transition from Clausewitz and Walzer to today. He explains that the era of industrial war, of Clausewitzian war, is over, that war is not fought by soldiers against other soldiers any more...There is no distinction any more between combatant and non-combatant – war is amongst the people, against the people. C Professor Mary Kaldor of LSE has chosen to discuss Rupert Smith’s The Utility of Force on FiveBooks as one of the top five on her subject - War , saying that: “… This book is really the transition from Clausewitz and Walzer to today. He explains that the era of industrial war, of Clausewitzian war, is over, that war is not fought by soldiers against other soldiers any more...There is no distinction any more between combatant and non-combatant – war is amongst the people, against the people. Clausewitzian war reached its apex in World War II. …” The full interview is available here: http://five-books.com/interviews/mary-kaldor

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jack

    Late night finish. I have had this one on the list for some time now. Finally got this one done. A superb book on combat actions from the end of WWII till now. You should be well versed on Vietnam (French and American), Algeria, and the Balkans before you pick this book up. I am behind on my Balkans studies so that hurt me. The author you are familiar with this conflicts. He does a great job explaining the thesis of the book however he discusses War Amongst The People as well as the utility of f Late night finish. I have had this one on the list for some time now. Finally got this one done. A superb book on combat actions from the end of WWII till now. You should be well versed on Vietnam (French and American), Algeria, and the Balkans before you pick this book up. I am behind on my Balkans studies so that hurt me. The author you are familiar with this conflicts. He does a great job explaining the thesis of the book however he discusses War Amongst The People as well as the utility of force. I think therefore there are two themes of his book vice one. I enjoyed the book and gave him five stars but I do believe it has more themes than one.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Gill

    This is a very clear analysis of the low intensity conflicts that we tend to get involved in now. It also traces very well the history of the older paradigm of nation-state, military industrial complex driven total war which still dominates our thinking even though it is very unlikely to recur. Coincidentally just after reading this I took a short lecture course at SMU on the topic of Modern Total War and the professor, who had developed his ideas over a lifetime starting with a PhD on the Austri This is a very clear analysis of the low intensity conflicts that we tend to get involved in now. It also traces very well the history of the older paradigm of nation-state, military industrial complex driven total war which still dominates our thinking even though it is very unlikely to recur. Coincidentally just after reading this I took a short lecture course at SMU on the topic of Modern Total War and the professor, who had developed his ideas over a lifetime starting with a PhD on the Austrian 18C military, laid out an analysis very much like this book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Robert Muller

    Anyone who thinks they understand what it means to deploy military force in today's world, and who hasn't read this book, will greatly change that understanding when they read it. Smith makes very clear, through historical analysis and using his personal deployment history (which is huge) what military force can and can't do, and why. It makes nonsense of most of what American, European, and international deployments, 10 years after the publication of the book, are theoretically trying to achiev Anyone who thinks they understand what it means to deploy military force in today's world, and who hasn't read this book, will greatly change that understanding when they read it. Smith makes very clear, through historical analysis and using his personal deployment history (which is huge) what military force can and can't do, and why. It makes nonsense of most of what American, European, and international deployments, 10 years after the publication of the book, are theoretically trying to achieve.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Gerard Walsh

    Interesting piece. Claims that military forces are built, equipped and trained to fight conventional set pieces of past conventional wars and are not suited to the typical interventions in which they are used today, generally to secure rule of law under which other generally political objectives can be achieved. Good background material for thinking about foreign interventions whether unilateral or UN backed.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Jeroen

    Excellent book on how present-day military force should be used and not be used. Although less of practical book, it shows what considerations are made on the political but also on a macro and meso level of the military about if, when and how force should be applied. To me, as a Dutchman, it is also interesting to read the British stance on (at least part of) the Yugoslav (Serb-Bosnian) war and the drama of Sbrenenica.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Michael A.

    If you want to know why UN interventions appear to lack utility of force this book will help. Are coalitions-of-the-willing the solution? This book will explore what they lack. Are Governments spending taxpayer money wisely on Defence & Security? All this and more is explained in the book with recent examples, in a thoughtful, carefully argued way. Definitely a breath of fresh air in the military analysis space.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    A very thought-provoking book, backed up by insightful historical analysis. Readable for anyone who isn't intimidated by unfamiliar acronyms. I would have given it five stars, but I believe the book is longer than it needs to be. Sometimes it seemed like the author was repeating himself too much, belaboring the point. Aside from that, the author really helped make sense of why our current wars are so ineffective, and provided some solid suggestions for how to proceed. A very thought-provoking book, backed up by insightful historical analysis. Readable for anyone who isn't intimidated by unfamiliar acronyms. I would have given it five stars, but I believe the book is longer than it needs to be. Sometimes it seemed like the author was repeating himself too much, belaboring the point. Aside from that, the author really helped make sense of why our current wars are so ineffective, and provided some solid suggestions for how to proceed.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    A bit pedantic at times, but Gen. Smith has the experience and brains to go off on his own without me complaining too much. Gives a concise overview of industrial warfare and how things have changed since then, as well as good recommendations on future courses of action. Interesting read for military historians

  26. 5 out of 5

    Gerald

    I use this book as the basis for a couple of introductory lectures in my Media & Terrorism course. He does a great job of describing the history of "interstate industrial war" and contrasts that with "war amongst the people" -- the kind of insurgent wars that we fight today -- and the only kind the U.S. has ever lost. And we've lost several of them. I use this book as the basis for a couple of introductory lectures in my Media & Terrorism course. He does a great job of describing the history of "interstate industrial war" and contrasts that with "war amongst the people" -- the kind of insurgent wars that we fight today -- and the only kind the U.S. has ever lost. And we've lost several of them.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Wayland Smith

    A bit dry and academic at times. This is largely about the changing uses of the military in the modern world. There's some good history and political theory here, and the author does have the unique perspective of having been a commander on some UN missions. General readers might not want to wade through the 400 plus pages, but there are some interesting ideas and theories here. A bit dry and academic at times. This is largely about the changing uses of the military in the modern world. There's some good history and political theory here, and the author does have the unique perspective of having been a commander on some UN missions. General readers might not want to wade through the 400 plus pages, but there are some interesting ideas and theories here.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Mari

    Interesting material from an informed writer. I still feel like this book could be a lot shorter without losing its message. This book therefore loses many points for academically "beating around the bush". Sometimes, overly complex language with long and winding sentence structure is just bad writing. Who knew? Interesting material from an informed writer. I still feel like this book could be a lot shorter without losing its message. This book therefore loses many points for academically "beating around the bush". Sometimes, overly complex language with long and winding sentence structure is just bad writing. Who knew?

  29. 5 out of 5

    Lim Winston

    Interesting book that depicts the modern warfare with great personal insights from the military commander (the author) himself. Using Clausewitz's trinity to describe any confrontation or conflict needs the support of people, army and government to have the advantage. Interesting book that depicts the modern warfare with great personal insights from the military commander (the author) himself. Using Clausewitz's trinity to describe any confrontation or conflict needs the support of people, army and government to have the advantage.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Міля Байрачна

    A brilliant idea put forth in a very densely written, dry book. If you can get through it and still grasp the underlying message, good on you, you have done what most probably have given up on. This book is for the very tenacious.

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