Resources for the Concerned Activist

Section 7

Military Science

Overview: Martin Van Creveld, The Art of War: War and Military Thought. [External Reviews]

James Holmes, Professor of Strategy, Naval War College, lists five "greatest military strategists" here.

Primary sources

How to think about warfare (more fundamental than strategy lessons, tactic lessons, etc.)

Master Sun's Art of War (Many translations)

Another source that talks about deception, a prominent element in the thought of Master Sun, is Joseph W. Caddell's Deception 101—Primer on Deception.

Carl von Clausewitz, On War, [online]. [External Reviews]

John Boyd's modern ideas [Site 1] [Site 2] [Site 3]

Note: Boyd did not write books, and there may be no permanent repository of the papers and "briefings" that he wrote.

Generals Robert H. Scales and Paul K. Van Riper

Preparing for War in the 21st Century

General Robert H. Scales

Future Warfare Anthology

Timothy Andrews Sayle

Defining and Teaching Grand Strategy

Video Sources

General Paul K. Van Riper

A Conversation with Paul van Riper

Ancillary readings

Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments

Regaining Strategic Competence

Joint Force Quarterly

Various articles on strategy

Inside (National Defense University)

Strategists and Strategy

Discussion:

What does "chaos" mean? It means that a definitely calculable result at each iteration of an equation, the result of each iteration being fed into the next iteration, produces results that change greatly if the initials fed into the equation at the beginning are only slightly different. Here are two simulations that plot such successive values. Note how the dots are spaced out in the beginning but seem to be "attracted" to fill in a pattern.

If computers had not been available to evaluate a very great number of iterations of one of these so-called chaotic equations, it is unlikely that anyone would have noticed how a pattern is produced from many successive calculations, although the points so calculated are distant from each other. Some on-line devices that plot the successive answers obtained from the Henon Attractor equation or the Lorentz Attractor equation can be slowed down so that one can see the points as they are plotted one by one. The examples I have been able to include below are drawn so quickly that it is difficult to see how the figures are actually constructed on the screen.

Henon Multifractal Map movie.gif [Info on Image]

A Trajectory Through Phase
Space in a Lorenz Attractor [Info on Image]

Around and around and around she goes and where she'll land next nobody knows.

One of the important observations made by Scales and Riper is that
developments in warfare do not proceed in a linear way. They mean that,
e.g., doubling the number of troops in an engagement does not
necessarily double the effectiveness of the military movement because
there are always other factors involved. What actually happens depends
on other processes, and how they behave all may be sensitive to slight
changes in initial conditions. The same kind of greatly varying changes
in results depending on slight changes in initial conditions is
demonstrated by a class of equations discovered in the course of
research on mathematical weather prediction. (See an exposition
of one such equation, the Hénon attractor, here.)
When such an equation is
calculated through many iterations (a value calculated in one iteration
becomes an input value in the next calculation) the answers do not plot
close together. If the plotting of the graph immediately above is
slowed down one can see that if a researcher were calculating values by
hand, it would be a long time before any perceptible pattern would
emerge. The sequentially calculated values are far separated and seem
to be widely scattered.
However, when many hundreds of values are calculated one can see that
first a roughly circular pattern emerges and then it switches over to
form the rest of a sort of figure-8 pattern, and over time it will go
in circles in one half or the other half of the figure.

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This page was last revised 15 August 2016.