Academic journal article Parameters

The Sword's Other Edge: Trade-Offs in the Pursuit of Military Effectiveness

Academic journal article Parameters

The Sword's Other Edge: Trade-Offs in the Pursuit of Military Effectiveness

Article excerpt

The Sword's Other Edge: Trade-offs in the Pursuit of Military Effectiveness

Edited by Dan Reiter

New York: Cambridge University Press. 2017

288 pages

$99.99

This edited volume complements the literature on military effectiveness in political science and history. The editor, Dan Reiter, has been at the forefront of debates about the attributes of effective military organizations along with Allan Stam, Risa Brooks, Elizabeth Stanley, Caitlin Talmadge, Jason Lyall, Austin Long, Jenna Jordan, and Stephen Biddle. Similarly, historians have long examined major campaigns, with a particular emphasis on the Second World War, to identify what makes effective military organizations. This question is central to the military profession and should be explored across the professional military education continuum.

The book's major contribution involves trade-offs in its pursuit of military effectiveness that fall into three categories: political support, security threats, and warfighting. Multiple chapters explore political support as it relates to domestic politics and how gaining support for contemporary security operations comes at the expense of important constraints and restraints. Trade-offs with respect to security threats are treated broadly as seen in Rosella Cappella Zielinski's analysis of how war financing affects public support and an array of political and economic challenges beyond the battlefield.

With respect to warfighting, chapters by Jason Lyall and Michael Horowitz explore how tactical-level necessities, from political officers motivating troops to the susceptibility of unmanned systems to hacking and spoofing, can generate suboptimal returns at the strategic level. …

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