A History of U.S. Army Thought

By Carafano, James Jay | Army, February 2008 | Go to article overview

A History of U.S. Army Thought


Carafano, James Jay, Army


A History of U.S. Army Thought The Echo of Battle: The Army's Way of War. Brian McAllister Linn. Harvard University Press. 312 pages; index; $27.95.

By James Jay Carafano

Few books could be more timely than Brian Linn's The Echo of Battle: The Army's Way of War. Linn, a professor of history at Texas A&M University, has written a serious and comprehensive intellectual history of the U.S. Army. He traces Army thought from the American Revolution to the war on terrorism. It is hard to imagine a scholar more suited to take on the task.

Linn starts by defining what he considers the three intellectual schools that habitually debate the meaning, purpose and result of employing landpower. He sees these as three distinct "martial philosophies."

The first is espoused by the "Guardians," who dominated discourse on military affairs in the 19th century. They envisioned warfare as more a science than an art and constantly proposed systematic solutions to national security challenges.

In contrast, "Heroes" focused on the human element of military affairs, emphasizing the intangible factors that influence war like morale, discipline and leadership. Rather than imposing solutions, Heroes saw war as a competition between two thinking, determined foes.

Linn's third category-the "Managers"-is an intellectual school that came of age over the course of the 20th century. Managers focus on the challenge of mobilizing national power for major wars.

Linn argues that the three groups (Guardians, Heroes and Managers) faced off regarding the mind and soul of the military; their clashes produced the policies, programs, doctrine and force structure that shaped the Army over the course of American history. This is a history, Linn argues, of "what military intellectuals believed they had learned . …

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