Tuesday, August 05, 2008

U.S. Military Study Looked to Rome for Lessons

Noah Shachtman writes on Danger Room:

The Pentagon's legendary Office of Net Assessment is known for peering into the future of conflict [.pdf] -- at subjects like wartime biotech, fighting robots, networked battles, and the military in space. The office's head, Andrew Marshall, has been called the Pentagon's "futurist-in-chief." But for one study, concluded in 2002, Net Assessment-funded researchers looked back, to the empires of Alexander the Great, Imperial Rome, Genghis Khan, and Napoleonic France.

The study, "Military Advantage in History,"[.pdf] examines these "pivotal hegemonic powers" to draw lessons about how the United States "should think about maintaining military advantage in the 21st century." Mother Jones' Justin Elliott obtained the report through the Freedom of Information Act.

Much of the report reads like a fairly standard military history -- not unlike Max Boot's War Made New. However, "in an extraordinary passage, the study cites the Roman experience — from over a millennium ago — as a precedent for America's long-term dominance," Elliott notes.

More here.


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