The second of my pieces for #CCLKOW, this one argued the value of defense spending constraints outside of major conflict or war. And while the British may grumble at current austerity, I would point to signs that this condition is pushing a valuable intellectual flex. — J.S. Russell

Necessity is not only the Mother of Invention, but it is often the case that te creations begot by this inspiration are of the highest quality. Consider an example from the culinary world, duck confit. One of the ancient means to preserve meat, in this case the meat is encased within a…

Marion Crossing the Pee Dee, William T. Ranney

This was the first #CCLKOW piece. I rather enjoyed it for the application of a heroic past to interrogate a vexing present. — J.S. Russell

There’s a motivated group of military officers who have decided to engage in a weekly professional discussion (you’ll find it on Twitter under the hashtag ProDiscussion). Last week it was on “serendipity,” engineered or otherwise. Interesting thoughts, frank commentary. In aid of serendipity, this week I’ll offer this essay to kick things off.

Earlier this year Parameters published my review of Colonel Scott Aiken’s history of Francis Marion’s South Carolina partisan campaign and what can…

by John Laurens


A peer I greatly respect once told me that having worked closely with the US he understood how only they could have got someone to the moon; not only do they have huge resources, but when they turn their focus to something it is awesome to behold. Having just spent quite some time working closely with the US military, including an operational tour, I too share that opinion now. The US is rather, I imagine, like the Romans might have been at the height of their power. Here are some of my observations about my time with the US coalition…

Jill S. Russell

I take great scholarly and intellectual satisfaction from working in professional military education. In addition to the energy drawn from the maturity and expertise in the classroom is the irrefutable bonus that I am always learning and exploring subjects anew from the students’ experiences. With the least prodding, you can get them to spin dits (1) from a rich library accumulated over decades’ long careers. Some are merely interesting, which is more than enough on its own, but many contain the rough material from which the necessary wisdom for military practice and scholarship can be distilled. …

by Dr. Robert Thompson

We are very happy to bring you this next installment in the series. More so, it is a pleasure to publish the thoughts of another man in the broad National Security field who perceives the knowledge gender gap exhibited in non-representative readings lists as problematic. Working in military history, Dr. Thompson persuasively argues the case for a gender-broadened approach to scholarship and subject expertise. Beyond this contribution, he has also compiled a massive list of military history by women that makes a mockery of their exclusion from recommendations. You can find the fruits of that mighty labor here. Enjoy! …

Kate Dahstrand

Greetings CCLKOW readers. My apologies for the hiatus in publication on this topic. A new job and a new home made more demands upon my time than I would have expected. And while things have not fully settled themselves, the time is ripe to return to this topic. Alas, it is with no small amount of personal and professional chagrin that we must renew the attack upon this particular hill. The publication of the Chief of Staff of the Army’s reading list, which contained only one woman author and no women as subjects, brings the issue to the…

In tandem with this week’s blog piece, we are also publishing the first installment of the #ReadingWomen bibliography. Because the participation of the individuals is as important as the items listed, we will be posting its progress in groups of about five contributors, building a critical bibliography that will suit a broad range of syllabi and reading lists. And so, this is only a start, the early days building these recommended readings from women in the broad fields which comprise national security.

Strategy and Policy:

Albright, Madeline, Madam Secretary, Secretary Albright’s Memoirs

Arsenault, Elizabeth, How the Gloves Came off, from…

Andrea Goldstein

This week’s guest writer for #ReadingWomen is Andrea Goldstein, a graduate student at Tufts Fletcher School and a Lieutenant in the USNR. She wrote on this issue for Task & Purpose, putting together her own critical women’s National Security reading list. Given the (un)happy convergence in our efforts, I invited her to write a few paragraphs on what representation in professional reading means to her. Speaking to the issue across both the service and civilian academic experience, the perspective she draws is direct and poignant, and whose relevance is difficult to refute. Enjoy the piece, give her a…

Reclaiming Reality: Take it from Carl von Clausewitz — Reading By and About Women Matters

By Vanya Eftimova Bellinger

This is an issue close to my heart: I like reading about women, I like reading by women. I also wrote a book myself about a woman, Marie von Clausewitz: The Woman Behind the Making of On War.

The experience of researching the lives and times of Carl and Marie von Clausewitz and the hidden history of On War, the West’s most influential treatise on strategy, warfare and politics, has confirmed a long-held conviction of mine. Women working in the national security and policy field is nothing new and their voices, visions, and acts do matter.

A scrimmage in a Border Station —
A canter down some dark defile —
Two thousand pounds of education
Drops to a ten-rupee jezail —
The Crammer’s boast, the Squadron’s pride,
Shot like a rabbit in a ride!

No proposition Euclid wrote,
No formulae the text-books know,
Will turn the bullet from your coat,
Or ward the tulwar’s downward blow
Strike hard who cares — shoot straight who can —
The odds are on the cheaper man.

“Arithmetic on the Frontier” By Rudyard Kipling

As a young man I joined a single battalion regiment. This may seem a strange concept…


Twitter account for the weekly professional conversation between military leaders and scholars.

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