Strategic Leaders and the Uses of History

Mark Grandstaff, PhD

Having taught at two war colleges, I have observed a trend among many field-grade officers to see the study of history as irrelevant.1 Why? Many undoubtedly find themselves too focused on immediate concerns to properly learn how to “use” history. Others do not like to read traditional history, finding the prose turgid, the results dubious, and the arguments exhausting.2 Some simply do not like the academic approach. Professors typically ask more questions than they answer, seemingly enter into long debates over trifles, and perhaps worst of all, encourage students to shatter preconceptions. Other officers argue that technology, i.e., superior weapons and new intelligence-gathering ...

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