Operational Lessons from Legend of Korra

The Legend of Korra is not only a good primer to study insurgencies, it can also be used to study operational art. The Battle of the Bay which took place between the Equalists and the United Forces over control of Republic City in season one episode eleven is an especially suitable example. The United Forces …

The Army is Not for Everyone

The Army is not for everyone.  More often than not, this phrase is a not-so-thinly veiled critique of those leaving the service, either on their own terms or not.  Proponents of this phrase tend to mention how only a small percentage of the population serves and how much more selective the military is compared to …

Taking Ownership: The Problem of Command Teams and the SHARP Program

I spent 12 months managing a division-level Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) program. It was evident, commanders have varying opinions on what “success” means in SHARP. It was even more clear Commanders were not in sync with the inner workings of their programs. The more senior in rank the commander was, the …

The Legend of Korra – An Insurgency Masterclass

This article contains significant spoilers for Season 1 of The Legend of Korra Season 1 of The Legend of Korra is an insightful depiction of a counterinsurgency campaign which should be required watching for security studies students everywhere. It captures key elements of how insurgencies operate and highlights common pitfalls of counterinsurgents in a compact …

Forget Love in the Time of Cholera, How About Assessment in the Time of COVID-19?

Assessment is how the military determines “the overall effectiveness of employing capabilities during military operations.”. That said, the military does not practice this dark art well. If an objective is clear-cut, measuring its performance is also straightforward. Broader objectives cause problems. This was the challenge in Iraq. It was also at the heart of the …

Put Down Clausewitz, Pick Up Pratchett 

Step aside Clausewitz, a new thinker has entered the professional military education (PME) ring – Sir Terry Pratchett.  Military theory and history are the bedrock of PME. They should remain so. However, popular fiction, even books which at first blush have very little to do with the military, can contain very useful insights for leaders. …

Russian Military to Occupy Baltics to Prevent COVID-19 Infections

Author's Note: This is a satirical article meant to highlight the absurdity of Russia’s reportedly low COVID-19 infection rate and it’s continued use of hybrid warfare in conflicts with its neighbors. After a frenzied 24 hours of military activity, President Vladimir Putin announced that the Russian military has sent assistance to the Baltic countries of …

Mean Hegemons

The common perception of the 2004 film Mean Girls is a memorable teen comedy. This is wholly incorrect. Mean Girls is a primer on the risks of an unrestrainedly realist approach to hegemonic transition, and a stirring endorsement of multilateral arbitration.  The story begins when Cady Heron, previously home-schooled, arrived at North Shore High School. …