In a book assessing the long-range tactics of the U.S. military, Nora Bensahel ’89, Visiting Professor of Strategic Studies at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, casts a critical lens towards its future. In Adaptation Under Fire: How Militaries Change During Wartime (Oxford University Press 2020), she argues that the military continually needs to plan for future wars although there may not be a roadmap for determining precisely how those wars will unfold. In a quote from her book, Bensahel shares a statement from former U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who said, “We have a perfect record in predicting the next war. We have never once gotten it right.”
Co-author with David Barno, a retired Lieutenant General of the U.S. Army who led combined forces in Afghanistan, Bensahel posits that the military needs to rapidly adapt to shifting circumstances in order to claim victory. In their text, they provide historical background on conflicts, including the recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In spite of unknown factors, the two explain that the military must identify leaders and procure weapons in order to continue their mission. They also provide recommendations on how to quickly respond to security challenges of the future.