January 31, 2023

Military History for the Modern Strategist

Michael O’Hanlon

For Michael O’Hanlon’s twelfth appearance in front of the BCFA, he learned and  wanted to share three lessons from studying military history. War is always  harder, longer, bloodier, and more difficult than people expect it to be. Outcomes  in war are unpredictable, and the U.S. is good at grand strategy, but not so good at  war since 1945. In his book, he chose to tell history at a broad level but also at a  strategic and conceptual level, for those interested in strategy rather than battle  info. Following this introduction, O’Hanlon did a quick visit through American  Civil War history, in what he denotes as the “seven campaigns.” In the later Q. &  A. portion, he considers topics including lessons from the Ukrainian War, wars of attrition, and the differences between military lessons and international politics  lessons.

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