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The Science of War

The Science of War: Defense Budgeting, Military Technology, Logistics, and Combat Outcomes

Michael E. O’Hanlon
Copyright Date: 2009
Edition: STU - Student edition
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    The Science of War
    Book Description:

    The U.S. military is one of the largest and most complex organizations in the world. How it spends its money, chooses tactics, and allocates its resources have enormous implications for national defense and the economy.The Science of Waris the only comprehensive textbook on how to analyze and understand these and other essential problems in modern defense policy.

    Michael O'Hanlon provides undergraduate and graduate students with an accessible yet rigorous introduction to the subject. Drawing on a broad range of sources and his own considerable expertise as a defense analyst and teacher, he describes the analytic techniques the military uses in every crucial area of military science. O'Hanlon explains how the military budget works, how the military assesses and deploys new technology, develops strategy and fights wars, handles the logistics of stationing and moving troops and equipment around the world, and models and evaluates battlefield outcomes. His modeling techniques have been tested in Iraq and Afghanistan, including the methods he used to predict higher-than-anticipated troop fatalities in Iraq--controversial predictions that have since been vindicated.

    The Science of Waris the definitive resource on warfare in the twenty-first century.

    Gives the best introduction to defense analysis availableCovers defense budgetingShows how to model and predict outcomes in warExplains military logistics, including overseas basingExamines key issues in military technology, including missile defense, space warfare, and nuclear-weapons testingBased on the author's graduate-level courses at Princeton, Columbia, and Georgetown universities

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-3093-0
    Subjects: Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
    (pp. vii-x)
    (pp. 1-7)

    Sun Tze’s ancient work,The Art of War, is a classic that remains as timeless today as when he wrote it several centuries before Christ in China. Questions of morale, leadership, cunning, and innovative tactics are still central to warfare and always will be. Similarly, the Prussian general and scholar Carl von Clausewitz’s bookOn War, written two hundred years ago, remains brilliant in its depiction of war as an extension of politics, a fundamentally human endeavor in which national and individual will and the core character of fighting men (and now women) are central in understanding battle and determining...

  5. CHAPTER I Defense Budgeting and Resource Allocation
    (pp. 8-62)

    Does the United States spend too much on defense? Why does its current military budget, even excluding costs for Iraq and Afghanistan, exceed the Cold War average in real-dollar terms, and exceed the budgets of either China or Russia by a ratio of some five to one? If the budget is bloated, how can it be prudently scaled back? Regardless of whether it is excessive, how can proposals for new types of military capabilities be properly evaluated? Only by understanding the components of the defense budget can these questions be seriously addressed.

    Before getting into more specific arguments, it is...

  6. CHAPTER II Modeling Combat and Sizing Forces
    (pp. 63-140)

    Is it possible to make meaningful estimates of how wars will unfold? The most important result to try to predict is, of course, the winner. Even in situations where that might be rather foreseeable, as in the two U.S.-led invasions of Iraq in the last two decades, gauging the likely duration of the conflicts—and the likely casualties that will ensue to participating armies and proximate civilians—is of great interest when possible.

    An important related question is: Can we make meaningful estimates of what force package would be adequate to prevail, and prevail decisively, in a proposed conflict? This...

  7. CHAPTER III Logistics and Overseas Bases
    (pp. 141-168)

    The famous adage that while civilians think strategy, generals think logistics is only a slight exaggeration. Without transportation, bases from which to operate, and support units, combat units are of little inherent use unless a battle comes straight to them and they can fight on their home fields, so to speak. Even then, tactical mobility requires strong attention to logistics.

    For some observers, what separates the U.S. armed forces from all others is the large Pentagon budget, making it possible to buy space assets, advanced fighters and submarines, precision munitions, a large nuclear arsenal, missile defenses, and the like. All...

  8. CHAPTER IV Technical Issues in Defense Analysis
    (pp. 169-242)

    How does an analyst or policy specialist wade into the complex world of actual military science—that is, the realm of physics and engineering on which so many practical decisions about military matters turn? Given the sophistication of the technologies involved, this would seem an impossible task for the generalist, or even for many scientists lacking specialized knowledge of certain aspects of military technical matters. But in another sense, it is a necessary task. Only by striving for answers to questions like can missile defenses work, can space weapons provide capabilities unavailable from systems based on Earth, and can future...

    (pp. 243-248)

    As an effort to collect, assess, and present simplified tools of defense analysis, this book does not require a major conclusion to draw an overall argument together. There is no single core policy purpose for the book, except to help inform a debate on critically important matters of war and peace, of strategies for combat and for deterrence, and of national resource allocation.

    It is useful, however, to repeat some of the central observations and conclusions of the book that do bear on contemporary policy questions fairly directly. They are not policy recommendations themselves, but are sufficiently well established by...

  10. APPENDIX Figures and Tables
    (pp. 249-262)
  11. INDEX
    (pp. 263-266)