Book Review: The Future of War: Organizations as Weapons


by Mark D. Mandeles

Washington: Potomac Books, 2005. Pp. x, 212. Tables, notes, index. $48.00. ISBN:1-57488-630-4

Naval historian and defense analyst Mark Mandeles has produced a work that looks at how organizations affect warmaking. He cogently demonstrates that much of contemporary talk about “Revolutions in Military Affairs” or “Fourth Generation Warfare” or “Information Age Warfare” is actually about technology and what it might be able to do, rather than about how to organize and apply these technologies toward the attainment of strategic objectives.

Mandeles’ analysis is rooted in history. And he handles it right. Thus, he points out that the most important military innovation of the nineteenth century was one of organization , the development of the Prussian General Staff. For military historians, this is hardly a radical notion. Indeed, it is but one of several organizational measures beginning in the fifteenth century, that led to the creation of the modern military organizational model. Nevertheless, as many of the pundits and futurists touting RMA, 4GW, IAW, and such, don’t delve that deeply into history; to them it may come as a revelation.

Following a general introduction, Mandeles examines the intellectual tools necessary to analyze the ways in which military forces – and specifically the U.S. armed forces – are likely to evolve by mid-century, then reviews the work of Ivan Bloch, the Polish banker who produced some of the most interesting analysis of the future of war back at the end of the nineteenth century. From there, he examines the 1990-1991 Gulf War air campaign for organizational ideas and decisions that may provide clues to the future evolution of warmaking. He then discusses “net-centric warfare” as a proposed operational concept, before proceeding to examine a number of possible alternative command and control models that might be adopted to implement this concept. He concludes with some thoughts on how to proceed in order to attain a genuine “Revolution in Military Affairs” by mid-century.

An important read for anyone interested in military policy.rc=

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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