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The Science of War:
Defense Budgeting, Military Technology, Logistics, and Combat Outcomes
Michael E. O'Hanlon

One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2010

Paperback | 2013 | $26.95 | £21.95 | ISBN: 9780691157993
280 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 4 line illus. 12 tables.
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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 War is 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 War is the definitive resource on warfare in the twenty-first century.

  • Gives the best introduction to defense analysis available
  • Covers defense budgeting
  • Shows how to model and predict outcomes in war
  • Explains military logistics, including overseas basing
  • Examines key issues in military technology, including missile defense, space warfare, and nuclear-weapons testing
  • Based on the author's graduate-level courses at Princeton, Columbia, and Georgetown universities


"As an introduction to a vital realm of analysis, this book has much to offer. But its greater value may be as a primary text describing the type of military thinking that gets states into trouble. Indeed, a symptom of this pathology is that no rival textbooks exist, and thus The Science of War presents evidence not only of the models' shortcoming but also that of our profession."--Jonathan D. Caverley, Perspectives on Politics

"O'Hanlon allows the reader to make informed decisions on how to best make and analyze projections. The Science of War will appeal to those with an interest in the relationship between foreign policy and the military, economists, and political scientists."--Jeff Obermeyer, On Point

"Although war is as much a matter of art as of science, military planning cannot succeed without an understanding of the technical issues that can make or break operations. O'Hanlon, one of the nation's top defense analysts, has performed a service by writing a book that introduces the complexities of budgeting, logistics, combat simulation, and military technologies. The strength of this work is the way it explains the reasoning behind commonly used models and analytic devices, links assumptions to results, and emphasizes the limitations inherent to the tools of defense analysis."--Choice

"Academics and bureaucrats concerned with Australia's defence would do well to read it. Even military officers familiar with operations research will find the book a useful compendium of practical defence analysis. And for those officers without such a background, The Science of War should be compulsory reading--equally so for students who aspire to work on defence issues inside or outside of government."--Mark Thomson, Australian Army Journal

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Table of Contents:

Acknowledgments vii
Introduction 1
Chapter I: Defense Budgeting and Resource Allocation 8
Chapter II: Modeling Combat and Sizing Forces 63
Chapter III: Logistics and Overseas Bases 141
Chapter IV: Technical Issues in Defense Analysis 169
Conclusion 243
Appendix: Figures and Tables 249
Index 263

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