Political Science

Military Power: Explaining Victory and Defeat in Modern Battle


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Dec 16, 2010
37 line illus. 12 tables.
Political Science
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In war, do mass and materiel matter most? Will states with the largest, best equipped, information-technology-rich militaries invariably win? The prevailing answer today among both scholars and policymakers is yes. But this is to overlook force employment, or the doctrine and tactics by which materiel is actually used. In a landmark reconception of battle and war, this book provides a systematic account of how force employment interacts with materiel to produce real combat outcomes. Stephen Biddle argues that force employment is central to modern war, becoming increasingly important since 1900 as the key to surviving ever more lethal weaponry. Technological change produces opposite effects depending on how forces are employed; to focus only on materiel is thus to risk major error—with serious consequences for both policy and scholarship.

In clear, fluent prose, Biddle provides a systematic account of force employment’s role and shows how this account holds up under rigorous, multimethod testing. The results challenge a wide variety of standard views, from current expectations for a revolution in military affairs to mainstream scholarship in international relations and orthodox interpretations of modern military history.

Military Power will have a resounding impact on both scholarship in the field and on policy debates over the future of warfare, the size of the military, and the makeup of the defense budget.

Awards and Recognition

  • One of Choice's Outstanding Academic Titles for 2005
  • Winner of the 2005 Silver Medal for the Arthur Ross Book Award, Council on Foreign Relations
  • Winner of the 2005 Col. John J. Madigan III Book Award, U.S. Army War College Foundation
  • Winner of the 2005 Koopman Prize, Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences
  • Winner of the 2004 Huntington Prize, Olin Institute at Harvard