Small Wars Journal

LTG H.R. McMaster Survival Articles - Free Access - Four Articles

LTG H.R. McMaster Survival Articles - Free Access

By the Survival editors

H.R. McMaster has a long association with Survival, including as one of our Contributing Editors, in which role he has been writing regular book reviews on war, conflict and the military.

In light of his appointment by President Donald Trump as National Security Advisor, we thought it would be helpful to lift the paywall for four of his longer contributions to the journal. We are grateful to our publishers, Taylor and Francis, who have made the following articles free-access.

‘On War: Lessons to Be Learned’, Survival, vol. 50, no. 1, February–March 2008, pp. 19–30.

Leaders should also abandon the belief that wars can be waged efficiently with a minimalist approach to the commitment of forces and other resources. The belief that progress toward achieving objectives in Afghanistan and Iraq could be achieved by doing just enough to establish security and help nascent governments and security forces assume responsibility for ongoing conflicts betrayed linear thinking, neglected the interaction with determined enemies, ignored other sources of instability, and was based on a misunderstanding of the nature of those conflicts. Consequences of linear thinking in Afghanistan and Iraq included overestimating indigenous forces’ capabilities, underestimating the enemy and the associated expectation that the coalition could soon reduce force levels and shift to an exclusively advisory effort. A short‐term approach to long‐term problems generated multiple short‐term plans that often confused activity with progress.

Read more here.

‘The Uncertainties of Strategy’, Review Essay, Survival, vol. 57, no. 1, February–March 2015, pp. 197–208.

It is in their inherent moral components that recent Western strategies may be deficient. What percentage of the populations in countries engaged in the 14-year effort in Afghanistan could even name the three main Taliban groups with whom their soldiers have been engaged? The professed war-weariness among populations who have sent only a small percentage of their sons and daughters to fight in recent wars may derive from a failure to communicate effectively what is at stake in those wars and explain why the efforts are worthy of the risks, resources and sacrifices necessary to sustain the strategy.

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‘Photography at War’, Review Essay, Survival, vol. 56, no. 2, April–May 2014, pp. 187–98.

In her introduction, Tucker observes that photographs ‘have been essential in gaining public support for war efforts and in the loss of that support’ (p. 2). They will remain so, but it seems that editors' ability to use the selection of photographs to influence public opinion will diminish as the means of distributing wartime photographs continue to proliferate. The public's access to wartime photographs, and thoughtful presentations of wartime photographs as in War/Photography, might not only help resurrect the value that societies place on virtuous sacrifice in war, but also help bridge what many see as a growing gap between soldiers and their societies, especially as so many in the US and European armed forces return to civilian life after service in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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‘Ancient Lessons for Today’s Soldiers’, Review Essay, Survival, vol. 50, no. 4, August–September 2008, pp. 177–90.

Beyond the utilitarian need to maintain ethical standards, if Western soldiers compromise their standards (and the standards of the societies they represent) when confronting terrorists, it may be argued they have already lost. Values education can ring hollow unless it is pursued in a way that provides context and demonstrates relevance. Robinson's Military Honour and the Conduct of War, Sherman's Stoic Warriors, and Coker's The Warrior Ethos provide that context and demonstrate the relevance of ethics to war, warriors and the societies that warriors pledge to serve.

Read more here.