Publications

Distilling the Essence of Strategy

By Frank Hoffman WOTR

PRINT  |  E-MAIL

200703-N-RF825-1236.jpg
200703-N-RF825-1236 SAN BERNARDINO STRAIT (July 3, 2020) The Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) transits the San Bernardino Strait, crossing from the Philippine Sea into the South China Sea. Ronald Reagan is the flagship of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 5. The Nimitz and Ronald Reagan carrier strike groups are conducting dual-carrier operations as the Nimitz Carrier Strike Force. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jason Tarleton/Released)
200703-N-RF825-1236.jpg
200703-N-RF825-1236
200703-N-RF825-1236 SAN BERNARDINO STRAIT (July 3, 2020) The Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) transits the San Bernardino Strait, crossing from the Philippine Sea into the South China Sea. Ronald Reagan is the flagship of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 5. The Nimitz and Ronald Reagan carrier strike groups are conducting dual-carrier operations as the Nimitz Carrier Strike Force. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jason Tarleton/Released)
Photo By: Petty Officer 3rd Class Jason Tarleton
VIRIN: 200703-N-RF825-1236

I am certain of one thing: Colin Gray would be exasperated with claims that “Grand strategy is dead.” What he would have called a “banality” is commonplace these days. Some question the need for grand strategy; others contend the United States has lost the art of developing one. Not that Colin would disagree with the difficulty of strategy, or American shortfalls: “In war after war,” he noted, “America demonstrates an acute strategy deficit.” There is plenty of evidence over the past two decades to suggest that a deficiency in conceptualizing and conducting national strategy afflicts the United States.

I strongly suspect that Colin’s retort to the demise of grand strategy would draw upon a theme from his book Another Bloody Century — namely, that we will see the end of history well before the value of sound strategy is eclipsed. It is an enduring human function, eternally tied to human nature. Strategy will retain its utility as long as security communities have interests, and as long as policymakers and military commanders need to counter challenges and align resources to obtain desired objectives.

WOTR Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from a roundtable “Remembering Colin Gray” from the Texas National Security Review. Be sure to check out the full roundtable.

Read the rest at War on the Rocks - 

Dr. Frank Hoffman is a Distinguished Research Fellow at the Institute for National Strategic Studies, Center for Strategic Research at National Defense University.