I’ve just finished reading the British Army Journal, a new publication I came across on the British Army website. Those of you out there who are interested in thinking about the changing nature of warfare should find it an interesting read.
It consists of over 200 pages of articles and analysis from senior officers, scholars, politicians, analysts and also naval and air force officers. It’s published by a private sector publishing company working with the Army, and, in the editor’s foreword, is aimed to encourage debate, including forwarding opinions and ideas that might run contrary to the MOD and the Army’s doctrine.
There are two things I admire about the British Army journal – making use of civilian knowledge, stimulating debate. And, of course, the two go hand in hand. Whilst since the Second World War the armed forces have no doubt modernised considerably, there is still a historical trend for the military to be rather conservative and insular when it comes to study, thought and theory. When we look at history, however, some of the most able theorists either came from civilian life, or had relatively little service – Basil Liddell Hart, for one. Rigorous debate, involving a range of different people, will almost always bring out the best ideas and challenge weaker assumptions.
There are also plenty of adverts from Defence Industry companies, which will be interesting for those who are keen on finding out about the latest vehicles and defence technology. Not that I will be able to afford a Warthog armoured vehicle any time soon… But it’s an idea of whats out there and what options are facing the Army.
The Army is to be congratulated for putting together such a forward-thinking publication. It goes beyond land operations; it looks at Defence in general in a joined-up manner. Not only is the Army the most prominent service at present thanks to Afghanistan, it does also seem to have a lead in intellectual thought. What I really like, above all, is that it doesn’t talk about ‘tanks this’ or ‘artillery that’, more about people and society.