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Military Power:
Explaining Victory and Defeat in Modern Battle
Stephen Biddle

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

Paperback | 2006 | $37.50 | £31.95 | ISBN: 9780691128023
352 pp. | 6 x 9 1/4 | 37 line illus. 12 tables.
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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.


"Superlatives hardly do this book justice. It simultaneously makes major contributions in political science, military history, social science methodology, and contemporary policy debates. Stephen Biddle comprehensively and convincingly dismantles two of the most important literatures in international relations theory in the United States: realism and the offence-defense balance."--Ted Hopf, International History Review

"Stephen Biddle has written perhaps the best volume on the causes of battlefield victory and defeat in a generation. . . . . This is a seminal work on an issue of critical importance."--Spencer D. Bakich, Virginia Quarterly Review

"Biddle's focus is on medium--and high--intensity land war; he combines a sophisticated formal model with analysis of critical case studies of actual battles. His argument has important implications for the structure of all modern military forces and shows persuasively that troops skilled in executing the modern system, not high-tech weapons alone, assure victory. It is a major achievement."--Choice

"Stephen Biddle has written a worthy book on the never-ending debate over why land wars are won and lost. It contributes to the academic literature, and his policy judgments deserve attention. . . . It is well worth reading, owning, and remembering."--Richard L. Kugler, Perspectives on Politics

"Stephen Biddle's Military Power deserves serious attention from military historians. Military Power makes a powerful argument that has redefined thinking within political science and policy circles on why armies win battles. . . . Biddle has produced an outstanding work that addresses a question central to historians, political scientists, and policy-makers."--Carter Malkasian, Journal of Military History


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Table of Contents:

Preface ix
Abbreviations xiii
Introduction 1
A Literature Built on Weak Foundations 14
The Modern System 28
The Modern System, Preponderance, and Changing Technology 52
Operation MICHAEL-The Second Battle of the Somme, March 21-April 9, 1918 78
Operation GOODWOOD-July 18-20, 1944 108
Operation DESERT STORM-January 17-February 28, 1991 132
Statistical Tests 150
Experimental Tests 181
Conclusion 190
A Formal Model of Capability 209
Notes 240
Index 325

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