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Thomas G. Mahnken is currently the Jerome E. Levy Chair of Economic Geography and National Security at the U.S. Naval War College and a Visiting Scholar at the Philip Merrill Center for Strategic Studies at The Johns Hopkins University's Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).
He served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Policy Planning from 2006-2009. In that capacity, he was responsible for the Department's major strategic planning functions, including the preparation of guidance for war plans and the development of the defense planning scenarios. Prior to that, he served as a Professor of Strategy at the U.S. Naval War College. From 2004 to 2006 he was a Visiting Fellow at the Merrill Center at SAIS. During the 2003-04 academic year he served as the Acting Director of the SAIS Strategic Studies Program.
He served on the staff of the Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel and the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction. He served in the Defense Department's Office of Net Assessment, where he conducted research into the emerging revolution in military affairs. He also served as a member of the Gulf War Air Power Survey, commissioned by the Secretary of the Air Force to examine the performance of U.S. forces during the war with Iraq.
He is the author of Technology and the American Way of War Since 1945 (Columbia University Press, 2008), Uncovering Ways of War: U.S. Intelligence and Foreign Military Innovation, 1918-1941 (Cornell University Press, 2002), and (with James R. FitzSimonds) of The Limits of Transformation: Officer Attitudes toward the Revolution in Military Affairs (Naval War College Press, 2003). He is editor (with Thomas A. Keaney) of U.S. Military Operations In Iraq: Planning, Combat, and Occupation (Routledge, 2007), (with Joseph A. Maiolo) of Strategic Studies: A Reader (Routledge, 2007), (with Emily O. Goldman) of The Information Revolution in Military Affairs in Asia (Palgrave McMillan, 2004) and (with Richard K. Betts) of Paradoxes of Strategic Intelligence: Essays in Honor of Michael I. Handel (Frank Cass, 2003).
He earned his master's degree and doctorate in international affairs from SAIS and was a National Security Fellow at the John M. Olin Institute for Strategic Studies at Harvard University. He was a summa cum laude graduate of the University of Southern California with bachelor's degrees in history and international relations (with highest honors) and a certificate in defense and strategic studies.
2003's "Paradoxes of Strategic Intelligence" is one of several books of essays commemorating the life and work of the late Michael I. Handel, a specialist in the study of strategy. This particular volume contains seven essays dealing with the still very relevant topic of intelligence and strategic surprise.
Handel's introductory essay on "Intelligence and the Problem of Strategic Surprise" lays out the basic terms of the topic and outlines a theory of surprise as an problem for the intelligence community. In the second essay, Richard Betts discusses the costs and benefits of the alleged politicization of intelligence. Woodrow Kuhns explores the basis for so-called Intelligence failures; James Wirtz expands on Handel's theory of surprise.
The last three essays provide historical context for surprise and its sometime reciprocal, deception. John Frerris explores the evolution of British technique for strategic deception in World War II. Uri Bar-Joseph examines Israeli intelligence failures in the Yom Kippur War. Mark Lowenthal brings the discussion of intelligence and surprise to the American Civil War.
These essays provide a brutally honest assessment of the inevitability of surprise, and the limits of intelligence and intelligence reform. They will be of most interest to practicing intelligence professionals and consumers of intelligence. "Paradoxes of Strategic Intelligence" is very highly recommended to that audience.
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