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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Resource
The Science of War: Defense Budgeting, Military Technology, Logistics, and Combat Outcomes by Michael E. O'Hanlon

"The Science of War" is a very sound, accessible text book that stresses the importance of scientific methods as an essential complementary component of defense analysis. It's about the technical preparation required to be ready for combat. In the...
Published on September 5, 2012 by Book Shark

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26 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flawed Basics of Analysis
O'Hanlon is a recognized expert on National Security Issues, who in this book provides a moderately good tutorial on what he calls "defense analysis" as practiced by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). He is especially good at explaining such arcane issues as the mechanics of DOD budget development, methods of combat modeling and force sizing, and factors affecting...
Published on September 22, 2009 by Retired Reader


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26 of 34 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Flawed Basics of Analysis, September 22, 2009
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This review is from: The Science of War: Defense Budgeting, Military Technology, Logistics, and Combat Outcomes (Hardcover)
O'Hanlon is a recognized expert on National Security Issues, who in this book provides a moderately good tutorial on what he calls "defense analysis" as practiced by the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). He is especially good at explaining such arcane issues as the mechanics of DOD budget development, methods of combat modeling and force sizing, and factors affecting logistics and basing. Yet as O'Hanlon himself noted mechanics and methodology are not isolated analytic techniques, but other factors also influence the analytic process. So it can be asked what about the roles of threat analysis and risk mitigation in defense analysis? These are important considerations when budgeting for defense and planning force structures, but there is no mention of them in this book.
The weakest chapter in the book is titled, "Technical Issues in Defense Analysis" that is an exposition on the role of technology and innovation in defense analysis. Now O'Hanlon does provide reasonably good discussions of missile defense issues (a current hot button) and nuclear weapons in this chapter. But he also demonstrates a particularly poor understanding of the what he dismissively refers to as "nifty new gadgetry" and the so-called Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA). In point of fact, the concept of information driven command and control systems (command, control, computer, communication, intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (C4ISR)) are integral to successful counter-insurgency operations and to waging asymmetrical war in general (including counter-terrorism). C4ISR systems represent an evolutionary not revolutionary development yet the RMA was the catalyst in their implementation. Network Centric Warfare(NCW) is not as O'Hanlon would have it, a phrase describing " a variant of RMA theory", but is a deployed system representing the latest evolution of the Combat Information Center (CIC) and represents the latest effort by the U.S. Navy to manage a geometrically increasing amount of relevant information. O'Hanlon also appears to be behind the power curve on Information Operations (IO) which he refers to as "effect based operations" and like NCW seems to think it represents theory not practice. This is nonsense and suggests O'Hanlon might want to review the current literature on both subjects. Overall a useful book, but one that would have been better had O'Hanlon made more of an effort to explain how the Information Revolution and its attendant "nifty gadgetry" has impacted on defense analysis in the 21st Century.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Resource, September 5, 2012
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This review is from: The Science of War: Defense Budgeting, Military Technology, Logistics, and Combat Outcomes (Hardcover)
The Science of War: Defense Budgeting, Military Technology, Logistics, and Combat Outcomes by Michael E. O'Hanlon

"The Science of War" is a very sound, accessible text book that stresses the importance of scientific methods as an essential complementary component of defense analysis. It's about the technical preparation required to be ready for combat. In the end this book strives and succeeds in explaining to the layperson the immense challenges and the need to refine and develop improved quantitative tools in defense policy analysis. Author and defense and foreign policy specialist Michael E. O'Hanlon provides the reader with methodologies for military analysis and how it applies to many defense policy matters. This 280-page book is broken out into four chapters: I. Defense Budgeting and Resource Allocation, Modeling Combat and Sizing Forces, III. Logistics and Overseas Bases and IV. Technical Issues and Defense Analysis.

Positives:
1. As well-cited and referenced a book as you will find.
2. Well written and straight to the point.
3. Accessible book for the general reader who has interest in the military and technical elements of defense policy.
4. The author focuses strictly on the topics of the book without getting into partisan politics; it is a text book after all.
5. Provides a very helpful introduction to general defense matters.
6. A good look at how defense dollars are spent. How the money is defined and how it's categorized. America's budget as it relates to the rest of the world. "Most defense dollars go to one of two main activities in the United States: preparing forces for combat and other missions over the long term, through research and development and procurement of weaponry as well as other efforts".
7. Good use of tables to help the reader grasp the concepts. Cost estimate of major equipment in millions as an example.
8. The challenges to grasp deployment costs. The methods used to assist the defense budget. The limitations of these methods. The estimates that result from these methods.
9. One of the biggest strengths of this book is the countless number of scenarios/examples provided in which the reader can apply some of the concepts presented. O'Hanlon does a wonderful job of asking practical questions and even better at analyzing them. Kudos.
10. A chapter devoted to modeling combat and sizing forces. Understanding the complexity of it, the variables involved and the need to get better at it. The considerations taken when assessing whether or not to go to war.
11. I enjoyed a lot of the more tactical discussions of the book. As an example, the vulnerabilities of large assets like ships to approach a defender's shores.
12. The always interesting topic of technology trends.
13. Many interesting international scenarios and conflicts of note discussed. As examples, Pakistan-India and Taiwan-China.
14. An interesting look at the daunting aspect of logistics involved with tactical mobility. The author divides logistics issues into two broad categories: transportation and bases. The general challenges of overseas military operations. The main ways to move people and supplies.
15. A look at basing. The American base network abroad. Identifying the crucial bases by global importance.
16. Basic understanding of scientific and technical issues in defense policy that are essential for policymakers.
17. Examples of how understanding basic military principles and technologies can inform policy debate.
18. The technical revolution of military affairs (RMA) in perspective. "Decisions about when to wage war, whom to fight and whom not to fight, which interests to defend and which interests to recognize as indefensible must be informed by the technical and doctrinal realities of warfare".
19. The three approaches to understanding the degree to which modern technology is the driver behind how humans battle each other.
20. The computer age in perspective and a discussion of key areas of technology. Trends and future opportunities. Great stuff.
21. The links worked fantastically which was crucial for a book like this. The author also provided a bibliography at the end of each chapter.

Negatives:
1. The writing style can be dry; typical of text books.
2. The science of war is very complex. Some topics will still elude the general reader. Some of the models can be challenging to comprehend.
3. There are a limited number of charts and illustrations in the appendix but not one that captures a list of all the wars and battles and the methodologies used.
4. Some additional resources would have enhanced the educational experience; a flowchart of the budgetary cycle and how it pertains to the department of defense.
5. I enjoyed the chapter on technical issues but wanted more.
6. Readers would have benefitted from a chapter or appendix on introductory weapons and large assets.

In summary, this is a really solid and helpful book. Although intended as a text book I find this book to be accessible and useful to the general reader. O'Hanlon does a good job of providing insight into the complex world of defense policy. The book provides the methodologies and techniques used to develop budgets, model combat sizes and discusses technical issues and the logistics involved. I also enjoyed the section on defense technology. It provides many practical and topical examples and in doing so helps the readers grasp the concepts presented. Though wanting more and some minor reservations, this is a very useful book for any general reader interested in technical matters as it relates to defense policy. I recommend it.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Primer, February 14, 2010
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Stonewall (Washington,DC) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Science of War: Defense Budgeting, Military Technology, Logistics, and Combat Outcomes (Hardcover)
In a field of national security literature, which currently focuses on the operational experiences of our forces on the ground (and very much rightly so), O'Hanlon's work stands out as one which provides a strategic overview of the process by which those forces (and their missions) are shaped, and the modern institutional parameters within which the services operate. I would highly recommend The Science of War to anyone who wishes to have a comprehensive understanding of the complex process of organizing, manning, fielding, and paying for our nation's military. Especially relevant to students and practitioners of national security, in the current/future climate of shrinking budgets and greater legislative activism.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Science of War cannot be discounted, December 12, 2012
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Those interested in Defense Studies must consider the measurable elements of warfare to fully appreciate the aspects of the art of war. His chapter on Logistics is particularly important for those who want to understand the tail of the fight.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Defense analysis insight at its best, March 3, 2010
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This review is from: The Science of War: Defense Budgeting, Military Technology, Logistics, and Combat Outcomes (Hardcover)
Planning for and waging war are intricate and uncertain processes. The decision-making involved must be thorough and well executed as well as based on past experiences, current capabilities and known metrics for determining success.

Dr. O'Hanlon, with his decades of experience as both a teacher and leading voice in U.S. foreign policy, succinctly examines various aspects of defense analysis in The Science of War. Topics covered range from budgeting and force readiness to assessing counterinsurgency missions and the continued impact of technology on the military.

As a textbook, The Science of War should be required reading for students (like myself) of the field, but it is also highly accessible to anyone who seeks more knowledge about the methods of defense analysis. In his usual style, O'Hanlon presents ideas in a clear manner while sharing insight through real-world examples that are easy to understand.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A solid textbook, February 11, 2010
This review is from: The Science of War: Defense Budgeting, Military Technology, Logistics, and Combat Outcomes (Hardcover)
This book is not an easy read, it is more of a textbook, but for that purpose it is solid.
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5 of 53 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Ignores the most important question, September 26, 2009
This review is from: The Science of War: Defense Budgeting, Military Technology, Logistics, and Combat Outcomes (Hardcover)
This book ignores the most important question - why should the US have a large military, and why should it be intervening in other countries' affairs? Why is it that the US has such a large and complex military apparatus and why are we using it so much?

During the Vietnam War, the mainstream media (contrary to illusions) had a criticism of the war, that it wasn't being fought hard enough, and that we were losing. The important issue should have been whether we had any right to be in Vietnam and whether we should be winning it at all. This book assumes that it is right for us to be intervening in other countries' affairs, that it's right for us to have a large military.

It ignores the larger question of whether it's right for us to be in Iraq and Afghanistan, whether it's right that we have nearly a thousand military bases in dozens of countries, and that we are the only country in the world with aircraft carrier fleets which roam the earth "protecting our interests" and intimidating foes.

This book is part of a long line of hawkish, pro-war thought from the neocon tradition which got us into the messes in Afghanistan and Iraq and if we continue to let the debate over foreign policy to be set by idiots like O'Hanlon, who only care about whether our military is "working well" and not whether our actions are moral, then we'll continue to invade other countries and foster hatred towards us from others.
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The Science of War: Defense Budgeting, Military Technology, Logistics, and Combat Outcomes
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