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"War is too serious a matter to entrust to military men."

~ Georges Clemenceau,
French premier during World War I.

~ War blog ~
War history pages:

Remembering local-area fallen soldiers

  • Marine Lance Cpl. Jason C. Redifer, of Stuarts Draft, VA; assigned to 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Lejeune, N.C.: Feb. 2005
  • Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel Scott R. Bubb, of Grottoes, VA; assigned to the 1st Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Camp Pendleton, Calif.; attached to 2nd Marine Division, II MEF: Oct. 2005
  • Marine Lance Cpl. Daniel T. Morris, of Crimora, VA; assigned to 2nd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, III Marine Expeditionary Force, Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii: Feb. 2007

War and/or peace

Whatever economic wealth or diplomatic resources a country may have at its disposal, when push comes to shove, it will be powerless to exert foreign influence or resist foreign pressure unless it possesses competent and effective armed forces. According to German military theorist Karl von Clauswitz (1780-1831), "War is nothing but the continuation of politics with the admixture of other means." This stark realist point of view has also been expressed by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, who responded to Churchill's warning at the Potsdam Conference in 1945 that the Catholic Church would resist the imposition of a communist government in Poland by asking, "how many divisions does the Pope have?" Likewise, Chinese leader Mao Zedong declared, "Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun." That being the case, it is essential for any leading contemplating the use of military force to think very clearly about what the political objectives are: to punish, to coerce, to intimidate, to deter, or to conquer territory.

It is important to note that the existence of nuclear weapons has not made war "obsolete" as many once thought; it simply constrains major powers from taking actions that might risk all-out retaliation from the other side. During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union developed small "tactical" nuclear warheads that supposedly could be used on the battlefield. This remains a dubious proposition, however, and such weapons are being dismantled in the wake of the Cold War.

War and law

"But since World War II, not once has the President gone before congress to request a "Declaration of War" against any nation." (; H/T Fima Shlimel)

German Declaration of War with the United States: December 11, 1941 (; H/T John Moser)

Nuclear warhead arsenals

Country 1986 2010
United States 24,401 9,400
Russia / USSR 45,000 12,000
France 355 300
China 425 240
Britain 300 185
Israel ? 80
India 0 70?
Pakistan 0 80?
North Korea 0 5?

SOURCE: Washington Post, March 6, 2010. The figures above are mere estimates. There is a serious possibility that Iran may gain the ability to build nuclear bombs by the end of 2012.

United States armed forces

U.S. ground forces

Division Home base(s) Unit status
1st Armored* x Wiesbaden, Germany; Ft. Riley, KS U.S. Army, active
1st Cavalry Ft. Hood, TX U.S. Army, active
1st Infantry (Mech.) * Wurzburg, Germany; Ft. Riley, KS U.S. Army, active
2nd Infantry (Mech.) * Camp Red Cloud, S. Korea; Ft. Lewis, WA U.S. Army, active
3rd Infantry (Mech.) * Ft. Stewart & Ft. Benning, GA U.S. Army, active
4th Infantry (Mech.) * x Ft. Hood, TX; Ft. Carson, CO U.S. Army, active
25th Infantry (Light)* Schofield Barracks, HI; Ft. Lewis, WA U.S. Army, active
10th Mountain Fort Drum, NY U.S. Army, active
82nd Airborne Fort Bragg, NC U.S. Army, active
101st Airborne Fort Campbell, KY U.S. Army, active
7th Infantry (Light) ** Fort Carson, CO U.S. Army, reserve?
24th Infantry (Mech.)** Ft. Riley, KS (NC, SC, GA) U.S. Army, reserve?
28th Infantry Harrisburg, PA Army National Guard
29th Infantry (Light) x(N.G.) Fort Belvoir, VA Army National Guard
34th Infantry Rosemont, MN Army National Guard
35th Infantry Fort Leavenworth, KS Army National Guard
36th Infantry Austin, TX Army National Guard
38th Infantry x(N.G.) Indianapolis, IN Army National Guard
40th Infantry (Mech.) Los Alamitos, CA Army National Guard
42nd Infantry (Mech.) x Troy, NY Army National Guard
1st Marine Exped. Force Camp Pendleton, CA U.S. Marine Corps
2nd Marine Exped. Force x Camp Lejeune, NC U.S. Marine Corps
3rd Marine Exped. Force x Camp Butler, Okinawa, Japan U.S. Marine Corps

NOTE: This information is subject to revision. Military units often change their Web site addresses; links are valid as of December 2011, except for those labeled "x." Elements of some divisions currently based at home are deployed in Afghanistan. All major U.S. combat units have withdrawn from Iraq. This table does not include separate brigades, armored cavalry regiments, or smaller units.
* Most divisions have one brigade based separately.
** The 7th and 24th Infantry Divisions are mere umbrella organizations, not intended to be deployed in combat.

SOURCES: Divisional Web sites, via, as well as,, and Washington Post

U.S. naval forces

As of October 2011, the United States Navy included 284 "battle force" ships, of which 151 were "underway," i.e., at sea. The following detailed list is only partially updated. The numbers in parentheses (which add up to 288 ships) pertain to the year 2009. Further revision is pending.

  • 11 (12) Aircraft carriers
  • 22 (27) Cruisers
  • 59 (52) Destroyers
  • 22 (35) Frigates
  • ? (21) Patrol boats
  • ? (27) Mine warfare ships
  • ? (41) Amphibious ships
  • ? (18) Submarines (ballistic missile)
  • ? (53) Submarines (attack)

NOTE: The above figures exclude inactive ("mothballed") ships: three aircraft carriers (Ranger, Independence, Constellation), plus two battleships, and miscellaneous craft.

U.S. aircraft carriers

Carrier name, hull number Home port Deployment notes Commissioned
Enterprise (CVN 65) Norfolk, VA air support to Afghanistan, Sept. 2006- 1961
Nimitz (CVN 68) San Diego, CA . 1975
Eisenhower (CVN 69) Norfolk, VA arrived in Arabian Sea Nov. 2006 1977
Vinson (CVN 70) Newport News, VA . 1982
Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Norfolk, VA Returned March 2006; left Sept. 2009 1986
Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Everett, WA 1989
George Washington (CVN 73) Norfolk, VA in dry dock 1992
John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Bremerton, WA finished exercise in Pacific, Oct. 2006 1995
Harry S Truman (CVN 75) Norfolk, VA . 1998
Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) San Diego, CA Returned home Oct. 20, 2006 2003
George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) Norfolk, VA Christened Oct. 7, 2006 Jan. 2009
Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) Newport News, VA (under construction) 2015?
John F. Kennedy (CVN 79) Newport News, VA (under construction) 2018?

SOURCES: U.S. Navy List of Carriers, Status of the Navy. (Incomplete information?)

NOTE: The U.S.S. J. F. Kennedy (CV 67) was decommissioned 23 Mar 2007, and the U.S.S. Kitty Hawk (CV 63) was decommissioned 12 May 2009.

CVN71 Theodore Roosevelt

Aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt (CVN71), and support ships, at dock in Norfolk, Virginia.

DD-933 USS Barry

Destroyer USS Barry (DD-933), at Washington Navy Yards.

U.S. air forces

This section pertains to the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Marine Corps. Only combat aircraft are listed. These figures pertain to 2009 or before and are subject to revision.

U.S. Air Force

2,737 combat aircraft

  • 94 B-52 Stratofortress
  • 93 B-1
  • 21 B-2
  • 218 F-4 Phantom (in store)
  • 717 F-15 Eagle
  • 6 F-22 Raptor
  • 294 F-111 Raven
  • 52 F-117 Stealth
  • 225 A-10 Warthog
  • 21 AC-130

U.S. Army

1,502 armed helicopters

  • 511 AH-1 Huey
  • 743 AH-64 Apache

U.S. Navy & Marines

1,456 combat aircraft, 543 armed helicopters

  • 771 F/A-18 Hornet
  • 119 AV-8B Harrier
  • 193 F-14 Tomcat (junked)

U.S. strategic missiles

  • ~200 Trident D5 SLBM
  • ~160 Trident C4 SLBM
  • 500 Minuteman III
  • 50 Peacekeeper (MX)

SOURCE: The Military Balance, 2000-2001 (IISS). NOTE: The information above is six years old; updates are pending.

U.S. deaths in past wars

Anyone who argues that a given war is either worth the sacrifice, or not worth the sacrifice, must view the casualties in proper historical context. For example, the average monthly American combat fatalities in the current war in Iraq -- which should more properly be called a low-level insurgency action because no large-scale enemy formations are involved -- is the lowest of any war since the Revolutionary War. In terms of the effect of war deaths on "home front" morale, what distinguishes this war and other recent wars from those of the distant past is the sense of immediacy conveyed by television. In other words, it is largely a matter of perception.

War Began Ended Months Combat
Deaths /
Revolutionary War June 1775 Oct. 1781 79 4,435 . 4,435 56
War of 1812 June 1812 Jan. 1815 30 2,260 . 2,260 75
Mexican War Jan. 1846 Jan. 1848 24 1,733 11,550 13,283 553
Civil War (both sides) Apr. 1861 Apr. 1865 49 214,939 59,297 274,236 5,597
Spanish-American War Apr. 1898 Aug. 1898 4 385 2,061 2,446 612
World War I Apr. 1917 Nov. 1918 20 53,513 63,195 116,708 5,835
World War II Dec. 1941 Aug. 1945 45 292,131 115,185 407,316 9,051
Korean War June 1950 July 1953 37 33,667 3,249 36,916 998
Vietnam War Aug. 1964 Jan. 1973 101 47,393 10,800 58,193 576
Persian Gulf War Jan. 1991 Feb. 1991 1.5 147 235 382 255
Iraq War Mar. 2003 Dec. 2011 106 3,515 949 4,403 * 72
Afghanistan War Oct. 2001 >> 123 1,319 356 1,675 14

SOURCE: The World Almanac and Book of Facts, 2012; Global Security; Washington Post.
* : Includes deaths in the last five months of 2011, both in combat and other deaths.


James F. Dunnigan, How to Make War The author was the co-founder of Simulations Publications, Inc., the original publisher of Strategy & Tactics magazine and many wargames. He is now a military consultant and oversees the Strategy Page web site.

Geoffrey Blainey, The Causes of War (New York: Free Press, 1973).

Winston S. Churchill, Memoirs of the Second World War -- Abridgement of the six volumes (Boston: Houghton-Mifflin Co., 1959)

Eugence Dyer, War (New York: Crown Publishers, 1985). For those who recoil at the very notion of studying war, this book is a good pacifist-leaning historical and philosophical examination of the subject.

Sir Basil H. Liddell Hart, Strategy (New York: Praeger, 1967). Along with Germany's Heinz Guderian and France's Charles DeGaulle, Liddell Hart was one of the leading exponents of the strategy of "indirect approach," in contrast to the Clauswitzian notion of striking at an enemy's center of power. This was one of the keys to the success of blitzkrieg in the early years of World War II. (Thanks, Dad!)

John Keegan, The Face of Battle: A Study of Agincourt, Waterloo and the Somme (New York: Vintage Books, 1977). Prof. Keegan has written prolifically about military history, and this book is distinguished by examining what fighting has been like for front-line infantry troops in various historical eras.

Paul Kennedy, The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000 (New York: Random House, 1987). This book inspired me to apply my knowledge of economic matters to the study of the grand strategic questions of national survival and collapse.

Peter Paret (ed.), Makers of Modern Strategy: From Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986). This thick textbook has excellent chapters on the military leaders and thinkers whose innovations brought about victory.

Bruce Porter, War and the Rise of the State: The Military Foundations of Modern Politics (New York: The Free Press, 1994). This book deals with "state building," the long process by which fractured regional powers become unified into nation-states as a collateral effect of waging war.

Thomas Schelling, Arms and Influence (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1964). Prof. Schelling is a leading scholar of strategic studies, having applied game theory to analyze nuclear deterrence policies.

Sun Tzu, The Art of War trans. Samuel B. Griffith (New York: Oxford University Press, 1971).

Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations (New York: Basic Books, 1977).

Russell F. Weigley, The American Way of War (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1973).

The Military Balance, annual series (London: International Institute for Strategic Studies)