Hindsight can become foresight if viewed through the right lens. Margin of Victory views the outcomes of five horrific twentieth century battles through the lens of military strategy; force design and modernization, all of which decisively influence the savage fighting on the day of battle. From the house to house fighting in Shanghai, China to the dense forests of Western Russia and the deserts of the Middle East, the recurring theme is powerful: Victorious nation-states accept the pressing need for change and implement the tough reforms in military organization, technology and human capital that are essential to future victory, sometimes decades before a major war begins. Meanwhile, national militaries that are allowed to live in the past, that fail to shed outworn assumptions about warfighting play catch-up when war comes; a situation that leads to an enormous loss of human life and, ultimately, to total defeat.
Margin of Victory’s riveting stories of victory and defeat are presented against the backdrop of national policies, culture and history. Each chapter is a reminder that to be successful military action must always be congruent with national culture, geography and scientific-industrial capacity; that strategy and geopolitics inevitably trump ideology. Building effective military power takes time, resources and imagination. Unity of command; unity of effort and the integration of capabilities across service lines only happen when they are ruthlessly imposed from the top down. These are some of the enduring lessons in the five warfighting dramas that unfold in vivid detail on the tactical, operational and strategic levels of war.
Margin of Victory concludes with a discussion of future battle and how the United States can leverage the twentieth century’s lessons to secure its margin of victory in the twenty first century. The final chapter argues that America’s future victories depend on a major reset of U.S. national military strategy and an overhaul of U.S. military command structures and force design. The author’s reset includes the creation of a national defense staff, Joint Force Commands inside the regional unified commands and a plea to cultivate America’s greatest margin of victory, its human capital; the high quality of American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines.