The Relevance of Military History to the Teaching

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Captain David B Snodgrass, US Army
(Published with the permission of Defence Services Command and Staff College, Mirpur (Dhaka) Bangladesh)
Throughout history, modernists have questioned the relevance of military history. With the rapid evolution of technological change in the post-industrial era and the emergence of new missions for military professionals, the question of relevance is more salient than ever. This study examines the argument that technology and the New World Order may have reduced or obviated the utility of military history. It also examines the historians’ counter-arguments and offers practical guidelines for possible uses of military history in the teaching of modern warfare.

Statement of the Problem
1.The utility of the study of military history to the military profession is an open question that has been asked for centuries. However, the question is even more relevant today with the advent of the nuclear age, the explosion of information technology, and the emergence of new threats (and, therefore, new missions) to the members of the military profession. Many theoreticians believe that the history of warfare will provide no glimpse into the future because of the unprecedented pace of change in the post-Cold War era. On the other hand, there are many who believe that the only way to accurately predict the future is to study the past. This paper will examine the arguments of both groups. 2.Recently, a retired US Army colonel-cum lobbyist on Capitol Hill lamented that the newest catch phrase in the Pentagon had become ‘thinking outside of the box’. He mused, ironically, that he retired after more than twenty years of service because he couldn’t think ‘inside the box’. What this new catch phrase apparently refers to is an ability to visualize the future of warfare while being able to discard old, seemingly useless paradigms about past wars. In an...
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