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Historian presents his research on the century-long evolution of Army command doctrine

On January 17th, 2017, Dr. J.P. Clark, a former history professor of West Point, and active duty army officer, presented his research at IWP. This research focused on answering the question of why the U.S. Army evolved, from 1815 to 1917, from a command model centered on the belief that talent was unteachable, to one which viewed it as a science, able to be taught. Dr. Clark illuminated that today there are three theories in academia which purport to explain this shift: a theory of civilian, military, or events-related change.

Dr. Clark expounded on the first theory, criticizing its power to explain the abovementioned shift, because, he argued, military institutions rely on a network of other factors independent of themselves to form beliefs. Dr. Clark then proceeded to criticize the civilian-related theory of change, arguing that the civilian establishment’s influence on the military is dependent in the same way on a network of external factors.

Instead, for Dr. Clark, a theory of change which highlighted the importance of cultural landscape is essential for understanding the ultimate cause for why, over the course of a century, the paradigm of military management shifted. But, this raises important questions, Dr. Clark continued. For if warfighting is a kind of “expertise”, then who are the possessors of this knowledge, and is such knowledge at odds with or consistent to the current division of labor in the civilian-military establishment now charged with fighting America’s wars? Will our cultural pendulum swing back in reaction to a view of warfighting as being dominated by a kind of “expertise”? These interesting questions were the result of Dr. Clark’s presentation.  

A video and podcast of this presentation will become available shortly.