• Watch BJ Armstrong’s Shifley Lecture at the U.S. Naval Academy Museum, 7 March 2014
• For a complete list of articles, blog posts, and more by Benjamin "BJ" Armstrong, go to the USNI blog.
• Benjamin “BJ” Armstrong, editor of 21ST Century Mahan, is the 2013 recipient of the Navy League’s Alfred Thayer Mahan Award for Literary Achievement. The Alfred Thayer Mahan Award is named for the famous naval theorist who, through his writing, provided vital stimulus and guidance to those who share in the defense of the nation. Presented since 1957, this award for literary achievement is awarded to a Navy officer, Marine Corps officer, enlisted service member, or civilian who has made a notable literary contribution that has advanced the knowledge of the importance of sea power in the United States. (6/20/13)
• Benjamin Armstrong, editor of 21ST Century Mahan ~ Recipient of the Samuel Eliot Morison Supplemental Scholarship, named after Rear Adm. Samuel Eliot Morison, USNR, an eminent naval and maritime historian and winner of the Pulitzer Prize. Armstrong will receive the scholarship to support research on his doctoral dissertation, examining in tactical detail case studies of irregular warfare by the U.S. Navy in the age of sail. With the increase in the proportion of Littoral Combat Ships and other small combatants in the fleet -- portending greater responsibility at lower levels of command -- irregular warfare is likely to retain its relevance. Armstrong's study looks to give junior officers knowledge of the Navy's heritage in the types of operations for which they will have responsibility, and help contextualize the Navy's experience in recent small wars. Armstrong was awarded the scholarship by Naval History & Heritage Command up to $2,500. (6/18/13)
"...Outstanding 'must read' book" — Armchair General Magazine
“[E]very danger of a military character to which the United States is exposed can be met best outside her own territory—at sea. Preparedness for naval war—preparedness against naval attack and for naval offence—is preparedness for anything that is likely to occur.”
—ALFRED THAYER MAHAN
BOOK NEWS: 21st Century Mahan: Sound Conclusions for the Modern Era by Naval Institute Press
~ Praise for 21st Century Mahan ~
"Armstrong succeeds in achieving his goal of making Mahan’s ideas accessible and relevant. In the process, he compellingly challenges the conventional interpretations of Mahan’s works. Instead of an fossilized relic, 21st Century Mahan reveals its protagonist as a perceptive, flexible, innovative thinker. While Mahan did champion the battleship as the navy’s strategic cornerstone, he envisioned it as the locus of an adaptive, balanced force designed to confront a dynamic world situation. On the level of policy, Mahan explored the linkages between national economic aspirations and potential international conflict. Armstrong also shows how Mahan recognized both the promise and peril of globalization. Military policy, Mahan believed, must remain closely attuned to worldwide economic and political conditions. Finally, Mahan advocated an honest assessment of potential threat risks to fundamentally inform national debates on policy, strategy, and defense budgets.
21st Century Mahan is a “must-read” for today’s military and naval professionals. Students of public policy and history (military, political, and diplomatic) will find Armstrong’s work especially enlightening. The book also lends itself well to use in the college classroom."
– Naval History Book Reviews
"Armstrong is to be commended for allowing the reader to re-examine Mahan in a twenty-first century context. Despite Mahan's dated view of the world and his contorted writing style, his words on the strategic importance of seapower in a globalised world remain relevant today. His thoughts on the importance of Asia, preparation for conflict, and tensions between the fighting arm and the adminstrator have strong resonance within today's society. This is a must-read for those with an interest in maritime strategy generally, and mahan specifically."
– Warship 2014
"This is an interesting and worthwhile collection, and a most useful addition to the historiography of the great man....One can learn a lot from [this] brief collection, both about Mahan’s own period, and, as the editor intends, about the maritime security position today."
– The International Journal of Maritime History
"Armstrong is correct when he says that Mahan’s thoughts are as worthy of contempory study as are Clausewitz’s or those of Sun Tzu. One can nit-pick Armstrong’s selections—or start another conversation, but he has done a credible job of making Alfred Thayer Mahan relevant as a strategist and naval thinker of our time."
– The Journal of Military History
"Armstrong offers reader-friendly introductions to Mahan’s writings, which have invaluable insights into strategic thinking. 21st Century Mahan is especially recommended as a core volume for nautical and military shelves."
– The Midwest Book Review
“Armstrong’s strength is his ability to force his readers to reexamine Mahan and his ability to synthesize the master’s ideas on the importance of Asia, preparing for conflict, and tensions between the fighter and the administrator. I hope the author will continue his writing and provoking fresh thought within our Navy. This is a fine read for those with an interest in maritime strategy generally, and Mahan specifically.”
Alfred Thayer Mahan’s The Influence of Seapower upon History is well known to students of naval history and strategy, but his other writings are often dismissed as irrelevant to today’s problems. This collection of five of Mahan’s essays, along with Benjamin Armstrong’s informative introductions, illustrates why Mahan’s work remains relevant to the 21st century and how it can help develop our strategic thinking.
People misunderstand Mahan, Armstrong contends, because they have read only what others say about him, not what Mahan actually wrote. Armstrong’s analysis is derived directly from Mahan’s own writings and covers a wide selection of subjects. From the challenges of bureaucratic organization and the pitfalls of staff duty, to the development of global strategy and fleet composition, to illustrations of effective combat leadership, Armstrong demonstrates that Mahan’s ideas about the importance of seapower continue to provide today’s readers with a solid foundation to address the military and political challenges of a rapidly globalizing world.
LT. CDR. BENJAMIN F. ARMSTRONG, USN, is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and a naval aviator. He holds a graduate degree in military history, and his writing on military innovation and naval strategy have appeared in numerous periodicals, including Proceedings and the Infinity Journal.
SNEAK PEEK: 21st Century Mahan: Sound Military Conclusions for the Modern Era by Naval Institute Press