Scales on War

The Future of America's Military at Risk
If you are a member, log in to receive member pricing
Published:September 15, 2016

Scales on War is a collection of ideas, concepts, and observations about contemporary war taken from over thirty years of research, writing, and personal experience by retired Major General Bob Scales. Scales’ unique style of writing utilizes contemporary military history, current events, and his philosophy of ground warfare to create a very personal and expansive view of the future direction of American defense policies.

Each chapter in the book addresses a distinct topic facing the upcoming prospects of America’s military, including tactical ground warfare, future gazing, the draft, and the role of women in the infantry. Fusing all of these topics together is Scales’ belief that, throughout its history, the United States has favored a technological approach to fighting its wars and has neglected its ground forces

Scales on War shows that, as a result of America’s focus on winning wars with technology rather than people, America’s enemies have learned how to win battles by defeating such technology. As a well-known warfare expert, Scales demonstrates how only a resurgent land force of Army and Marine small units will restore America’s fighting competence.



List Price: $29.95
Member Price: $23.96
Product Details
  • Subject: Current Affairs
  • Hardback : 248 pages
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press (September 15, 2016)
  • ISBN-10: 1682471020
  • ISBN-13: 9781682471029
  • Product Dimensions: 6 X 9 in
  • Shipping Weight: 19.4 oz
  • “In this short, eminently readable, and deeply affecting blend of military analysis and memoir, Robert Scales, retired US Army general, artillery commander in Vietnam, and distinguished military historian, identifies the major trends shaping modern American warfare, the dynamics in American politics that are constraining our nation’s influence abroad, and the practical solutions that can turn things around.” —The Boston Globe
  • “Readers will appreciate Robert Scales’ candid conversational style, mercifully free of military jargon or the usual defense policy platitudes. Gen. Scales may even surprise some readers as he casually debunks forecasts of imminent combat with the usual cast of suspects: Russia, China, North Korea or even Iran. But it is always the wars no one predicted that suddenly appear. They represent the greatest threats to American interests—and thus to the ‘poor, bloody infantry’ we typically dispatch to set things right. While his book is well-researched, Gen. Scales is his own best source. He presents American readers with a compendium of expert advice, the peerless result of a lifetime spent studying war and its demands on a free society.” —The Washington Times
  • “The former commandant of the Army War College and occasional news-media military analyst (Fox News and NPR) weighs in next month with ‘my last shot to tell the story of neglect, ahistoricism, intellectual hubris, corruption and ignorance about the nature and character of war that has left too many of our (mostly) soldier sons dead on our battlefields.’ With two daughters in the Army, he fears that ‘my grandchildren will fight with Reagan-era weapons’ because the Department of Defense ‘wants to buy big, expensive stuff that floats and flies’ instead of equipping the boots on the ground. He believes ‘war is inherently a human rather than technological exercise,’ and he wants appropriate supplies—including officers who are selected early because they are ‘promising strategists in the midst of their tactically competent brethren.’” —Military Times
  • “Before completing the next three sentences, stop what you’re doing. Go online and purchase Scales On War: The Future of America’s Military at Risk—an inevitable classic. Your MOS doesn’t matter. Neither does your rank. If you’re a Marine at heart—and subsequently believe that our Corps’ foundation is built around our infantry units—read retired U.S. Army MG Robert H. Scales' new book as soon as possible. Go to a quiet place, get ready to take detailed notes, and commit to taking a hard, introspective look at ourselves courtesy of the man whom Gen James N. Mattis, USMC (Ret) considers our Nation’s top warrior-scholar. His book provides our Corps an opportunity to critically look at ourselves, our priorities, and, most importantly, our close combat formation’s true capabilities. Scales is spot-on in highlighting existing deficiencies, as well as in providing specific actions to take to eliminate them. Over the past 15 years of combat, the Marines who serve in these units have done their very best—and performed extremely well—in spite of not being the forefront of institutional prioritization and focus. Ideally, thousands of Marines very closely reading, thinking about, and discussing Scales On War will finally provide the long overdue catalyst required to get our Corps’ priorities back in order.” —Marine Corps Gazette
  • “Scales is most convincing when he presents detailed arguments, such as specific equipment that would help the infantry and be cost-effective. The descriptions of the changing nature of war requiring boots on the ground among the population and sensitivity to public opinion are insightful. He also effectively criticizes the over-mechanization of war, charging that Washington forgets that it is the sweat and blood of soldiers that wins wars. Overall, Scales makes some strong points, particularly his advocacy for the infantry.” —The Huffington Post
  • “You couldn’t ask for a more eloquent spokesman for investing fully in America’s overworked, underloved, close-combat contingents: tough Army and Marine infantry; our superb special operations forces; and their immediate running buddies, the medics, the forward observers, and the rest of those at the very tip of the spear. In Scales on War, the author marshals his considerable talents as a veteran combat soldier, gifted writer and incisive thinker to advance the case. To his credit, Scales also offers answers. His book provides a way ahead for a renaissance of U.S. Army and Marine infantry and special operations forces. He offers concrete examples of upgraded weaponry, useful technical solutions to enhance human senses, much more demanding training, and effective borrowings from the social sciences. If adopted, such reforms would compel a cultural change in our military and, indeed, in our broader society’s expectations of our troops. That’s what’s required for our country to dominate the close fight embraced by our enemies. With a new administration in Washington, D.C., Scales is offering the hard-won, hard-edged military advice the incoming civilian leaders need to hear.” —Army Magazine
  • “If we wish to be ready for the next war, two questions follow: whether we can improve our ability to predict the conflict and how we might better prepare our forces to win no matter what. In his latest book…Scales takes up both questions, and, with iconoclastic fervor, tears down the business-as-usual answers to each.” —Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC)
  • “This book provides many well developed recommendations put forward by leaders…” —On Point
  • “This is a very good, thought-provoking read.” —The Journal of America’s Military Past
  • “Scales’ passion, evidence, and lucid writing convey his message. The reader will undoubtedly finish Scales on War convinced that America needs to do more to support those who serve at the forefront of its land-based forces. In today’s battles, combat efficiency at the squad level may not win wars, but it will definitely generate tactical outcomes favorable to the United States. This reviewer recommends Scales on War to any reader interested in the future of the American military.” —Army History
  • Scales on War: The Future of America’s Military at Risk serves as a kind of blueprint or potential road map for changes he sees necessary to the survivability and success of infantry and special operations forces in the Army, Marines and Special Operations Command.” —Army Times
  • “Combining his combat experience with a life-long study of men in direct combat, Bob Scales has written a classic. In this eye-opening and authentic work, he articulates a provocative yet sensible way for our nation to overcome its institutional neglect of the infantry. Let’s apply now the wisdom of our top warrior-scholar who has demonstrated again his penetrating understanding of combat at the point of maximum danger." —Gen. James N. Mattis, USMC (Ret.), Commander, United States Central Command (2010‒13), Commander, U.S. Joint Forces Command and Supreme Allied Commander Transformation for NATO (2007‒10)
  • “Enormously compelling, stimulating, thoughtful—and thought-provoking—reflections by one of America’s foremost practitioners of scholars on contemporary soldiering and the American military. A brilliant intellectual capstone to General Scales’ decades of seminal contributions to the most important defense debates of the day.” —Gen. David H. Petraeus, USA, (Ret.), Commander, Multinational Force-Iraq (2007‒2008); and International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (2010‒2011)
  • “Two decades ago, Bob Scales revolutionized how the United States thought about combat as Commandant of the Army War College. In the years since he has continued to write, teach, and learn. In Scales on War, he collects the lessons from a lifetime of thinking about man’s most horrible endeavor. Those who read it will be better prepared to keep America strong, safe, and free.” —Lt. Col. John Nagl, USA (Ret.), author of Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam and Knife Fights: A Memoir of Modern War in Theory and Practice
  • "Bob Scales has dedicated his life to helping young Americans win our wars. He understands that fighting and bureaucracy seldom work together. His commitment is to the fighter. The next cycle of leadership should read this book and implement its wisdom." —Newt Gingrich, 50th Speaker of the United States House of Representatives
  • “General Bob Scales’ book sizzles with insights on ‎how to improve America's warfighting effectiveness. He sees it from the ground, through soldiers' eyes, gained through fifty years of direct experience, close study, and thoughtful analysis. This is a book for both today's warriors and the policymakers and planners who back them up.” —Gen. Wesley K. Clark, USA (Ret.), NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe (1997‒2000) and author of Waging Modern War: Bosnia, Kosovo and the Future of Combat
  • “An extraordinary book and highly instructive and inspirational not just for the infantryman, but for all who deal with events such as in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan or Libya, etc. and want to know why there not many things and occasionally occasionally was successful or is! A true breviary the infantry.” —Austrian Military Journal

Maj. Gen. Bob Scales, USA (Ret.), is one of America’s most respected authorities on land power. He commanded two units in Vietnam and is the recipient of the Silver Star for action during the Battle of Hamburger Hill. He commanded units in Korea and the United States and completed his service as commandant of the Army War College.

More by this Author

Scales on War
Scales on War is a collection of ideas, concepts, and observations about contemporary war taken...Read More

Related Content

None found for this author.

Events and Conferences

The Heritage Foundation Book Launch: SCALES ON WAR
Noon-1:00pm, The Heritage Foundation, 214 Massachusetts Ave., N.E., Washington, D.C. 20002 |... Read More
Network Television Interview
6:00pm, FBN's "Making Money with Charles Payne" | 7:00pm, FNC's "On the Record," with Brit Hume Read More
Network Television Interview
7:00am, FBN's "Mornings with Maria" Read More
Taped Radio Interview
"Steel on Steel" with host John Loeffler Read More
Radio Interview
11:00pm Eastern, w/host Jim Bohannon, “Jim Bohannon Show,” Westwood One | Listen online at www.... Read More
Guest Lecturer
12:50-1:45, Modern War Institute at U.S. Military Academy, Washington Hall, West Point, NY | http... Read More
Meet the Author & Book Signing
2:00pm, USMA Bookstore, 601 Cullum Rd., Thayer Hall, West Point, NY Read More
Taped Radio Interview
3:00pm, w/host Francis Rose, “National Defense Week,” WMAL Radio Read More
Radio Interview
11:00am, National Defense Week w/Francis Rose, WMAL Radio 105.9 FM and 630 AM, Washington, DC.... Read More
Taped Broadcast Interview
1:00pm, w/David Craig, Editor, RealClearDefense, Washington, D.C. Read More
Guest Speaker & Book Signing
11:15am, Chevy Chase Women’s Republican Club, Columbia Country Club, Chevy Chase, MD | Members Only... Read More
Radio Interview
4:00pm, w/host Jim Fausone, Veterans Radio, Northville, MI | Listen live at http://www.waamradio.... Read More
Radio Interview
9:05pm Eastern, w/host Jon-David Wells, "The Wells Report," 660 AM The Answer, Irving, TX. Read More
Guest Speaker
11:30am, "Brownbag Talk," U.S. Army Center of Military History, 102 Fourth Ave., Fort Lesley J.... Read More
Guest Lecturer & Book Signing
Warfighting Seminar for all Regiment and Battalion Commanders, 1st Marine Division, Camp Pendleton... Read More
Live Radio Interview
5:00pm Eastern, "Midrats on Blogtalk Radio," w/hosts CDR Salamander & Eagle One | Listen at www... Read More
Guest Speaker & Book Signing
6:30pm, “Author Forum,” Army & Navy Club on Farragut Square, 901 Seventeenth St., N.W.,... Read More
Meet the Authors & Book Signings
WEST 2017, San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, CA | Check program board for signing schedule ~ Read More
Guest Luncheon Speaker & Book Signing
11:30am, NOUS-NY Commandery Luncheon, c/o Racquet & Tennis Club, 370 Park Ave., New York, NY |... Read More
"Brownbag Talk"
11:30am, "Brownbag Talk," U.S. Army Center of Military History, 102 Fourth Ave., Fort Lesley J.... Read More
Guest Lecturer & Book Signing
6:30pm, Military History Legion at the University Club, 1135 16th St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20036... Read More
30 January - Guest Speaker
6:00 PM | College of Coastal Georgia - Brunswick Campus | Brunswick, GA Read More
21 March - Speaking Engagement
AUSA Conference & Event Center | Arlington, VA | RSVP Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Customer Reviews


Conferences and Events

WEST 2019

Wed, 2019-02-13 - Fri, 2019-02-15

Sharpening the Competitive Edge: Are We Ready to Compete, Deter, and Win Globally? Wednesday, 13 February - Friday, 15 February...

2019 U.S. Naval Institute Member Event

View All

From the Press

23 January - Book Talk

Wed, 2019-01-23

9 February - Presentation

Sat, 2019-02-09

Why Become a Member of the U.S. Naval Institute?

As an independent forum for over 140 years, the Naval Institute has been nurturing creative thinkers who responsibly raise their voices on matters relating to national defense.

Become a Member Renew Membership