The Corner

Many and Small Beats Few and Large

Today on Uncommon Knowledge, John Arquilla, professor of defense analysis at the Naval Post Graduate School, and Victor Davis Hanson, Hoover Fellow and military historian.  In an era of fighting wars against networks like Al-Qaeda and the Taliban, John argues that the traditional model of sending a few large formations of troops proves clumsy, outdated, and ineffective. 

Peter Robinson: I’m quoting John, “Perhaps the best example of the many and small military that worked against foes of all sizes questioned scalability, was the Roman legion.”

John Arquilla: And the legion often had six thousand too, but the legion was assembled in checkerboard fashion and it could reconfigure and reform in many different ways that the phalanx couldn’t…Many and small, and by the way, that’s how we ended up doing a lot better in Iraq in 2004 — we started lobbying for an outpost network and talking to the insurgents themselves to get them to switch sides.

Click here.

Peter Robinson — Peter M. Robinson is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Most Popular


NATO’s Challenge Is Germany, Not America

During the recent NATO summit meeting, a rumbustious Donald Trump tore off a thin scab of niceties to reveal a deep and old NATO wound — one that has predated Trump by nearly 30 years and goes back to the end of the Cold War. In an era when the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact are now ancient history, ... Read More