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Parameters, the flagship journal of the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, PA, is celebrating its 50th anniversary. In an introduction to the anniversary issue, the college’s Acting Commandant, Major General David C. Hill, notes that in 50 years, the journal has published more than 1500 articles written by more than 1200 authors. Parameters, General Hill writes, “not only promotes a deeper understanding of the ‘goals, power, and policies’ of the United States, it also leans forward—anticipating and, in important ways, shaping those goals through the insights of its contributors as well as the open-mindedness of its readers.”

Since its inception, Parameters has published works by both military leaders and civilian strategists and thinkers. The inaugural issue featured articles by Lt. Col. James Agnew (about coalition warfare), former U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Hermann Eilts (about social revolution in Saudi Arabia), Lt. Col. Harold Lamp (on managerial aspects of command), and professor F. Gunther Eyck (on War Secretary Henry Stimson’s army reforms of 1911-1913).

Subsequent issues featured articles/speeches by Generals Omar Bradley (on leadership) and Maxwell Taylor, political philosopher Sidney Hook, economist Milton Friedman, military historians S.L.A. Marshall, Michael Howard, Guenter Lewy, and Russell Weigley, and civilian strategists Edward Luttwak and Colin S. Gray, and so many more. And now, a new generation of soldiers and scholars regularly contribute to Parameters.

The topics covered in Parameters were and are varied: the war in Southeast Asia, strategic nuclear doctrine, NATO’s political and military strategy, arms control, military reform, Clausewitz, Sun Tzu, civil-military relations, China’s military, military history, military education, military ethics, presidential decision making, information warfare, chemical weapons, military-media relations, terrorism, military intelligence, cyberwar, regional conflicts, and so much more.

Parameters is always timely, publishing articles in response to major events and then following up with retrospectives on those events—whether it's the Vietnam War, the nuclear freeze movement, the hostage crisis in Iran, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the 9/11 attacks, or the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The journal’s contributors have sought to understand those events and discover lessons that will help the U.S. Army in future conflicts. After all, the War College’s principal mission is to educate our future military leaders and commanders.

But Parameters is also forward looking—it publishes articles that peer into the future of warfare in an effort to prevent our armed forces from always fighting the “last war.” Its pages combine the outlook and perspective of both soldiers and scholars.

The anniversary issue, for example, leads with an article by Dr. Carol Evans, the director of the War College’s Strategic Studies Institute, on the army’s role in the Indo-Pacific, includes two articles on civil-military relations, and an excellent article by Dr. Nadia Schadlow (who served as Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategy in 2018) on U.S. national security strategy. The anniversary issue also includes several retrospective articles that analyze pieces published in Parameters in 1971.

Each issue of Parameters includes reviews of books on topics of strategy, military history, military biography, leadership, and different aspects of warfare.

The army of the 21st century, as in the past, is both a fighting and thinking force.

Francis P. Sempa is the author of Geopolitics: From the Cold War to the 21stCentury, America’s Global Role: Essays and Reviews on National Security, Geopolitics and War, and Somewhere in France, Somewhere in Germany: A Combat Soldier’s Journey through the Second World War. He has written lengthy introductions to two of Mahan’s books, and has written on historical and foreign policy topics for The Diplomat, the University Bookman, Joint Force Quarterly, the Asian Review of Books, the New York Journal of Books, the Claremont Review of Books, American Diplomacy, the Washington Times, and other publications. He is an attorney, an adjunct professor of political science at Wilkes University, and a contributing editor to American Diplomacy.

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