On September 12, 2019, the Modern War Institute welcomed Sean McFate to West Point to participate in an MWI Speaker Series event. McFate is a professor of strategy at the National Defense University and the Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service. The author of several books, both nonfiction and fiction, his latest book is The New Rules of War: Victory in the Age of Durable Disorder.
During the event, he spoke to an audience of cadets and faculty from across the United States Military Academy about his book. “The mystery is this,” McFate said. “We have the best military in the world. Even our adversaries know this. We have the best troops, the best training, the best technology, the most money.”
So why do we struggle to win wars? To answer that question, he described some of the conclusions he reached in writing his book, including a series of principles that define the modern age of warfare. But he cautioned that the United States has struggled to recognize and adapt to the changing character of war. “The bottom line is this,” McFate emphasized. “Warfare has moved on but we have not moved on with it.”
He also explained his motives for writing the book. “I wrote these books because I was angry,” he told the audience of cadets and faculty. “I was angry because, like some of you, I have lost good friends in Iraq and Afghanistan. As a taxpayer, it sickens me to see trillions of dollars spent in those places with little to show for it, in my opinion. And as a vet, it is hateful to me to see American international honor tarnished by low-level foes.”
You can watch a video of McFate’s remarks in their entirety by clicking here.