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From the Hollow Force to the Behemoth: American Strategic Thought in the US Army from 1970-1988

Furse, T. (2022). From the Hollow Force to the Behemoth: American Strategic Thought in the US Army from 1970-1988. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


This thesis investigates the US army’s change from attrition to maneuver warfare in the 1970s and 1980s. It follows how a group of army officers enabled the US army and NATO forces to fight in maneuver warfare across the world through a change of strategic thought. These officers, such as Donn Starry, Don Morelli, Bill Richardson, Huba Wass de Czege, Paul Gorman, and Mike Malone, among others, were Vietnam veterans who wrote the Active Defense and, more significantly, the AirLand Battle Doctrine to respond to the organic crisis of US hegemony in the Cold War. Much of the current literature is biased toward civilian input in strategy, making the army appear intellectually subordinate and deficient. This thesis explores how these officers drew on the social sciences, business management theory, futurology, and the post-industrial political economy to create strategic thought. This influence encouraged this group to write military doctrine, so the army, especially officers, took the initiative on the battlefield and fought with speed and skill, not through mass force, firepower, and attrition. This distinctively interdisciplinary thesis works across intellectual history and International Relations to reimagine the US army as a violent and intellectual force. It takes a neo-Gramscian approach to explain that these officers were organic intellectuals who, through their ideas, recalibrated US hegemony and ensured that the army remained a significant feature of American power after the Vietnam War. These officers were intellectuals that thought and practiced their ideas to support hegemonic structures.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: E History America > E11 America (General)
U Military Science > U Military Science (General)
Departments: School of Policy & Global Affairs > International Politics
[thumbnail of Furse Thesis 2023 PDF-A.pdf] Text - Accepted Version
This document is not freely accessible until 31 July 2026 due to copyright restrictions.


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