Terrorism on the March


Many think terrorism is on the run. It is not. The number of al Qaeda and other jihadist groups and fighters are growing, not shrinking. U.S. disengagement—or even risking the return of terrorists to the field by freeing them from detention—is not the answer to the threat they pose. Instead, U.S. strategy should be revamped, prioritizing American interests and developing a more effective, light-footprint campaign.

According to new data in a RAND report, from 2010 to 2013 the number of jihadist groups world-wide has grown by 58%, to 49 from 31; the number of jihadist fighters has doubled to a high estimate of 100,000; and the number of attacks by al Qaeda affiliates has increased to roughly 1,000 from 392. The most significant terrorism threat to the United States comes from groups operating in Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Syria. Moner Mohammad Abusalha, an American who was a member of the al Qaeda affiliate organization al-Nusra, blew himself up in Syria on March 29.

Read More Here…

Out of the Ashes


When we came up with the high concept for Out of the Ashes we did our due diligence and read all we could about the region. A few books stood out as invaluable to our work. One of the key ones was Tom Friedman’s From Beirut to Jerusalem. Here is some of the praise this book has garnered and why it guided our writing:

If you’re only going to read one book on the Middle East, this is it.”—Seymour M. Hersh

One of the most thought-provoking books ever written about the Middle East, From Beirut to Jerusalem remains vital to our understanding of this complex and volatile region of the world. Three-time Pulitzer Prize winner Thomas L. Friedman drew upon his ten years of experience reporting from Lebanon and Israel to write this now-classic work of journalism. In a new afterword, he updates his journey with a fresh discussion of the Arab Awakenings and how they are transforming the area, and a new look at relations between Israelis and Palestinians, and Israelis and Israelis. Rich with anecdote, history, analysis, and autobiography, From Beirut to Jerusalem will continue to shape how we see the Middle East for many years to come.

Helping Your Writing Shine


Writers looking for help? Evan Williams to the Rescue!

Evan Williams is at it again. Mr. Williams is sitting in an office here a mile up the road from Twitter, where he is a founder and is still a board member, working on Medium, an amorphous-sounding company that could be one more curio of the Internet age or might end up taking over the world.

So in 2012, he started Medium, a place where stories are made and read. It’s a blogging platform, and anyone can contribute, with writing on all manner of topics. The posts that gain attention, often on Twitter, are displayed prominently and gain more traction as readers and contributors weigh in. The design is responsive, meaning that no matter what you are reading on — phone, tablet or computer — it always looks pretty.

Read more here

AirSea Battle


The United States Defense Strategic Guidance notes: “This country is at a strategic turning point after a decade of war and, therefore, we are shaping a Joint Force for the future that will be smaller and leaner, but will be agile, flexible, ready, and technologically advanced. It will have cutting-edge capabilities, exploiting our technological, joint, and networked advantage.”

The AirSea Battle Concept undergirds how the United States will fight and win in the face of a substantial anti-access/area-denial threat. The Joint Operational Access Concept (JOAC) describes in broad terms the vision for how joint forces will operate in response to emerging anti-access and area-denial security challenges. Due to three major trends – the growth of anti-access and area-denial capabilities around the globe, the changing U.S. overseas defense posture, and the emergence of space and cyberspace as contested domains – future enemies, both states and non-states, see the adoption of anti-access/ area-denial strategies against the United States as a favorable course of action for them.

Read more about AirSea Battle and where it plays in our national security on the Defense Media Website here

TODAY marks the 100th Anniversary of the beginning of World War I. My friend and colleague, Dr. Ed Whitman, and I share the opinion that World War I was the greatest misfortune that ever befell Western civilization. His insightful analysis follows:


The lamps are going out all over Europe; we shall not see them lit again in our lifetime.

Sir Edward Grey (1867-1933)

(remark, 3 August 1914, on the eve of Britain’s declaration of war against Germany)

The War was decided in the first twenty days of fighting, and all that happened afterwards consisted of battles which, however formidable and devastating, were but desperate and vain appeals against the decision of Fate.

Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965)

(Preface to Spears, Liaison 1914)

Napoleon had said it was rare to find generals willing to fight battles. The curse [of World War I] was that so few could do anything else.

T. E. Lawrence (“of Arabia,” 1888-1933)

(The Science of Guerilla Warfare)

When every autumn people said it could not last through the winter, and when every spring there was still no end in sight, only the hope that out of it all some good would accrue to mankind kept men and nations fighting. When at last it was over, the war had many diverse results and one dominant one transcending all others: disillusion.

Barbara Tuchman (1912-1989)

(The Guns of August, “Afterward”)

Although many consider the opening act of World War I to be the assassination of Austrian

Archduke Franz Ferdinand at Sarajevo – its centennial was just a month ago (28 June) – the first actual declaration of war took place a hundred years ago today, when Austria-Hungary initiated hostilities against Serbia, after the latter rejected a draconian Austrian ultimatum intended to give Austria a free hand in bringing Franz Ferdinand’s killers to account. As a result, Russia – self-appointed protector of the “South Slavs” – mobilized against Austria, which panicked the Germans (fearful of a two-front war against both France and her Russian ally) and so it went…

28 July Austria declares war on Serbia

1 August Germany declares war on Russia

3 August Germany declares war on France

4 August Germany invades Belgium (to attack France)

England declares war on Germany in support of Belgium

6 August Austria-Hungary declares war on Russia

Serbia declares war on Germany

11 August France declares war on Austria-Hungary

12 August England declares war on Austria-Hungary**

After Germany’s long-intended encirclement of Paris (under the Schlieffen plan) was thwarted by the French and British in the Battle of the Marne, the struggle on the Western Front devolved into a four-year stalemate in which the principal protagonists faced off across a line of trenches that ran from the North Sea to the Swiss border. Despite the unprecedented bloodbath that ensued, virtually no additional ground was gained by either side before the end of the conflict in November 1918.

Despite the “war-guilt” clauses of the Treaty of Versailles, which held Germany largely responsible for the hostilities and imposed extraordinary penalties and reparations, the causes of the war have been debated endlessly for most of the last century. Of the dozen or so books on the subject, two recent ones have been particularly insightful: The Sleepwalkers by Christopher Clark (Harper’s, 2013) and The War That Ended Peace – The Road to 1914 by Margaret MacMillan (Random House, 2013).

Although there was certainly enough blame to go around, it was primarily Austria-Hungary that caused the catastrophe because of her reckless determination to settle long-standing scores with Serbia.

Be that as it may… One could argue that World War I was the greatest misfortune that ever befell Western civilization. It destroyed the West’s belief in inevitable human progress. It brought down the Austro-Hungarian, German, Russian, and Ottoman empires, bankrupted France and England, and put the British Empire on the skids. It was the proximate cause of the triumph of Communism in Russia and the formation of the Soviet Union, drove the United States into two decades of international isolation, and instilled in Germany a thirst for revenge that led directly to the rise of the Nazis and World War II.\ Moreover, in the Middle East, Britain’s and France’s cack-handed and self-serving division of the remains of the Ottoman Empire was largely responsible for all the turmoil we suffer there today.

Upon learning the terms of the Versailles treaty, Germany’s deposed Kaiser Wilhelm II (1859-1941) is supposed to have remarked from his exile in Holland, “The war to end war has resulted in a peace to end peace.”

What Motivates Us?


What motivates us? For many that is one of life’s mysteries – and those who crack the code seem to be vastly more happy and successful.

Two highly-credentialed researchers address this question in their recent New York Times article, “The Secret of Effective Motivation.” Here’s what they say:

There are two kinds of motive for engaging in any activity: internal and instrumental. If a scientist conducts research because she wants to discover important facts about the world, that’s an internal motive, since discovering facts is inherently related to the activity of research. If she conducts research because she wants to achieve scholarly renown, that’s an instrumental motive, since the relation between fame and research is not so inherent. Often, people have both internal and instrumental motives for doing what they do.

What mix of motives — internal or instrumental or both — is most conducive to success? You might suppose that a scientist motivated by a desire to discover facts and by a desire to achieve renown will do better work than a scientist motivated by just one of those desires. Surely two motives are better than one. But as we and our colleagues argue in a paper newly published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, instrumental motives are not always an asset and can actually be counterproductive to success.

What motives you?

Read more here…

Art Under the Umbrellas


Coronado celebrates “Art under the umbrellas on Saturday August 2, 2014 from 10 AM to 4 PM at Coronado’s Spreckeles Park. Read more about this event here.

The Coronado Council of the Arts has featured my books at several previous events. An article from their recent web post here.

At this event I’ll be talking about several of my books, among them:

  • Leave No Man Behind: The Saga of Combat Search and Rescue
  • Tom Clancy Presents: Act of Valor – New York Times Best Seller
  • The Kissing Sailor – Amazon and Barnes and Noble Best Seller
  • Tom Clancy’s Op-Center: Out of the Ashes – Publisher’s Weekly Best Seller

Join us!

Write, Right


There are likely as many “beginning writers” as there are established writers. A few beginning writers hit pay dirt the first time. Many, many others struggle for a protracted time.

In this New York Times “Bookends” piece, two established writers, Anna Holmes and Leslie Johnson answer the important question: “When you started out, was there anything you used to do as a writer you now regret?” Just to whet your appetite:


I regret many things, including, but not limited to:

  • Inserting myself into reported narratives where I didn’t belong.

  • Crafting long, complex sentences that I thought made me sound intelligent and sophisticated.

  • Assuming that aggressive, masculine-sounding prose was the ideal style of writing because it was so frequently rewarded in my literature and composition classes.

  • Taking too long to get to the point.


When I started writing autobiographical nonfiction, I was mainly using these early slivers of memoir to purge all kinds of guilt and self-loathing and shame. I was writing almost exclusively about the parts of myself I liked least — or the situations I most regretted. These were the aspects of my life that carried the most urgency, and I was convinced that confessing them was the only way to achieve a sense of authenticity — to escape the trap of self-aggrandizement. They were the ragged edges, the loose threads. I wanted to follow them. I felt an urge to articulate every notion or impulse I’d ever had. I thought this would earn my readers’ trust. I wouldn’t make myself look good, and — in this refusal — I would make myself look honest. But it usually turned out more like this: I just made myself utterly unlikable.

Read more here

The Tipping Point


Ballistic missiles armed with WMD threaten America today…and the U.S. Navy is at the tipping point of leading the nation’s defense against this threat.

The Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States provided a dramatic warning that even the “world’s hegemon,” as America was called by some, was not invulnerable to threats against the homeland. As Americans, their elected officials, and the intelligence and military communities evaluated 21st century threats, the assessment was clear. Absent terrorists operating on American soil, the one existential threat to the nation was the rapidly growing number of states and other actors who already possessed – or were developing – chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and who also possessed, or were developing, ballistic missiles to carry these weapons great distances. In the decade-plus since those 9/11 attacks, rogue nations such as Iran and North Korea have, in fact, developed and in some cases launched ballistic missiles, often designed to intimidate their neighbors.

For the nation, the military, and especially for the Navy, the need to develop robust defenses against this threat was as clear as it was compelling. Under the overarching stewardship of the United States Missile Defense Agency (and its predecessor agencies) this new emphasis accelerated ballistic missile defense development. Like the German buzz-bombs and Japanese Kamikaze attacks during World War II, Americans were reminded once again of the potential of missile attack from the air, both to forward-deployed forces as well as the homeland.

Read more here on the Defense Media Network website

We Write!

Writing Techniques

Here is a question aspiring writers sometimes ask themselves: Who owns the story, the person who lives it or the person who writes it? In her piece, “The Right to Write,” Roxanna Robinson sheds some light on why we write:

Writers are trying to reach some understanding of the world, and we do this by setting down stories. We draw on our own experience, but, since that includes everything we encounter, this means drawing on others’ stories as well. Shakespeare didn’t limit himself to writing about the life of an uneducated actor from Stratford-on-Avon. He felt he had the right to write about anyone – kings, queens, fools, servants, any age and any gender, any background, any race. Many of his stories came from other sources, but he imagined the lives and the minds of these characters so completely that he earned the right to tell their stories.

A writer is like a tuning fork: We respond when we’re struck by something. The thing is to pay attention, to be ready for radical empathy. If we empty ourselves of ourselves we’ll be able to vibrate in synchrony with something deep and powerful. If we’re lucky we’ll transmit a strong pure note, one that isn’t ours, but which passes through us. If we’re lucky, it will be a note that reverberates and expands, one that other people will hear and understand.

Read more here