Chris Bassford


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Chris Bassford graduated with Honors from the College of William and Mary for a dissertation on tactical nuclear weapons. He obtained an MA in American diplomatic history from the Ohio University before serving five years on active duty as a U.S. Army field artillery officer, with tours in Korea and Germany. He then completed a Ph.D. in modern European history at Purdue University before accepting an Olin postdoctoral fellowship in national security studies at the Ohio State University. Subsequently, he was director of studies in the theory and nature of war at the U.S. Marine Corps Command and Staff College, then associate professor of National Policy Issues at the U.S. Army War College. He returned to the Marine Corps orbit as a concepts and doctrine analyst for Marine Corps Combat Developments Command. He is presently Professor of Strategy at the National War College, in Washington, DC. As an independent consultant, writer, and lecturer, he has spoken at schools as varied as UVA's Darden School of Business and the George C. Marshall Center for European Security Studies, in Garmisch, Germany. 

Dr. Bassford has written scholarly studies, military doctrine, and articles for the popular press. He is the author of several books, including The Spit-Shine Syndrome: Organizational Irrationality in the American Field Army (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1988) and Clausewitz in English: The Reception of Clausewitz in Britain and America, 1815-1945 (Oxford University Press, 1994). He is one of the editors of the Boston Consulting Group's business-oriented Clausewitz On Strategy: Inspiration and Insight from a Master Strategist (New York: Wiley, 2001), and also edited Carl von Clausewitz and Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, On Waterloo: Clausewitz, Wellington, and the Campaign of 1815 (, 2010). As a Marine Corps concepts and doctrine writer he authored MCDP 1-1, Strategy, MCDP 1-2, Campaigning, and MCWP 5-1, Marine Corps Planning (Draft) and participated in the writing of several other USMC and Joint concepts and doctrinal publications. 

Bassford is the internet editor of The Clausewitz Homepage, a large educational website that focuses on the German military philosopher Carl von Clausewitz. His own work on Clausewitz concentrates on the evolution of Clausewitz's reception, reputation, and impact in the English-speaking world. He is particularly interested in the relationship between Clausewitzian theory and concepts from the field of nonlinear science, a field which is having a great impact on modern thinkers in areas ranging from subatomic physics to economics, archaeology, and evolutionary biology. His current focus is the possible nexus between modern evolutionary theory and the effective use of "big picture" history in strategic education and thought.


Current: Professor of Strategy, National War College, Washington D.C., 1999-present.

Senior Analyst (USMC) via Computing Technologies, Inc. (COTS) and Universal Systems & Technology, Inc. (UNITECH), 1996-1999. (UNITECH has been acquired by Lockheed Martin and evidently no longer exists as an entity.)
     Award citation, COTS Employee of the Year, 1997

Associate Professor of National Policy Issues, U.S. Army War College, Carlisle, PA, 1994-96.

Assistant Professor of National Security Affairs and Director of Studies in the Theory and Nature of War, USMC Command and Staff College, Quantico, VA, 1992-94.

Olin Postdoctoral Fellow in Military History and National Security Studies, Ohio State University, 1991-92.

History Instructor, Purdue University, 1989-91.

Officer, United States Army Field Artillery, 1981-86. (Tours in Korea, Germany; highest rank held: Captain.)


Ph.D., Modern European History, Purdue University, August 1991
Dissertation: "The Reception of Clausewitzian Theory in Anglo­American Military Thought, 1815-1945" (517pp)

M.A., American Diplomatic History, Ohio University, 1981

B.A., History, College of William and Mary, 1978
Academic Honors for thesis: "Tactical Nuclear Weapons: An Introduction for the General Reader" (136pp)



The Spit­Shine Syndrome: Organizational Irrationality in the American Field Army (Westport,CT: Greenwood Press, 1988). See description.

Clausewitz in English: The Reception of Clausewitz in Britain and America, 1815-1945 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994). History Book Club selection. (See full text on-line.)

Editor, with Bolko von Oettinger and Tiha von Ghyczy, Clausewitz on Strategy: Inspiration and Insight from a Master Strategist (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 2001). Also published in German, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, and Russian.

Clausewitz: Strategie Denken (Münich: Hanser Verlag, 2001).
クラウゼヴィッツの戦略思考 ― 『戦争論』に学ぶリーダーシップと決断の質 (単行本) ティーハ・ フ ォン ギーツィー (著), クリストファー バ ス フォード (著), ボルコ・フォン アーティンガー 著 , 原著, 原著, 原著, ボス ト ンコンサルティンググループ (翻訳), 翻訳.
전쟁과 경영  클라우제비츠에게 배우는 전략의 지혜 (양장본)
보스턴컨설팅그룹 전략연구소 엮음 | 21 세기북스 펴냄 | 원제.  
Clausewitz e a Estratégia (Rio de Janeiro: Editora Campus Ltda., 2002).
Clausewitz o strategii (Warsaw: PWE, 2002).
Стратегия управления по Клаузевицу, Предисловие института стратегии, 2002.
Clausewitz ve Strateji, Yayinevi: Optimist Yayın Dağıtım Baskı Tarih: Şubat 2010

Editor, with translators Daniel Moran and Gregory W. Pedlow, Carl von Clausewitz and Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, On Waterloo: Clausewitz, Wellington, and the Campaign of 1815 (, 2010).


Editor, The Clausewitz Homepage , URL:

Program Director, National War College "Empires" Evening Speaker Series.

"The Relationship Between Political Objectives and Military Objectives in War." Co-authored with Col B.A. Andrews, USAF. PowerPoint slideshow for faculty training, 2005-2012.

Working paper, “Tiptoe Through the Trinity, or, The Strange Persistence of Trinitarian Warfare.”

USMC Doctrine:

Contributor, MCDP 1, Warfighting, 1997.

Author, MCDP 1-1, Strategy, 1997. Full original draft on-line as Policy, Politics, War, and Military Strategy (revised 2006) at URL:

Author, MCDP 1-2, Campaigning, 1997. (This is a thorough revision of FMFM 1-1, Campaigning, 1990.)

Contributor, MCDP 1-3, Tactics (1997)

Author, MCWP 5-1, Marine Corps Planning (Draft).

Author, MCWP 2-15.3, Ground Reconnaissance Operations (Draft, 1998)

Author, MCWP 3-2, Aviation Operations (Coordinating Draft, 1998)


Biographical essay, "Carl von Clausewitz," in Frank N. Magill, ed., Great Lives from History: Renaissanceto 1900 (Pasadena: Salem Press, 1989).

"Cohesion, Personnel Stability, and the German Model," Military Review, October 1990.

"Wellington on Clausewitz," in Gordon C. Bond and John Rooney, Jr., The Consortium on Revolutionary Europe, 1750-1850: Proceedings, 1992 (Tallahassee, FL: Florida State University, 1993).

"John Keegan and the Grand Tradition of Trashing Clausewitz," War in History, November 1994.

"Reclaiming the Clausewitzian Trinity," Parameters, Autumn 1995.

Review essay, Carl von Clausewitz, On War (various translations and editions; originally published, 1832).Defense Analysis, June 1996.

"Doctrinal Complexity: Nonlinearity in Marine Corps Doctrine," in F.G. Hoffman and Gary Horne, eds., Maneuver Warfare Science, United States Marine Corps Combat Development Command, 1998.

"Clausewitz, General Philipp Gottlieb von," in William E. Simon, ed., Professional Military Education in the United States (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2000).

“The Primacy of Policy and the ‘Trinity’ in Clausewitz's Mature Thought,” in Hew Strachan and Andreas Herberg-Rothe, eds., Clausewitz in the Twenty-First Century (Oxford University Press, 2007), pp.74-90.

"The Strange Persistence of Trinitarian Warfare," in Ralph Rotte and Christopher Schwarz, International Security and War: Policy and Grand Strategy in the 21st Century (New York: Nova Science, 2011).

"Introduction," to Carl von Clausewitz and Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, et al., On Waterloo: Clausewitz, Wellington, and the Campaign of 1815 (, 2010), pp.1-13.

"Clausewitz in America Today," Clausewitz Gesellschaft, Reiner Pommerin, ed., Clausewitz Goes Global: Carl von Clausewitz in the 21st Century [Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the Clausewitz Society] (Berlin: Carola Hartmann Miles Verlag, 2011), pp.342-356.

Book Reviews:

Theodore Roosevelt, The Naval War of 1812 (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1987 [originally published 1882]); James Pack, The Man Who Burned the White House (Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 1987), in Indiana Journal of Military History, vol.13, no.3 (1988).

John B. Hattendorf, England in the War of the Spanish Succession: A Study of the English View and Conduct of Grand Strategy, 1702­1712 (New York: Garland, 1987), in The International History Review, vol.X, no.4 (November 1988).

Charles W. Ingrao, The Hessian Mercenary State: Ideas, Institutions, and Reform Under Frederick II, 1760­1785 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), in The International History Review, vol.XI, no.2 (May 1989).

Charles C. Moskos and Frank R. Wood, eds., The Military: More Than Just a Job? (London: Pergamon­Brassey's, 1988), in the Journal of Political and Military Sociology, vol.17, no.1 (Spring­Summer 1989).

Carl von Clausewitz, eds./trans. Peter Paret and Daniel Moran, Historical and Political Writings (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), The International History Review, vol.XIV, no.4 (November 1992).

Peter Paret, Understanding War: Essays on Clausewitz and the History of Military Power(Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1992), The International History Review, vol.XVI, no.3 (August 1994).

Jan F. Triska, The Great War’s Forgotten Front: A Soldier’s Diary and a Son’s Reflections (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998), The Austrian History Yearbook, v.XXX (1999).

Victor Davis Hanson, Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power (New York: Doubleday, 2001), The Clausewitz Homepage, 15 January 2003.

"Reviewing a Reviewer: Puzzling over Gregg Easterbrook's review of Jared Diamond.", 2005.

Newspaper Articles
[NOTE: I am not responsible for the sometimes misleading titles of these pieces.]

"Our Military Defeats Itself," Newsday, 11 September 1988.

"How the Military Boosts the Nation's Social Goals," Newsday, 6 October 1989.

"What Do We Have to Do? Topple Hussein," Newsday, 5 August 1990.

"And Keep the Political Ends in Mind," Los AngelesTimes, 5 September 1990.

"A Job for the American Military," Chicago Tribune, 10 October 1990.

"War Protesters March to Wrong Drummer," Newsday, 16 November 1990.

"What Wars Can We Find for the Military Now?" Newsday, 17 September 1991.

"Somalia Puzzle: Can We Get Out?" Newsday, 8 December 1992.

"Victories Now Are as Heroic as Those Past," Newsday, 3 May 1994.

"Unity Over Using Troops is Rare," Newsday, 7 December 1995.

"Europe, Not `Indian Country,' Shapes the Army," Newsday, 26 September 1996.

"Dole's Loss Was World War II's Final Bow," Newsday, 11 November 1996.

"Use Brains, Not Fears, to Set Bosnia Policy," Newsday, 25 September 1997.

"Ryan Shows the Ugly Truth About War's Violence," Newsday, 3 September 1998.

"Reviving Draft Would Wound the Nation," Newsday, 2 December 1998.

"We Have To Go All Out In Kosovo," Newsday, 13 April 1999.

"Kerry Case Should Be Case Study," Newsday, 29 May 2001.

“U.S. Must Conquer Delusions on Fighting Terrorism,” Newsday, 19 September 2001

War View: We can’t predict the outcome but action is vital,” BBC News, 26 October 2001.

"We're At War And It's World War IV," Newsday, 14 January 2003.

"Bushies Vex U.S. Military—but It Isn't War," Newsday, 3 February 2004.

"Bringing Real Life to American Strategy in Afghanistan," Small Wars Journal, 3 March 2012.