Read these Reviews:
Author and War Correspondent
‘These pages do
encourage creative thinking’.
Dr Keith Suter
Author and Broadcaster
‘I found The
Defence Theory of Relativity analytical, critical, stimulating, persuasive and
an attractive read’.
General Peter Cosgrove
Australian Chief of the Defence Force
2002 - 2005
By the early 1980s, Brian cooper was the Colonel Operations at
Headquarters Field Force Command at Victoria Barracks in
This didn’t necessarily achieve the best outcomes for those who would,
one day, once again, be required to enter the fray on
His collected essays, The Defence Theory of Relativity, written in
conjunction with a number of his distinguished peers who held similar views, is
his legacy of his military thought, his treatise arguing where we should be
heading in an increasingly dangerous and unstable world.
Several of the pieces are formal submissions to official enquiries and
reviews and therefore not entirely suited to the casual reader.
To the veritable army of armchairs strategists however they should be
required reading and the book should have its place on the library shelves of
any serious student of military affairs.
What Cooper aspires to achieve, as he has done throughout his career and
into his fruitful retirement, is to encourage debate about the state of
Agree or disagree with his arguments and conclusions, that is no bad
In future generations we may well be grateful to the Brian Coopers of the
world who believe it important enough that the debate about military affairs
should be robust and wide ranging.
Foreword by General Peter Cosgrove, AC, MC
first met Brian Cooper back in 1980 when I worked for him in what was then known
as Headquarters Field Force Command at Victoria Barracks Sydney.
Brian was then the Colonel (Operations).
This was a very important job because in those earlier times, there were
not the layers of headquarters and lines of command that presently exist in the
Australian Defence Force. Simply, if
the Army needed to do a job of work either operational or some specific peace
time project somewhat out of the ordinary, then the Colonel (Operations) at
Victoria barracks in Sydney would be the principal staff officer who would plan,
direct and monitor its execution. Brian
was a very good boss and I learned a great deal from him.
In those days what shone through was his good humour, great wisdom and
experience and his considerable pragmatism.
When he eventually retired we all of us saw a totally different dimension
to Brian Cooper. Within months he
had become the keenest analyst and student of defence and security issues, a
prolific writer on those issues and in all of that the most splendid catalyst to
challenge orthodoxy, eminent opinion and the obfuscatory effects of modern
many other readers of this excellent collection of essays, analyses and think
pieces, in the past I spent many stimulating and pleasurable moments reading
Brian's literary contributions to strategic and defence conceptual debate over
the preceding years. He remains both
balanced and from time to time appropriately pungent.
He combines good humour and keenly drawn criticism of woolly thinking and
humbug. Brian is that rare creature
among the defence commentariat -- he has a deep and admirable expertise as a
practitioner. His analysis of
systems, platforms, processes and behaviour has the ring of truth based on
experience. I agree with a great deal of what he proposes.
found The Defence Theory of Relativity
analytical, critical, stimulating, persuasive and an attractive read.
You will too. I congratulate
Brian and those. with whom he has collaborated most warmly on this significant
contribution to issues vital to
Read this review:
a privilege to launch a book, particularly one like The Defence Theory of
Relativity. I have known Brian
(Curly) Cooper for at least two decades and knew of him before that.
Defence Theory of Relativity is a worthy follow on (to Brian’s first book
the Diaries of Genghis Khan). It
is in four parts, each confined to a specific chapter.
The first discuses strategy and theory. Principles
of war, the RMA, different types of warfare … the issue of command … the
language of war … he also goes on to say that war is not an academic matter.
Indeed I suspect that most of today’s theorists are just that. I
found this quite a refreshing section. The
second chapter deals with
assessment. Must read; written by
one of the few original military writers in the country; evocative; challenges
convention; and clear, direct and simple.
General John Hartley
President Royal United Services Institute of
Most people with whom I
have come in contact over the years have taught me something. Some have shown me
things I should do while others have shown the opposite. I thank them all. In
particular, thanks must be given to the Inter Service Discussion Group [ISDG],
an unofficial meeting of a few officers of lieutenant colonel equivalent rank,
which met for lunch one day a week in
I am indebted to General
Peter Cosgrove who has served his country so well for his very complimentary
foreword. Brigadier John
Essex-Clark, Dr Keith Suter, Brigadier Jim Wallace and Dr Michael McKinley are
also deserving of my thanks for their perceptive introductions to the chapters
in the book.
I would like to record my
appreciation to all at Zeus Publications for deciding to publish The
Defence Theory of Relativity. In particular, my thanks to Chief Editor,
Marilyn Higgins, my Editor, Julie Winzar, and Clive Dalkins for the cover
Finally, but by no means least, my thanks to my wife Echo, who forgave me all the time I spent with my computer, and to my sons Glenn, Garth and Scott for their critical reviews and their specific contribution to Chapter 2.
Defence Theory of Relativity
Theory of Relativity states that a nation’s military ability to defeat a
defence threat is relative to the structure of its defence force, the morale and
fighting ability of its troops, the quantity and effectiveness of its weapon
systems, its ability to sustain the force and its adherence to the principles of
The House of Caladan
Military Strategy and Theory
national strategy is in essence a survival statement.
author is concerned that this process can lead to an academic and remote
approach to warfighting (the latest buzz word for ’battle’ or ‘combat’)
that can avoid the reality that battle is visceral, bloody and confused, and
that winning tactics consist of killing with ruthlessness, cunning and speed,
coupled with quick action and reaction, irrespective of the modern capabilities
of information technology and weaponry. He challenges his readers with his
hypothesis that war has changed little in its essence of destruction of the
enemy forces, or their will to win. He further warns us of the dangers of an
academic approach that can dismiss so readily the killing, noise, fear, courage,
confusion, intellectual intensity, and reality of the battlefield. He warns us
of the danger of believing that the essence of battle has changed or could be
softened by replacing old terminology with new, or putting ‘old wine into new
bottles’ and making warfare sound too simple and too easy.
challenges the belief that warfighting has been significantly changed by modern
equipment coupled to the so-called ‘Revolution in Military Affairs’ (RMA),
‘transformation’, asymmetric warfare, and ‘network-centricity’, and the
dangers of thinking so. He uses the writings of past strategic thinkers such as
Sun Tzu, Carl von Clausewitz, Basil Liddell Hart, Robert Leonhard, and Hans
Guderian’s Blitzkreig (‘Lightning war’), plus others, to drive his
author also feels that many modern writers seem to believe that warfighting is a
management science and forget that winning in battle is an art
that has an absolute need for
good dynamic, motivating leaders with positive strategies and tactics to command
the forces used to implement any military strategy. He describes the essence of
this need for sound leadership by giving historical examples of successful
leaders and their campaigns. In this chapter the author analyses and condenses
the principles of war and also manages to compress a potted
known history of warfare
that would interest many
younger potential historians and whet their appetites for further study.
sure the author would respect any academic writers who pick up the gauntlet and
respond to his challenges to much of today’s writings on warfare. In
particular, he would welcome responses from those who promote the current RMA
theory that wars will now be won by the use of information technology (IT), new
weapons’ destructive capability and accuracy, and greater speed of action and
reaction. Perhaps the second ‘pacification’ phase of the current war in Iraq
where so many theorists thought, with hope, that RMA plus the
‘softly-softly’ new counter-revolutionary warfare doctrine would be
successful, may have now opened the eyes of many warfighting theorists.
Cooper, an ardent warfare-realist, asks us to invite the past into our present
thinking and refrain from naďvely ‘reinventing the wheel’, especially by
those, academics or serving officers, who may have much operational but little
or no combat experience.
a nutshell – that’s his challenge to all of us.
THE PRINCIPLES OF WAR
has always been fought in the four dimensions of breadth, depth, height
[airspace] and time, but the relative importance of each dimension has changed
over the years, as has the mobility and the capacity of land forces to manoeuvre
changed with the domestication of animals and improvements in technology.
warfare was linear in nature with little or no depth, employing some cavalry but
relying on masses of low mobility infantry armed with weapons such as the pike,
spear, javelin, sword, sling and bow. Although chariots were in use they were
used mainly for transport and most fighting was carried out dismounted. The only
manoeuvring involved was to find a suitable place for battle and the timing
requirement was to attack and destroy the enemy before he could destroy you.
Although the Greeks with their phalanx gave some depth to the battlefield, the first real depth in deployment for battle came with the Romans and the Legions, with their fortified camps and the employment of field fortifications in battle. However, while they used light missile engines as field artillery in conjunction with their field fortifications they lacked mobility being slow in the introduction of effective cavalry. It was not until late in the 4th Century CE at the Battle of Adrianople that they recognised how important it was. The legion was finished as an offensive instrument and was replaced by heavy cavalry as the main reliance of the army. The heavy infantry was to play a defensive role, in which it provided a base for manoeuvre by cavalry and light infantry.
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