Department of Defense History Marshall Net Assessment

Andrew Marshall and His Quest for Questions

By Mie Augier and Wayne Hughes


In the outpouring of appreciation following the passing of Andrew W. Marshall, many people paid tribute to totally different elements of his work, to include understanding the weaknesses of the Soviet financial system, internet evaluation as a mind-set, and the emerging energy of China. His many associates and admirers needed to offer credit the place credit is due.

This temporary word complements the various tributes. We goal to seize parts of how he was considering greater than what he was considering. We emphasize a number of key traits: How he seen the world, the character of his interdisciplinary thoughts that targeted on the significance of questions, and reflections on what future generations of students and practitioners can study from and be inspired by.

Already in his youth, Marshall had a very open mind, an enduring appreciation for historical past, and a Midwestern humbleness and modesty that stayed with him.1 As a toddler, he learn extensively at the public library, and bought books when he received a bit cash. All the time respectful of people, he treated everybody alike; ideas and considering had no rank or titles. Dwelling by means of the melancholy and interwar years, he was conscious of the broad societal and geopolitical underpinnings and implications of conflict and peace, and the centrality of human nature. He came close to turning into an educational after learning at the University of Chicago with scholars akin to Milton Friedman, Frank Knight, and Rudolf Carnap (and assembly other emerging social scientists reminiscent of Herbert Simon and Kenneth Arrow).

But his interests have been all the time broader than what one or two disciplines might encompass. At RAND, he discovered an establishment that would accommodate his broad range of pursuits and his passion for helping the nation assume higher about issues associated to nationwide security, and the place he might start creating an intellectual framework for that. There he discovered people with comparable and complementary interests similar to Herman Kahn, Herbert Goldhamer, Nathan Leites, and James Schlesinger. He also came to see the importance of organizations both as a lens for understanding the conduct of countries and nationwide safety players, and additionally as facilitators (or typically, inhibitors) of higher strategic considering.

A Quest for Questions

Andy Marshall’s work at RAND offered essential insights into key strategic issues – a spotlight that he would proceed and develop later on the Pentagon. For instance, he developed the early parts of the long term competitors framework, and worked with Graham Allison, James March, and others to develop totally different lenses (rational, organizational, and bureaucratic) for understanding governmental determination making. He was involved within the early developments of state of affairs planning and wargaming workouts at RAND that emerged largely in response to other major developments at RAND: methods evaluation and recreation concept.

What is necessary isn’t just what he did and the studies he worked on or who he mentored, but in addition how his character and fashion helped him assume the best way he did. Underlying Marshall’s perspective was an emphasis on questions. Specializing in questions helps one get the suitable analysis of a state of affairs because one is much less inclined to strengthen what one already believes, and researching the empirical issues one is naturally led to also cross disciplinary boundaries. As he started to look into educational underpinnings for long term technique and strategic considering, he started to challenge present methods of excited about technique and conduct to develop a broader view.

Essential in Marshall’s thoughts was the centrality of human nature and insights from organizational conduct. Very early on, Marshall and his close good friend Herman Kahn would go on long walks on the weekend within the Brentwood area, speaking concerning the importance of human nature to know conflicts. Many colleagues at RAND didn’t share their enthusiasm for making an attempt to generate empirical insights, preferring as an alternative to use present principle – particularly techniques evaluation. Over time, Marshall discovered research from bio-social anthropology, zoology, psychology, organizational conduct, business strategy, and cultural studies to be helpful in creating insights about how culture influences people, organizations, and the conduct of groups, which was typically fairly totally different from theories of opponents’ strategic cultures. He engaged the work of Lionel Tiger and Robin Fox on understanding ‘men in groups.’

Within the 1960s, Marshall began a decades-long friendship with James Schlesinger, who started as Marshall’s research assistant at RAND, recent out of the economics program at Harvard. The two of them embarked on a mission to develop broader strategic considering at RAND and insights into how the Soviet Union actually worked, as opposed to how it behaved in accordance with recreation concept and techniques evaluation. They used parts of different conceptual frameworks including the studies of Herbert Simon, Richard Cyert, James March, and the psycho-cultural works of Nathan Leites. They prompt establishing a program or even a division of organizational conduct at RAND. They have been satisfied that a broader understanding of the Soviet Union would lead to understanding how poorly our intelligence estimates of the Soviet financial system actually have been. They studied organizations both as a lens to know our opponents and as one thing that might help develop higher strategic thinkers.

As anyone who has tried to integrate work from totally different disciplines is aware of, mixing totally different perspectives whereas maintaining the diagnostic focus could be very troublesome. Centripetal forces of academic disciplines meant working inside single disciplines would produce failing prescriptions. Thus for Marshall, it might have been simpler to ‘give in,’ but he all the time cared more about getting helpful insights, not educational or political approval of his personal profession or bureaucratic survival. “We are here to inform, not to please,” he’d say.

He didn’t waver in difficult us, and himself, to consider nationwide security within the broadest sense. No single principle or perspective has it right. Marshall believed if one seems for just one dominant perspective, one runs the danger of producing a educated incapacity for strategy and strategic considering. He and Schlesinger considered this in the context of RAND, for instance in advising the then-incoming president, Harry Rowen, how one can restructure and higher arrange RAND. Rowen wrote to Secretary of Protection Robert McNamara about his group’s strengths and weaknesses, and Marshall and Schlesinger wrote several memos on how you can get higher strategic considering at RAND along with a few of the organizational developments to concentrate on.2

Their emphasis on the importance of long term, interdisciplinary considering is simply as essential for assume tanks and instructional establishments right now. These problems with how Marshall considered issues are central to his later improvement of internet assessment as an interdisciplinary strategy.

Legacies and Classes

Pursuing higher empirical insights into strategic issues was for Marshall a lifelong calling, along with his distinguished career of public service and time at RAND. While we will by no means replicate his considering, his legacy provides us many issues to think about and build on for the longer term, whether or not within the schooling of future strategists, in our personal considering and doing strategy, and in our service as U.S. residents. Marshal’s work consists of many profound lessons.

Understanding the world as it’s, not as how we’d wish it to be. Marshall discovered it essential that we strategy strategic points from quite a lot of perspectives, including national and organizational culture and demography, as necessary drivers of the longer term strategic setting.three

Finding value in outlier ideas – and in others’ concepts usually. This may increasingly sound simple, however it isn’t straightforward, as a result of it implies all the time questioning one’s personal beliefs. Seeing past one’s own favourite perspectives, concepts, and biases implies all the time questioning one’s own considering. Questioning oneself is just not most individuals’s favourite activity. But it is crucial each as a method to achieve better insights and to foster revolutionary considering in others. He thought organizations typically are likely to edge out individuals with totally different ideas. John Boyd is an example of an progressive thinker and outlier who Marshall thought extremely of.

Appreciation for understanding and gaming unthinkable futures. Marshall knew from his days at RAND that we’d like not simply understand the doubtless futures, but in addition, and maybe especially, the much less possible, much less likable, and more unthinkable ones (a theme that Herman Kahn additionally elaborated; Kahn’s essay, “In Defense of Thinking,” speaks to that).4 Marshall exploited wargames and case research as methods to explore options and what they could mean. From the early gaming workouts, his focus was on being as practical as attainable by including individuals with quite a lot of backgrounds and expertise; and by focusing on processes, not objectives. Video games facilitate cross-disciplinary discussions and collaborations to assist gamers with numerous backgrounds perceive contingencies they might not in any other case have thought of. Games have been ways to instill higher, broader strategic considering by forcing individuals to assume via and formulate methods.

Marshall believed the discomfort that comes with uncertainty goes hand-in-hand with exploring the boundaries of what one is aware of. Gaming was a method he taught decision-makers to be more snug with uncertainty and ambiguity. He believed in case research and wargaming as participatory forms of studying and manifestations of an interdisciplinary strategy. He knew that case learning can embrace counterfactuals, or ‘what ifs,’ and a strategy to study from failures and avoid blind alleys.5

Marshall appreciated the roles organizations play in national security, and additionally for fostering or hindering sound fascinated by national safety questions. A lot perception might be gained from a greater understanding of how peer rivals’ organizations work, how their routines and operational codes evolve, and how their organizational buildings, cultures, and practices are interrelated. What strengths and weaknesses affect their strategic decision-making? A greater appreciation for the importance of how we arrange to nurture strategic considering in army instructional establishments is essential as we speak, particularly in the mild of the current Schooling for Seapower report’s emphasis on creating higher strategic and crucial thinkers. Marshall was the exemplar of an amazing strategic thinker who thought critically, long run, and organizationally.


The passing of Andrew Marshall might mark the top of an era within the historical past of Chilly Warfare strategists because his position in shaping U.S. strategy lasted many many years and was unparalleled. So, too, was his modesty, his humbleness, his caring about others, and his all the time questioning mind. He combined devotion to considering and to the country and the necessity to understand with a mild and affected person spirit. He exemplified the perfect that any period can hope to realize in terms of the troublesome but very important imaginative and prescient of find out how to assume more strategically to help his nation.

Maybe crucial lesson is how Marshall sought value from areas outdoors his personal area and experience. Rooted in his real humbleness and curiosity, he didn’t comply with the pure human instinct to ‘do what we know how to do best,’ and as an alternative selected to pursue information in areas he didn’t know properly, and maintain pursuing questions. When Marshall died, the country misplaced his strategic, human, mental, and moral compass. His quest for questions now rests upon us.

Dr. Mie Augier is a professor on the Graduate Faculty of Enterprise and Public Policy on the Naval Postgraduate Faculty. She is focused on technique, organizations, innovation, management, and easy methods to educate strategic and revolutionary thinkers.

Captain Wayne Hughes, USN (Ret.) served thirty years on lively obligation, commanding a minesweeper, a destroyer, and a big coaching command. In retirement has taught, executed research, and served as a Dean at the Naval Postgraduate Faculty for over thirty years. He is a distinguished writer of the U.S. Naval Institute.


1. He virtually never talked about his personal work or approaches. His modesty was even embedded in his language (most of the time he stated “we” or “one”, not me or I …). Not imposing his own views or views or theories is a big a part of his strategy to technique and emphasis on analysis, moderately than prescription, as it helps get a better understanding of the state of affairs and what forces may shape the longer term. The mixture of his humbleness, curiosity in analysis and a broad and questioning mind set him aside from virtually everyone else, especially in academia.

2. Additionally they prompt, in collaboration with Richard Nelson and Sidney Winter, that the aforementioned organizational conduct department be instituted. Whereas this and most of their strategies didn’t materialize, they turned grounds for Marshall and Schlesinger’s work on internet assessment over the subsequent many years.

three. Nathan Leites’ work on the operational code of the Soviet Union is a really related method of appreciating others; something that one might fruitfully develop almost about China, too, particularly in mild of the national security technique emphasis on peer rivals. How they arrange; how they perceive; how they assume, is all very central to our aggressive advantage and how we’d fare in conflict.

four. See for instance his piece “In Defense of Thinking”

5. Educating instances of historic failures also will help us be extra snug by talking and learning from them.

Featured Picture: Andy Marshall attends his retirement farewell ceremony at the Pentagon on Jan. 5, 2015. (Master Sgt. Adrian Cadiz/U.S. Air Drive)