Modern military history

The British army in the 21st century under scrutiny

In his history of the Pacific War, Eagle Against the Sun, Ronald Spector described the state of the US army on the eve of the second world war: ‘The main enemies were boredom and debt. The answer to such problems was often liquor.’ When the officer corps was not boozing, it was sufficiently obsessed with athletics to derail training, for ‘success at football and boxing could be as important to a man’s career as success in manoeuvres’. Its weapons were decrepit and its ranks ragged. George Marshall, the future chief of staff, commanded a notional battalion that numbered fewer than 200 men. That portrait of antebellum decay came to mind