Book Shelf 23-6 – Net Assessment with AI and FICINT

More than a few new book arrivals this week. It looks like I’m in a “current military affairs/near future” phase of reading for now.

Net Assessment

Reflections on Net Assessment1 is a series of interviews with Andrew Marshall who led the Office of Net Assessment for the Pentagon for many years. I encountered Mr. Marshall several times during my Navy career. My interest in the words of Marshall is born from a desire to better understand how Net Assessment worked in the Cold War and after and to see if there are lessons to be learned as we now face the threat from the People’s Republic of China.

Net Assessment from Cold War to today 2,3


The Origins of Victory: How Disruptive Military Innovation Determines the Fates of Great Powers4 is a study of disruptive military innovation. It is no stretch of the imagination to say that the United States is in a period of rapid military technology development much like the interwar years between the two World Wars. One question I seek to better study is whether as a nation we can learn before the war or will we have to improvise once it starts.

Innovation in war5,6

Artificial Intelligence

Four Battlegrounds: Power in the Age of Artificial Intelligence7 includes sections on the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and intelligence analysis. In my naval career I often encountered OPINTEL—Operational Intelligence—that was a key enabler for projecting naval power. OPINTEL was a synthesis of human analysis supported by information systems. My question is how can OPINTEL benefit, or be threatened by, the rise of AI?

Artificial Intelligence intelligence8


White Sun War: The Campaign for Taiwan9 is the latest entry in the genre of FICINT, or Fictional Intelligence. The modern birth of FICINT was in Ghost Fleet.10 We will see how it stacks up. FICINT is difficult to write as it is intended to advance policy discussions yet does so in the form of a fictional narrative. Striking the right balance between those two goals is not as easy as some might think.

It’s fiction, right?

Books Shown

  1. McKitrick, Jeffrey S., and Robert G. Angevine. Reflections on Net Assessment: Interviews with Andrew W. Marshall. Jaffrey, NH: Andrew W. Marshall Foundation, 2022. 
  2. Prados, John. The Soviet Estimate: U.S. Intelligence Analysis & Soviet Strategic Forces. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986. 
  3. Easton, Ian. The Chinese Invasion Threat: Taiwan’s defense and American strategy in Asia. Manchester, United Kingdom: Eastbridge Books, 2019. 
  4. Krepinevich, Andrew F. The Origins of Victory: How disruptive military innovation determines the fates of Great Powers. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2023. 
  5. Murray, Williamson, and Alan R. Millet. Military Innovation in the Interwar Period. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. 
  6. Hone, Trent. Learning War: The evolution of fighting doctrine in the U.S. Navy, 1898-1945. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2022. 
  7. Scharre, Paul. Four Battlegrounds: Power in the age of Artificial Intelligence. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2023. 
  8. Ford, Christopher A., David Alan Rosenberg, and Randy Carol Balano. The Admirals’ Advantage: U.S. Navy operational intelligence in World War II and the Cold War. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2014. 
  9. Ryan, Mick. White Sun War: The campaign for Taiwan. Havertown: Casemate, 2023. 
  10. Singer, Peter Warren, and August Cole. Ghost Fleet: A novel of the next World War. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016.

Feature image courtesy

The opinions and views expressed in this blog are those of the author alone and are presented in a personal capacity. They do not necessarily represent the views of U.S. Navy or any other U.S government Department, Agency, Office, or employer. © 2007-2023 by Ian B is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

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