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Professor of Strategy
Christopher Bassford (born 1953) is an American military historian, best known for his works on the Prussian military philosopher Carl von Clausewitz. Bassford graduated from the College of William and Mary with a degree in history and honors for his dissertation on tactical nuclear weapons and completed his MA in American diplomatic history at Ohio University. Subsequent to receiving his MA, he served five years on active duty as a U.S. Army field artillery officer, with tours in Korea and Germany. He completed a Ph.D. in modern European history at Purdue University and became director of studies in the theory and nature of war at the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) Command and Staff College, then associate professor of National Policy Issues at the U.S. Army War College. He was Professor of Strategy at the National War College (NWC), in Washington, D.C., from 1999 until 2012, when he joined the faculty of the College of International Security Affairs (CISA) as part of the JSOMA program supporting U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC). He is the webeditor of The Clausewitz Homepage, a large educational website that has been on-line since 1995.
Bassford has written scholarly studies, military doctrine, and articles for the popular press. He is the author of several books, including Clausewitz in English: The Reception of Clausewitz in Britain and America, 1815-1945 and The Spit-Shine Syndrome: Organizational Irrationality in the American Field Army. He is one of the editors of the Boston Consulting Group's business-oriented Clausewitz On Strategy: Inspiration and Insight from a Master Strategist and Carl von Clausewitz and Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, On Waterloo: Clausewitz, Wellington, and the Campaign of 1815, ed./trans. Christopher Bassford, Daniel Moran, and Gregory W. Pedlow (Clausewitz.com, 2010). From 1995 to 1999 he was involved in the writing of USMC doctrine, authoring MCDP 1-1, Strategy; MCDP 1-2, Campaigning; "MCWP 5-1, Marine Corps Planning" (Draft); MCWP 2-15.3, Ground Reconnaissance Operations; and MCWP 3-2, Aviation Operations, as well as participating in the writing of several other USMC and Joint concepts and doctrinal publications.
His academic articles include:
- "John Keegan and the Grand Tradition of Trashing Clausewitz," War in History, November 1994.
- "Reclaiming the Clausewitzian Trinity," Parameters, Autumn 1995 (with Edward Villacres).
- "Clausewitz and His Works".
- "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.
- "Bringing Real Life to American Strategy in Afghanistan," Small Wars Journal, 3 March 2012.
- "Tiptoe Through the Trinity: The Strange Persistence of Trinitarian Warfare," working paper, 2005-2015.
His on-line books include:
- Clausewitz in English: The Reception of Clausewitz in Great Britain and America (New York & London: Oxford University Press, 1994), ISBN 978-0195083835. © C. Bassford. Full text on-line in HTML.
- "Policy, Politics, War, and Military Strategy," working text, 1997-2015. This is derived from Bassford's original Draft of MCDP 1-1: Strategy (1997), the US Marine Corps' Strategy manual. Full text on-line in HTML.
- Carl von Clausewitz and Arthur Wellesley, First Duke of Wellington, On Waterloo: Clausewitz, Wellington, and the Campaign of 1815, ed./trans. Christopher Bassford, Daniel Moran, and Gregory W. Pedlow (Clausewitz.com, 2010/2015). ISBN 978-1453701508. Full text on-line in HTML.
The Clausewitz Homepage
Bassford is the editor of The Clausewitz Homepage, an educational website that focuses on the German military philosopher Carl von Clausewitz. Bassford's own work on Clausewitz concentrates on the evolution of Clausewitz's reception, reputation, and impact in the English-speaking world. He is interested in the relationship between Clausewitzian theory, concepts from the field of nonlinear science, and modern evolutionary theory.
- "Christopher Bassford". Contemporary Authors Online. Gale. 2006. Retrieved 17 November 2012.
- Oxford University Press, 1994
- Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1988
- New York: Wiley, 2001
- Biography at Clausewitz.com.
- Faculty bio page at National Defense University JSOMA program
- Video (75 mins) of a presentation at the Pentagon, 30 October 2015, speaking on how the notions of "limited war" and "total war" actually relate to Clausewitz's own strategic-analytical scheme.