Foreign Policy Magazine

The Return of the Pentagon’s Yoda

Can Andrew Marshall, the U.S. military’s longtime oracle, still predict the future?



AT 96 YEARS OLD, ANDREW MARSHALL, still widely touted as a leading U.S. defense intellectual, has reached an age where people mostly reflect on the past, if they are lucky enough to remember it.

Yet the man who helped coin the phrase “revolution in military affairs”—the idea that at certain moments the introduction of new technology will transform warfare—is still busy thinking about the future, as his Alexandria, Virginia, apartment makes clear: Books on topics ranging from quantum physics to Russian missile defense lie in piles on nearly every surface, spilling over onto the couch and lined up against the walls.

It has been three years since Marshall retired from the U.S. Defense Department, and the famous cold warrior is not ready, like the proverbial old soldier, to fade away. He has just recently recovered from a stroke and subsequent surgery, yet he’s still sharp and focused, and he wants to talk about one of his favorite subjects: the growing threat from China.

“I don’t think they’re doing very well,” he said of the Pentagon’s approach to thinking about warfare. “In the first place, they’re very late to get focused on

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