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Dr. Colin S. Gray

External Researcher

COLIN S. GRAY is Professor Emeritus of International Politics and Strategic Studies at the University of Reading, England. He worked at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, England, and at the Hudson Institute in Croton-on-Hudson, New York, before founding the National Institute for Public Policy, a defense-oriented think tank in the Washington, DC, area. Dr. Gray served for 5 years in the Ronald Reagan administration on the President’s General Advisory Committee on Arms Control and Disarmament. A dual citizen of the United States and the United Kingdom, he has served as an adviser to both the U.S. and British Governments. His government work has included studies of nuclear strategy, arms control, maritime strategy, space strategy, and special forces. Dr. Gray has written 29 books, including: The Sheriff: America’s Defense of the New World Order (University Press of Kentucky, 2004); Another Bloody Century: Future Warfare (Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 2005); Strategy and History: Essays on Theory and Practice (Routledge, 2006); Fighting Talk: Forty Maxims on War, Peace and Strategy (Potomac Books, 2009); National Security Dilemmas: Challenges and Opportunities (Potomac Books, 2009); The Strategy Bridge: Theory for Practice (Oxford University Press [OUP], 2010); War, Peace and International Relations: An Introduction to Strategic History, 2nd Ed. (Routledge, 2011); Airpower for Strategic Effect (Air University Press, 2012); and Perspectives on Strategy (OUP, 2013), which is the follow-on to Strategy Bridge. The final volume in the Strategy Bridge trilogy, entitled Strategy and Defence Planning: Meeting the Challenge of Uncertainty, was published by OUP in 2014. Dr. Gray is a graduate of the Universities of Manchester and Oxford.

*The above information may not be current. It was current at the time when the individual worked for SSI or was published by SSI.

SSI books and monographs by Dr. Colin S. Gray

  • What Should the U.S. Army Learn From History? Recovery From a Strategy Deficit

    July 26, 2017

    Authored by Dr. Colin S. Gray.
    View the Executive Summary

    Although history does not repeat itself in detail, it certainly does so roughly in parallel circumstances. Of course, much detail differs from one historical case to another, but nonetheless, there are commonly broad and possibly instructive parallels that can be drawn from virtually every period of history, concerning most circumstances.

  • Thucydides Was Right: Defining the Future Threat

    April 03, 2015

    Authored by Dr. Colin S. Gray.
    View the Executive Summary

    To define future threat is, in a sense, an impossible task, yet it is one that must be done. The only sources of empirical evidence accessible are the past and the present; one cannot obtain understanding about the future from the future.

  • Always Strategic: Jointly Essential Landpower

    February 11, 2015

    Authored by Dr. Colin S. Gray.
    View the Executive Summary

    Why is Landpower always strategic? Is Landpower still Landpower when it is dependently joint?

  • Defense Planning for National Security: Navigation Aids for the Mystery Tour

    March 19, 2014

    Authored by Dr. Colin S. Gray.
    View the Executive Summary

    What do we believe we know about the future with sufficient reliability for it to serve as a basis for defense planning? Science and social science are both utterly disarmed by the complete absence of data about the future, from the future.

  • Making Strategic Sense of Cyber Power: Why the Sky Is Not Falling

    April 04, 2013

    Authored by Dr. Colin S. Gray.
    View the Executive Summary

    Cyber is now recognized as an operational domain, but the theory that should explain it strategically is very largely missing. As the military establishment accepted the revolution in military affairs as the big organizing idea of the 1990s, then moved on to transformation in the early-2000s, so the third really big idea of the post-Cold War Era began to secure traction—cyber. However, it is one thing to know how to digitize; it is quite another to understand what digitization means strategically. With respect to cyber power, Dr. Colin Gray poses and seeks to answer the most basic of the strategist’s questions, “So what?”

  • Categorical Confusion? The Strategic Implications of Recognizing Challenges Either as Irregular or Traditional

    February 24, 2012

    Authored by Dr. Colin S. Gray.
    "First, do no harm" is a golden rule for both medicine and strategic theory. Challenges to national security are simply challenges, they are neither irregular nor traditional.

  • Hard Power and Soft Power: The Utility of Military Force as an Instrument of Policy in the 21st Century

    April 08, 2011

    Authored by Dr. Colin S. Gray.
    The concepts of "hard" and "soft" power are subjected to close critical scrutiny. The author finds the latter is significantly misunderstood and therefore inappropriately assessed as a substitute for the former, the threat or the use of military force.

  • Schools for Strategy: Teaching Strategy for 21st Century Conflict

    October 28, 2009

    Authored by Dr. Colin S. Gray.
    Education in strategy is feasible and important. Few would-be strategists are beyond improvement by some formal education. However, for such education to be well-directed, it needs to rest upon sound assumptions concerning the eternal nature yet ever shifting character, meaning, and function of strategy, and the range of behaviors required for effective strategic performance.

  • After Iraq: The Search for a Sustainable National Security Strategy

    January 13, 2009

    Authored by Dr. Colin S. Gray.
    A sustainable national security strategy is feasible only when directed by a sustainable national security policy. In the absence of policy guidance, strategy will be meaningless. The only policy that meets both the mandates of American culture and the challenges of the outside world is one that seeks to lead the necessary mission of guarding and advancing world order.

  • The Implications of Preemptive and Preventive War Doctrines: A Reconsideration

    July 24, 2007

    Authored by Dr. Colin S. Gray.
    The Bush administration has declared a doctrine of preemption, when what it really means is a doctrine of prevention. Despite heavy criticism from home and especially abroad, there is a need for the United States to be willing and able, very occasionally, to take preventive action in order to forestall future dangers.

  • Irregular Enemies and the Essence of Strategy: Can the American Way of War Adapt?

    March 01, 2006

    Authored by Dr. Colin S. Gray.
    At present and probably for some years to come, America's enemies are of an irregular character. These irregular enemies necessarily wage war in modes that are largely unconventional.

  • Recognizing and Understanding Revolutionary Change in Warfare: The Sovereignty of Context

    February 01, 2006

    Authored by Dr. Colin S. Gray.
    Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA) was the most widely used, and abused, acronym in the U.S. defense community in the 1990s. Subsequently, transformation has superseded it as the preferred term of art. For the better part of 2 decades, American defense professionals have been excited by the prospect of effecting a revolutionary change in the conduct and character of warfare.

  • Transformation and Strategic Surprise

    April 01, 2005

    Authored by Dr. Colin S. Gray.
    The U.S. Armed forces may be attempting to effect the wrong transformation. What the country needs is military power that is not only superior at warfare, but also can win wars and the peace that follows--and those are strategic and political competencies.

  • Maintaining Effective Deterrence

    August 01, 2003

    Authored by Dr. Colin S. Gray.
    Today there is a sense that terrorism has rendered deterrence obsolete and forced the United States to substitute preemption for it. The author provides both a conceptual framework for understanding deterrence or, more accurately, the psychology of deterrence and policy guidance on how the United States can most effectively use it. The author concludes that an adaptable and flexible military with robust landpower is the only tool that can maintain deterrence.

  • Defining and Achieving Decisive Victory

    April 01, 2002

    Authored by Dr. Colin S. Gray.
    The author explores the concept of victory in the war in terrorism, but he does so by placing it within the larger currents of change that are sweeping the global security environment. He contends that the time-tested idea of decisive victory is still an important one, but must be designed very carefully in this dangerous new world.