Miliary Review Legacy Article

The European War

Lt. Col. E. M. Benitez

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“The European War” by Lt. Col. E. M. Benitez was first published in Military Review in December 1939. It provides a historical retrospective of what one U.S. Army writer was observing at the time with regard to developments in Western Europe at the outset of what would become World War II. It is republished here (with original pagination) to emphasize that the future may in some sense repeat itself, and the U.S. Army must be prepared.

Dec 1939 Military Review cover

Benitez writes, “It may sound like a paradox that in an age of machine guns, tanks, and airplanes, we should evoke the ghost of the Roman and Carthaginian Armies.” Similarly, it might seem incongruous in an age of multi-domain operations to consider the actions of the European armies in 1939. However, just as the author foresaw the need for the U.S. Armed Forces to prepare for large-scale combat operations then, our leaders now anticipate the requirement for our forces to be prepared to face peer and near-peer adversaries during large-scale combat operations, possibly in the near future.

Many parallels to the dawn of World War II are apparent in 2018. Just as in the years prior to the outbreak of that war, many places in the world are in a state of political and social upheaval as many ideologies and nationalist agendas vie for hegemony in their respective spheres of interest. Russia no longer even attempts to mask its territorial ambitions as it is rearming on a massive scale for potential conventional war in Europe and Central Asia. Meanwhile, China is emerging as an aspiring super power, both economically and militarily. It continues to wage virtual war against the United States diplomatically, economically, and informationally in an effort to undermine U.S. influence while simultaneously expanding the scope and reach of its armed forces, especially its Navy and Air Force, and especially in the South China Sea. Posing additional threats, both Iran and North Korea place as their highest priority developing conventional force capabilities, even at the cost of great tribulation and suffering borne by their respective peoples to pay for such military capability. And, finally, similar to fascist dreams of global conquest, the jihadist vision of establishing an Islamic caliphate with the conventional military power capable of eradicating Western culture and influence continues to smolder in groups at the seams of a global Islamic community numbering in the billions.

Though the threats to the U.S. and its allies are not exactly analogous to those faced in 1939, the key similarity is the continuing need to clearly perceive and acknowledge what the real threats are and to prepare effectively to deal with them.


This article is not available in HTML. Read it here via PDF or in hard copy in the September-October 2018 print edition of Military Review.

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October 2018