Old and New Battlespaces

Old and New Battlespaces

Society, Military Power, and War

Jahara Matisek and Buddhika Jayamaha

Lynne Rienner Publishers, Boulder, Colorado, 2022, 197 pages

Book Review published on: January 20, 2023

In their book Old and New Battlespaces: Society, Military Power, and War, Jahara Matisek and Buddhika Jayamaha portray how contemporary society is transforming warfare into an ever-present element of everyday life. Developing a new model of strategic military analysis, named GRINS (geopolitics, regime type, ideas, nature of military organizations, and scientific knowledge), the authors assess both the nature and character of war. At 171 pages of text, the book proceeds from the times of Carl von Clausewitz to the contemporary era, applying the GRINS framework to significant technological advances and critical moments in time, such as the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Unfortunately, though it is framed as a groundbreaking investigation into “interstitial warfare,” or the space between spaces, the book covers much of the familiar information found in most professional military education classes. The idea that the United States lacks a grand strategy is not new, nor is the idea that the failure of military strategy to obtain political objectives stems from the lack of an overarching grand strategy. Rather than invent new doctrine or recommendations, the book ends by “asking questions pertaining to the future of grand strategy in an era of integrated and emergent domains” (p. 14).

However, the authors provide a relatively up-to-date look at recent military incursions around the globe in which America finds itself deployed, including instances in Syria and Ukraine. The book could also prove helpful to those military practitioners seeking a new model of analysis through the GRINS model—though it doesn’t add much to common tools already in use at the joint level, such as PMESII (political, military, economic, social, informational, and infrastructure). It is a rather uninteresting read; I would suggest those with sufficient knowledge of strategic theory pass on Old and New Battlespaces. At the same time, those seeking a single work with summaries of events and technologies applicable to the military world could do worse than grabbing a copy of the text.

Book Review written by: Lt. Col. Carl (Pete) Johnson, U.S. Army, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas