Thomas E. Ricks

ASU Future of War Senior Fellow

Thomas Ricks is an ASU Future of War senior fellow at New America. He also is a contributing editor of Foreign Policy magazine, for which he writes the blog “The Best Defense,” which was named the best blog of the year by the American Society of Magazine Editors in 2010, as well as the best military blog by Military Reporters & Editors.

Ricks covered the U.S. military for the Washington Post from 2000 through 2008. Until the end of 1999 he had the same beat at the Wall Street Journal, where he was a reporter for 17 years. He reported on U.S. military activities in Somalia, Haiti, Korea, Bosnia, Kosovo, Macedonia, Kuwait, Turkey, Afghanistan and Iraq. He was part of a Wall Street Journal team that won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting in 2000 for a series of articles on how the U.S. military might change to meet the new demands of the 21st century. The series is posted at:

Ricks also was part of a Washington Post team that won the 2002 Pulitzer prize for reporting about the beginning of the U.S. counteroffensive against terrorism. Those articles are posted at:

He is the author of Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2003-05, which was a number one New York Times bestseller and a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in 2007. His second book on that war, The Gamble: General Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006-08, was published in 2009. He also wrote Making the Corps, which won the Washington Monthly's "Political Book of the Year" award. His first novel, A Soldier's Duty, about the U.S. military intervening in Afghanistan, was published by Random House in June 2001--some four months before the U.S. actually did intervene there. He also has written on defense matters for the Atlantic Monthly and other publications.

His most recent book is The Generals: American Military Command from World War II to Today. He currently is writing a book about Churchill, Orwell and the 20th century. He currently is in the early stages of a book growing out of the Future of War project examining the military transitions that accompanied the industrial revolution, and the lessons and parallels they might hold for our current transition into the information age.

Born in Massachusetts in 1955, he grew up in New York and Afghanistan and graduated from Yale in 1977. He is married to Mary Catherine Ricks, author of Escape on the Pearl, a history of one of the biggest slave escapes in American history. For recreation he enjoys sailing, sea kayaking, downhill skiing and reading military history.

All Work

Why USAF is overdue for reorganization

Consider this idea: In the 20th century, air superiority and air dominance became prerequisites for military freedom of action on land and a

A quick Best Defense interview with Lt. Col. Seth Folsom, author of the new book ‘Where Youth and Laughter Go’

There have been a lot of memoirs about Iraq and Afghanistan. How is yours different?

The One Lesson On Leadership That The Military Needs To Embrace

In 2012, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Tom Ricks, wrote an article called “General Failure,” followed by a book on the same subject, cri

Who is right about how our nation wages war, Samuel Huntington or Eliot Cohen?

Michele Flournoy, the person most likely to become defense secretary in a future Democratic administration, dissed the hell out of Samuel Hu

A very unequal dialogue: NA/ASU FoW conference and civ-mil relations

Tom disagrees with my recent assessment that the recent New America Foundation/Arizona State University Future of War Conference underrepres

Why hasn’t the Army’s regular acquisition process produced anything in decades?

At the Future of War (FoW) conference, one of General Odierno’s comments referenced the problem of ‘utopia requirements’ in our Defense Acqu

Some Future of War thoughts in response to Matt Cavanaugh’s criticisms

Maj. Matt Cavanaugh, who was a winner in our Future of War essay contest, wrote a provocative piece complaining that there weren’t enough mi

Future of War: What the Army chief of staff thinks he learned from Iraq

General Raymond Odierno, the Army’s chief of staff, in speaking at the New America/ASU conference on the future of war, listed as a lesson f

Lessons of history for the future of war

A good strategy seems to be about adaptation and flexibility,” said Sir Lawrence Freedman at the beginning of a surprisingly lively panel at

Strategic experts at Future of War meeting: ISIS is kicking our ass

One of the gloomiest sessions at the New America/ASU conference on the future of war was an examination of the rise of ISIS. “The U.S. is al

The Future of War conference, Day One: Falling behind in drones and robotics

I was surprised by the amount of concern expressed that the United States has fallen behind in building drones. Peter Singer called the Pred

What Is the Future of War?

It is with this in mind that New America, a nonpartisan think tank network; Arizona State University, the nation’s largest public university