Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Dissertation: Topics

My degree from the University of Aberdeen will be based upon 120 credits derived from a total of four courses taken over two semesters, and 60 credits awarded based upon completion of a dissertation. The schedule consists of one academic term spanning late September to mid December, and a second term spanning early January to late March, and a third term lasting from mid April to early June. From June through September, students work to complete their dissertation. Based upon correspondence with The Director, I'm aware that I have the option of completing the dissertation in the States by way of correspondence.

Ladies and gentlemen, I ask you: if you thought you could finish (or at least complete a large preponderance of) a dissertation early, and spend a solid month or two travelling and screwing around in Scotland before having to come back to the real world, wouldn't you do everything in your power to do so? So, my plan (which I'll admit has little or no chance of "surviving first contact with the enemy") is to do as much of my dissertation, or even several different proto-dissertations, as possible during the preceding months. So, I've come up with some potential topics.

First Tier Topics
  • The Dhofar Rebellion: I had the opportunity to go to Oman earlier this year, and have been studying the country and its recent history ever since. Inspired by Sir Alistair Horne's magnum opus about the Algerian War, A Savage War of Peace, I'm entertaining the idea of writing an equivalent magnum opus on the Dhofar Rebellion. This would form the kernel around which I might build that book.
  • Roman Lessons for Afghan Counterinsurgents: I dedicated a lot of time during my undergrad years to studying the Roman campaigns in ancient Britain (and particularly those of Julius Agricola), and Julius Caesar's campaigns in Gaul. I've been consistently impressed by the numerous similarities between the Roman campaigns against the Celts (and particularly the Celts in modern Britain), and the modern campaigns in Afghanistan and elsewhere. I'd like to explore the lessons that ancient warfare have to teach modern counterinsurgents.
  • The Hague and Geneva Conventions and Modern Warfare: I briefly studied the Hague and Geneva Conventions when I was an undergrad, and I'd like to study the knock-on effects that more than a century of the Hague and Geneva Conventions have had on the conduct and character of modern warfare. I would do this through a series of case studies focused on identifying specific aspects of both which have had far-reaching effects on the conduct of warfare since the 1860's.
  • Private Military Companies: Recent wars, particularly those in Iraq and Afghanistan, have suggested that a rewrite of doctrine on the nature and implementation of private military/security contractors. I'd like to read some of the available literature, study the impact that PM/SCs have had on modern warfare, and what impact they might have on future strategy.
  • Education as a National Security Issue: I'm keenly interested in the impact of education on national security, both the preparation of an informed citizen body that understands national security issues, and the preparation of potential enlisted and commissioned military personnel for their duties. For this option, I would focus my attention on K-12 education, university curriculum, basic and advanced individual training for enlisted soldiers, pre-commissioning training for officers, and continuing education for career military personnel.

    In the unlikely event that none of those topics work out, here are some other topics I might try to pursue.

    Second Tier Topics
  • Chinese Neo-Colonialism in Africa
  • Opportunities and Challenges for NATO in the 21st Century
  • The Influence of the Algerian Revolution on Modern War
  • Strategic Implications of the Decay of the Russian Military Industrial Complex
  • Support for Terrorism from Drug Trafficking and Organized Crime
  • Strategic Implications for Hybrid and Irregular Warfare
  • Irregular Warfare Opposing Force Field Manual
  • North African Energy and Resource Security
  • Defense Contractors in the Post-Cold War Era

    As those of you who don't know me may have gathered by now, I'm seldom accused of insufficient planning.
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