Articles | Letters | Guidance For Writing
Guidelines for Specific Article Types
You may submit your article to the following email address. We strongly recommend that you read the submission guidelines first.
Email your article to Military Operations: firstname.lastname@example.org
We seek original articles on warfare. Our aim is to develop the understanding of the conduct of war, so that we can do it better in future. If that statements begs questions (such as ‘what would ‘better’ be?’), good. Please write an article with your thoughts and submit it.
Our three main requirements are that articles should be relevant, insightful and easy to read.
‘Relevant’ means that the article falls within the scope of ‘Military Operations’. ‘Insightful’ means that the article tells the practitioner something useful. We judge articles very strongly by the ‘so what?’ test. If the article, no matter how interesting or well written, tells the reader nothing useful it will not be published.
‘Easy to read’ means:
- that it has a simple, clear structure so that the content is easy to follow.
- that it is written in a clear style, like that of a good quality newspaper or magazine. ‘The (London) Times’ or ‘The Economist’ are good examples.
- that the language can be understood without difficulty by someone who is not a native English speaker.
Remember that Military Operations has an international audience. In particular, use generic descriptions; such as ‘field artillery battalion’ rather than ‘medium regiment, Royal Artillery’.
‘Military Operations’ will look at the conduct of war; hence tactical and operational-level issues. It is not:
- about state policy and its pursuit through violent means: that is the focus of ‘Infinity’.
- down in the weeds; at the level of section drills, personal equipment and so on. Conversely, articles on infantry tactics or the soldier’s load would be welcome.
- primarily historical; although we recognise that history is probably our best guide to the conflicts of the future.
- about technology; but how armed forces should, or might, use technology should be an important aspect.
- about logistics; but the impact of logistics should be included.
- about maritime or air warfare; but amphibious warfare and air-land issues will be considered.
- particularly concerned with historiography or research methods. Military Operations would rather have the facts and your views, rather than be told how you came to them.
If you have an idea for an article that you might wish to submit, please discuss the topic with the Editor first. Unsolicited articles will be accepted for consideration, but it will be assumed that the author believes that they are ready for publication. Do not sends drafts for comment.
Articles will be subject to peer review anonymously. That is, the author’s identity will not be revealed to the reviewers, and the reviewers’ identities will not be revealed to the author. The Editor will normally pass reviewers’ comments back to the author, especially where revisions are required.
Articles must be of less than 3,000 words. They should be submitted as Word documents. Use Times New Roman or Arial fonts; 12 point font size; single line spacing; and include one line space between paragraphs. Do not indent paragraph leaders. Number Pages. Place any references in footnotes. In general, minimise the use of footnotes.
You are responsible for any clearances that are required. If you send an article to ‘Military Operations’ it is assumed that you have obtained clearance.
‘Military Operations’ is prepared to publish articles anonymously, under certain circumstances. The Editor will have to be convinced that there is good reason to do so.
Further guidance for less experienced writers is contained below in the Guidance For Writing section.
Letters To The Editor
Letters to the Editor are a useful way of developing or continuing discussion without the need to write an article. ‘Warfare’ will consider publishing letters on line, so that the discussion can continue in the intervals between editions. Letters will generally be published in the following edition, whether they have been published on line or not.
Readers may not immediately understood the context of a letter, so it should start with a brief introduction. Like an article, it should end with firm conclusions.
Letters should be short. Remember Winston Churchill, who once apologized for writing a long letter because he didn’t have the time to write a short one. Take the time to write a short one.
If you really want to write a long piece, write an article
Do not write in haste. By all means compose a letter when the idea strikes you, but edit it on another day before sending it. Otherwise you may regret it.
Be polite, and follow the general guidance to authors where appropriate.
A typical letter might look like this:
Paul Jones’ article ‘Whither Warfare?’ in the March edition suggested that …..
I disagree. My own research suggests that ….
Warfare in the future will not all be about COIN. That is the wave of the past. Heavy armoured warfare has a real future.
Ivan X Suarez
25 July 2012’
Guidance For Writing
The contents of this section are advisory to authors. They are intended to help authors who are not particularly experienced in writing articles to meet the standards required.
The suggested stages are: planning, research, writing and editing.
Before doing any writing, think what you intend to say. In particular, think what your conclusions will be. Do not start writing until you have a good idea what your conclusions will be. Writing an article is about capturing thoughts, not generating them. Do not write in order to think. Think in order to write.
Having thought what your outline conclusions will be, think how you will take the reader there. What points should you make, or what steps must you take, to lead the reader to your conclusions? Summarize your thoughts.
Then think how you will introduce the reader to your subject.
You now have, in reverse order, your outline structure: conclusions, middle section and summary, and introduction. Write that down.
Now assign a word count. Your article must not exceed 3,000 words, so aim for a maximum of 2,500. Of that, allow about 10-15% for an introduction, 15-20% for the summary and conclusions, 60-75% for the main body of the article. Subdivide the main body in accordance with the main points you want to make (so, three main points might be 20-25% each).
You may not need to do any, or much, research. It may just be finding the source of a few quotations. But do it now, so that you have everything in order before you write. Write down the key aspects of your research (such as the sources of those references). Revise your planning, if necessary.
Give yourself enough time to write the article in one go, if possible. Re-read your structure first, revise your research, then get on with it.
Wrote more-or-less in accordance with your word count. In particular, if you have finished your Introduction and are well over the word total assigned for it, stop. You aren’t doing it right. You need to radically revise what you are trying to say. Do not think that you can write much too much, and then cut it down. That does not produce good results.
Spell check the draft, save it and leave it.
Plan to edit it at least three times, on three separate days if possible.
On the first edit, look at the structure, content and argument. Does it contain the conclusions that you want it to? Does it make the right points in the middle section? Does the introduction tell the reader what he needs to know, in order to follow the logic?
The summary and conclusions should not contain new material. If the material is necessary, it should be somewhere else. If it isn’t necessary, cut it out.
Don’t do a word-for-word edit at this stage. If you do, you will probably miss the big issues.
On the second edit, read each sentence in turn. Does it actually say what you want it to? Does it follow from the previous sentence? Does it relate to the other sentences in the paragraph (if not, it probably needs to be moved, or deleted). How long is it? If it is more than about two lines long it probably can be, and should be, broken up. Do you need all the words? Can you say the same thing with fewer words? Are you using the right words? Are you using the shortest appropriate words? You may easily lose 10-20% of a draft at this stage whilst improving its readability.
On the third edit, look at every word in detail. Metaphorically dot ‘i’s and cross ‘t’s. You don’t actually need to do that with a word processor, but you do need to check that every last letter and punctuation mark is correct.
At the end of each edit, run the spell checker and check the word count.
Your editing will be more effective if you do it on separate days.
If you are still not happy with it, save it and edit it again on another day.
Do’s and Don’ts
- use simple, clear English
- use direct construction. For example, ‘ the cat sat on the mat’; not ‘it was the mat upon which the cat sat’.
- use the active voice (‘hit’, not ‘was hit’)
- use a reference, in a footnote, wherever you have a direct quotation.
- use short sentences where possible.
- remember that readers may not speak English as their first language. Avoid strongly national euphemisms. (This is particularly applicable to British writers).
- bore the reader. If something doesn’t need to be said, cut it out.
- make the article any longer than it needs to be. Articles of 1,000 words can be very useful and insightful. Less is more.
- provide references for every last thought in the article.
- stuff the paper full of footnotes. If something needs saying, it should go in the main body of the article. If it doesn’t need saying, delete it. The reader should be able to understand the article without reading the footnotes. The Editor may remove footnotes without reference to the author.
- use long words for the sake of it. Use the correct word, but use short ones where possible.
- use what you think is an appropriately academic style (for example, ‘it is the aim of this paper to demonstrate that …’). You are writing an article that someone will want to read, not a paper to impress a professor.
- use acronyms very much. Introduce any acronyms the first time you use them (for example, ‘the Territorial Army (TA)’), but don’t use them very much. For example, use ‘armoured infantry’ instead of ‘AI’. You are writing an article, not a service paper.
- use minor experts as authorities (for example, ‘… according to Adorno and Frenckel-Brunswick …’. Who on earth are Adorno and Frenckel-Brunswick?) If, for example, Adorno and Frenckel-Brunswick say that ‘A is B’, then just write ‘A is B’. If that needs to be justified, add a reference to them in a footnote or endnote.
- make arguments against the person of another author (so-called ad hominem arguments). It is easy to do this unintentionally. So, for example, if you have a criticism of (say) General Smith’s book ‘The Utility of Force’, do not criticize General Smith, but criticize ‘The Utility of Force’ instead.