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Dr. John B. Alexander

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Dr. John B. Alexander is a senior fellow with the Joint Special Operations University. For more than a decade, Dr. Alexander has been a leading advocate for the development of non-lethal weapons. At Los Alamos National Laboratory, he organized and chaired six major conferences on non-lethal weapons, served as a U.S. delegate to four NATO studies on the topic, and was a member of the first Council on Foreign Relations study that led to creation of the Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate. He wrote many of the seminal articles on non-lethal weapons and was a member of the National Research Council Committee for Assessment of Non-Lethal Weapons Science and Technology.

Dr. Alexander entered the U.S. Army as a private in 1956 and rose through the ranks to sergeant first class. He later attended Officer Candidate School and retired as a colonel of Infantry in 1988. During his varied career, he held many key positions in special operations, intelligence, and research and development. Academically, he holds an M.A. from Pepperdine University, and a Ph.D. from Walden University. He has also attended the Anderson School of Management at UCLA, the Sloan School of Management at MIT, and the Kennedy School of Government general officer program “National and International Security for Senior Executives” at Harvard University.  Earlier in his life, Dr. John B. Alexander worked five years as a deputy sheriff for the Dade County Sheriff’s Department. He is the author of Winning the War: Advanced Weapons, Strategies, and Concepts for the Post-9/11 World and a co-author of The Warrior's Edge and Future War: Non-Lethal Weapons in Twenty-First-Century Warfare.

According to publisher’s weekly, Winning the War: Advanced Weapons, Strategies, and Concepts for the Post-9/11 World, “A former Vietnam Green Beret commander and developer of "non-lethal defense" at Los Alamos, retired Army Colonel Alexander argues that too much emphasis has been placed on developing the mass killing power of modern weapons. He makes a predictable alternative case for developing a spectrum of nonlethal technologies, not merely unmanned aerial vehicles and sensors able to penetrate solid obstacles, but face recognizers and brain scanners as well. He advocates synergizing these tools with a new generation of lethal technologies based on "things small and smart," especially robotic systems that will replace humans in such high-risk missions as mine clearing and security patrolling. According to Alexander, in future conflicts these high-tech methods will increasingly be juxtaposed with techniques as old as warfare itself. He cites post-September 11 operations in Afghanistan, where precision-guided bombs supported cavalry charges, then segues into a series of hypothetical future scenarios ranging from a hostage situation in Nepal to major conflicts in the Middle East. While Alexander offers one scenario in which an "obliging enemy" fights a tactically conventional battle and is easily destroyed, he takes pains to demonstrate that America's future wars are most likely to be asymmetric. In the book's final hundred pages, Alexander recommends eviscerating terrorist funding, developing media as a strategic weapon and using precision weapons to target terrorists' families, but predicts an increase in the level and success of terrorist activity to a point where an outraged citizenry calls for massive retaliation with no clear target in sight; Alexander obliges with a series of even more apocalyptic recommendations for winning "World War X." Connections to political and social realities may be tenuous-but no one can accuse him of unwillingness to think outside the box.


Winning the War: Advanced Weapons, Strategies, and Concepts for the Post-9/11 World
John B. Alexander  More Info

Future War: Non-Lethal Weapons in Twenty-First-Century Warfare
John B. Alexander  More Info
The Warrior's Edge: Front-Line Strategies for Victory on the Corporate Battlefield
John B. Alexander  More Info

According to Publisher’s Weekly, Future War: Non-Lethal Weapons in Twenty-First-Century Warfare, “In a thoughtful examination of the future of military doctrine, Alexander takes a hard look at what options might be available to the American military in a world in which the rules of warfare have changed. Non-lethal weapons, he argues, will become more important for both political and practical reasons. Americans have grown increasingly aware of and sensitive to all casualties on any side in even the most just wars. At the same time, the armed forces increasingly are expected to play a constabulary rather than a military role (as in Bosnia and Haiti). Alexander, a retired U.S. Army colonel who was involved in research on non-lethal weapons at Los Alamos National Laboratory, discusses the use of non-lethal weapons in a series of well-developed near-future operational scenarios in which conventional weapons would be counterproductive. One is a peace support operation. Another involves technological sanctions against a rogue state aimed at disabling its communications systems. A third projects the paralysis, by non-lethal means, of the military capacities of a hostile government. The fourth postulates hostage situations resolved by non-lethal alternatives. Alexander covers technologies ranging from low-kinetic weapons to chemical options, acoustic systems and "conventional" electronic warfare. Such weapons, Alexander demonstrates, are not necessarily humane. They inflict pain; they may permanently disable; they can severely disrupt entire societies. Their sole merit is that they are not designed to kill. Alexander's case for non-lethal weapons may be disputed, but it shouldn't be dismissed.”

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