Cover of Full Spectrum Dominance by Maria Ryan
Full Spectrum Dominance
Irregular Warfare and the War on Terror
Maria Ryan


328 pages.

Hardcover ISBN: 9781503609990
Ebook ISBN: 9781503610668

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America's war on terror is widely defined by the Afghanistan and Iraq fronts. Yet, as this book demonstrates, both the international campaign and the new ways of fighting that grew out of it played out across multiple fronts beyond the Middle East. Maria Ryan explores how secondary fronts in the Philippines, sub-Saharan Africa, Georgia, and the Caspian Sea Basin became key test sites for developing what the Department of Defense called "full spectrum dominance": mastery across the entire range of possible conflict, from conventional through irregular warfare.

Full Spectrum Dominance is the first sustained historical examination of the secondary fronts in the war on terror. It explores whether irregular warfare has been effective in creating global stability or if new terrorist groups have emerged in response to the intervention. As the U.S. military, Department of Defense, White House, and State Department have increasingly turned to irregular capabilities and objectives, understanding the underlying causes as well as the effects of the quest for full spectrum dominance become ever more important. The development of irregular strategies has left a deeply ambiguous and concerning global legacy.

About the author

Maria Ryan is Assistant Professor in American History at the University of Nottingham. She is the author of Neoconservatism and the New American Century (2010).

"Maria Ryan has made an important contribution to the literature on counterinsurgency by showing that so-called peripheral theaters in the Global War on Terror were in fact central to the evolution of American thinking on irregular war. Her thoughtful analysis illuminates how U.S. ambitions for global 'full spectrum dominance' foundered on the realities of local conflicts that were poorly understood in Washington."

—David Fitzgerald, University College Cork

"Maria Ryan has provided us with a tour-de-force treatise on how the United States reoriented itself to the demands of fighting irregular war in the post 9/11 era. In unhurried, clear and concise prose, she has provided a definitive political and military history of how the country gradually descended down the slippery slope of into a series of unwinnable, ill-advised wars thousands of miles from home in which no amount of tactical and operational proficiency could deliver victory."

—James Russell, Naval Postgraduate School

"This well-written and tightly organized book...covers an important topic of American foreign policy: evolving US responses to global terrorism during recent administrations....[It] closes with a well-reasoned conclusion, supported by extensive notes and an index. Recommended."

—M. A. Morris, CHOICE

"Ryan offers an important contribution to the study of warfare, military intervention, and diplomacy in the twenty-first century...the policy implications of this book are noteworthy."

—Matthew Timmerman, H-Diplo

"Ryan has refocused attention away from the quagmires of Afghanistan and Iraq and turned our eyes instead to the Southern Philippines archipelago, the empty quarters of Mali and Niger, the Horn of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and the Caspian basin. In so doing, she illustrates how the events of 9/11 turbocharged the Bush regime's aspiration to supplement America's dominance in its conventional and nuclear capabilities by achieving 'full-spectrum dominance' in all forms of warfare."

—Christian Tripodi, War in History