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Book to be launched by King's in honour of Sir Julian Corbett

Academics from the School of Security Studies are launching a book in honour of Sir Julian Corbett (1854-1922), historian, strategist, and philosopher of seapower and maritime strategy, and marking the Corbett 100 project.

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The publication will mark 100 years since the influential historian and theorist’s death. It will be an edited volume of essays covering the use of applied history as the root of strategic thought, the development of maritime strategy and essays on topics related to Sir Julian’s work.

Sir Julian Corbett was a historian whose research efforts led to the development of national strategy, dispelling the belief that military and foreign strategy should be based on a set of universal principles. Instead, Corbett understood the critical importance of the past in highlighting long-term national security policy trends. His work set him amongst the greats of strategic theorists and military historians while encouraging future generations to advance the fields of history and strategic studies. This book will build upon this legacy and the work of the Corbett 100 project.– Dr James W.E. Smith, one of the founders of the Corbett 100 project

Corbett 100 is a joint initiative between the Laughton Naval History and Maritime Strategy Unit of the School of Security Studies at King’s, the U.S. Naval War College and the Australian Naval institute. The project explores historical and contemporary national strategy and defence policy questions from perspectives on naval history, maritime strategy, and strategic theory.

Starting in 2019 under the leadership of Dr James W.E. Smith and War Studies Alumnus Dr David Kohnen, Corbett 100 has supported the close ties identified in the ‘AUKUS’ partnership between the UK, USA and Australia. It has brought together researchers, academics and military professionals from across the world through events, podcasts and publications. Over 300 academics, historians, veterans, and military personnel will have attended, presented or been involved with the project in some capacity, including from nations such as Japan, Germany, Sweden, the Netherlands, Canada, Korea, Taiwan, New Zealand and India.

In 2022, they launched a series of major international conferences that have taken place at King’s and the Australian Naval Institute in partnership with The University of New South Wales in Canberra and the Australian Defence Force Academy. The conferences discussed the influence of Sir Julian on British and global national strategy and contemporary defence and security challenges, particularly in the Indo-Pacific. In 2023, the US Naval War College will conclude the programme by focusing on the future of naval and maritime strategy in relation to addressing potential global security and defence challenges. The project has and continues to explore contemporary questions on maritime strategy, strategic theory, defence policy, naval doctrine, seapower, trade protection and future global security issues ranging from the seabed to space.

Laughton Chair for Naval History, Professor Andrew Lambert FKC, remarked on the project:

Corbett believed that the development of naval education and strategic planning depended on the combination of an accurate understanding of past practice, and the evolution of strategic theory that addressed the unique and specific needs of individual nations. He recognised a distinctive maritime/economic ‘British Way of War’. While Corbett’s work was shaped by the highest academic standards, it was designed to meet the intellectual needs of serving officers and statesmen. Corbett’s multi-disciplinary approach remains relevant in the 21st century; consequently, this project has engaged and informed defence educators, decision makers and the development of naval policy, military doctrine and both grand and national strategy. Its outputs will continue to do so.

Alongside the launch of the book, Corbett 100 will continue to share Sir Julian’s work through efforts to advance the digitalisation and access to Corbett’s records, such as those held at King’s Liddle Hart Military Archives and the UK National Maritime Museum. After the project’s conclusion, it will continue to act as a network to advance research in naval history and maritime strategy, growing relations and research collaboration between scholars worldwide, where King’s remains a home for expertise on naval history and maritime strategy.

You can find out more about the Corbett 100 project, including webinars, podcasts and publications, on the King’s website.

Corbett 100