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James Smith

Dr James W.E. Smith

Laughton-Corbett Visiting Research Fellow

Biography

James was awarded his PhD from the Department in 2021. His PhD: “Deconstructing the Seapower State: Britain, America and Defence Unification 1945-1964” (2021) focused on British and American defence unification. The PhD explored and analysed the relationship between the development of strategic thought and theory and defence organisation, at the same time presenting a new history of defence organisation in the UK and US. The research was completed while also being a non-resident Research Fellow of the U.S. Naval War College.

James is part of two School of Security Studies research themes: Strategic Studies and Military and Political History. He is a member of King’s Laughton Naval and Maritime Strategy Unit and King’s Centre for Grand Strategy. He, amongst others, founded the King’s Wargaming Network in 2018, having led naval wargaming research in the War Studies Department since 2016. In 2020, he became a member of King’s Defence Studies Air and Space Institute and affiliated with the Space Security Research Group.

James is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and the Royal Historical Society. He is also engaged in various professional organisations, projects, associations and research groups in the UK, USA, Australia, and Japan. One of these projects is the international ‘Corbett 100 project’ that James pioneered and marks the centenary of the death of historian, strategist, and philosopher of seapower and maritime strategy Sir Julian Corbett (1852-1922).

A common rubric and theme across all aspects of James’s work is providing the maritime and maritime strategic perspective, which is rooted in the analysis of history and experience.

Beyond working on multiple future publications, James is engaged in various journals, and digital outputs like podcasts and blogs.

You can read some of James's blog posts on Substack.

Research interests

  • The development of strategy, strategic thought, strategic theory (Major/Minor Inc. Applied History), strategic policy and doctrine
  • The theory and development of maritime strategy
  • National Strategy, National Defence Strategy, National Security Strategy
  • Strategic Space Theory, Space Warfare, ‘Astropolitics’ and ‘Astrostrategy’ (Incl. Geostrategy and Geopolitics), Defence Space Policy, Space History, Human activity in space near-Earth and beyond (outer and deep)
  • Future development of humanity as a spacefaring civilisation
  • Defence Organisation: American Defense Unification (DoD) and British Defence Unification (MoD) such as higher organisation, organisational and strategic culture, jointness, command and control, civil-military relations
  • Wargaming: advancing research into the ‘art and philosophy’ of wargaming including the development, theory, and practice of wargaming
  • Contemporary British and American Defence Policy, Strategy and History
  • Contemporary Naval and Maritime History and Naval Warfare: Sea Power, Maritime Power, and Naval Power
  • Naval Wargaming: history, theory, and practice

Post-Doctoral research

At the heart of his postdoctoral research and scholarship efforts remains developing strategy, strategic theory, and national strategy. This uses the methods to understand, analyse, problem solve, and educate, by combining his experience across his range of past and present research.

His postdoctoral project addresses the use of space as part of a ‘seabed to space’ national strategy and its use in broader national policy where ‘national ways of war and peace’ shape perspectives on spaces use. This debate is part of a renewed broader cultural, political and policy discussion over human activity in space. It contributes to the debate by demonstrating how a maritime philosophy and maritime strategy is more useful to think through fundamental questions over possible futures of human activity in space and its influence on current and future geopolitical and geostrategic developments on and beyond Earth. James’s new and novel approach seeks to demonstrated how a maritime model for space is useful and also how navies will be important to future space operations whether influencing events on Earth or beyond. James’s prior work related to Sir Julian Corbett will help inform his research on the strategic use of space, beyond just considerations of the orbit of Earth.

James is in a unique position for this research, his research for outreach to broaden debate on space resulted him receiving the highest recognition from those outside his discipline such as being awarded fellow status from the Royal Astronomical Society. As part of the research which is international in order includes engaging in conversation of the future of space power with civilian organisations such as NASA. He is also a member of the Planetary Society, BIS, and Space Society to name a few.

You can contact him directly for further information on his project: “A maritime philosophy for possible futures of human activity in space.”

Publications

Research

laughtonmain
Laughton Naval History and Maritime Strategy Unit

A Home for British naval and maritime thinking, research into global naval history and the study of seapower and maritime strateg. The Laughton Unit provides the ideal basis for original and challenging research on all aspects of naval history, seapower, sea power studies and maritime strategy, preparing the next generation of thinkers from all around the world, ready and able, for a spectrum of career possibilities and destinations.

EIS_EU_Flags_MAIN
Centre for Grand Strategy

The Centre for Grand Strategy seeks to bring a greater degree of historical and strategic expertise to statecraft, diplomacy and foreign policy.

Wargaming network illustration 780 by 440px
Wargaming Network

The Wargaming Network aims to advance the theory and application of wargaming as a method of inquiry and as a method of learning and teaching.

Corbett_100
Corbett 100

Corbett 100 marks the centenary of the death of historian, philosopher of seapower and maritime strategist Sir Julian Corbett (1854-1922).

Project status: Ongoing

SpaceSecuritybanner
Space Security Research Group

To promote research in a wide variety of space-related security issues.

Naval Wargaming Research

The group regenerates research into the study and practice of wargaming for naval and maritime research, historical research and use as an educational tool.

Project status: Completed

News

New project will use maritime approach to advance space strategy

A new project supported by the Laughton Unit in the School of Security Studies aims to use maritime strategy to advance understanding of the role of space in...

James Smith Space Project

U.S Naval War College hosts conference with King's on defence and security challenges

Academics from the School of Security Studies in partnership with the U.S Naval War College and Australian Naval Institute, discussed historical questions,...

Corbett 100

Security Studies hosts international conference on maritime strategist Sir Julian Corbett

The Corbett 100 Conference explored the life and times of the important historian and strategist

Speakers at the Corbett 100 conference

King's College London led research collaboration enhances 'AUKUS' partnership between UK, USA and Australia

A collaborative project by the Laughton Naval Unit with research partners in the USA and Australia supports the close ties identified in the new ‘AUKUS’...

Laughton ships sea

Events

16AprWargaming Week 2024

King's NATO ACT Wargaming Week 2024

The Wargaming Network is pleased to invite you to join the Wargaming Week 2024 in partnership with NATO ACT.

30JanSpace power and Irregular Warfare in Space

Space power and Irregular Warfare in Space

Join Dr John Klein's presentation on the theory of space power, followed by a Q&A session.

Please note: this event has passed.

07DecGlobal web

Astrostrategy to National Strategy: utilising the maritime strategic way of thinking

Dr James Smith explores how, in the 21st century and beyond, maritime strategic ways of thinking can help guide strategists, theorists and policymakers alike.

Please note: this event has passed.

08JunMPH Panel

Trends in the historiography: Land, maritime and air warfare

Military & Political History panel for the School of Security Studies Research Conference 2022

Please note: this event has passed.

Features

Re-learning from Corbett: Applied History to the rescue of Strategic Thought

Corbett showed that developing credible, national strategy could only be achieved by objective engagement with the past.

Corbett piece feature

Research

laughtonmain
Laughton Naval History and Maritime Strategy Unit

A Home for British naval and maritime thinking, research into global naval history and the study of seapower and maritime strateg. The Laughton Unit provides the ideal basis for original and challenging research on all aspects of naval history, seapower, sea power studies and maritime strategy, preparing the next generation of thinkers from all around the world, ready and able, for a spectrum of career possibilities and destinations.

EIS_EU_Flags_MAIN
Centre for Grand Strategy

The Centre for Grand Strategy seeks to bring a greater degree of historical and strategic expertise to statecraft, diplomacy and foreign policy.

Wargaming network illustration 780 by 440px
Wargaming Network

The Wargaming Network aims to advance the theory and application of wargaming as a method of inquiry and as a method of learning and teaching.

Corbett_100
Corbett 100

Corbett 100 marks the centenary of the death of historian, philosopher of seapower and maritime strategist Sir Julian Corbett (1854-1922).

Project status: Ongoing

SpaceSecuritybanner
Space Security Research Group

To promote research in a wide variety of space-related security issues.

Naval Wargaming Research

The group regenerates research into the study and practice of wargaming for naval and maritime research, historical research and use as an educational tool.

Project status: Completed

News

New project will use maritime approach to advance space strategy

A new project supported by the Laughton Unit in the School of Security Studies aims to use maritime strategy to advance understanding of the role of space in...

James Smith Space Project

U.S Naval War College hosts conference with King's on defence and security challenges

Academics from the School of Security Studies in partnership with the U.S Naval War College and Australian Naval Institute, discussed historical questions,...

Corbett 100

Security Studies hosts international conference on maritime strategist Sir Julian Corbett

The Corbett 100 Conference explored the life and times of the important historian and strategist

Speakers at the Corbett 100 conference

King's College London led research collaboration enhances 'AUKUS' partnership between UK, USA and Australia

A collaborative project by the Laughton Naval Unit with research partners in the USA and Australia supports the close ties identified in the new ‘AUKUS’...

Laughton ships sea

Events

16AprWargaming Week 2024

King's NATO ACT Wargaming Week 2024

The Wargaming Network is pleased to invite you to join the Wargaming Week 2024 in partnership with NATO ACT.

30JanSpace power and Irregular Warfare in Space

Space power and Irregular Warfare in Space

Join Dr John Klein's presentation on the theory of space power, followed by a Q&A session.

Please note: this event has passed.

07DecGlobal web

Astrostrategy to National Strategy: utilising the maritime strategic way of thinking

Dr James Smith explores how, in the 21st century and beyond, maritime strategic ways of thinking can help guide strategists, theorists and policymakers alike.

Please note: this event has passed.

08JunMPH Panel

Trends in the historiography: Land, maritime and air warfare

Military & Political History panel for the School of Security Studies Research Conference 2022

Please note: this event has passed.

Features

Re-learning from Corbett: Applied History to the rescue of Strategic Thought

Corbett showed that developing credible, national strategy could only be achieved by objective engagement with the past.

Corbett piece feature