It’s that time of the year again. Time to find that perfect gift for your favorite national security professional. Maybe you’re looking for something for the office White Elephant exchange; maybe it’s a loved one you’re shopping for; or maybe you’re looking for something for yourself. Well we’re here to help find that special item for that special someone.
The Editorial Team has been looking high and low to produce this year’s Gift Guide. We’re including links for purchasing where we can (usually to a manufacturer or publisher—we trust you can do your own online price comparisons), as well as relevant WAR ROOM content.
Happy Holidays from everyone here at WAR ROOM!
A new spin on an old classic, these are the same green figures you grew up playing with only now they’re women. After a 6-year-old girl asked a toy company why it didn’t make “girl army men” they got to thinking “why don’t we?” BMC Toys, based in Scranton, PA, recognizes that times have changed, just like we’ve described in several WAR ROOM podcasts and articles on the WACs, The USO, recruiting and gender integration. Full disclosure: these toys won’t actually be available until October 2020, but you can sign up for project updates and get in on early orders.
Have you always thought to yourself “I know I could have managed the power struggles of Renaissance Italy better than those ham-fisted clowns?” Well here’s your chance. Machiavelli The Board Game lets you choose from one of five major regional powers as well as three major foreign powers. Compete for control of the peninsula as a single power or form alliances to crush your foes. And if you need to research modern day European dynamics look no further than our articles on EU capabilities, the U.S. Army in Europe, the EU’s future look or our adversaries efforts in the region.
Every good strategist needs a map. Geography and strategy are closely linked after all. And everyone has probably thought, “I have no idea where Kiribati is, but I hear the WWII artifacts there are amazing?” This one might be a splurge, but the special strategist in your life deserves to visualize exactly how any location fits into the world order. With 28,000 place names (7 times as many as the average globe) this is a sure thing for any geography lover. A 32” diameter, internal lighting and a handcrafted mahogany frame make it a classic addition to anyone’s library or study.
Probably the most epic of all epics, no library is complete without the tales of Agamemnon, Achilles, Patroclus, and Hector. Part of the canon of “western” literature, Homer’s poem recounts the high points of the Trojan War and deserves careful reading and re-reading. A must read for anyone who seeks to understand anything in today’s world, this classic delves into leadership, art, law, government, languages and culture, mythology, literature, and philosophy.
Whether you’re a graduate or a soon to be student at the U.S. Army War College you’ve surely heard of the incredible value of Strategic Softball as part of the curriculum. You don’t want to be that guy or gal who shows up and has to use loaner equipment form the fitness center. Show your teammates your athletic prowess and your dedication to the academic treasure that is Strategic Softball with a fully-customized glove. Choose the colors, the size, the field position that tell the whole college you’re the ringer they should all fear.
Late night reading and writing requiring more and more caffeine during the winter darkness? Plain old coffee isn’t cutting it anymore? Maybe it’s time to switch to espresso. And with Lavazza’s Classy Mini model it’s easier than ever before. Its compact size and weight are perfect for crowded counters and desktops.
Political turmoil got you down? Can’t take another one of your officemate’s student counseling? Maybe you need to take a little time for yourself and drown out all the noise of the world. Noise cancelling headphones let you turn off distractions and look internally for that inner voice or voices. Be more productive, more thoughtful or just take an uninterrupted nap that you need so much.
Do you get paranoid when you can’t hear what goes on around you? Earbuds make your ears sweat? Does your office mate constantly sneak up on you while you’re listening to your favorite episode of A BETTER PEACE? These are fantastic over the ear, semi-open headphones that produce great sound quality all the while resting comfortably on your head and still allowing you to hear someone talking to you. This is Buck’s choice for long hours of podcast editing and with a head as big as his you know these have to be comfortable.
For helping your favorite fastidious literary enthusiast prevent dust gathering on their library; Over on WAR ROOM, we’re doing some housekeeping and cleaning off metaphorical Dusty Shelves of strategy and national security in our series on historical books, documents and artifacts, but if you never let the dust settle, aren’t you more likely to keep reading those classics that you’ve acquired along the way.
Tired of the same old chess game? Need a better object lesson or concrete way to visualize the competitive environment, the complexities of strategy, or futures thinking? What better way than a three-player chess game? And this one is a travel version so you and two of your best friends can take it on the road.
What better way to display your intellectual fanboy/fangirl status than a beautiful bobblehead of your favorite public figure or strategist? Whether it’s Eisenhower, Stillwell, Lincoln, or Kennedy on which you base your personal and professional growth, these folks probably have it – and if they don’t there’s always the custom option.
On the (somewhat) Dusty Shelves side, you can’t go wrong with anything by Robert Citino, but how about revisiting one of his earlier books? Quest for Decisive Victory: From Stalemate to Blitzkrieg in Europe, 1899-1940 (2002) is simply wonderful. What is especially remarkable is the way Citino uses forgotten or non-traditional wars to illustrate developments in operational warfare. Readers will learn things they never knew about the Boer War, Russo-Japanese War, the Balkan Wars of 1912-1913, World War I, the Italians in Ethiopia, and the Spanish Civil War, before ever getting to the opening campaigns of World War II. Citino is a master of making big complex military campaigns understandable to any reader. Best of all, he tells a ripping good tale. Highly recommended to professionals and general readers alike.
Do you or a loved one spend way too much time on the road and in strange hotels? Does DTS keep choosing cheap motels in strange neighborhoods that make you feel not quite safe? This won’t do anything about the bedbugs, but make sure you at least control the entry point to the room. This device is incredibly well made, compact and easy to use. Give someone a little piece of mind during their next trip.
Are you experiencing analysis paralysis? Are you stuck trying to frame the problem? Have you just flat out forgotten the strategy development model? Maybe you just need a nudge top get you started. Give the pendulum a swing and the manufacturer promises you’ll see the “pendulum magically (magnetically) points to the perfect decision.”
You know we had this on the list last year, but it’s worth repeating. It’s the gift that keeps on giving to others. Give someone you love a lifetime membership in the USAWC Alumni Foundation, or get it for yourself. The Foundation funds great programs such as scholarships and the War College’s annual National Security Seminar. (It also supports WAR ROOM. Thank you!)
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Happy shopping, gifting, and receiving!
Just in case you didn’t find anything to your liking in this year’s list, you can always check out our recommendations from other years here.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Army War College, the U.S. Army, or the Department of Defense. The recommendations in this list are for entertainment purposes and do not suggest any endorsement of the retailers by the government.
Photo Description: Dec. 14, 1990. Santa Claus (Capt. Mike d’Albertis, 605th Military Airlift Support Squadron) and Staff Sgt. Tony Thompson, loadmaster with the 21st Tactical Airlift Squadron, watch as a Christmas Drop container is parachuted toward its destination. The annual airdrop is a humanitarian effort providing aid to needy islanders throughout Micronesia during the Christmas season.
Photo Credit: U.S Air Force Photograph by Tech. Sgt. James Ferguson/Released