(PhD, BA Hons)
Dr Rob Johnson is the Director of the Changing Character of War (CCW) research centre at Oxford. The CCW Centre (which incorporates Statecraft and Strategy) brings together academics, and government personnel in the study of armed conflict and its consequences, pursuing a variety of research themes including the character of armed conflict, civil-military relations, strategy and decision-making, technological developments, and strategic coercion. Rob Johnson’s primary research interests are in the history of strategy and war, and how these are understood and utilised in contemporary applications.
Rob acts as a specialist advisor to governments and international armed forces on strategy, cyber, new tech’, and the conduct of armed conflict. He has run ‘Insight and Understanding’ courses for a number of agencies on areas of security interest. He is author Military Strategy in the Twenty-First Century (Hurst and Oxford University Press, 2020), The Conduct of War (Routledge, 2021), and World Information War (Routledge, 2021; Defence Studies series) as well as several other works on conflicts in the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. He has examined the problems of strategy in a variety of contexts and publications, and draws attention to the local perspectives as well as the difficulties of forming judgements based on a selective reading of history or on the misuse of theories of international relations and politics.
He is currently working on a monograph on Anglo-American strategic decision-making in the two world wars (for Oxford University Press), to complement his earlier strategic study of the First World War in the Middle East.
Rob also conducts a number of ‘policy engagement’ activities, to foster knowledge exchange. CCW seminars are held in the department every week in term time.
Dr Rob Johnson is interested in supervising studies on ‘offensive cyber’, space strategy, the strategic implications (and assumptions) of new technologies, strategic coercion, strategic thought, and intelligence.
His published work reflects the important of historically-informed social science, and the application of intellectual ideas to strategy and military science.
The Great War in the Middle East: A Strategic Study (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016)
At the End of Military Intervention: Historical, Theoretical and Applied Approaches to Transition, Handover and Withdrawal, Rob Johnson and Timothy Clack, (eds), (Oxford: Oxford University Press, December 2014)
‘Upstream Engagement and Downstream Entanglement: the Assumptions, Opportunities and Threats of Partnering Indigenous Forces’, Small Wars and Insurgencies (Special Edition) 25, 3 (2014).
‘Predicting Future War’, Parameters 44, I (2014): 65-76.
‘Modernity and War’ in Alexander Linklater (ed), War (forthcoming, Stockholm: Ax:Johnson, 2016) published as ‘Det omoderna kriget’ in Axess (September 2015): 41-44
‘Naval Power and Political Relevance: Grand Strategy in the Twenty-First Century’, JRUSI 2015
‘Assessing Future Conflict from the Wars of the Past’, paper given at the Applied Physics Laboratory, Johns Hopkins University, 8 July 2015 and chapter for forthcoming publication.
‘ ‘‘Boots on the Ground’’: Historical Perspectives and Conceptual Challenges’, paper given at Sciences Po, Paris, 26 June 2015 and article for forthcoming publication with CERI.
‘Command of the Army, Charles Gwynn and Imperial Policing: The British Doctrinal Approach to Internal Security in Palestine 1919–29’, The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 43, 4, (September 2015): 570-589
True to Their Salt: Auxiliaries and Security Force Assistance (Hurst, forthcoming 2016)
The Afghan Way of War (London and New York: Hurst-OUP, 2011)
The Iran-Iraq War (New York and Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2010)
Pulverfass Im Hindukusch: Dschihad, Erdol und die Grossmachte in Zentralasien (Theiss, 2008)
Oil, Islam and Conflict in Central Asia since 1945 (London: Reaktion, 2007)
Spying for Empire: The Great Game in Central and South Asia 1757-1947 (London: Greenhill, 2006)
A Region in Turmoil: South Asian Conflicts Since1947 (London: Reaktion, 2005).
British Imperialism (New York and Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2002) Launch volume of the Histories and Controversies Series.
Gallipoli: The Turkish Perspective, Rob Johnson and Metin Gurcan, (eds), (London: Ashgate, 2016)
The British Indian Army: Virtue and Necessity, Rob Johnson, (ed.), (Cambridge Scholars Press, 2014)
At the End of Military Intervention: Historical, Theoretical and Applied Approaches to Transition, Handover and Withdrawal, Robert Johnson and Timothy Clack, (eds), (Oxford: Oxford University Press, December 2014) including 2 chapters ‘Introduction’ and ‘India and Pakistan, 1947-48’.
Upstream Effects: Stabilisation and Counter-Terrorism in Global Conflicts, David Anderson, Robert Johnson and Timothy Clack, (eds), including ‘Assessing the Upstream Strategic Environment’, publication to be confirmed, (forthcoming, 2017).
History at the End of the World: History, Climate Change and the Possibility of Closure, Mark Levene, Rob Johnson, Penny Roberts (eds), (Penrith: HEB, 2010) including chapter ‘Climate Change, Resources and Future War: The Case of Central Asia’.
Chapters and Journal Articles
Insurgency and Internal Security
‘Out of Arabia: The Fate of Omani Local Forces Allied with the British, 1967-76’, International History Review, Special Edition, (2015)
‘Countering Insurgency in the Second Anglo–Afghan War, 1878-1880’, in Bruce Collins and Marie-Cecile Thoral (eds), Colonial Counterinsurgency: Theory and Practice in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century (Basingstoke and New York: Palgrave, 2014)
‘The Afghan National Army and COIN: Past, Present and Future Reconsidered’ in Scott Gates and Kaushik Roy (eds.), War and State-Building in Afghanistan: Historical and Modern Perspectives (London and New York: Bloomsbury, 2014)
‘War Amongst the People’ and ‘The Consequences of a Failed State’ in Afghanistan Revealed (London: Afghan Appeal Fund, and Frontline, 2013)
‘General Roberts, the Occupation of Kabul and the Problems of Transition, 1879-1880’, in War in History 20:3 (July 2013)
‘Managing Helmand: From Bost to Bastion’, in International Area Studies Review 15, 3 (2012): 279-300.
‘Mizh der beitabora khalqi-i’: A Comparative Study of Afghan-Pashtun Perspectives on Negotiating with the British and the Soviets, 1839-1989’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, Special Edition, 39, 4 (November 2011): 551-70.
‘The Army in India and Responses to Low-Intensity Conflict, 1936-46’, Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, 89, 358 (2011), 159-81
‘The Indian Army and Internal Security, 1919-1946’ in Kaushik Roy (ed.), The Indian Army in the Two World Wars (Leiden and Boston: Brill, 2011)
‘Small Wars and Internal Security: The Army in India, 1936-46’, in Alan Jefferies and Patrick Rose, (eds), The Indian Army, 1939-1947: Experience and Development (London: Ashgate, 2012)
Lessons in Imperial Rule: Instructions for Infantrymen on the Indian Frontier (London: Greenhill, 2008)
‘The 1897 Revolt and Tirah Valley Operations from the Pashtun Perspective’ (Williamsburg, VA., November 2009)
‘Introduction’ to C.E. Callwell, The Tirah Campaign (London: 1911; repubd. Williamsburg, VA, 2009)
‘‘‘True to Their Salt’’: Mechanisms for recruiting and managing military labour in the Army of the East India Company during the Carnatic Wars in India’, International Institute for Social History, Amsterdam, 2011 published in Labour and the Military (Leiden, 2014)
‘Conception et conduite de la contra-insurrection en Afghanistan’, in Strategies Arabo-Mussalmanes et Irrgularite : Cultures et Discourses de Guerre, Strategique 103 (2013) Proceedings of the Centre de Recherche des Ecoles de Saint-Cyr Coetquidan, Ecoles Militaires, Paris : 193-218
Justifications of Revolutionary War and Intervention
‘Upstream Engagement and Downstream Entanglement: the Assumptions, Opportunities and Threats of Partnering Indigenous Forces’, Small Wars and Insurgencies (Special Edition) Volume 25, Issue 3 (2014).
‘Heroism and Self-Sacrifice for the Nation: Wars of National Liberation’ in Sybille Scheipers, (ed.), Heroism and the Changing Character of War: Towards Post-Heroic Warfare (New York and Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2014).
‘The Romanticism of the Revolutionary: Warriors of National Liberation’, in R. Hanks, (ed), Roots of Violence (Stockholm: Ax:Johnson, 2013)
‘Jihad and the ‘‘War on Terror’’: Intelligence, Ethics, and Justice in Pakistan and Afghanistan’, in Mark Phythian and Anika Bergman, Intelligence Ethics and the War on Terror (Routledge, 2011)
‘Mutazafin and Taghutti [The Oppressed and Tyrants]: Iran and its International Relations’ in the Iran-Iraq War’, in Nigel Ashton, Ranj Alaaldin and Bryan Gibson, (eds.), The Iran-Iraq War: New International Perspectives (London and New York: Routledge, 2012)
‘Justifying the Iraq War and Managing the Media’, in David Welch and Jo Fox, (eds.), Justifying War (Routledge, 2012)
Proxy Warfare and Sponsorship of Insurgency
‘Pakistan’s ISI and Covert Operations in Afghanistan’, in K.C Gustafson and P. Davies, (eds), Intelligence Elsewhere (Georgetown University Press, 2013)
‘ ‘‘Uncertain Loyalties’’: Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence and its Relationship with Western Intelligence Agencies’, in P. Major & C.R. Moran, (eds.),Spooked:Britain, Empire and Intelligence since 1945 (CSP: Cambridge, 2009)
‘In the Service of Empire: Imperialism and the British Spy Thriller’, with C.R. Moran, in Studies in Intelligence, 54, 2, (June, 2010)
Strategies of Security
‘‘‘I Shall Die Arms in Hand, Wearing the Warriors’ Clothes’’: Mobilisation and Initial Operations of the Indian Army in France and Flanders, 1914-1915’, British Journal of Military History, II, 3, (2016): 1-16.
‘Command of the Army, Charles Gwynn and Imperial Policing: The British Doctrinal Approach to Internal Security in Palestine 1919-29’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, Special Edition, 43, 4 (2015).
‘Killing in Close Combat: Contexts and Concepts on Cohesion and Killing from the First World War to the Present’, chapter in edited volume, Anthony King, Combat and Cohesion, (OUP, 2015).
‘War and Civilization: The Paradox of the Nature of War and Civilization’s Need for War’, chapter in Alexander Lindlater (ed), Civilization (Stockholm: Ax:son Johnson, 2014).
‘Naval Power and Political Relevance: Grand Strategy in the Twenty-First Century’, Journal of the Royal United Services Institution (2015)
‘Predicting Future War’, Parameters (Spring 2014): 65-76.
‘The Indian Army and the Mesopotamia Campaign, 1914-1918’ in Peter Liddle, (ed), The Widening War (London: Pen and Sword, 2015)
‘The Mesopotamia Campaign, 1914-1918’ in Peter Wilson, (ed), British Army Campaign Guide to the Forgotten Fronts of The First World War (London, 2015)
‘The Iraq Revolt, 1920’ in Peter Wilson, (ed), British Army Campaign Guide to the Forgotten Fronts of The First World War (London, 2015)
The British Indian Army: Virtue and Necessity, Rob Johnson, (ed), (Cambridge: CSP, 2014) including 3 chapters: ‘Introduction’, ‘Making a Virtue Out of Necessity, 1746-1947’ and ‘The Indian Army on Expeditionary Operations, 1856-1914: China, Persia, and East Africa’.
‘The East India Company, the Indian Army and the China Wars, 1839-1860’ in Peter Lorge and Kaushik Roy (eds), India and China (London and New York: Routledge, 2012)
‘The Penjdeh Incident, 1885’ Archives 24, 100, (1999): 28-48.
‘ ‘‘Russians at the Gates of India’’’: Planning the Strategic Defence of India, 1884-1899’ Journal of Military History (USA: Virginia Military Institute), 67, (July 2003): 697-743.
‘Introduction’ to Major General Charles Metcalfe MacGregor, The Second Afghan War: The Official History (London: Frontline, due 2016)
‘The Great Game and Power Projection, 1856-1914’, in Jeff Macris and Saul Kelly, (eds), Imperial Crossroads: The Great Powers and the Gulf (Routledge, 2012) voted ‘Outstanding Academic Title’ by Choice, 2014.
‘Sir Peter Stark Lumsden’, entry for the Dictionary of National Biography (Oxford: OUP, 2009)
‘A Plain Tale of Pundits, Players and Professionals: The Historiography of the Great Game’ in Chris Moran and Christopher Murphy (eds), Intelligence Studies in Britain and the United States: Historiography since 1945 (Edinburgh University Press, 2013)
Other History of War
Utmutato a Gyozelemhez (London: Athenaeum, 2011)
Hur Man Vinner pa Slagfaltet (Stockholm: Fischer, 2011)
How to Win on the Battlefield (London: Thames and Hudson, 2010) edited with Michael Whitby and John France
‘Boys at War: The Ubiquity of Child Soldiers’, lectures at All Souls and Magdalen published for the Soldiers of Oxfordshire Trust http://www.sofo.org.uk/dyn/files/boysatwarlecture.pdf
Regular Lectures for Defence Establishments
‘Planning for Future War’, NATO Defence College, Rome
‘Command in War’, Joint Services Command and Staff College
‘Partnering Indigenous Forces’, Higher Command and Staff College
‘Intervention and Peacekeeping: Palestine, 1920-48’, Royal College of Defence Studies
‘Palestine: A Strategic Study’, Royal College of Defence Studies
‘Vietnam: A Strategic Study’, Royal College of Defence Studies
Forthcoming Publications not already listed
War, Strategy and Civil-Military Relations: Essays in Honour of Professor Sir Hew Strachan (2017)
Countering Insurgency before 1945, Rob Johnson (ed.) (Brill, due 2017-18).
Articles and Chapters
‘The Taliban’ in Beatrice Heuser (ed), National Styles in Insurgencies (Oxford, due 2014)
‘Transformation of War: The Collision of States and Sub-State Polities’, publication to be confirmed (USA: CUNY/Florida).
‘Counter-Revolution or People’s War? The Mujahideen Insurgency’, publication to be confirmed (Helmut-Schmidt Univeristaet)
Journal: The New Strategist Journal
In 2015, the CCW programme launches the New Strategist Journal (NSJ) under the editorial direction of Dr Johnson. NSJ is designed to attract fresh thinking on the question of strategic thought, planning and decision-making.Civil wars Conflict management Ethics of war Foreign Policy and diplomacy History International security Religion Revolution Violence security and conflict
In the past I have supervised postgraduate theses on the history of war and strategy. I now supervise work on strategic studies and decision-making, cyber, and strategic confrontation and coercion, using both historical and contemporary case studies.
Number of DPhil supervisions completed: 13
Advisory assistance to defence correspondents of BBC, Financial Times, The Times, The Economist
World at War, ten part series, ITN Productions (2015)
Various interviews with BBC, Al Jazeera, Channel 4, ITN, and national news outlets in Afghanistan