Duffer’s Shoal: A Strategic Dream of the Pacific Command Area of Responsibility

  • August 01, 2015
  • COL Russell N Bailey, LTC Bob Dixon, Ms Laura McAleer, LTC Derek J O'Malley, COL (NZ) Christopher J Parsons, COL Elizabeth R Smith



This strategic assessment seeks to go beyond a traditional comparative analysis of the military, technological, political, cultural, and economic factors governing the relationships and capabilities of the Asia Pacific environment. To make sense of the intrinsic complexities unique to this region, we endeavor to broaden our view and rely on a tool often overlooked in government studies: imagination. Moreover, we aim to offer a strategic document that is readable, instructive, and provocative. Pulling from a well-referenced piece of military teaching, this assessment borrows a learning concept first employed in 1904 by Major General Sir Ernest Dunlop Swinton in "The Defence of Duffer’s Drift." This fictional story describes the plight of young Lieutenant Backsight Forethought as he commands a 50-man platoon tasked to hold a tactically critical piece of land called Duffer’s Drift. The story unfolds in a series of six dreams, where the blunders of the unwitting lieutenant lead to disaster. As the dreams progress, he harnesses the lessons of each of his failures, and by applying these lessons, his platoon ultimately defends Duffer’s Drift.