The title indicates that the book is concerned with military operations as a manifestation of power, particularly state power, signaling an allegiance to Foucauldian theory (made explicit in endnotes) and corresponding analysis in terms of discourse, language, and social construction. The use of “ecologies,” less explicitly delineated within the book, is probably best understood as an instance of the generalization of ecological theory as a form rather than as a direct tie to the content of ecological theories of nature.2 The subtitle “Countermapping the Logistical Landscapes and Military Geographies of the U.S. Department of Defense,” meanwhile, adds method to theory. Countermapping is understood within critical cartography as a set of practices that appropriate, critique, and revise the mapping techniques of the state in order to undermine the machinery of dominant power.3 Deeper within the text, repeated references to writers such as Marshall McLuhan and Harold Innis make clear that the book’s approach owes much to media studies in addition to critical theory, generalized ecology, and critical cartography. Familiarity with these fields, if not strictly necessary for engaging with the book, at least will greatly enhance the reader’s understanding of the significance of the book’s arguments. Correspondingly, a fourth—and perhaps primary—audience should be added to the “decision makers, urbanists, and logisticians” listed in the introduction: theorists, whether from the fields of media studies, critical geography, or philosophy.
Thus, an extension of design agency is not Ecologies of Power’s core aim; rather, it is an investigation of “the spatial semiotics and semantics of power” (11) at play in the extensive logistical operations that undergird the directed actions of the various military branches of the Department of Defense (DOD). The repeated exposition of the sheer scale of these operations is one of the most effective components of the book. Take, for instance, this series of facts concerning fuel use:
“The Department of Defense uses 8.5 billion gallons of fuel annually” (50).
“The Department of Defense is the largest institutional consumer of energy worldwide” (53).
“The Air Force, consumer of the majority of DOD fuel, expends over 85 percent of its annual budget to deliver fuel; of that annual budget, fuel delivered was 6 percent” (61).