Armed Forces Journal Celebrates 150 Years

An 1863 issue of The Army Navy Journal, the predecessor to Armed Forces Journal.


It’s not every day that a publication turns 150 years old. Armed Forces Journal, a sister publication of Defense News, was first published on Aug. 29, 1863, as a weekly newspaper called The Army and Navy Journal.

It was founded by William Conant Church, who had interrupted his newspaper career to volunteer as a Union Army officer. He left the service after being wounded in battle, and decided to create a publication to cover the military — and even more boldly, to foster the kind of debates that could strengthen it.

AFJ recently published a look back at its century and a half, which saw works published be everyone from Gen. George McClellan to Lt. George Patton to Gen. Martin Dempsey. It said:

“The paper quickly established itself as a prime source of Civil War news and a forum for serious discussion of strategy and tactics. After the war, it helped bind and shape the professional military that was emerging from antebellum militias and state units.

“As the decades passed, the Journal absorbed other military-themed publications and continued its work. If it lost some of its vigor after World War II, it came roaring back after 1968, when it was taken over by Benjamin Schemmer, a former infantry officer and Defense Department whiz kid. Schemmer renamed the publication Armed Forces Journal, changed it from a weekly to a monthly, and turned it into one of the sharpest eyes on the defense world. Under his watch, AFJ published the four-star calls for jointness that led to the Goldwater-Nichols reforms. Schemmer himself helped lead the charge to create Special Operations Command.

“Today, only a handful of magazines can claim to be older than Armed Forces Journal, and none in the military sphere. More importantly, the publication remains a vital journal of ideas and forum for debate.”

AFJ recently went all-digital, dropping its print magazine and relaunching its website. Drop by and wish AFJ a happy 150th!

Marcus Weisgerber
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Marcus Weisgerber

Senior Pentagon Correspondent at Defense News
I write about broad-ranging policy, acquisition and budget issues affecting the US military.
Marcus Weisgerber
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