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Thread: Call for Professional Reading Lists

  1. #41
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    Default COIN Reading List

    For a list that generally approaches easily accessible on your own, I would put Muqawama's COIN reading list.

    Caution: for all the people who HATE population-centric COIN, this reading list is pretty much geared toward it. It has an amazing collection of very good articles as well. If you want to know what is influencing policy in the US government in Afghanistan it is this reading list.

    http://www.cnas.org/blogs/abumuqawam...ding-list.html

  2. #42
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default Hate is a tad strong...

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael C View Post
    Caution: for all the people who HATE population-centric COIN, this reading list is pretty much geared toward it. It has an amazing collection of very good articles as well. If you want to know what is influencing policy in the US government in Afghanistan it is this reading list.
    As an aside, I'm not sure anyone 'hates' population centric COIN -- why would they do that?

    There are many who appreciate its value -- but also understand its limitations and like everything else in the world it does have those. There are no easy solutions and no one answer to the solution of any problem.

    That said you're correct that the thought expressed on that list "...is influencing policy in the US government in Afghanistan." How wise that is remains to be seen.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-15-2009 at 06:11 PM. Reason: is to its

  3. #43
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    I'm reading Maurice de Saxe's Reveries on the Art of War right now (thanks Ken ), and one of the things that is helping get a handle on it is knowing a fair bit about the music at the time - both the great stuff (e.g. Bach) and some of the hack work.
    Ordered it last week, for the same reason.

    Guided study can be useful, but it is always important to remember that in such a setting you are being "guided" by someone else's view of what is important. It is a fascinating paradox in that it really helps to have expert guidance in getting a rough picture together, but that picture then limits what you can see. I ran head on into this years ago, and one of my truly great prof's suggested a couple of tactics that I have used ever since then.
    Wanna add some detail. This sounds fascinating!

    So, start tracking down the works of people who they are arguing with and read their stuff.
    Excellent advice. Also where possible, check the actual content of any footnoted references. Books which are PhD thesis re-prints are usually riddled with "errors".
    Quote Originally Posted by Michael C View Post
    Caution: for all the people who HATE population-centric COIN, this reading list is pretty much geared toward it. It has an amazing collection of very good articles as well. If you want to know what is influencing policy in the US government in Afghanistan it is this reading list.
    Can't improve on what Ken said, plus beware reading lists that are being used to further agendas.
    Last edited by William F. Owen; 08-15-2009 at 04:17 PM.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  4. #44
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Ordered it last week, for the same reason.


    Wanna add some detail. This sounds fascinating!


    Excellent advice. Also where possible, check the actual content of any footnoted references. Books which are PhD thesis re-prints are usually riddled with "errors".

    Can't improve on what Ken said, plus beware reading lists that are being used to further agendas.

    Excellent advice from the above post. My 2cents is to do independent study, which includes interviews with real people if possible. I have a book that I read on this a long time ago about how to do this, besides some influence from an economics professor. I am trying to find the book and will post the exact title for you. Learning how to do this will allow you to solve "mental crimes" which can be worse than the physical ones

  5. #45
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Took awhile to find it. It is out of print but not to worry. They have a web site where you can download the Newest edition for FREE! link to "The Independent Scholar's Handbook" by Ronald Gross. One of the best books I have ever read.


    http://www.sfu.ca/independentscholars/isbook.htm

  6. #46
    Council Member EmmetM's Avatar
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    Default Expert guidance

    Quote Originally Posted by marct View Post
    Guided study can be useful, but it is always important to remember that in such a setting you are being "guided" by someone else's view of what is important. It is a fascinating paradox in that it really helps to have expert guidance in getting a rough picture together, but that picture then limits what you can see.
    ...and never truer in the case of Clausewitz, the reading of On War itself often hindered by the guidance of 'experts'. To illustrate, anecdotally, I've heard of John Keegan's surprisingly misguided A History of Warfare being withdrawn (belatedly) from recommended reading lists because of its unhelpful impact on strat studies/mil history students' grappling with the Prussian's concepts and impact.

    As to the act of reading itself, I don't think we spend nearly enough time teaching our learners the how of critical reading. Mortimer Adler's How to Read a Book still has some gems to offer (though shame he cut corners on the Brittanica Great Books series - not user friendly texts at all).

  7. #47
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EmmetM View Post
    ...and never truer in the case of Clausewitz, the reading of On War itself often hindered by the guidance of 'experts'. To illustrate, anecdotally, I've heard of John Keegan's surprisingly misguided A History of Warfare being withdrawn (belatedly) from recommended reading lists because of its unhelpful impact on strat studies/mil history students' grappling with the Prussian's concepts and impact.
    Concur. Couple of points.
    H. R. Smiths book on CvC is excellent, and there are now a few good CvC Companions.
    The problem with Keegan and Van Creveld, is that they never read CvC, yet chose to take issue with him. Because they were "big names" people un-critically fell in behind their words.
    If I have come to learn anything, the higher the rank, the greater the claimed experience, and the bigger the reputation, the less likely the book is to be of any value.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

  8. #48
    Small Wars Journal SWJED's Avatar
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    Default SWJ / SWC TRADOC SLC Reading List

    As you peruse the posts in this forum on the issues being discussed at the TRADOC Senior Leaders Conference we would appreciate any and all reading recommendations. We will consolidate the list and publish it on Small Wars Journal - please provide the title (book, article, study), author and a short blurb on why that particular item is relevant to the discourse.

    If your recommendation is an article, essay or study and is available online a link would be most appreciated. If you'd like your recommendation, when published, to be tied to your real name you can either provide it here or send it along via PM or e-mail to me - SWJED. Otherwise we will go with your Council ID.

    We've already had one suggestion today, by Council member Anlaochfhile, The American Culture of War: The History of U.S. Military Force from World War II to Operation Iraqi Freedom, by Dr. Adrian Lewis, as a resource that addresses the role that American culture plays in how our forces organize, equip, and fight.

    Thanks much.

    --Dave Dilegge
    Last edited by SWJED; 08-19-2009 at 10:32 PM.

  9. #49
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default 'Competitive Adaptation' book

    The brilliant 'Traffiking and Terrorist Networks, Government Bureaucracies, and Competitive Adaptation' by Michael Kenney. Published by The Pennsylvannia State University Press 2007 (ISBN 0=27102931-5). Best chapters are on how "narcs" and terrorists learn. For this reading list I expect the process of adaptation is more valuable.

    Three reviewers cited on publishers website: http://www.psupress.org/books/titles...1-02931-3.html

    Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00...SIN=B001RTST4C

    Note available in e-form (Kindle), paperback and hardback.

    davidbfpo

  10. #50
    Council Member Starbuck's Avatar
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    As the Army's senior leadership is walking the fields of Gettysburg, and learning from the past, I'd like to suggest "Rethinking Military History" by Jaremy Black.

    Robert Haddick brought up a great point the other day regarding staff rides at Gettysburg: we often have difficulty conveying a relevant message to modern audiences. The tactics at Gettysburg were designed for a 1-2GW environment, and are often not relevant for the tactical leader. We also spend a lot more time discussing the nuances of Civil War Cavalry belt buckles than the strategic issues involved in the war.

    But we in the military love our history--and rightfully so, make no mistake. The problem is taking away the right lessons from history. For example, walk down the halls of many headquarters buildings (particularly Cav units), and you will see that a number paintings of the US Cavalry in action on horseback in the American West. Yet, should we really be glorifying their approach to counterinsurgency as practiced in the West in light of counterinsurgency experience in Iraq or Afghanistan?

    This book gets us to challenge the way we read our history and breaks down a number of paradigms. For example, the American-centric bias in our own history. We focus a lot on our own military history (for good reason, don't get me wrong), but we also need to know our enemies as well. There is also much we can learn from Eastern militaries.

    The book also talks about the fascination with technology in military history (just look at the history channel's fascination with the technical aspects of fighter planes).

    Finally, we often read about major state-on-state wars, but until recently, there haven't been many books about counterinsurgencies. Partly this is because the narrative of a battle reads well in a book and plays well in a movie--there are good guys, bad guys, a climax, plot, etc. Counterinsurgency doesn't sell well because it is slow, tedious, and filled with well digging, leader engagements and the like. But these are the types of missions armies have performed for millennia, and we should know these missions as well.

    Granted, there are a few chapters in the book that are great, and some that aren't that interesting. I wouldn't recommend it for a CSA reading list, but it gives some great insights into the reading of history--appropriate since our leaders are walking the fields of Gettysburg and seem to be trying to take away the right lessons.
    Last edited by Starbuck; 08-20-2009 at 09:24 AM.

  11. #51
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    Default Once a Warrior King: Memories of an Officer in Vietnam

    Once a Warrior King: Memories of an Officer in Vietnam by David Donovan.

    A very insightful book on the dynamics of small unit leadership, especially in the context of a small advisory unit that is isolated from main body U.S. forces. I found the anecdotes on cultural understanding and engagement very helpful as I prepared for my MiTT mission a couple of years ago. While the advisory mission has changed somewhat in the last year, the ideas on building and nuturing relationships with your counterpart without "going native" are still worth a read.

  12. #52
    Council Member Umar Al-Mokhtār's Avatar
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    Default Some general history...

    For the Common Defense by Allan R. Millett and Peter Maslowski

    A concise, yet excellent, overview of American military history from 1607 through Desert Storm.

    US Army Counterinsurgency and Contingency Operations Doctrine, 1860-1941

    and

    U.S. Army Counterinsurgency and Contingency Operations Doctrine, 1942-1976.

    Both by Andrew J. Birtle

    How “big” Army has dealt with the many small wars it has fought since the Civil War and how the soldiers involved not only fought but often found themselves in roles as governors, constables, judges, diplomats, explorers, colonizers, educators, administrators, engineers, and more. Birtle basically points out that while the Army continually devotes most of its planning and training to “big” war it has actually spent most of its time involved in “small” wars.
    "What is best in life?" "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women."

  13. #53
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    If you want to look at the issues faced by the Army both before and after the Civil War, Robert Utley's books "Frontiersmen in Blue" and "Frontier Regulars" should be at the top of the list. Both will help put some of those cavalry paintings in context...something that is sorely lacking from most discussions about the period.

    Utley's books show both the organizational challenges the army faced during the major Indian Wars, as well as the governmental issues (relations with the Indian Bureau, competing goals and objectives for field operations, and a host of problems with personalities and institutions both inside and outside the Army) they confronted on a regular basis. And contrary to what one might think, some of these challenges seem almost familiar when placed against contemporary operations.
    Last edited by Steve Blair; 08-20-2009 at 06:48 PM. Reason: added blurb
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

  14. #54
    Council Member Umar Al-Mokhtār's Avatar
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    Default Steve...

    I would posit that almost anything authored or coauthored by Utley should be read.
    "What is best in life?" "To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of the women."

  15. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by Umar Al-Mokhtār View Post
    I would posit that almost anything authored or coauthored by Utley should be read.
    Quite. But I was trying to keep it simple....
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

  16. #56
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Default Black's book is good, but...

    I think I'd put forward The Past as Prologue as a better examination on the whole of military history and its possible use for making policy. As it's an anthology, you get more than one viewpoint and it does deal with many of the same issues that Black covers without getting bogged down in some of the "pet rocks."
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

  17. #57
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    Default The Age of the Unthinkable

    While hardly a great book, it is still worth the small investment of time required to read it. "The Age of the Unthinkable", by Joshua Ramo focuses on complexity, rapid change, and concludes we can't predict or prevent all future threats, so our strategy should be focused on resilience. In other words designing a political/economic/social structure that can survive and continue to thrive in the unavoidable 9/11 like events in the future. Hardly a complete strategy, but resilience should definitely be a component of our national strategy. Especially since the trend enabled by technology is greater centralization of critical infrastructure, because it is cost efficient, but it makes us increasingly vulnerable. One example is our power grid.

    I found this book to be a good supplement to the Joint Operational Environment (the JOE) published by JFCOM, and it also sounds like it would nest nicely with the "The American Culture of War", which I haven't read yet (but intend to).

  18. #58
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Since this book raised a few eyebrows on a another thread I will submit it here, especially since this for senior leadership. If you want to understand networks and how to do Human Terrain Analysis this is for you. A more detailed analysis of my famous 3F analysis (Family,Friends and Finances). Our own davidbfpo says I should repeat this more often so here it is.

    Discovering National Elites: A Manual of methods for Discovering The Leadership of a Society and its Vulnerabilities to Propaganda.

    The link is listed below and you can read it for free. It is from 1952 and most of the techniques are manual but they could be automated. Should be read by senior leadership IMO.


    http://www.grazian-archive.com/gover...0Contents.html


    Oh yea there is some War Winning Stuff in here!!!!
    Last edited by slapout9; 08-21-2009 at 05:39 AM. Reason: spellin stuff

  19. #59
    Council Member Starbuck's Avatar
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    @Steve Blair: Thanks--just bought it for my Kindle!

  20. #60
    Council Member Bill Jakola's Avatar
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    Default "The Drunkard's Walk, How Ramdomness Rules Our Lives"

    "The Drunkard's Walk, How Ramdomness Rules Our Lives"

    In The Drunkard’s Walk Leonard Mlodinow provides readers with a wonderfully readable guide to how the mathematical laws of randomness affect our lives. With insight he shows how the hallmarks of chance are apparent in the course of events all around us. The understanding of randomness has brought about profound changes in the way we view our surroundings, and our universe. I am pleased that Leonard has skillfully explained this important branch of mathematics.
    From Stephen Hawking.

    Yes, from his formatible intellect, Dr. Hawking has a accurate description, but has not explained the value of this book for Soldiers, Marines, and other warriors. This book illuminates some of the causes of the the "fog of war" and is a helpful tool for reducing Clausewitze like "friction".
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 08-22-2009 at 12:41 PM. Reason: Add quote marks

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