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Thread: What Are You Currently Reading? 2009

  1. #221
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Fighting "real" wars

    No doubt because they wanted to get back to fighting "real" wars.
    I am not a military historian but after 1815 (Battle of Waterloo mainly) the British Army (which then did not include the Imperial Indian Army) did not fight a "real" war till the Crimean War 1853-56, which was in alliance with France, Turkey and part of Italy. Then there was a long gap till 1914. Post-1945 there has only been one year when the Britsih Army was not on active operations.

    Just a point.

    davidbfpo

  2. #222
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    I am not a military historian but after 1815 (Battle of Waterloo mainly) the British Army (which then did not include the Imperial Indian Army) did not fight a "real" war till the Crimean War 1853-56, which was in alliance with France, Turkey and part of Italy. Then there was a long gap till 1914. Post-1945 there has only been one year when the Britsih Army was not on active operations.

    Just a point.

    davidbfpo
    Understand. Point was that many armies discount or completely ignore relevant experience until someone else remainds them none too gently. No issues with the long stretch of colonial brush wars with one exception. The 2nd Boer had many of the elements of the Great War to come.

    As a historian and a lessons learned guy, I have come to believe that militaries don't really learn until blood is spilled. A lesson not paid for is not a lesson--it's that "history stuff". I actually had that one tossed at me by a flag officer several years ago regarding convoys and convoy security TTPs.

    That is why--and I know Wilf will appreciate this one--it is inevitable and often necessary to cloak the old in the new so folks will listen.

    Best
    Tom

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    What about the Boer War did the British not consider a "real" war? They were certainly on the receiving end of some "real" marksmanship!

    Off topic, but pity the U.S. didn't adopt the 7x57 Mauser. It would have been a far better choice than the .30-40 Krag and, I hate to admit it, the .30-06 Springfield too.
    "Pick up a rifle and you change instantly from a subject to a citizen." - Jeff Cooper

  4. #224
    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    As a historian and a lessons learned guy, I have come to believe that militaries don't really learn until blood is spilled. A lesson not paid for is not a lesson--it's that "history stuff". I actually had that one tossed at me by a flag officer several years ago regarding convoys and convoy security TTPs.

    That is why--and I know Wilf will appreciate this one--it is inevitable and often necessary to cloak the old in the new so folks will listen.

    Best
    Tom
    I think that a lot of lessons are learned and carried forward, but it is a cult of personality thing. For example, Sir Garnet Wlsey had his ring, which was able to apply lessons learneduntil its members died, passed out of service, or passed out of favor (as happened to Redvers Buller in that second--or maybe third if you count the Zulu War--"small war" in South Africa). The US Army has had its "rings" as well. I'm sure we could all recount and reminsice about those "rings" at our leisure. The point is that I think Armies (and hierarchical organizations in general) tend to apply only those things that the current leadership values. The German Army learned what to avoid from WWI in the interwar years, but, after France 1940, I submit quickly "forgot" those important lessons when the Fuhrer through the OKW marginalized von Brauchitsch and the OKH to put his personal leadership stamp on the conduct of the ground war.
    Vir prudens non contra ventum mingit
    The greatest educational dogma is also its greatest fallacy: the belief that what must be learned can necessarily be taught. Sydney J. Harris

  5. #225
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    What about the Boer War did the British not consider a "real" war? They were certainly on the receiving end of some "real" marksmanship!
    A similar tendency would be the opinion of many U.S. Army and Marine officers that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan do not count as "real war", despite the fact that the two combined undoubtedly stretched U.S. ground forces near the breaking point.

  6. #226
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default It revolves around the fact

    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    ...the two combined undoubtedly stretched U.S. ground forces near the breaking point.
    that the stretching occurred over a long period to a small US Force as opposed to a 'real war' shooting past the breaking point of elements of a larger force in a very short period of time.

    It's all about intensity. To discount the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as not 'real wars' is foolish and incorrect and in some cases is stupid as its predicated on the fact the opponent is not 'first class' -- that's stupid because they can kill you just as dead as can a better trained and equipped foe...

    To say neither war is high intensity combat against a peer or near peer competitor is true and is saying a quite different thing. One Corps or even one Division taking the KIA toll for Afghanistan from 2001 to date in one day is a whole different kind of war; the Bulge in Europe, 1944-45 saw over 16K KIA in a little over a month. Not long after that, Iwo Jima saw over 6K KIA in about the same amount of time.

  7. #227
    Council Member Tom Odom's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rifleman View Post
    What about the Boer War did the British not consider a "real" war? They were certainly on the receiving end of some "real" marksmanship!

    Off topic, but pity the U.S. didn't adopt the 7x57 Mauser. It would have been a far better choice than the .30-40 Krag and, I hate to admit it, the .30-06 Springfield too.
    Look at the first year and a half of the war and you will see. The commanders considered the Boers illterate peasants--peasants yes, illiterate no--who would fold at the first whiff of gunpowder. Even Churchill who actually saw the threat felt compelled to point out the Brits were going to need twice as many troops. He was proved wrong. They started around 100K and Winnie said 200k. War ended with 400K.

    Boers used superior rifles with absolute mastery of the ground--Spion Kop is a classic on the risks of occupying high but not the highest ground. They also fought from dug in positions that resisted artillery.

    Other lesson was railroads are marvelous for supplies and disastrous for tactical flexibility. The Brits were tied to the rails and the Boers could raid at will. Breaking the cycle lead to population control at its worst: the concentration camp.

    I like the 7x57; I have a CZ 550 full stock in that caliber. But I still prefer my 1903 in 30-06.

    Tom

  8. #228
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Odom View Post
    That is why--and I know Wilf will appreciate this one--it is inevitable and often necessary to cloak the old in the new so folks will listen.
    Sadly very true, and which is why Military Thought has really got to become the formalised study of the past to gain knowledge and skills to apply to the future.

    We say we do it.... but we do not.
    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

  9. #229
    Council Member karaka's Avatar
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    Peter Mansoor's "Baghdad at Sunrise" or Dexter Filkin's "The Forever War": which should I pick up next?

  10. #230
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    Sadly very true, and which is why Military Thought has really got to become the formalised study of the past to gain knowledge and skills to apply to the future.

    We say we do it.... but we do not.
    That's good for catching up to the benchmark - where we should already be, but aren't.

    The world is nevertheless changing and it requires new balances and new ideas as well. The innovative thought is important to address that.
    It's not enough to adopt old innovations, ideas and insights.

  11. #231
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    Default Filkins

    I have both on the shelf, but have only read Filkin's book so far. That said, it is a deep and emotional read. The book is stories and observations from his travels during The Long War. Some really exciting and sad stuff, definitely a must read.

    Quote Originally Posted by karaka View Post
    Peter Mansoor's "Baghdad at Sunrise" or Dexter Filkin's "The Forever War": which should I pick up next?
    "What do you think this is, some kind of encounter group?"
    - Harry Callahan, The Enforcer.

  12. #232
    Council Member tequila's Avatar
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    Clan Politics and Regime Transition in Central Asia.

    Feeding my poli-sci side. Not the most involving read, but a good way to refocus on the importance of informal networks and power relations after focusing on state-level relations for so long.

  13. #233
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    Now reading After Hegemony, Nagel's the Sling and the Stone, and Xenophon's Anabasis

  14. #234
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    Quote Originally Posted by tequila View Post
    Clan Politics and Regime Transition in Central Asia.

    Feeding my poli-sci side. Not the most involving read, but a good way to refocus on the importance of informal networks and power relations after focusing on state-level relations for so long.
    You dirty dirty realist.

  15. #235
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    Default General - Statesman

    Am finishing up William Manchester's bio of MacArthur (American Caesar).
    MacArthur's actions in post-war Japan are ripe for what can be done WRT nation-building.

    Sadly, the "global network" makes things too interconnected today to allow an individual that level of autonomy; nor is any entity (nation, military, criminal enterprise, economic aid, diplomatic resolve, etc.) able to be that decisive.

  16. #236
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default Decisive individual since McArthur?

    Quote Originally Posted by Cap'nJake View Post
    Sadly, the "global network" makes things too interconnected today to allow an individual that level of autonomy; nor is any entity (nation, military, criminal enterprise, economic aid, diplomatic resolve, etc.) able to be that decisive.
    Cap'n Jake,

    I think you are wrong it is possible for an individual to be decisive. The US retired General Jacques "Joe" Klein led a remarkable UN mission in Eastern Slavonia, a Serb rebel enclave in Croatia, which was re-integrated with robust action: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_...estern_Sirmium

    IIRC he was backed by "interested parties", with a UN mandate, which both Croatia and local parties had to accept and a robust Jordanian Army battallion which gave him "muscle".

    Cannot recall other UN missions which had such a figure and mission.

    davidbfpo

  17. #237
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    Default American Soldier

    I just finished Tommy Franks' American Soldier. Did anybody else's BS alarm go off constantly as they read this?

  18. #238
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by karaka View Post
    Peter Mansoor's "Baghdad at Sunrise" or Dexter Filkin's "The Forever War": which should I pick up next?
    I have Filkin's and have read Mansoor's. "Baghdad" is a great book, well written, interesting and from a civilian's point of view, it opened up a whole new world about how an effective brigade did things in unconventional and relatively conventional roles.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  19. #239
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Doing a little 'light' reading on some topics outside of small wars. All three are philosophical in nature but explore science, religion, and capitalism in very definitive ways.

    1. Why does E=MC^2 by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw

    2. A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

    3. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

    Next up is Tom and Stan's most excellent adventure. It was on back order at Border's, but the assistant was well aware of the author.

    Mike

  20. #240
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    Quote Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
    Doing a little 'light' reading on some topics outside of small wars. All three are philosophical in nature but explore science, religion, and capitalism in very definitive ways.

    1. Why does E=MC^2 by Brian Cox and Jeff Forshaw

    2. A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

    3. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

    Next up is Tom and Stan's most excellent adventure. It was on back order at Border's, but the assistant was well aware of the author.

    Mike
    Ayn is a bit of a crazy person, but can (sometimes) be fun to read nonetheless. The recent book of her Q&As was particularly interesting to me. You should check it out if you are interested in some of her philosophy.

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