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Thread: What Are You Currently Reading? 2009

  1. #261
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    Default Counter-Zombie Operations in a Swarm rich Non-Linear Environment

    Chaps, I awoke this morning from a disturbed sleep. As I walked down my street with Windsor Castle off in the distance I saw my street, my town, my locale with different eyes. Where, I thought to myself, would I retreat to if I were faced with swarming zombies. You see, I read the whole of Max Brooks, World War Z: An Oral History last night. I don't recall if its been mentioned before by the SWS (Small Wars Sages) but if it hasn't it certainly should.

  2. #262
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tukhachevskii View Post
    Chaps, I awoke this morning from a disturbed sleep. As I walked down my street with Windsor Castle off in the distance I saw my street, my town, my locale with different eyes. Where, I thought to myself, would I retreat to if I were faced with swarming zombies. You see, I read the whole of Max Brooks, World War Z: An Oral History last night. I don't recall if its been mentioned before by the SWS (Small Wars Sages) but if it hasn't it certainly should.
    World War Z was awesome. I haven't read any of Brooks' other stuff, but I hear it is good as well. Suffice to say I am rather glad the zombie apocalypse hasn't occurred yet. A big plus for this book was that it was mostly militarily accurate (at least as I remember it), so it won't annoy you for that reason at least.

  3. #263
    Council Member MikeF's Avatar
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    Default Stones into Schools

    I'm about halfway through Greg Mortenson's Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with books, not bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    For practisioners, this book is more important than 3 Cups of Tea. He's explaining his operational concept and how he is hoping to integrate/nest with the American military/state and NGOs in Afghanistan.

    His plan is the opposite of our current structure. He's using the ink spots theory building in the hinterlands (denied areas) first and working back towards civilization.

    The thing that struck me initially was his map. He has built a high school in Nuristan Province. This province is the same place where two American patrol bases suffered serious casualties and abandoned during the last 15 months. The question that boggles my mind is how can one middle-aged white American dude accomplish more than American infantry battalions in some of the worst areas of the world?

    I think the answer derives from some of the other grassroots reporting (Jim Gant for one). In small wars, sometimes less is more.

    My favorite quote so far- A "message" that speaks volumes. I can only hope there are others in the region secretly cheering us on!

    Another popular source of diversion involves booting up our solar-powered labtop with SatLink capability and watching YouTube videos of firefights between the US military and the Taliban. The hands-down favorite features a militant crying Allah Akbhar! (God is great!) while loading a mortar shell in backwards and accidentally blowing himself to pieces. Apo, a pious Sunni who detest religious extremism, is capable of watching the video ten or fifteen times in a row, cackling with glee each time the explosion takes place.
    Mike
    Last edited by MikeF; 12-07-2009 at 03:06 PM.

  4. #264
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    Just finished Silence Was A Weapon by Stuart Herrington and will likely begin Phoenix: Birds of Prey by Mark Moyar, and Pacification by Richard Hunt tomorrow. Any other ones I should definitely read on pacification in Vietnam? I'm preparing a paper for the 2010 APSA conference (assuming my proposal gets accepted) on military transformation.

  5. #265
    Council Member J Wolfsberger's Avatar
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    The Thirty Years War: Europe's Tragedy by Peter H. Wilson. He does an excellent job of presenting the complexity of the politics. One aspect of the conflict I intend to dig further into is insurgents/partisans.
    John Wolfsberger, Jr.

    An unruffled person with some useful skills.

  6. #266
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    Default Re: Zack's Request for Information

    Zack--In my opinion, Hunt's is probably as close as you can get to a definitive AAR of CORDS....I would also see Soreley's A Better War and, since you've read Stu herrington's, you would do well to read Bergerud's Dynamics of Defeat, which is about the same province, Hau Nghia.

    IMO, Bergerud is a must read--a highly detailed account of events in a province which, as it happens, was atypical of MR-III or IV--i.e., South VN--as opposed to Central VN--MR-I and II---(Atypical in the sense that, as Bergerud admits, the fight had become a blood feud, with local VC and and their supporters often having forgotten the original motives for the struggle....This intractable, generational blood feud nature of the conflict was more characteristic of Binh Dinh and Quang Ngai in Central VN). I would agree with Bergerud's conclusions that the impoved security in Hau Nghia by 1970 was a result of the change in the balance of forces more than pacification and that the population continued to believe the communists would eventually prevail--But see his conclusion that a social transformation would have changed this perception as a bit of a non sequitur. In the event, the population was correct in assessing that the balance of forces would revert back in the communists' favor in the wake of the US withdrawal...

    To appreciate more fully the influence of large enemy units in the Vietnamese countryside in the waning years of the Republic, read Col William Le Gro's Vietnam: Cease Fire to Capitulation, US Army Center of Military History, CMH Pub 90-29 (This work is available on-line in is entirety).

    For an alternative--i.e., non-CORDS-- approach to pacification, see Bing West's The Village.

    For detail on VC methodology in taking over a village see The Village War by William Andrews (recomended earlier by Mike F, SW Council). On the relocation of large segments of the population from VC to GVN-controlled areas as a result of allied bombing see Sir Robert Thompson's No Exit From Viet Nam, Second Edition.

    Finally, you will find some insights in the contributions by Sir Robert Thompson and by Robert Komer in The Lessons of Vietnam, Edited by W. Scott Thompson and Donaldson D. Frizzell, Univ of Queensland Press, 1977 (In my opinion, most other sections of this book do not contribute greatly to insight....)

    Cheers,
    Mike.

  7. #267
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    Default Hi Zack,

    To Mike's list, you should consider Tran Dinh Tho, Pacification (1977; one of the Indochina Monographs - 7mb DL - free), who was a key player in the programs, and who gives the South Vietnamese slant on the project. This thread, CORDS / Phoenix: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Vietnam for the Future, and this thread, CIA Vietnam Histories, also have a number of links.

    Good luck on your project.

    Mike

  8. #268
    Council Member Kiwigrunt's Avatar
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    Private Army by Vladimir Peniakoff, better known as Popski.
    Read it many years ago and forgot I had it.

    Now here's a man who enjoyed the war. In his own words:
    Up to the times I am writing about I had found little contentment, and I believe that my contemporaries had the same sterile experience; but during these five years every moment was consciously happy.
    Nothing that results in human progress is achieved with unanimous consent. (Christopher Columbus)

    All great truth passes through three stages: first it is ridiculed, second it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.
    (Arthur Schopenhauer)

    ONWARD

  9. #269
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    Just finished:
    Books
    "Fiasco"
    "The War Within"
    "Veil"

    Papers
    "A Strategy of Tactics: Population-centric COIN and the Army"

    Just Starting:
    "The Gamble"

    In Cue:
    "The Army In Vietnam"

    Thanks to contributors to SMJ. Your contributions in '07-'08 assisted greatly while I was studying prior to my ETT deployment in '08-'09. I am now back into theory and doing some light reading.

    Any reading suggestions about historical references on why/when COIN theory does not meet operations on the ground is appreciated.

    Knocked out " The Commanders" while, intermittently, receiving indirect on last deployment

  10. #270
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Default The Original SBW Manual

    I have recently recommended this to a few SCW members. It was one of the original papers from my era,early 1970's on Insurgency as a System, in fact a great deal of what is in Killcullen's writings is in this paper. Link to the PDF download.

    http://www.rand.org/pubs/reports/R0462/

  11. #271
    Council Member Dr. C's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeF View Post
    I'm about halfway through Greg Mortenson's Stones into Schools: Promoting Peace with books, not bombs, in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    For practisioners, this book is more important than 3 Cups of Tea. He's explaining his operational concept and how he is hoping to integrate/nest with the American military/state and NGOs in Afghanistan.

    Mike
    I am reading Stones into Schools. I like Mortenson's first-person narrative style of writing in this book better than in Three Cups of Tea.

    I attended his presentation 12/17, last Thursday, in Kansas City. I updated my posting in the SWJ thread about the presentation.
    Michele Costanza, Ph.D., CKM/CKEE (Contractor)

  12. #272
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    Finally reading the Accidental Guerrilla. I put it off in the anticipation of getting a Kindle, which I received on Thursday. When I tire of Killcullen, I switch to the Complete Sherlock Holmes collection.

  13. #273
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    Default Good plan.

    Quote Originally Posted by Xenophon View Post
    I switch to the Complete Sherlock Holmes collection.
    More accurate, educational and illustrative reading...

  14. #274
    Council Member Uboat509's Avatar
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    Waste deep in CGSC products about German tactical changes in the later part of World War I, for a paper I am writing for school. I have to confess that I had very little interest in World War I until I started doing the research for this paper.

    SFC W

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    I was attempting, in vain, to finish my Christmas shopping tonight and ended up purchasing (for myself) Fixing Failed States by Ashraf Ghani and Clare Lockhart. I just finished chapter 2 and have to say that, so far, it is a whole lot of "no kidding" and "so what" stuff. It reads like a monograph from a think tank (which, I guess makes sense since the authors are co-founders of a think tank). Hopefully it gets better. The review on amazon is glowing, to say the least, so I am hoping that tomorrow's reading is a little more enthralling.

  16. #276
    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Schmedlap View Post
    I just finished chapter 2 and have to say that, so far, it is a whole lot of "no kidding" and "so what" stuff. It reads like a monograph from a think tank (which, I guess makes sense since the authors are co-founders of a think tank).
    Think Tank? They make a living out of presenting the obvious and banal as new and exciting. Where do I get that job?
    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

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  18. #278
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    Default Looking for Stuff on the Reformation

    Long story, but stems from an article by Gumz about war's autonomy and current COIN fascination:

    Does anyone have any suggestions regarding reading on how the Reformation fed into the European religious wars and the Treaties of Augsburg and Westphalia? I'd prefer scholarly standards to readable distillations.

  19. #279
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default European wars of religion

    A long time since I read on this subject, IIRC Professor Geoffrey Parker wrote about this (I have an emailed a friend more familiar with this subject) and there was a series of books on European warfare, edited by Prof. Geoffrey Best IIRC. Fuchs might know more as his grasp of history is wider than mine and of course the wars centred in what was to become Germany.

    Added after reply email:

    Geoffrey Parker has written some very readable and yet scholarly books on 16th and 17th century European History which are in print - or at least widely available.

    Geoffrey Elton (better know as GR Elton)'s 'Reformation Europe' in the Fontana paperback series of the 1960s/70s is still the best and clearest intro for the non-specialist.
    That book takes you roughly just past the 1555 Augsburg treaty.

    JH Elliot's 'Europe Divided' is the very clear, well-organised sequel to Elton in the same Fontana series; he's also a lively but reliable author best known for 'Imperial Spain'.
    Europe Divided takes you to 1598, death of King Philip II of Spain.

    The following volume in the Fontana series - I forget the title ('Europe in Crisis' ?) - is by Parker and takes you up to the Westphalia treaties of 1648. My special subject at college was the Revolt of the Netherlands, 1568 - 1648, about which he has written a lot e.g. 'The Army of Flanders and the Spanish Road' (1970s).

    I have a copy of Diarmid McCulloch's 'Reformation', the most recent book on the subject intended for a general readership; however, he assumes some prior knowledge.

    One to borrow from libraries with rather more detail is the Reformation volume of the (New ?) Cambridge Modern History series; my edition has a chapter by Elton.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 12-25-2009 at 12:06 AM. Reason: Added text
    davidbfpo

  20. #280
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uboat509 View Post
    Waste deep in CGSC products about German tactical changes in the later part of World War I, for a paper I am writing for school. I have to confess that I had very little interest in World War I until I started doing the research for this paper.

    SFC W
    If Germany Attacks by Wynne is excellent on the subject.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

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