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Thread: What Are You Currently Reading? 2014

  1. #41
    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Default Palm Springs ‘Desert Sun’ report on vehicular deaths at Twentynine Palms

    NPR ran a story yesterday about the Palm Springs Desert Sun’s investigation into the off-duty vehicular deaths on the roads surrounding Twentynine Palms (Marine Corps) Base.

    I was interested in the story because I have been passed more than once on the Interstate by a Marine weaving in and out of traffic at a high rate of speed. (Each instance was a demonstration of skilled as well as reckless driving at the same time.) So I did an Internet search for the online version of the original story, which may be found at the link here. It is a fairly long read, but it is structured nicely for reading on a tablet.

    I have copied and pasted the “Investigation findings” section of the report below.

    -------

    The Desert Sun has spent the last year investigating the lives, and untimely deaths, of Marines at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms. Here are some of our key findings:


    • Since 2007, the base in Twentynine Palms has suffered more non-hostile deaths, like car crashes and suicides, than war fatalities. Sixty service members from the base have died in war zones in the Middle East, but at least 64 have died on American soil, mostly in the High Desert, while stationed or training at the base.
    • Marines at the Twentynine Palms base have been significantly more likely to be killed in an off-duty vehicle accident than their counterparts at other Marine bases. As of 2002, Marines at Twentynine Palms were three times more likely to die in a traffic crash than the average Marine. Safety measures have made crashes less frequent in recent years, but the base maintains one of the highest fatal crash rates in the Marine Corps.
    • Marines who commit suicide while at the Twentynine Palms base are nearly twice as likely to be under the influence of alcohol at the time of their death. Of the 15 Marines who committed suicide at the base between 2007 and 2012, seven had alcohol in their system at the time of death. This is nearly double the percentage reported by the Marine Corps as a whole. The base suffers an annual suicide rate of about two deaths per year, matching the Marine Corps average of 19 deaths per 100,000 troops. The civilian rate is 12 deaths per 100,000.
    • In one particularly troubling case, a Marine at Twentynine Palms died after military doctors prescribed him six separate medications for post traumatic stress disorder. The Marine died of “multiple drug toxicity,” and his death was ruled an accident.
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

  2. #42

  3. #43
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    Training for the New Alpinism by Steve House and Scott Johnston.

    From high school onwards I did a fair bit of minor mountaineering and climbing which grew a bit more ambitious during university. A bit of low-skill guiding (no official mountain guide!) helped to support my personal finances. Swimming remind my main sport. Work and social life cut deeply into my free time and I did work out. As a lazy slug with little discipline I need a well-structured, scientific system I can rationally agree with before I invest precious free time.

    Your are you own gym helped me greatly to get back into that training mental state, bulking up and increasing some aspects of my fitness. I'm now quite close to do flat one-armed push-ups and have greatly increased my pull-up count, so I very thankfull to YAYOG. However it's goal is obviously different from a proper training for mountain sports which is more holistic in some aspects and tailored in others.

    The highly-voted reviews in Amazon spell out my thoughts better then I could about the quality as a book. In couple of months I will try to update it, as it is still early times to assess properly the success of my program. I plan some minor alpine climbs this season and perhaps some more interesting stuff next year.

    P.S: The short pieces of many highly experiences and successfull members of the international climbing community are great, as well as the respect given to the giants of past and present. Still everybody has to find his own goals and way to climb while respecting the basic ethos of mountaineering.
    Last edited by Firn; 05-09-2014 at 08:28 PM.
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

  4. #44
    Council Member Backwards Observer's Avatar
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    Default the play's the thing

    Imperialism: A Study (1902) by John A. Hobson.

    Imperialism: A Study - Wikipedia

  5. #45
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    "A Prince of Our Disorder" by Harvard psychiatry professor John Mack.

    I'm only a quarter through it and I really should put it down to finish the U-Boat book I was reading during travels, but it is hard.

    The Pulitzer prize-winning book explores T.E. Lawrence's mental makeup and motivations behind his participation in the Arab Revolt, and awkward life afterwards. I half-expected it to go into a of detail about his efforts, but the book is 180 degrees out from that, and I think this is why I find the writing and material fascination.

    Plus, it is refreshing to absorb a ot of the "Kings good English" from the multitude of letters cited within.

    What happend in the past 80 years that we do not write or speak that well anymore?

  6. #46
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    Default Pakistan Army

    Must read on Pakistan Military Politics: Based on rare archival sources, and internal military documents to explain the army's traditions of tutelage and its consequences for Pakistan, and the wider world.

    Aqil Shah, The Army and Democracy: Military Politics in Pakistan (Harvard University Press, 2014).

    The author is a Pakistani? (I think!) political scientist based at Princeton University. Although after reading this book, I am pretty sure he will be persona non grata in that country.

  7. #47
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    Default Blood Telegram: Genocide in East Pakistan

    Great book on Nixon-Kissinger's complicity in the Pakistani Army's genocide of Bengalis in East Pakistan. Based on Arhcer Blood's dispatches from the U.S. consulate in Dhaka.

    Garry Bass, Blood Telegram: Nixon, Kissinger and a Forgotten Genocide

    Bass is a historian who teaches at Princeton University.

  8. #48
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    PAMWE CHETE, LtCol R.F. Reid-Daly (Pub. 1999)

    Link:http://books.google.co.uk/books/abou...d=h_MvAQAAIAAJ
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 05-31-2014 at 08:04 PM. Reason: add link

  9. #49
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Default A mixed bag

    On a recent holiday I settled won to read five books, three e-books and one hardback - the later is David Kilcullen's 'Out of the Mountains', which is reviewed elsewhere:http://council.smallwarsjournal.com/...=12934&page=19

    In 2011 'Dead Men Risen:The Welsh Guards and the Defining Story of Britain's War in Afghanistan' by Toby Harnden was published, winning plaudits and prizes. The author is an accomplished journalist and writer. His book 'Bandit Country': The IRA and South Armagh (Hodder, 1999), was excellent and so I sat down expecting a similar read.

    'Dead Men Risen' was far better, harsh at times in portraying the campaigning, including the loss to an IED of the Welsh Guards CO. It combines interviews of a large number who served, with a good, balanced measure of criticism tactically and beyond.

    Link:http://www.amazon.co.uk/Dead-Men-Ris...1712629&sr=1-3

    In 2012 Margaret Evison, the mother of Lt. Mark Evison, of the Welsh Guards, wrote 'Death of a Soldier: A Mother's Story', after his death, in 2009 in Afghanistan, in what became for many evidence that something was very badly wrong - in Helmand Province and at home, with the coroner's inquest. It is I think unique as a mother's account and in places is very hard to read. Well worth reading and hopefully officialdom will have learnt some lessons by now.

    Link:http://www.amazon.co.uk/Death-Soldie...argaret+evison

    The third e-book was 'The Last Great Cavalryman: The Life of General Sir Richard McCreery' by Richard Mead, had been well reviewed in The Spectator, but frankly was a disappointment. Yes this general is virtually unknown and played a key part in the Italian campaign. The chapters on his inter-war service was simply a too jolly account of riding, it gave little insight into his education, rather that he was lucky to be spotted by sponsors.

    Link:http://www.amazon.co.uk/Last-Great-C...eat+Cavalryman

    The fifth book deserves a longer review as it is rather different and has an Indian author.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 06-02-2014 at 02:06 PM.
    davidbfpo

  10. #50
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ganulv View Post
    NPR ran a story yesterday about the Palm Springs Desert Sun’s investigation into the off-duty vehicular deaths on the roads surrounding Twentynine Palms (Marine Corps) Base.

    I was interested in the story because I have been passed more than once on the Interstate by a Marine weaving in and out of traffic at a high rate of speed. (Each instance was a demonstration of skilled as well as reckless driving at the same time.) So I did an Internet search for the online version of the original story, which may be found at the link here. It is a fairly long read, but it is structured nicely for reading on a tablet.

    I have copied and pasted the “Investigation findings” section of the report below.

    -------

    The Desert Sun has spent the last year investigating the lives, and untimely deaths, of Marines at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twentynine Palms. Here are some of our key findings:


    • Since 2007, the base in Twentynine Palms has suffered more non-hostile deaths, like car crashes and suicides, than war fatalities. Sixty service members from the base have died in war zones in the Middle East, but at least 64 have died on American soil, mostly in the High Desert, while stationed or training at the base.
    • Marines at the Twentynine Palms base have been significantly more likely to be killed in an off-duty vehicle accident than their counterparts at other Marine bases. As of 2002, Marines at Twentynine Palms were three times more likely to die in a traffic crash than the average Marine. Safety measures have made crashes less frequent in recent years, but the base maintains one of the highest fatal crash rates in the Marine Corps.
    • Marines who commit suicide while at the Twentynine Palms base are nearly twice as likely to be under the influence of alcohol at the time of their death. Of the 15 Marines who committed suicide at the base between 2007 and 2012, seven had alcohol in their system at the time of death. This is nearly double the percentage reported by the Marine Corps as a whole. The base suffers an annual suicide rate of about two deaths per year, matching the Marine Corps average of 19 deaths per 100,000 troops. The civilian rate is 12 deaths per 100,000.
    • In one particularly troubling case, a Marine at Twentynine Palms died after military doctors prescribed him six separate medications for post traumatic stress disorder. The Marine died of “multiple drug toxicity,” and his death was ruled an accident.
    The Sun should do a companion piece on the number of deaths that have occurred just up the road on the stretch of leading from I-15 to Ft. Irwin (the National Training Center). I've road-marched up there from 29 Palms (I was stationed there from 2002 to 2005) on a number of occasions and always took note of the high number of crosses staked into the shoulders of the road no doubt memorializing the deaths of Soldiers headed to the base from homes in Barstow and elsewhere or back from clubbing.
    Last edited by jcustis; 06-02-2014 at 02:43 PM.

  11. #51
    Council Member Red Rat's Avatar
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    Default Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland

    Just finished Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland

    A profoundly disturbing book, nuanced and very educational as to the sociology of killing and genocide.

    For those working in conflict prevention and stabilisation I would highly recommend this book as it gives very good pointers as to the ingredients required for mass murder in terms of sociology (dehumanisation, legitimisation are key) as well as the impact on individuals and the mechanics of sustainable genocide.

    For commanders and especially junior commanders it would be a good book to challenge their self-belief that they and their men would never knowingly do wrong. It is very easy to say that we are the good guys and would never do such things, but history is littered with examples of ordinary men doing unspeakable things. The mechanics of how Reserve Police Battalion 101 was co-opted into genocide, the break down of the unit into Active, Participatory and Inactive members, their increasing brutalisation and the impact of the leadership element is both sobering and informative.
    RR

    "War is an option of difficulties"

  12. #52
    Council Member Firn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rat View Post
    Just finished Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Battalion 101 and the Final Solution in Poland

    A profoundly disturbing book, nuanced and very educational as to the sociology of killing and genocide.
    I agree with your review, perhaps his rather recent lecture about 'Revisiting the perpetrators' might interest you. Never knew about the incredible story* of the jewish eye-witness inside a killing unit, serving as a translator. Starts at 51:00.

    *Reflecting on it, of those who had not incredible luck, almost all didn't have a chance to tell us their tale.
    Last edited by Firn; 06-04-2014 at 05:56 PM.
    ... "We need officers capable of following systematically the path of logical argument to its conclusion, with disciplined intellect, strong in character and nerve to execute what the intellect dictates"

    General Ludwig Beck (1880-1944);
    Speech at the Kriegsakademie, 1935

  13. #53
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    Supreme Command, Cohen: Highly recommended. Best thing I've read in a while, and the case studies were well chosen. Undermines a lot of the facile "leave us alone to do our job" talk.

    Grey Eminence: Fox Conner and the Art of Mentorship, Cox: Don't bother. A thin monograph, and Conner's papers were burned so it relies almost solely on the views of the mentees.

    The March Up: Taking Baghdad with the United States Marines, West and Smith: Good read, in the "journalism as the first draft of history" style. I've heard a few guys that were there take issue with some of his details though.

    Are We Rome?, Murphy: Pretty good, quick read that digs a little deeper into that easy comparison between the US and imperial Rome.

  14. #54
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    Posted by Granite State

    Supreme Command, Cohen: Highly recommended. Best thing I've read in a while, and the case studies were well chosen. Undermines a lot of the facile "leave us alone to do our job" talk.
    GS, I have seen mixed reviews on Cohen's book. Most agree his points are well argued, but some critics believe he has shifted the argument too far to the political end and attempts to silence the voice of the military. Interested in your thoughts on that view?

    Haven't read it yet, but would be interested in his views if expressed on LBJ's inept control of the war (not an apology for Westmoreland), or JFK's handling of the Bay of Pigs (paramilitary operation). I would add our recent adventure in OIF where military advice was ignored on troop levels required to stabilize Iraq. I'm a believer of the military instrument being subordinate to policy and civilian leadership, but there is a balance that must achieved. I can't imagine a policy maker telling a brain surgeon how he will remove a tumor. I can imagine him telling him what the objective is, what risk he is willing to incur, what the left and right limits are, and basically have a discussion between policy makers and military professionals. The discussion can't end, because we'll be fighting a thinking and adaptive adversary, so the relationship must be persistent and both must remain flexible in policy ends and the military approach.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Moore View Post
    Posted by Granite State



    GS, I have seen mixed reviews on Cohen's book. Most agree his points are well argued, but some critics believe he has shifted the argument too far to the political end and attempts to silence the voice of the military. Interested in your thoughts on that view?

    Haven't read it yet, but would be interested in his views if expressed on LBJ's inept control of the war (not an apology for Westmoreland), or JFK's handling of the Bay of Pigs (paramilitary operation). I would add our recent adventure in OIF where military advice was ignored on troop levels required to stabilize Iraq. I'm a believer of the military instrument being subordinate to policy and civilian leadership, but there is a balance that must achieved. I can't imagine a policy maker telling a brain surgeon how he will remove a tumor. I can imagine him telling him what the objective is, what risk he is willing to incur, what the left and right limits are, and basically have a discussion between policy makers and military professionals. The discussion can't end, because we'll be fighting a thinking and adaptive adversary, so the relationship must be persistent and both must remain flexible in policy ends and the military approach.
    It definitely changed my perspective. He argues that Huntington's "normal" theory of civil-military relations (basically what you're describing) is not the best way to do business. LBJ gets mentioned, but the case studies are Lincoln, Clemenceau, Churchill, and Ben-Gurion. Cohen's issue with LBJ is not really that he meddled, but that he meddled badly. And the old line about military professionals being like surgeons who rarely if ever perform surgery has some truth to it.

    Cohen's brief Rumsfeld chapter does not hold up well. But I think some of our recent problems stem from excessive deference to the military, not the other way around. Will get to my copy of "British Generals in Blair's Wars" one of these days to get another angle. All in all, "Supreme Command" is worth your time, even if only to provide a contrary perspective and an introduction to some of the national leaders mentioned above. Made me want to dig into some of the Churchill revisionism (Corrigan) and learn a lot more about US Civil War generalship.

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    I'll definitely give it a look. Whether we use the normal theory or politicians decide to intervene, I think you captured the issue.

    Cohen's issue with LBJ is not really that he meddled, but that he meddled badly.
    That pertains to both military and civilian leadership, competence matters. I also think depending on the nature of the conflict or perhaps what phase we're in, one can shift between a normal theory heavy approach or a politician meddling approach.

    And the old line about military professionals being like surgeons who rarely if ever perform surgery has some truth to it.
    It has a lot of truth to it, and the implications go further than meets the eye. We rely heavily on history (Sun Tzu, Clausewitz, Jomini, Mao, etc.), which of course has merit, but the world moves on politically, culturally, and perhaps most importantly technologically, all of which provide a new context that a savvy political leader is probably more aware of than an officer who views the world through a doctrine that could be outdated. Just a thought.

  17. #57
    Council Member Backwards Observer's Avatar
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    Default Ist auf der Erde ewig dir nichts recht?

    A book about the Ahnenerbe.

    The Master Plan: Himmler's Scholars and the Holocaust by Heather Pringle.

    Ahnenerbe - wikipedia
    ...

    DER HERR:
    Hast du mir weiter nichts zu sagen?
    Kommst du nur immer anzuklagen?
    Ist auf der Erde ewig dir nichts recht?


    MEPHISTOPHELES:
    Nein Herr! ich find es dort, wie immer, herzlich schlecht.
    Die Menschen dauern mich in ihren Jammertagen,
    Ich mag sogar die armen selbst nicht plagen.

    Faust, The Prologue

  18. #58
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    Default the past is a foreign country

    Four books that seemed to be common fixtures on expat shelves in mid-seventies Singapore.

    War of the Running Dogs by Noel Barber

    Syonan, My Story by Mamoru Shinozaki

    The Scourge of the Swastika by Lord Russell of Liverpool

    The Knights of Bushido by Lord Russell of Liverpool

    ...at the annual Speech Day of Liverpool College on 23 November (1961), Lord Russell of Liverpool lectured the boys on the three things he most disliked in young men: Teddy boys, pop singers and beatniks, but especially pop singers 'because they can cash in to the tune of about 200 pounds a week for strumming a guitar and looking as though they had Saint Vitus' dance.' The Beatles - All These Years

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    Default mutli tasking

    right now I'm reading Tequila Junction by John Poole concerning 4th Gen Counterinsurgency and The Accidental Guerrilla by David Kilcullen.

  20. #60
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    Default all i wanted was a pepsi

    Dangerous Allies by Malcolm Fraser


    Exit Wounds: One Australian's War On Terror by Major General John Cantwell

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