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Thread: What Are You Currently Reading? 2013

  1. #41
    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by davidbfpo View Post
    I still marvel at those who volunteered to parachute in the last days, many with just a few days training:
    I read Peter G. MacDonald’s biography of Giap earlier in the year. Didn’t that jump land all of them in POW camps (and from to their graves for many of them)?
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

  2. #42
    Council Member davidbfpo's Avatar
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    Ganulv asked:
    Didn’t that jump land all of them in POW camps (and from to their graves for many of them)?
    Simpson refers to:
    11,000 French Union able-bodied and wounded being captured, approximately 3,300 were returned.
    The possible factors that caused their motivation is mentioned, multi-faceted yes and now too late to research properly. No doubt other examples in military history exist.
    davidbfpo

  3. #43
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ganulv View Post
    I read Peter G. MacDonald’s biography of Giap earlier in the year. Didn’t that jump land all of them in POW camps (and from to their graves for many of them)?
    That is what David marveled at, me too. They knew what the odds and they went anyway.

    Maybe the motivation was what I read motivates most things like that, they can't stand to leave their mates unaided.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  4. #44
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    I am just finishing Iron Curtain: The Crushing of Eastern Europe 1944-1956 by Applebaum.

    http://www.amazon.com/Iron-Curtain-C...tain+applebaum

    The book is excellent. It is comprehensive and very readable. More than readable really. The author manages to convey what those people went through in a deeper sense than a mere recounting of history.

    The Soviets managed to subjugate, pacify if you will, a number of disparate countries with disparate cultures in a very short time. And a lot of those countries didn't have much use for Russians or Communists. That was a remarkable achievement.

    The book recounts how they did it and some of things critical to that accomplishment are a bit surprising to me. For example the mass rapes helped them. Those along with all the other brutalities functioned to terrorize the populations right from the start. Also all the ethnic cleansing and ethnic killing that we see in so many places today, was seen in Eastern Europe at the end of the war, on a vast scale.

    I recommend it highly, for several reasons. First, modern people tend to forget what brutes the Soviets were. Second, despite that, they pulled off a hell of a trick in subjecting all those countries and I think it important that we realize that. Third, though ultimately all they did depended upon the Red Army being there, there was a lot more to it than that. Fourth, it is darned interesting.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  5. #45
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    Default Parachutist Badges - not on our watch

    After the war, Pierre Langlais ("Gars Pierre"; CO of the 2nd Airborne Brigade at DBP) carried on a 2-year battle with the French Army to award parachutist badges to the surviving "first jumpers" into DBP, despite their (obvious) lack of regulation airborne training jumps, etc. Bureaucratic indifference to combat courage won out (as is usually the case).

    On DBP (the "pi$$pot" battle): Bernard Fall, Hell In A Very Small Place: The Siege Of Dien Bien Phu; Jules Roy, The Battle of Dienbienphu; and Martin Windrow, The Last Valley: Dien Bien Phu and the French Defeat in Vietnam. Windrow's is the latest academic work - and very comprehensive. Fall and Roy were there at the time.

    Background (Franco-American viewpoint): both by Bernard Fall, Street Without Joy: The French Debacle In Indochina; and The Two Viet-Nams: A Political and Military Analysis (essential and cheap).

    Regards

    Mike

    Chants Des Appelés.Le Gars Pierre (YouTube)
    Last edited by jmm99; 06-21-2013 at 02:21 AM.

  6. #46
    Council Member Red Rat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ganulv View Post
    Have you taken a stab at Herodotus? I don’t think anyone would go so far as to call The Histories readable—the historical geography in The Landmark edition helps, as does Carolyn Dewald’s Introduction in the Oxford World’s Classics edition—but that has a lot to do with the scope of his ambition. As the editor of The Landmark edition says, Thucydides was interested in politics and warfare, Herodotus was interested in everything.
    I have taken a stab at Herodotus and intend to return again to him (a copy is also sitting on my Kindle).

    I studied a lot of Greek philosophy while at university, I am finding The Histories readable in comparison
    RR

    "War is an option of difficulties"

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    Council Member Red Rat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    Be curious as to your opinions about the two Kursk books. That's always been one of my favorite areas (Eastern Front).
    I'll drop a further line in due course.

    Blood Steel & Myth: Lavishly illustrated with maps and photographs and provides a day by day, almost hour by hour account of the battles of II SS Panzer Corps. Good statistics with sources and workings demonstrated (important when one considers the conflicting claims as to just who killed what with what at Prochorowrka). Some anecdotes of the soldiers' experiences.

    Demolishing the Myth: Not as well illustrated as 'Blood Steel and Myth' and while the mapping is adequate it could be better. The content though is superb, setting the context extremely well and taking pains to explore commanders' backgrounds and experience often down to brigade level well. Perhaps because I am less familiar with the workings of the Soviet Army, but I am finding this book engrossing, hugely educational and very enjoyable.

    Added by Moderator: See Post 31 for links to both books.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 06-21-2013 at 02:25 PM. Reason: Add note
    RR

    "War is an option of difficulties"

  8. #48
    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rat View Post
    I have taken a stab at Herodotus and intend to return again to him (a copy is also sitting on my Kindle).
    One of my teachers told me that he grades with two things in mind: the scope of the student’s ambition and his/her success in fulfilling it. Herodotus scores well on both!

    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rat View Post
    I studied a lot of Greek philosophy while at university, I am finding The Histories readable in comparison
    I have studied very little Greek philosophy, but just last night I was reading a short piece about ontology which makes reference to “competitive metaphysics in the Greek style.”
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

  9. #49
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Rat View Post
    I'll drop a further line in due course.

    Blood Steel & Myth: Lavishly illustrated with maps and photographs and provides a day by day, almost hour by hour account of the battles of II SS Panzer Corps. Good statistics with sources and workings demonstrated (important when one considers the conflicting claims as to just who killed what with what at Prochorowrka). Some anecdotes of the soldiers' experiences.

    Demolishing the Myth: Not as well illustrated as 'Blood Steel and Myth' and while the mapping is adequate it could be better. The content though is superb, setting the context extremely well and taking pains to explore commanders' backgrounds and experience often down to brigade level well. Perhaps because I am less familiar with the workings of the Soviet Army, but I am finding this book engrossing, hugely educational and very enjoyable.

    Added by Moderator: See Post 31 for links to both books.
    Thanks for the initial thoughts!

    I've got this coming in the mail, which I'll update folks on if anyone's interested. SOG has always been an interest of mine, and this looks to be either good or hugely disappointing...
    "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

  10. #50
    Council Member ganulv's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    I've got this coming in the mail, which I'll update folks on if anyone's interested. SOG has always been an interest of mine, and this looks to be either good or hugely disappointing...
    Sure, keep us updated. That was “back when the Green Beanies were cool,” as a veteran of the 82nd who I once worked with informed me.
    If you don’t read the newspaper, you are uninformed; if you do read the newspaper, you are misinformed. – Mark Twain (attributed)

  11. #51
    Council Member bourbon's Avatar
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    Just finished Red Sparrow: A Novel by Jason Matthews, which is an espionage thriller centered on present-day Russia and the CIA vs SVR spy-war. This is an excellent novel from a debut novelist, who just so happens to have also served 33 years in the Directorate of Operations at the agency. Matthews was a denied area operations specialist and station chief in several locations.

    In-short, Jason Matthews has taken his significant real-world expertise and gift for the written-word and created a first rate spy novel. I recommend Red Sparrow to anyone who considers themselves a fan of the genre.
    “[S]omething in his tone now reminded her of his explanations of asymmetric warfare, a topic in which he had a keen and abiding interest. She remembered him telling her how terrorism was almost exclusively about branding, but only slightly less so about the psychology of lotteries…” - Zero History, William Gibson

  12. #52
    Council Member gute's Avatar
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    Default book Carnivore: A Memoir By One of the Deadliest Soldiers of All Time

    Currently reading this book http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_no...words=carivore which I find to be both interesting and amusing. If you go to Amazon you can read reviews, most of which are negative. The author is definitely full of himself, but his descriptions and explanations of the workings of the M2 Bradley, M1 tank and the armored reconnaissance squadron are interesting. So is the information about what his troop and the rest of the his ARS did during the run up to Baghdad. The author's Sgt. Rock love fest with himself makes this book IMHO a 5 out of 10. For those not familar with the workings of the M2/M3 Bradley it's worth a read.

    Moved here at author's request: I gave the book a separate thread when I should have just added it here. My initial post gave the book a 5 out of 10. I'm thinking now 6 or 7 out of ten. Sure, at times he thinks he is all that and a bag of chips, but his story, the crews story, and the other soldiers in the 3rd ID Cav squadron are interesting. The book is easy reading unlike The Revenge of Geography by Robert Kaplan.
    Last edited by davidbfpo; 07-22-2013 at 09:31 AM. Reason: 2nd passage added

  13. #53
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    Default Company K

    WWI Marines - Wiki, Amazon, Youtube - movie is 1-1/2 hrs.

    Regards

    Mike

  14. #54
    Council Member gute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jmm99 View Post
    WWI Marines - Wiki, Amazon, Youtube - movie is 1-1/2 hrs.

    Regards

    Mike
    Years ago a bought an out of print book about Marines in WWI called Make the Keiser Dance. Look around for it and if it is something you really want to read, but can not find let me know and we might be able to arrange something.

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    Default hey gute,

    At Amazon.

    Thank you for the ref.

    Regards

    Mike

  16. #56
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    I just finished War Comes to Garmser by Carter Malkasian.

    http://www.amazon.com/War-Comes-Garm...mes+to+garmser

    Everybody who hasn't actually been to Afghanistan, and I don't mean a big base somewhere, must stop reading whatever they are reading and read this book. Right now. For its conflict, this is as good as The Village. The author aspired to emulate War Comes to Long An. It has been a long time since I read that book but I remember how impressed I was with it and how it seem to shine a light on what had been dark. This book strikes me as the same.

    The great thing about this book is it is about the Afghans. There stories and their names constitute most of the story. At the same time the British and the Americans are part of the story, a big part, but always as a influence on what is happening amongst the Afghans, not as the main show.

    The author says three things give the Taliban an opening in Garmser, political infighting amongst the leaders of the dominant tribes, the sanctuary provided by Pakistan and the social disruption caused by the canal project. Taliaban's main support comes from mullahs who were elevated politically by them and poor immigrants who had no firm title to the land they stayed on. The story of how this all came to be is related in a way that is understandable. By the end of the book keeping track of mullah Naim vs Abdullah Jan (now he was something, a Magsaysay type) vs Omar Jan is a natural thing, as it probably should be when viewing this conflict.

    One of the main points made in the book that I found surprising was that one of the very great strengths of the Taliban was not that they were furthering the interests of the Pushtuns, the conflict in Garmser was basically Pushtun vs Pushtun. The advantage over the Afghan gov was that Taliban was a hierarchical, disciplined organization with clear chains of command. There was one boss who decided and was responsible for an area. That was not the case with the Afghan gov (and not with us from what I've read) and it made a huge difference.

    Another thing that struck me was something similar I read in Owen West's The Snake Eaters. In both books, on the eve of something important and good happening, the spec ops types did a night raid and 'effed everything up, to the extent people died who should not have died. The Afghans did not like night raids and repeatedly stated that to the author.

    An additional point Malkasian makes is that things were not written over there and some of the bad things that happened happened because of things we did and decisions we made. A case in point is the woefully slow growth of the Afghan Army. In the 5 years between 2001 and 2006 only 36,000 troops were raised so there was nothing much to oppose the Taliban offensive of 2006.

    I could go on and on but this is a great book and people should read it.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  17. #57
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    It will be interesting to see how his books reads. I was in Rig District, just south of Garmsir, during my '10 deploy. I've seen Carter in action during a security summit that brought in district governors and the NDS and police chiefs from their locales.

    Carter gets COIN, and he put it in practice in a backwater district far from Camp Leatherneck or FOB Dwyer. He'd been in country for who knows how long before I got to see him speaking Pashto among the men gathered at the district center. He wasn't burned out yet, and I admire the work he put into being a stability advisor. Our STABAD paled in comparison.

    He was a brilliant point of light in an otherwise very dim constellation of failed initiatives, corruption, and security half-measures. People like Carter should have been running the PRT, rather than serving downstream and working against the inertia of that worthless organization.

    I don't even have to read the book to recommend it, based solely on what i know first-hand of the guy.

    His story is very much the same story of my district and district governor, Ahmed Jan Massood, who was another young turk of sorts and good friend on the Garmsir DG.

  18. #58
    Council Member carl's Avatar
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    jcustis:

    The USMC comes out magnificently in the book. Mr. Malkasian said their efforts were something like a masterpiece of tactical application of COIN (or something like that, I just took the book back to the library). But I figure you already knew that.

    A point he made that was a surprise is that sometimes anti-corruption efforts backfired, specifically regarding the police. They resulted in a very effective but hard edged commander being replaced by a series on non-entities. Omar Jan was the guy he referred to. I figure you are familiar with him. That was part of another and broader point in the book, we have to accept some rough types who will fight in order to effectively prosecute the war.

    I have a question. Do you think that overall, all the spec ops things specifically the night raids were worth it? I don't. I figure the opportunity costs far outweighed the benefits in addition to all the Afghans hating them. And I don't mean just the physical opportunity costs, the men and machines, I mean the brainpower that could have been applied more effectively if it hadn't been busy with nocturnal swooping. If that course of action had not been available, possibly all those smart people would have come up with something better. But I am very interested in what a guy who was there thinks.
    Last edited by carl; 07-25-2013 at 03:54 AM.
    "We fight, get beat, rise, and fight again." Gen. Nathanael Greene

  19. #59
    Council Member jcustis's Avatar
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    Carl,

    Re: night raids is an interesting question. As a tactic, I think we developed a fetish for them in Iraq, but I was always on the ground with the unit that had to deal with the mess left in their wake. Yes, the resources and brainpower dedicated to them sucked a lot of energy away from making other tactical/operational investments.

    We got our share of bad guys, which is necessary in COIN, but the sh#t stirred up in the wake of dry holes did more harm than good. There is a lot I can't discuss that would really make you shake your head.

    It didn't even have to be night raids though. I finally got around to watching Nat Geo's "Battleground Afghanistan", and while I'm not trying to second guess the planning of the young captain that led his men to disrupt and disturb so many Afghan families as they patrolled in the wee hours, I would have employed a totally different approach. It would have required more resources that may not have been made available though.

    On the note of the district police problems, we experienced similar issues with a corrupt DCOP. The problems were exacerbated, in my opinion, by issues at the Provincial level with the PCOP, some security advisor named Shazzy (IIRC), and the PG himself. Individual actions by those characters, framed against the overall structural problems we faced in everything ANSF, made advances in ANSF development very hard to come by.

    When you have to navigate the issues of a DCOP extorting protection money from the ducant owners in the bazaar, while also trying to keep the police patrolmen engage and just doing their job, it takes away from training, intel work, targeting, etc.

    The one blessing to the removal of our DCOP was his replacement. He kicked ass and was a 8+ on a scale of 10. We were just lucky, however.

    You just brought back a flood of frustration that I'd repressed and didn't know I was sorta still holding down. I imagine there are a ton of us who have bottled up a lot of that conflict because it was so frustrating and hollow to spend 7-8 months there and leave with things essentially the same as when you arrived. We increased the raw metric of the number of ANSF on the ground, but I doubt it is translating into more security. I need to read up on VSO and see how that is doing.
    Last edited by jcustis; 07-25-2013 at 03:16 PM.

  20. #60
    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gute View Post
    Years ago a bought an out of print book about Marines in WWI called Make the Keiser Dance. Look around for it and if it is something you really want to read, but can not find let me know and we might be able to arrange something.
    Berry has two other books out as well dealing with Marines in World War II and Korea. Both are excellent.
    "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

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