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Old 10-21-2012   #41
Bill Moore
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Mike,

I agree momentum is a beautiful thing, but unless it can be advantaged to the point of culmination, the effects on the enemy are normally transient, especially if the insurgent has a safe haven across a border where they can regroup. In Afghanistan we have only been able to leverage momentum up to tactical and operational level victories, not strategic.

Clausewitz addressed this from conventional stand point, but it applies to some extent to irregular warfare.

http://books.google.com/books?id=xym...mentum&f=false

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The situation is completely different when a defeated army is being pursued. Resistance becomes difficult, indeed sometimes impossible, as a consequence of battle casualties, loss of order and of courage, and anxiety about the retreat.
Skip a couple of lines to talking about the pursuer:

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The faster his pace, the greater the speed with which events will run along their predtermined course: this is the primary area where psychological forces will increase and multiply without being rigidly bound to weights and measures of the material world.
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Old 10-21-2012   #42
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Default In the Ruins of Empire

http://www.amazon.com/In-Ruins-Empir.../dp/0375509151

In the Ruins of Empire, The Japanese Surrender and the Battle for Postwar Asia, by Ronald Spector

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I think this book is a must read for anyone interested in Small Wars and the recent and very relevant history of the Asia-Pacific. I also read Spector's "Eagle Against the Sun" and highly recommend it also. Back to the Ruins of Empire, this short excerpt from the NYT review sums it nicely:

With access to recently available firsthand accounts by Chinese, Japanese, British, and American witnesses and previously top secret U.S. intelligence records, Spector tells for the first time the fascinating story of the deadly confrontations that broke out–or merely continued–in Asia after peace was proclaimed at the end of World War II. Under occupation by the victorious Allies, this part of the world was plunged into new power struggles or back into old feuds that in some ways were worse than the war itself. In the Ruins of Empire also shows how the U.S. and Soviet governments, as they secretly vied for influence in liberated lands, were soon at odds.

At the time of the peace declaration, international suspicions were still strong. Joseph Stalin warned that “crazy cutthroats” might disrupt the surrender ceremony in Tokyo Bay. Die-hard Japanese officers plotted to seize the emperor’s palace to prevent an announcement of surrender, and clandestine relief forces were sent to rescue thousands of Allied POWs to prevent their being massacred.

In the Ruins of Empire paints a vivid picture of the postwar intrigues and violence. In Manchuria, Russian “liberators” looted, raped, and killed innocent civilians, and a fratricidal rivalry continued between Chiang Kai-shek’s regime and Mao’s revolutionaries. Communist resistance forces in Malaya settled old scores and terrorized the indigenous population, while mujahideen holy warriors staged reprisals and terror killings against the Chinese–hundreds of innocent civilians were killed on both sides. In Indochina, a nativist political movement rose up to oppose the resumption of French colonial rule; one of the factions that struggled for supremacy was the Communist Viet Minh led by Ho Chi Minh. Korea became a powder keg with the Russians and Americans entangled in its north and south. And in Java, as the Indonesian novelist Idrus wrote, people brutalized by years of Japanese occupation “worshipped a new God in the form of bombs, submachine guns, and mortars.”

Through impeccable research and provocative analysis, as well as compelling accounts of American, British, Indian, and Australian soldiers charged with overseeing the surrender and repatriation of millions of Japanese in the heart of dangerous territory, Spector casts new and startling light on this pivotal time–and sets the record straight about this contested and important period in history.
I worked in this part of the world for a long time and felt like a novice after reading this book. I won't go as far to say the book offers lessons for post decisive operations in Iraq, but it does provide historical insights on previous efforts where a U.S. led coalition struggled with post war occupation and policy issues. As the author points out, in many countries more people were killed after Japan's surrender than during the actual war.
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Old 10-21-2012   #43
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Originally Posted by Mike in Hilo View Post
Owen West,The Snake Eaters....I highly recommend this book.

I had as much difficulty putting this one down as I did Owen's father Bing's The Village. Like The Village in an Iraqi context, the theme is advisers being most effective by fighting alongside their host country counterparts. The key to what is essentially a territorial security role is shown to be aggressive patrolling to seek out and engage the enemy. In The Snake Eaters, as engagements are won, the populace begins to shift their allegiance toward the winner, generating important momentum.
Agree absolutely. I always thought of The Village as almost a how to book for small war in a rural area that was written a compelling way. The Snake Eaters is the same in that it is almost a how to book for small war in a more urban area written in a compelling way. The huge strength in both books is that the readers know as much about the Iraqis and Vietnamese in the stories as they do about the Americans.

Both are brilliant books.
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Old 10-21-2012   #44
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Have you tried this one, Firn?
No, thanks for the link. Did you?

Sounds rather interesting but I got a couple of books waiting that I take the time to read them.
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Old 10-21-2012   #45
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Default I enjoyed reading it,

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No, thanks for the link. Did you?
but I have no exposure whatsoever to that world so I have no idea whether the ethnography rings true. I find the author dorkily loveable so I want to give her the benefit of the doubt.
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Old 10-21-2012   #46
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I just finished the complete 166-pages of documents released by Republicans of the House Oversight Committee, and listened ton the four hours of hearing proceedings. Only about a third of the C-SPAN material is worth anything in terms of real testimony, as the remainder is just the standard grandstanding and political posturing.

Reporters continue to prove that the can be dumb and lazy without a great degree of effort.
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Old 10-21-2012   #47
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Ganulv:

What Prof. Ho says in the video jibes with many of the things I read (I'm not in that world either), especially the part about dismantling rules that had been in effect. There have been a number of those established long ago from hard experience, the Depression, that have been done away with. If there is a discrete elite on Wall Street it stands to reason that it will have a distinct culture and that help drive their behavior. And if that culture is at odds with the rest of the country and at odds with what the rest of us figure is good behavior, trouble is in the offing.

What she says also jibes with Charles Murray's thesis in Coming Apart, that there is an elite developing in the country that basically runs the place, but that this elite has nothing much in common with the rest of us.

JCustis:

Hearings on what?
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Old 10-22-2012   #48
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Crap, it was the Benghazi attack hearing.

Sorry about that. Good luck finding balanced reporting about it.
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Old 10-22-2012   #49
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Re: Bill Moore's response to my question on momentum:

Bill,

I'd say your comment on momentum only taking us so far, as when an enemy is free to regroup in a cross border sanctuary, is spot on...

And I greatly appreciate your taking the time to research von Clausewitz in response to my question.

Cheers,
Mike
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Old 10-22-2012   #50
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How do you mean? I just finished The Wrong War, Little America and Losing Small Wars. All had much to say about the British effort in Helmand and Little American and Losing Small Wars were not complimentary.
Carl, it is apparent (in my interpretation) that this book was written to launch a career beyond the army lecturing on leadership aspects to civilians.

This book lacks the tactical and intel context of this company's operations in Helmand to make it meaningful to a soldier. (This maybe as a result of the threat or actual MoD censorship).

With his future career in mind we read ad nauseam about the poor conditions at FOB Inkerman. Think of the poor man having to shower using a "solar shower" and crap in a "long drop", not to mention the dust and the lack of fresh rations.

Quite frankly through trying to present himself to civilians as some sort of long suffering martyr he comes across to soldiers as some sort of self indulgent wimp. We read more about him spending time running around the FOB and in the makeshift gym, reading books, watching DVDs and "thinking" and practicing NLP, and chatting with the signalers in the ops room than we hear about any strategizing, planning, analyzing intel, training for operations.

Think of the poor man having to pace himself so he did not burn out over a six month tour. Poor darling.

Then the kicker... the loneliness of command. This tells us that his decision to leave the military was the correct one (for him). If he had stayed he would only be suitable for staff work and not command.

Let me explain it this way.

He was commanding a company of the finest soldiers - the Brit paras. It you look at the company structure as a pyramid standing firmly on its base then he was the apex. the "pyramid" (meaning the rank and file of the company) was carrying him. His job was made easy (because of the quality of the NCOs and troops).

This poor man saw his situation like an inverted Pyramid standing on/balancing on its apex (meaning him). He saw himself carrying all the responsibility... which, quite frankly, is pure nonsense (as he is not commanding a rabble but the best troops available.) One must question his fitness to command such a company of troops.

We should wish him well in his new career as a civilian.
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Old 10-22-2012   #51
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He was commanding a company of the finest soldiers - the Brit paras. It you look at the company structure as a pyramid standing firmly on its base then he was the apex. the "pyramid" (meaning the rank and file of the company) was carrying him. His job was made easy (because of the quality of the NCOs and troops).

This poor man saw his situation like an inverted Pyramid standing on/balancing on its apex (meaning him). He saw himself carrying all the responsibility... which, quite frankly, is pure nonsense (as he is not commanding a rabble but the best troops available.) One must question his fitness to command such a company of troops.

We should wish him well in his new career as a civilian.
If this were Facebook I click on "Like"
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Old 10-29-2012   #52
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Amen!
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Old 10-29-2012   #53
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JMA:

Very well put and a good book review too. I wonder about guys like that who apparently find being a small scale "warrior king" isn't interesting enough for them.

I have an observation and question about a little thing but I wonder nonetheless. When you mentioned "the makeshift gym" it reminded me. What do you, and anybody else, think of the whole "gym" and "workout" subculture and how it affects the way things are run over there? I mention this because it was my subjective observation that some of the people I worked with, some, seemed to be as interested in making sure they had their full allotment of gym time as they were interested in the conflict.
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Old 10-29-2012   #54
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I have an observation and question about a little thing but I wonder nonetheless. When you mentioned "the makeshift gym" it reminded me. What do you, and anybody else, think of the whole "gym" and "workout" subculture and how it affects the way things are run over there? I mention this because it was my subjective observation that some of the people I worked with, some, seemed to be as interested in making sure they had their full allotment of gym time as they were interested in the conflict.
Sounds prison yardish to me.
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Old 12-14-2012   #56
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Default On the Khowst debacle...

The Triple Agent by Joby Warrick

So far, so good.
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Old 12-14-2012   #57
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Checked out The Gun by C.J. Chivers from the library last week. Apart from the fact that I thought the book could have used a bit of editing as the topics did not seem always to stay on topic, I much enjoyed it. My knowledge of firearms is very basic, however, so I was not a very informed reader. Any informed readers of the book on the forum who would care to share their own opinions?
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Old 12-14-2012   #58
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Ganulv:

I am probably far less informed than I like to think I am but my opinion of the book is exactly the same as yours. Very good but it needed a tougher editor. It was as if the author and the editor knew little about firearms history before the project was started and found the whole of the subject so interesting they couldn't bear to leave anything out.
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Old 12-16-2012   #59
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Default "The poorer the infantry, the more...

artillery it needs; the American infantry needs all it can get."

That is what a French general said in WWI. I read it long ago and could never really understand why he said that. After reading this book, The School of Hard Knocks, Combat Leadership in the American Expeditionary Force (http://www.amazon.com/School-Hard-Kn...expeditionary+), I understand.

The book is about how American small unit leaders, Lts and NCOs were trained and how they performed in battle. They were very poorly trained and consequently performed poorly, the poor performance resulting in sluggish performance inordinately high casualties for the results gained.

The Army was faced with an almost impossible task, going from around 7,000 regular and Nat Guard officers to almost 200,000 in no time at all. So only so much could be done. But the book recounts how very much of what was done was a complete waste, large blocks of time spent on close order drill, bayonet fighting and wig wag flag signaling. The Army de-emphasized training available from Allied officers in order to further an 'American' way of fighting to a certain extent.

It was surprising to me that the NCO corps basically wasn''t. The training was almost non-existent and the results showed.

The many many faults were never really corrected. Divisions fed into the line in late 1918 were as bad as the first divisions to go in and those first divisions never got much better as far as small unit fighting went. Divisions and brigades got better at things like coordinating artillery and supports but the sharp end stayed dull.

It was very interesting how Army personnel policies were hugely important in getting in the way. Wholesale drafts from units that had worked together for a while destroyed cohesion. Filling school quotas with small unit leaders pulled directly out of battles was something they insisted on doing. The book seems to describe an AEF that was approaching a crisis with straggling possibly approaching 10% as the war ended.

Another interesting point the author made was that small unit leader training and accession practices in Vietnam resembled to some extent those of WWI.

The book was a little slow in the first few chapters, neccasarily (sic) so in order to detail the initial training but it all comes together in the last chapters describing how it all played out in France.
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Last edited by carl; 12-16-2012 at 02:31 PM.
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Old 12-16-2012   #60
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Sadly, actual small unit combat training was a quite novel idea in WW1.
The fragmentation of infantry combat into platoon or squad actions caused by the need to exploit micro terrain features (or the need for night actions) for survivability was not adequately foreseen. Pre-1914 literature is concerned with battalion-level tactics mostly.
They did actually understand the problems caused by firepower and some authors did understand the necessary individual movement techniques, but they simply did not understand that command and tactics would break down into parallel small unit actions.

Ironically, the otherwise relatively conservative cavalry was often leading in small unit tactics (especially raiding and scouting) because it was anticipated that cavalry in action would often be about small units.


Few select units, typically meant to spearhead offensives, received much small unit combat training in form of simulated assaults on dummy trenches and the like.
Leaders of line units on battalion level and below had to improvise training based on what they've seen happening in combat (which required to survive the same yourself in the first place).
NCOs were in many armies the ones who shouted commands so the officers would not need to do so and might even be absent from the most routine exercises.
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