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  #121  
Old 08-11-2011, 02:13 AM
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house to house by david bellavia is a very good book. great depictions of modern urban fighting. taken from real events in fallujah.

(of course you will notice the crazy guy what trained me is mentioned by name on page 78)
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  #122  
Old 08-11-2011, 05:57 AM
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house to house by david bellavia is a very good book. great depictions of modern urban fighting. taken from real events in fallujah.

(of course you will notice the crazy guy what trained me is mentioned by name on page 78)
Indeed a good read (as I said in post #38 of this thread ). Depicts urban warfare as being a really intense, visceral activity. Obviously very nerve-wracking for the author.
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  #123  
Old 08-24-2011, 02:40 PM
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I hope that's fiction!
Ooops.. yeah it's fiction... dang glasses LOL.. though I was posting in the fiction books.. sorry.
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  #124  
Old 08-24-2011, 05:17 PM
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http://www.scribd.com/collections/23...an-TMs-and-FMs
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  #125  
Old 09-02-2011, 06:06 AM
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Just finished "Outlaws Inc" by Matt Potter (isbn 9780283071379).

It details the activities of ex Soviet Air Force crews who turned to private enterprise after the end of the Cold War, flying cargos of varying legality around the World in ageing Ilyushins and Antonovs.

Highly recommended for anyone running a Merc: 2000 game.
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  #126  
Old 09-02-2011, 01:02 PM
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Just finished "Outlaws Inc" by Matt Potter ...

Highly recommended for anyone running a Merc: 2000 game.
That sounds cool!

I'm about halfway thru "Lions of Kandahar: the story of a fight against all odds" by Maj. Rusty Bradley. It's an SF A-Team (with an Afghan company) south of Kandahar in the fall of 2006. So far, it's good, but not great. Standard "SF are awesome, Big Army just doesn't understand us" vibe is running through it.
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  #127  
Old 09-23-2011, 11:21 AM
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Anyone running Mediterranean Cruise or Boomer might be interested in "Dangerous Ground" ISBN-10: 076530788X, and "Cold Choices" ISBN-10: 0765358468, both by Larry Bond. Both fiction both excellent backgound and detail for attack boats.
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  #128  
Old 09-23-2011, 01:26 PM
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Standard "SF are awesome, Big Army just doesn't understand us" vibe is running through it.
The Big Army doesn't get SF. It's not that the regulars can't get SF; however, the Army leadership is conditioned to deal with Joe. Joe is a good guy, but at the same time he generally sucks a**. He requires close supervision for virtually every task. Despite having volunteered, he generally behaves as though he was dragooned into service. His responsibilities mean little to him beyond the fact that he will suffer if he is caught not executing them. The spirit of the law is only to be observed when it comes to his privileges; otherwise, a stricter observance of the letter of the law than a tort lawyer could argue is the watchword. "I was told I couldn't go to the PX. No one said anything about the commissary or the bowling alley."

Of course, the other side of the coin is that the leadership has become so jaded from dealing with Joe that everything comes to revolve around the lowest common demoninator. Since in any body of soldiers larger than four someone is sure to become a drunken idiot if given a touch of liberty, no one can be given liberty. Since every application of UCMJ in my command (says a unit commander) jeopardizes my OER, the only reasonable solution is to prevent any and all misbehavior. Better to treat 100 men putting their lives on the line for the nation like untrustworthy children than let a single chowderhead take the heat for his own decisions. Grown men can only be treated like untrustworthy children for so long before they start to live up to the expectations of the leadership. The circle completes itself.

So I would argue that the Big Army doesn't get Special Forces because we're acculturated against tolerating or recognizing the behaviors that mark SF: initiative, judgment, commitment, recognizance.
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  #129  
Old 09-24-2011, 04:25 AM
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I can't find the quote, but I believe it was a Civil War general who said something like "To understand that men are simply boys grown large, one must have commanded soldiers." Seems this idea of how large groups of men in uniform behave has been around for some time...
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  #130  
Old 09-24-2011, 08:54 AM
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So I would argue that the Big Army doesn't get Special Forces because we're acculturated against tolerating or recognizing the behaviors that mark SF: initiative, judgment, commitment, recognizance.
It really depends on the organisation. Over here in Australia, personal initiative, good judgement, commitment, and self control are highly desired traits in the junior ranks.
This isn't to say obedience and discipline aren't demanded, however the individual soldier is given the freedom to make their own decisions on most matters (and enough rope to hang themselves with if they're stupid with that freedom).
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  #131  
Old 09-24-2011, 10:02 AM
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It really depends on the organisation. Over here in Australia, personal initiative, good judgement, commitment, and self control are highly desired traits in the junior ranks.
This isn't to say obedience and discipline aren't demanded, however the individual soldier is given the freedom to make their own decisions on most matters (and enough rope to hang themselves with if they're stupid with that freedom).
I think it comes down to command climate. No commander went wrong (it is believed) if he stuck to the regs. It is a lot easier than making judgement calls, and allowing subordinates the freedom to do what they need/want.

Anyway, I am reminded of a great quote about large organizations. "The Navy is a system designed by geniuses, to be operated by idiots." -- I forget the character's name, from The Caine Mutiny, by Herman Wouk.
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  #132  
Old 09-24-2011, 12:57 PM
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"Merchant of Death"

http://www.amazon.com/Merchant-Death.../dp/0470048662

Ideal for a Merc: 2000 campaign
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  #133  
Old 09-24-2011, 08:36 PM
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That sounds cool!

I'm about halfway thru "Lions of Kandahar: the story of a fight against all odds" by Maj. Rusty Bradley. It's an SF A-Team (with an Afghan company) south of Kandahar in the fall of 2006.
I should have posted once I finished it. It was good, but not great. The author's team, with other teams and their Afghan allies, drove across a desert to form a backstop for 2+ Canadian mechanized battalions that were driving south from Kandahar. What happened was that the mechs got mired in built-up towns, while the teams blundered into the Taliban's training, HQ and marshaling area, stirring up a hornet's nest.

What I didn't like was that while the "foolish Big Army" vibe continued, I didn't detect much that the Canadians didn't do for the SF guys. The other bit that rubbed me wrong was that it was the author that always had the right answer to his commander's problems-- it seemed a bit self-promoting.
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  #134  
Old 10-07-2011, 04:14 PM
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What it's like to go to war by Karl Marlantes.

Wow. The author has also written the novel Matterhorn, about a Marine lieutenant in Vietnam. This is his book on dealing with his own life, before during and after having been a Marine LT in Vietnam. He delves into myth, religion, psychology, spirituality, philosophy and more.

The main thrust is how screwed up he was after he got back (he actually did get spit on while in uniform), how he's come to terms with that, and what America and western society ought to do to accommodate warriors among them. It's stuff to head off or alleviate PTSD before and after battle, and to come to grips with it in the long term. It's also something that he wants policymakers to understand before making life & death decisions.

It's heady stuff, and I plan on reading it again someday.
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  #135  
Old 10-08-2011, 12:15 AM
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Grown men can only be treated like untrustworthy children for so long before they start to live up to the expectations of the leadership. The circle completes itself.
I think that problem has been perennial in any military organization, at least judging by Kipling's "We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too, But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you; . . . You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all: We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational."

Quote:
So I would argue that the Big Army doesn't get Special Forces because we're acculturated against tolerating or recognizing the behaviors that mark SF: initiative, judgment, commitment, recognizance.
That would be my assessment, also, having done the gear shifting back from the land of the happy secret squirrels to the Big Army (or National Guard, anyway). I see a lot of NCOs who don't seem to grasp that trying to model yourself and your conduct on how your drill sergeant treated people in basic training doesn't make you a good NCO, it just marks you as a dolt who can't really analyze and assess how to get the best out your troops in grown-up land. This would probably be less galling if the same guys didn't tend to be the best and brightest -- on paper -- but who are really just the end result of an organization that has a seriously pathological love-hate relationship with initiative and autonomy.

(On the other hand, on the SF side of the house, if someone wanted to be a stereotypical Joe -- even on the support side -- he could usually be shown the door and found some new home if he didn't make midcourse corrections. In the Big Army, when Joe wants to be as dumb as he can be . . . well, then someone has to retard their response down to his level. Or revise the system so it's easier to separate the non-adaptors and duds, but I'm not holding my breath on that.)
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  #136  
Old 10-08-2011, 11:11 AM
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What it's like to go to war Wow. The author has also written the novel Matterhorn, about a Marine lieutenant in Vietnam. This is his book on dealing with his own life, before during and after having been a Marine LT in Vietnam. He delves into myth, religion, psychology, spirituality, philosophy and more.
I already raved about Matterhorn over in the fiction recommendation thread, but I've got to reiterate here just how brilliant it was. I definitely plan on rereading it again soon.
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  #137  
Old 10-11-2011, 12:40 PM
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Default Just read With the Old Breed and Helmet for My Pillow

By Sledge and Lecke, respectively.

Sledge's book is by far a better, IMO, view of the Marines in the pacific from a grunt's eye view. The book is a horror story; although Sledge sees active duty late in the war (the full title of his book is In With The Old Breed at Pelileu and Okinawa) the late-war almost calm that seems to permeate books about the Western European theater (Citizen Soldier, Band of Brothers, Beyond Band of Brothers, Biggest Brother, etc.) the fighting in the Pacific reached a fevered pitch up to the surrender in August of 1945 - and Sledge was in the thick of it.

It's fascinating to read about Sledge's combat experience on Pelileu, and his talk of the airfield - then to read Leckie's treatment of that same battle (Leckie's last; a Japanese field gun chased him down with shell fire until an errant round hit an ammo dump near him and the concussion left him temporarily deaf and suffering aphasia and he did not recover in time to be returned to the line).

Leckie's book is almost poetic in its description of everything, including the horrors of combat. Where Sledge focused on how war ground him down (he almost succumbed to the temptation to take gold teeth from the mouth of a dead Japanese soldier until a field medic cautioned him about "germs", although he relates that the medic was likely more concerned for the health of Sledge's soul rather than his physical well-being), and about the utterly dehumanizing conditions that his unit lived and fought in, Leickie frames the experience in terms of a grand adventure, a boys' own, even his own removal to a rear-area mental hospital for bedwetting which included threatening an orderly (albeit half-jokingly) with a captured Japanese pistol.

They're both great works, of the two, though, again, I prefer Sledge's story the most.

It was interesting (and a bit disappointing) to read them after having seen The Pacific on HBO: while Sledge's memoir was kept "essentially" the same, Leckie's book seemed to have been mined for its skeleton, but surface details wholly erased or recreated to fit a different story. For example, in the book, Leckie talks about stealing supplies from Army depots including canned peaches and apricots which he describes as being so good that he ate until he felt sick: in the miniseries, we're treated to James Badge vomiting profusely after eating part of a can. Likewise, a French expatriot who'd joined the 1st Marines and been given the nickname "Commando" is seen (in the mini-series) as succumbing to shell shock and committing suicide nude in front of the mess tent. Per Leckie, the actual person was stalwart (if a bit wrong-headed in applying urban and suburban guerrilla warfare tactics to jungle combat) and died in combat.

Tonally, The Pacific portrayed Leckie's experiences as much more in line with the way Sledge, perhaps, would have described them rather than how Leckie actually did.
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  #138  
Old 10-11-2011, 01:54 PM
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These would go really well in the Non-Fiction Recommendation Thread. I think I will go ahead and try to merge them.
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  #139  
Old 10-11-2011, 02:08 PM
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These would go really well in the Non-Fiction Recommendation Thread. I think I will go ahead and try to merge them.
Dang it why do I keep forgetting that thing is there?! Sorry, boss.
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  #140  
Old 10-11-2011, 10:01 PM
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I already raved about Matterhorn over in the fiction recommendation thread, but I've got to reiterate here just how brilliant it was. I definitely plan on rereading it again soon.
I followed your recommendation and finished it just a little while ago. Glad I did. Definitely worth a re-read, or in my case a re-listen (I had to go audio). I already have a few ideas taken from it to put to use in my pbp game.

Also, I swear I saw a review of it on Amazon by you...
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  #141  
Old 10-11-2011, 11:03 PM
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I followed your recommendation and finished it just a little while ago. Glad I did. Definitely worth a re-read, or in my case a re-listen (I had to go audio). I already have a few ideas taken from it to put to use in my pbp game.

Also, I swear I saw a review of it on Amazon by you...
Marlantes' novel is amazing, right?

I've written a few reviews on Amazon but I didn't write one for Matterhorn. I did, however, write an epic review of the Three Wolf Moon T-shirt, which, IIRC, you first led me to.
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  #142  
Old 12-28-2011, 07:42 AM
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Got the usual haul of books for Christmas, which as ever will take me about six months to work my way through.

One that I have to mention though is "The Official ARRSE Guide to the British Army" by Major Des Astor (isbn 9780593065617) which manages to do a great job of being both funny and informative.

Some more info (and a couple of reviews) on Amazon

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Official-ARR...5083156&sr=8-1

Definitely recommended.
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  #143  
Old 03-19-2012, 01:03 PM
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Outlaw platoon by Sean Parnell

The author commanded a rifle platoon for the 10th Mountain Division in Afghanistan in 2006. As I read it, I thought that he did a very good job, both at leading his men, and at writing the book.

Also frustrating to read the encounters with base-bound "FOBbits" who fail to understand that they're in a war zone. Ditto for some of the officers and NCOs he had to deal with.

The "village of the damned" chapter, which details the terror tactics of the Taliban, was quite horrifying.

Regarding the SF/line troops controversy we talked of above, I was pleased to see that Parnell's aggressive spirit won the respect of an SF colonel who operated with them at one point.
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  #144  
Old 03-19-2012, 01:11 PM
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God willing: my wild ride with the new Iraqi Army by Eric Navarro

Here's a Marine officer who becomes an advisor to an Iraqi battalion. If you ever want to hear a nightmare about leading troops to battle, this might be it. The below quote from upthread came back to me as I went looking through here.

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... however, the Army leadership is conditioned to deal with Joe. Joe is a good guy, but at the same time he generally sucks a**. He requires close supervision for virtually every task. ... His responsibilities mean little to him beyond the fact that he will suffer if he is caught not executing them. The spirit of the law is only to be observed when it comes to his privileges; otherwise, a stricter observance of the letter of the law than a tort lawyer could argue is the watchword. "I was told I couldn't go to the PX. No one said anything about the commissary or the bowling alley."
Navarro came to realize that each and every order had to be given all the time, every time, starting with instructions to use the latrines and/or port-a-potties. Fire discipline was non-existent, and many more things that seemed too wild to believe.
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Old 07-28-2012, 07:57 AM
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"The gun" by C J Chivers. Half of this is about the Mikhail Kalashnikov, his AK-47 and its successors, knockoffs, and derivatives, and what they meant to the world. In the '60s, it meant revolutionaries and guerrillas. Since the '70s, that has meant terrorists, and in the '90s, child soldiers and warlords. AK may also stand for "Africa Killer."

About a quarter is the development of automatic weapons, from Dr. Gatling through WW1. WW2 is lightly covered, but the Sturmgewehr 44 is in there. Another quarter is the slow American response to develop an assault rifle, followed by the hasty adoption of the AR-15/M-16 and its teething troubles.

Some of the details here were new to me, but I had read the overall story before. I give it 3 stars.

Now, for what I think could have been added.
The author does take the DoD to task for suddenly jumping on the barely tested AR-15, and not opening up competitive bids. I suspect there was a huge element of the McNamara & whiz-kids mentality of "doing everything in a new way," I might have explored that.

If other American companies might have developed assault rifles, what of Europe? Were all of the gun companies also blind to the new type of weapon, did they not have ideas? The NATO standardization fight was touched on, but I don't know if it was reopened at any point.
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Old 08-17-2012, 05:55 PM
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First of all I'd second "Dead Men Risen" by Toby Harnden - easily the best book about the British in Afghanistan that I've read.

Secondly, I'd recommend "Black Hearts" by Jim Fredericks. It sounds wrong to say I enjoyed this book - it is about Bravo Company of 1/502 in Iraq in 2006/7. At the centre of the book is how four soldiers of the battalion murdered an Iraqi family of four and raped the 14 year old daughter before murdering her - but the story of Bravo Company's time in Iraq that places the murder in context is pretty chilling reading. Fredericks has clearly researched his subject pretty thoroughly and describes the emotional impact of a year spent "outside the wire" extremely well - I'd recommend this book for anyone interested in the psychological aspects of war crimes, and I think it should be read by commanders up to at least company level.

I'm interested to hear the views of some veterans on this one. Obviously it always risky to base an opinion on one journalist take on an event but after reading the book I'd have sacked just about everybody involved in the chain of command (one couldn't help contrasting the calibre and style of management in the 502nd with that of the Welsh Guards in Toby Harnden's book) - nobody at any level really comes out of it looking good. Clearly the guys who committed the crimes were guilty and there are no excuses for what they did - but after reading the book I couldn't help feeling that they and their colleagues had been let down at just about every level of management right the way to the very top. Instead pretty well everyone (except for the four perpetrators) who had some command responsibility for these men appears to have continued their careers in the army as though nothing much had happened.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Black-Hearts...5247348&sr=1-1

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  #147  
Old 08-17-2012, 11:14 PM
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Speaking of books dealing with war crimes, I just finished Tiger Force, by Sallah and Weiss. It's about an off-the-books recon platoon from the 101st and its protracted rampage of scores of deliberate civilian killings in Vietnam during 1967. The authors are a pair of newspaper journalists who clearly don't know a whole lot about military matters, but the story they tell is pretty compelling. The military investigated the murders into the mid '70s before someone higher up burried it.
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  #148  
Old 08-18-2012, 03:18 AM
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Re Black Hearts - I'd like to stress that this book isn't a hatchet job on the military - the crime itself and the investigation are just a small part of the book. Fredericks has clearly done a first rate amount of research and he writes very well about the stress caused by walking down a road looking for IEDs, or manning a checkpoint waiting for someone to shoot at you. In my view he expresses this better than Sebastian Junger does in "War". He makes cogent points to rebut those that suggest that service in Iraq or Afghanistan is somehow less tough than WWII because the soldiers are only facing insurgents rather than the Wehrmacht. The book is also a real eye-opener for us Brits who see our army in Afghanistan and elsewhere making do with too few soldiers for the job, and not enough equipment to do it - and who perceive the American way of war as riding in by the thousands with Oakley sunglasses and state of the art gear, blowing everything up and then declaring victory (okay exaggerated for effect but you know what I mean). These guys were in allegedly the worst place in Iraq at the time, without enough troops to do what was asked of them, evidently beyond the end of a very long supply line, and had a shitty CO to boot. My personal view is that this book should be required reading for all officers and NCOs as a study in just how the results of stress, undermanning, perceived isolation and poor leadership can result in terrible consequences (in passing there are some wider but still pertinent points made about the US Army as a whole) but there you go...

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  #149  
Old 02-07-2013, 08:31 PM
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Got two for today.

I'm 2/3 through "Ike's bluff" by Evan Thomas. This is good! Not only informative, but an easy read, too. It's a bit before our T2k time, but still important. It's Pres. Eisenhower's foreign & defense policies, how he wrestled with the fact that he could blow the world to Kingdom Come in a day. Ike opted for a light touch and plenty of misdirection. Journalists and historians since have thought of Ike as a bumbling geezer who didn't seem to care about dangers, but that was mostly his act, working to put the American people at ease. He didn't want panic pushing the country into a Prussian- or Soviet-style police/garrison state, and he didn't want to panic the Soviets into starting something they couldn't finish. His "New Look" defense policy (aka "massive retaliation") was meant to keep the US out of all wars, since any war could easily escalate to the Big One.

"Rules of the game" by Andrew Gordon. It's about the Royal Navy's leadership at Jutland. The first 1/3 of the book sets up the battle, and takes us deeply into the first phases of the action. Then, we go back in time, to see how the peacetime RN became so set in its ways, especially in regards to signalling, that hardened initiative and tactical thinking. That's also about 1/3 of the book, and it dragged a bit, IMO. The last third resumes with the battle and the aftermath. There's a good bit on how contemporary navies could pay attention to what happened, and learn how to avoid peacetime mindsets that stultify wartime thinking. The Jellicoe vs. Beatty arguments that riled the service in the postwar years are included.
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Old 06-26-2013, 04:29 PM
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Default American warrior: the true story of a legendary Ranger

by Gary O'Neal, with David Fisher.

O'Neal is apparently one of those super-SF/Ranger guys that we all fear and envy. He's put in a 30+year career, jumping, snooping, instructing, fighting since Vietnam.

He's also deeply spiritual, in a Native American way (his mother was Sioux), and has developed his own martial art, which he has taught.
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