CHIEF OF STAFF OF THE ARMY'S PROFESSIONAL READING LIST
The following annotated bibliography is a list of titles suggested for the professional development of army personnel.
Army Heritage and Military History for Cadets, Soldiers, and Junior NCOs
Stephen E. Ambrose, Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1992. (335 pages)Easy Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, U.S. Army, was as good a rifle company as any in the world. From their rigorous training in Georgia in 1942 to D-Day and victory, Ambrose tells the story of this remarkable company of citizen soldiers. Easy Company was involved in everything from parachuting into France early D-Day morning, to the disappointing Arnhem campaign in the Netherlands and the bloody fighting during the Battle of the Bulge. Near the war’s end they captured Hitler's "Eagle's Nest" at Berchtesgaden and drank the Fuhrer’s champagne. Band of Brothers is the story of the men in this remarkable unit who fought, went hungry, froze, and died. A company that took 150 percent casualties and considered the Purple Heart a badge of office. Drawing on hours of interviews with survivors as well as the soldiers' journals and letters, Stephen Ambrose tells the stories, often in the men's own words, of these American heroes.
This book gives an idea of the tremendous sacrifices American soldiers endured as a matter of course during World War II. The author captures many of the representative moments of a WW II soldier's career. The shock and fear of combat, the suffering of freezing overnight in a foxhole, going hungry and without a bath for days on end, the elation of survival and success, and the disgust of inept or arbitrary commanders. But even through all the dangers and hardships, through all the hell they experienced, they enjoyed a brotherhood of comrades that they could get no where else and would never know again.
Rick Atkinson. The Long Gray Line. Boston, Massachusetts: Houghton Mifflin 1989. (589 pages)The author examines the experiences of the West Point class of 1966. Atkinson shows how their individual careers epitomized the problems faced by their generation and by members of the their profession. This is a sophisticated, moving, and exciting account of the attempts of one West Point class to apply to real life the lessons they had learned at the academy. Of special interest to the cadet and junior officer, but a compelling read for officers and NCOs of every grade.
Tom Brokaw. The Greatest Generation. New York: Random House, 1998. (412 pages)Recounting in a series of narratives the newscaster has written an exceptional book about the youth who grew up during the Great depression. Brokaw terms them the "greatest generation" because they came of age and, through their extraordinary sacrifices, won the first truly global war. The reader is exposed to the stories of a cross-section of American citizens, soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines. It is a story of individuals who return from war to rebuild their lives and to give the world new literature, science, and industry, not to mention the most powerful peacetime economy in world history. The book affords the novice the requirement for self-sacrifice and devotion to cause. It also allows the military reader to appreciate the impact of non-military members on a nation’s war effort.
T. R. Fehrenbach. This Kind of War: A Study in Unpreparedness. Brassey’s Inc. 1994 (483 pages)The ultimate story of a nation’s lack of military preparedness. Writing from the perspective of the small-unit leader, Fehrenbach weaves two intertwining themes. One theme provides a bluntly told narrative history of the Korean War, including explicit descriptions of what happens when small units fight against overwhelming odds. The second provides a historical social-political-military context against which the Korean War plays out without closure. A book for every leader, because it exposes critical issues not yet resolved in the US regarding how to produce a military that will continuously be on guard and ready to protect a public that wants only to live in and dream of a peaceful world.
Charles E. Heller and William A. Stoft, editors. America’s First Battles: 1776-1965. Lawrence, Kan.: University Press of Kansas. 1986. ( 416 pages)The first battle in any war, argue the various authors of this book, may reveal the strengths and weaknesses of armies–both winners and losers. America’s First Battles examines the first major engagement of each of America’s nine major wars–from the Revolution through Vietnam–with an eye toward the weaknesses revealed. Faulty doctrine, insufficient command-and-control, and, most importantly, preparedness, are all discussed. Was the U.S. Army ready for each of its wars? If not, did it learn quickly from its mistakes? Each essay considers the strategic and political background of the conflict, and the circumstances in which the U.S. Army found itself when the war began, all intertwined with a detailed combat narrative.
How an army prepares for war during peacetime is often a good indicator of how well it will perform in the first battle of the next war. This is a valuable perspective for an Army officer to possess, even if hindsight is 20-20. Several trends are made clear by the essays in this book. For example, drastic demobilization following each conflict is a familiar theme throughout U.S. history, and it has affected the Army’s ability to fight many of its first battles. Rapid and deep cuts in manpower following World War II affected military readiness to such an extent that the Army was largely unprepared for the Korean War. Yet at other times the Army was prepared. It was a fit and ready Expeditionary Corps that first fought in France in 1918, as was the Army in Vietnam in 1965. What did the Army do wrong? What did it do right? The continuum of answers is enlightening.
David W. Hogan, Jr. A Concise History of the United States Army, 1775-2000: 225 Years of Service to the Nation. Washington, D.C.: CMH, 2000. (36 pages)This pamphlet gives a brief overview of how the Army has served the nation since the formation of George Washington’s Continental Army on 14 June 1775. It covers not only the Army’s distinguished performance in America’s major conflicts but also its conduct of several other military and non-military missions throughout American history. During the nation’s early years, the Army contributed greatly to national development through exploration, relations with Native Americans, road and building construction, and the assertion of national authority. As the nation became a more complex industrial society and a superpower in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the Army’s list of missions expanded to include expeditions to foreign lands, military government of colonial and occupied territories, scientific and medical research and development, flood control and disaster relief, the assimilation of different ethnic and racial groups, greater opportunities for women, and aid to disadvantaged elements of society. An insert by the Chief of Military History relates the Army’s history to its current transformation into a force capable of meeting the challenges of the twenty-first century. The pamphlet includes color illustrations, suggestions for further readings, and a list of discussion questions.
Through this pamphlet, the reader acquires a sense of how the Army has helped the United States grow into the country that it is today. At each stage of the growth of the republic, it shows the broader context in which the Army operated, the demands that the nation placed on its military, and how the military has met those demands. It describes how the Army’s conduct of America’s wars helped to achieve national objectives. At the same time, it makes clear that the performance of non-military missions is by no means a new phenomenon for the Army but rather a role that has been with the service since the Revolutionary War–and even before that war, if one includes the tasks of colonial militias. Throughout its history, the Army has also deferred to civilian authority, a distinct achievement in a world beset by coups and the threat of military rule. In sum, this study makes clear that, throughout American history, when the nation was in need, the Army was there to answer the call.
John Keegan , The Face of Battle. New York: Vintage Books, 1977, (354 pages) The Face of Battle is a recounting of warfare as the soldier saw in three distinct eras of military history. Keegan brings to life the sights, sounds, and smell of the battlefield at Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme. At Agincourt, where on 23 October 1415, the outnumbered English forces under Henry V waited for the French to charge across rain-wet ploughed fields. English archers cut down two French advances that had bogged down in the mud. Henry's men then attacked from the rear, and the French broke and fled. At Waterloo, on 18 June 1815, Napoleon attacked Lord Wellington, whose forces, aided by Blucher's Prussians, routed the French, thus allowing allied forces to march unopposed on Paris and force Napoleon into permanent exile. During the Battle of the Somme, on 1 July 1916, Keegan describes the gallant but foolhardy British charge against highly organized German positions. Small gains were made, but by nightfall the British had lost about 60,000 men, the greatest one-day loss in the history of the British Army.
The value of this book is Keegan's tossing aside long-held myths and romantic revisions of warfare, and instead describing the total battlefield experience. The accounts of the three encounters shows what combat meant to the men who marched into these battles. Ever since its original publication some twenty-five years ago The Face of Battle remains unmatched in its compelling descriptions and illuminating insights. In addition to narratives of the three battles Keegan, in an introductory chapter, discusses the writing of military history, its usefulness and deficiencies, and other insights. A concluding chapter discusses the nature and future of battle. This book is easy to read and should be one of the first volumes to be read in this list.
Lt. Gen. Harold G. Moore (ret.) and Joseph L. Galloway. We Were Soldiers Once, and Young. New York: Random House. 1992. ( 412 pages)In the fall of 1965 the festering Vietnam War entered a new phase. During the earliest years of American involvement in South Vietnam the battles had been relatively small–fought against Viet Cong guerrillas–and most Americans were advisors. But with the introduction of U.S. combat troops in the spring and summer of 1965, all that changed. The Battle of Ia Drang, as it came to be called, marked the first clash between American troops and North Vietnamese regulars. We Were Soldiers Once, and Young is the story of that battle, giving a detailed account of both the American 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry, 1st Cavalry Division and the North Vietnamese 32d, 33d, and 66th Regiments in the rugged Ia Drang Valley of South Vietnam’s Central Highlands. But this is more than just a straightforward combat narrative; the book also portrays the personal side of men in battle.
The personal battle account is a common genre in military history, but few provide more than a blinkered glimpse into the conflict from which they arise. This book rises above the rest for two reasons. First, as a study of a single battle, the book provides a detailed view of combat in Vietnam. Second, the battle in the Ia Drang was an important learning experience for both sides, and this book outlines why. For the Americans, this was the first big-unit engagement in Vietnam using the helicopter to move men into battle, and its mobility seemed to validate General William C. Westmoreland’s aggressive search-and-destroy-missions and his strategy of attrition. The North Vietnamese had never encountered the new airmobile tactics, and the battle taught them a valuable lesson.
Anton Myrer. Once an Eagle. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, c1968. USAWC Foundation Press, 1995. (817 pages)A historical novel this is perhaps one of the most important military novels ever written. Its stark and realistic descriptions of men in combat are classic. It provides a penetrating analysis of human and technical challenges, and of leadership and command’s moral dilemmas. Read by a generation of Vietnam-era soldiers, the book has profoundly influenced the shape and character of the post-Vietnam Army. The author realistically portrays the confusion of combat, the bonds that form between men who fight together, and the responsibility of command. A must read for those young leaders contemplating a career in the profession of arms.
Michael Shaara, The Killer Angels. New York: Ballantine Books, 1974. (355 pages) The Killer Angels is a Pulitzer Prize winning fictional account of the bloody battle at Gettysburg, a pivotal three-day fight during the American Civil War. Based on solid historical research, the book takes a close, personal look at this monumental struggle from the perspective of the key participants on both sides who directly influenced the outcome. Filled with penetrating portraits of men such as Lee, Longstreet, and Chamberlain, it brings to life the passions that drove these men and the reasons for the critical decisions they made during this decisive battle.
Every soldier should read this book. Through the use of fiction based on historical research, the author succeeds in conveying the realities of war. It tells the story of both great and ordinary men thrown into extraordinary circumstances. The confusion and fog of war, gallant initiatives and dreadful misunderstandings, fear and unsurpassed bravery, all intertwine into a powerful story that is both tragic and awe-inspiring. After reading this book the soldier will appreciate that war is not a simple matter of foolproof plans and mathematical probabilities, but a wild, uncertain affair that hinges on tentative guesses, individual initiatives, and large measures of luck.
Company Grade Officers and Company Cadre NCOs
Steven Ambrose. Citizen Soldiers. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997. (480 pages)A broad look at the American campaign on the Western Front in WW II. The author considers every level of war, from strategy discussions of generals, to the tactics employed by junior officers, and the life of the combat soldier "on the ground." The dominant theme is that the "citizen soldiers" were called from peaceful pursuits of civilian life and matched against the fanaticism of the Third Reich, successfully. Readers gain an appreciation of the magnitude of the victory in Europe as soldiers exercise the utmost in leadership, courage, and innovation. The story is told mainly through a series of vignettes outlining the experiences of junior officers and NCOs. The book should serve any leader well as he or she prepares for the realities of warfare in a democratic society.
Edward M. Coffman, The War To End All Wars: The American Military Experience in World War I. New York: Oxford University Press, 1968. (412 pages.)The War To End All Wars is the classic account of the American military experience in World War I. Coffman conducted extensive research in diaries and personal papers as well as official records and then filled out the written record with interviews of survivors, including General of the Armies Douglas MacArthur, General Charles L. Bolte, Lt. Gen. Charles D. Herron, Lt. Gen. Ernest N. Huebner, and Maj. Gen. Hanson E. Ely. By using these sources, Coffman sought to convey the human dimensions of the conflict as well as the grand strategy and the tactics of the Western Front. In this he has succeeded admirably. The volume is suffused with the social context that makes the experience of individuals come alive. Coffman begins with a sketch of the status of the Army in the wake of the reforms of Secretary of War Elihu Root at the beginning of the twentieth century. They at least partially prepared the service for its role in World War I. President Woodrow Wilson was quite prepared to allow "the experts" to run the war (a very Progressive Era attitude), but in this war with its unprecedented mass armies and new weapons and techniques the experts had to do much learning on the job. With Wilson uninterested in the day-to-day running of the war, the secretary of war, Newton D. Baker, and the chief of staff became particularly important. The early mobilization was chaotic. (The Army was to grow from 127,000 to 3,000,000 in less than nineteen months.) Not until early 1918 did Baker secure as chief of staff the officer who brought a measure of order to the process--General Peyton C. March. But because command relations were ambiguous, March expended much time and energy in disputes with the commander of the American Expeditionary Forces, General John J. Pershing. Coffman provides a vivid portrayal of the personalities of these principals (as well as Lt. Gen. Hunter Liggett, Pershing's primary lieutenant, and General Tasker H. Bliss, the American military advisor to the Supreme War Council) and a sensitive delineation of how their immediate circumstances affected the policy positions they advocated. Coffman covers mobilization, the rudimentary training in the United States, the Navy's role in convoying the troops overseas, the organization and training of the American Expeditionary Forces in France, the American role in the air war, logistics, ground combat culminating in the Meuse-Argonne campaign, and demobilization. Coffman is particularly effective in discussing operations at the division and corps levels.
In 1917-1918 the U.S. Army had to suddenly convert itself from a small imperial constabulary to a modern mass Army. In a sense this was just the reverse of the process the Army underwent in the 1990s. Thirty years after its initial publication, The War To End All Wars remains the best single-volume account of this earlier transformation.
Samuel P. Huntington. Soldier and the State. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Belknap Press of Harvard University press, 1957. (534 pages)The author traces the concept of the military professional through the two World Wars. More important, he provides the first thorough analysis of the nature and scope of professional officership. This book contains enough professional fodder to provide inquiring cadets and young officers with an image of what they might be as military professionals. A close reading of the book reveals a staggering challenge to the will and intellect of the aspirant. A classic in the basic tenets required of the professional officer in American society.
Gerald F. Linderman, Embattled Courage: The Experience of Combat in the American Civil War. New York: The Free Press, A Division of Macmillan, in., 1987. (357 pages)Combat studies tend to express themselves in two forms: as narrative accounts of wars, campaigns, and battles; or as accounts of individual soldiers, or groups of soldiers, in combat. Linderman’s Embattled Courage, an example of the latter, examines the beliefs and behavior of volunteers from both Union and Confederate sides who sallied forth in 1861 to defeat their enemy. Initially they believed in the nobility of war, in fighting it "fair," and in the justness of their cause. Over time, the brutal experience of combat eroded almost all of their beliefs, except in their comrades and in their survival–and sometimes not even in these. Linderman organizes Chapters 1-5 around the notion of courage --"heroic action undertaken without fear"– that soldiers brought to the war from civilian society. Using well chosen excerpts from journals and letters, he then shows in Chapters 6-12 how combat’s carnage carried the soldiers who survived from hope and belief in courage in 1861 to disillusionment and disbelief in 1865. Their behavior and what they had endured in these years segregated them morally from the larger society until they found a way back in after the war. In a fascinating epilogue the author notes how these survivors dealt with their combat experiences. Some found it difficult to speak at all of these experiences, others could not say enough about them, and still others romanticized and glamorized them, turning brutal memories into a feel-good nostalgia that would have astonished their younger selves.
Based as it is on exciting and graphic excerpts from journals and letters of combat soldiers, Embattled Courage brims with authenticity and authority. As such, it offers much to the professional soldier. For those officers and enlisted personnel who have been in combat the book establishes a larger historical context which may help to better understand and digest their own experiences. For those who have not, but who may well do so in the future, Linderman has created a framework which may permit them to grasp, to a degree, the harsh realities, physical as well as psychological, of combat. To the degree which they can know these "harsh realities" through reading and study, they will adapt more quickly and perform more efficiently to a combat environment.
Charles B. MacDonald, Company Commander. Springfield, N.J.: Burford Books, 1999. Original edition, 1947. (278 pages)Company Commander is Charles MacDonald’s memoir of his experiences in World War II. Placed in command in September 1944 of Company I, 23d Infantry at the age of twenty-one, MacDonald, who had never been in battle, quickly underwent a harsh baptism of fire. He commanded his company until the end of the war, leading his men throughout the Battle of the Bulge, an unforgiving test of his and his company’s mettle. MacDonald knew that he was responsible for other men’s lives and that any mistake by him could mean soneone’s death. Written shortly after the war, his account gives a vivid sense of the awesome responsibility of command from the perspective of the unit commander. MacDonald happily was a skillful, fluent writer, who went on to become an eminent military historian.
Written with immediacy, the book communicates a keen sense of what it was like for an inexperienced officer to be thrown into a leadership role in combat, the personal skills it took to survive, and the intangibles that held small units together in the face of danger and deprivation. This book is less about tactics and weapons than what it takes on the personal and psychological level to fight and survive and be a company commander.
S.L.A. Marshall. Men Against Fire: The Problem of Battle Command in Future War. Reprint, Gloucester, Massachusetts: Peter Smith, 1978. Originally published by Infantry Journal Press, 1947. (215 pages)An examination of the infantry commander’s problems in motivating soldiers in combat. Through a series of interviews with soldiers, the author describes how men can be conditioned to act as a cohesive unit under the stress of battle. Marshall raises many fundamental questions, still germane today, about why soldiers fail to fire their weapons in battle and how the lack of moral leadership can destroy the effectiveness of fighting organizations. A must for those who have yet to undertake the reality of battle.
Alan R. Millett, and Peter Maslowski. For the Common Defense, A Military History of the United States of America. New York: The Free Press, 1984. (621 pages)For the Common Defense is one of the leading textbooks of American military history. The volume examines the American military experience from colonial times up to the fall of Saigon in 1975. Although the book describes the nation’s major wars and military operations, its true focus is the evolution of American military policy. Some of the book’s major themes are the dynamic interrelationship of American military, social, and political institutions, the interplay between regulars and part-time citizen soldiers, the gradual professionalization of military institutions, and the impact of industrial and technological developments on military affairs.
For the Common Defense puts narrower historical studies into a broader historical and intellectual context. It is vital that soldiers be acquainted with these broader themes if they are to understand the American military experience.
Robert H. Scales, Jr. Certain Victory. Reprint, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: U.S. Army Command and General Staff College Press, 1994. (434 pages)A history of the US Army in the Gulf War (and related support activities) produced by the Army’s Desert Storm Special Study Group, which was commissioned by Chief of Staff General Gordon H. Sullivan and directed by Brigadier General Robert H. Scales, Jr. The book provides one of the best summaries of how the professional of the 1980s differed from the drug-riddled and racially divided Army of the 1970s. Additionally, it shows the value of state-of-the-art weaponry and what a well-trained and equipped professional force can accomplish. The book also does an excellent job of outlining how the Army planned to transition the force and lessons learned from Desert Storm to the Army of the future. A careful and informed reading of Certain Victory will provide the reader with a view of the US Army that by 1990 knew a lot about ground combat. It was also an Army that realized you needed good people, well trained, with quality weapons and equipment to be successful on the modern battlefield. A must read for the officer wanting to understand where his Army is tending.
Mark A. Stoler, George C. Marshall: Soldier-Statesman of the American Century. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1989. (252 pages)This fast-moving account summarizes the life and career of the foremost American soldier-diplomat of the twentieth century. Stoler pictures Marshall as consistently living in multiple worlds and managing to harmonize the conflicts between them. He was born in a small town of an isolationist nation but took leading roles in an industrialized world power. He was trained as a nineteenth century citizen-soldier but commissioned in a twentieth century army of empire. Finally, he was the first soldier to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. In filling a series of high-level positions--Army chief of staff, special envoy to China, secretary of state and of defense--Marshall consistently acted as the dispassionate pragmatist, carefully weighing pluses and minuses to the ultimate benefit of his country. Repeatedly, Marshall mastered the nuances of congressional appropriations, coalition diplomacy, and fast-changing foreign policies as the Cold War overtook the wartime alliance, all the while retaining a fine sense of the limits of military power as well as an appreciation of the linkage between economic, military, and political issues. In stark contrast to his more visible contemporary in uniform, Douglas MacArthur, Marshall never let his ego get in the way of a job to be done, never confused his personal interests with those of his country.
Stoler’s portrait of Marshall is relevant to upper-level officers of today not only as a faithful illustration of the ideal soldier for a major democracy--the only twentieth century American in uniform to evoke comparison with George Washington--but for its illustration of the versatility implicit in post-Cold War missions. In the era of peace-keeping, when the line between force and negotiation seems hopelessly blurred, military leaders must develop skills at dealing with civilians and military personalities of differing influence and from a variety of cultural backgrounds.
Tom Willard. Buffalo Soldiers (Black Saber Chronicles). Forge Press, 1996.The stories of black cavalrymen fighting along side their white counterparts against the Plains Indians. Told through the eyes of Samuel Sharps, a young man saved from slavery, who will go on to become a sergeant major. This is the story of the all black unit nicknamed the "Buffalo Soldiers" by the Indians they fought. The book provides the reader with not only an appreciation of the hardships of war and frontier life, but with the more important social commentary related to the Buffalo Soldiers as free men.
Field Grade Officers and Senior NCOs
Roy E. Appleman. East of Chosin: Entrapment and Breakout in Korea, 1950. College Station, TX.: Texas A&M University Press, 1987. (399 pages)This book tells the often overlooked story of 3,000 soldiers of the U.S. 7th Infantry Division who fought in a four-day and five-night battle on the east side of the Changjin (Chosin) Reservoir in November and December 1950 during the initial Communist Chinese intervention in the Korean War. During this brief battle, Task Force MacLean/Faith endured misery, frigid cold, privation, and exhaustion, before meeting with disaster. Although overwhelming odds does much to explain the complete annihilation of this army unit, the author clearly shows that eight factors, including a lack of experience, poor training, inadequate supply, and non-existent communications, combined with less than astute leadership and unwise troop deployments, doomed the men of the 31st Regimental Combat Team, most of whom did not survive.
Although not as well-known as other tactical disasters in Korea, such as the earlier Task Force Smith, this book says a great deal about the overall poor condition of the U.S. Army during the early days of the war. Richly illustrated with pictures and maps, this hard-hitting, detailed, and comprehensive history is of great value to officers and soldiers alike as it contains a wealth of lessons to be learned about the value of readiness, unit cohesion, steadiness of command under adversity, troop discipline, and intelligence and communication. Appleman, who wrote several of the U.S. Army’s official histories of the Korean War, emphasizes the importance of well-trained and experienced commanders who show proper appreciation for terrain, as well as tactical flexibility and adaptability.
Graham A. Cosmas. An Army for Empire: The United States Army and the Spanish American War. 2d edition. Shippensburg, Pennsylvania: White Mane, 1994. (349 pages)In 1898, the United States Army was an institution in transition. Although in size, organization, and general attitudes it had progressed little from its Indian fighting days, a minority of officers were already forming professional organizations, establishing professional journals and schools, and attempting otherwise to modernize the service for the twentieth century. In April, the United States declared war on Spain, and the McKinley Administration thrust on the War Department the task of mobilizing a force that could invade Cuba and support the Cuban rebels fighting for their independence from Spain. Graham Cosmas tells the story of a War Department and Army struggling to overcome prewar neglect and ever-changing strategy in order to build an "Army for empire." Despite the lack of supply stockpiles or reserves of trained men, transportation bottlenecks, and constant fluctuations in the size and mission of planned expeditionary forces, he finds that the military administrators on the whole did a fine job. After some initial mistakes, they improvised where necessary and, with more resources, displayed a growing mastery over circumstances. Within four months, the War Department and Army had raised a force of 300,000 men, won a series of engagements against the Spanish in Cuba, and, in conjunction with the Navy, acquired a new American colonial empire.
Cosmas provides a groundbreaking study of the organization, administration, and strategic direction of an Army just awakening to new responsibilities in a new century. Before the original publication of his work, most historians dismissed the Army in the Spanish American War as a Keystone Cops-style comic opera, bungling in administration, inept and even corrupt in mobilization, and chaotic and amateurish in its deployment to Cuba and conduct of the Santiago campaign. In this traditional view, only Spanish incompetence, the efficiency of the Navy, and the gallantry of the troops saved the day. Cosmas takes the perspective of the War Department administrators to lay out the extremely difficult circumstances in which the Army had to operate and to point out the frequent resourcefulness of Army agencies in meeting problems. For officers wishing to learn more about the origins of the modern American Army, or for staff personnel facing seemingly impossible tasks of matching means and ends, this book offers a fascinating perspective.
Robert A. Doughty, The Evolution of U.S. Army Tactical Doctrine, 1946-1976. Fort Leavenworth, Kansas: Combat Studies Institute, 1979. (57 pages) Written by the current head of the Department of History at the U.S. Military Academy, this brief study traces the development of Army doctrine during the critical years between the dawn of the Atomic Age at the end of World War II and the beginnings of the AirLand Battle doctrine in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. The study covers the emphasis on firepower over maneuver in the doctrine of the 1940s and the Korean War; the experiments with the Pentomic Division and tactical nuclear weapons during the 1950s; the advent of the Reorganization Objectives Army Division (ROAD), airmobility, and the counterinsurgency craze of the 1960s; the stress on small unit operations during the Vietnam era; and the return to an emphasis on big-unit warfare in Europe during the early 1970s. Doughty finds that national security policy, new technology, service and branch parochialism, and actual battlefield experience interacted to determine Army doctrine, and that doctrine reflected less the sheer military realities of the time than a compromise between national security policy and those realities. He notes that, even though all of the nation’s military conflicts since World War II had been outside Europe, the Army and the nation invariably refocused after each war on the defense of western Europe. In the end, he believes that "the great value of doctrine is less the final answers it provides, than the impetus it creates toward developing innovative and creative solutions for tactical problems on the battlefield."
For the battalion-level officer faced with the challenges of developing and implementing doctrine in the post-Cold War Army, Doughty’s study of doctrine in the Cold War Army has much to offer. In a remarkably compact format, he lays out the major doctrinal developments of the era while simultaneously relating them to the political and technological context in which they occurred. His study shows the travails of a service attempting to formulate a doctrine that responds to a wide array of contingencies while still achieving the primary mission of deterring, and if necessary defeating, a Warsaw Pact invasion of Western Europe. No other publication supplies the comprehensive coverage of the subject that Doughty’s study provides. Its analysis of doctrinal alterations in a time of rapid technological change will have special resonance to battalion-level officers dealing with the current transformation of the Army.
Antoine Henri Jomini. Jomini and His Summary of the Art of War. Reprint, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania: Stackpole books, 1965. (161 pages)One of the greatest military thinkers of all time, the author has become linked with military wisdom, but in recent years he has been overshadowed by Clausewitz. Jomini was the major influence on Napoleon’s style of warfare, and no man has been more influential in terms of developing military thought. A prolific writer and student of history, Jomini produced one of the classical studies of warfare from Fredrick the Great to Napoleon. Many have conferred the title of "the father of strategic thinking" on Jomini. Although an important addition to any professional’s library, this book is of special value to those of senior grades dealing and contemplating strategy and the art of war.
Charles B. MacDonald and Sidney T. Mathews. Three Battles: Arnaville, Altuzzo, and Schmidt. Washington, D.C.: Center of Military History, U.S. Army. (443 pages)This volume, part of the famed official U.S. Army History of World War II, takes a detailed look at combat at the small unit level during three battles in the European Theater of Operations based on interviews and recollections of the participants. In the opening four chapters, MacDonald, himself an U.S. Army infantry commander during the war, describes the River Crossing of Arnaville, the story of the 10th and 11th Infantry Regiments, 5th Infantry Division, and Combat Command B, 7th Armored Division, in crossings of the Moselle River at Dornot and Arnaville, France, in September 1944. Two subsequent sections, the first by Sidney T. Mathews, details the break-through at Monte Altuzzo, Italy, and spotlights the accomplishments and failures of the 338th Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division, in the penetration of the Gothic Line, also in September 1944. MacDonald then closes with an eight-chapter history of the Battle for Schmidt, Germany, as experienced by the soldiers of the 112th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division, in November 1944. Supplemented with photographs, detailed maps, a bibliography, and order of battle listing, Three Battles remains one of the best books ever written about war from the common soldier’s perspective.
As the authors explain, their book is intended for small unit officers. The actions described in Three Battles were representative of the of thousands of other small unit actions that made up the larger campaigns in Europe. This book succeeds well in showing the tremendous importance of the individual commander and soldier and the vital contribution they made as part of a larger team in obtaining the final victory often against incredible odds and enormous difficulties.
James M. McPherson, Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. New York: Oxford University Press, 1988. (904 pages)McPherson’s outstanding one-volume history of the Civil War is a fast-paced narrative that fully integrates the political, social, and military events that crowded two decades of turmoil from the start of the Mexican War to end of the rebellion. This book is filled with fresh interpretations and information that puncture old myths and challenge new ones, written in a dramatic style with an analytical insight that entertains while informing. This authoritative volume makes sense of that vast and confusing "Second American Revolution" we call the Civil War, a war that transformed a nation and expanded our heritage of liberty.
The American soldier needs to understand this complex war to truly understand America. The Civil War was the seminal event in American history that shaped and defined what our nation would become more than any other event in our history. It transformed the country from a loose collection of semi-independent states into a single nation. It proved to the world that government based on majority rule was a valid concept and ended the institution of slavery in the United States, putting America on the path to fulfilling its promise of treating all men as equals.
Roger H. Nye. The Challenge of Command. Wayne, New Jersey: Avery Publishing Group, 1986. (187 pages)In an extended bibliographical essay, the culmination of four years of intensive studies and interviews, the author provides a truly magnificent and readable work on the subject of command. More important, the reader is provided with a guide for what inquiring soldiers should read. The book outlines categories of readings designed to give young officers a vision of what they might be as future military men and women. Nye provides a unique book that emphasizes the attainment of military excellence through reading and experience. The book is designed to raise new challenges to conventional thinking about the art of military command. This is a primer for the young officer or cadet establishing his or her bookshelf.
Dave R. Palmer, Summons of the Trumpet: U.S.-Vietnam in Perspective. San Rafael, CA: Presidio Press, 1978. (277 pages) Summons of the Trumpet gives the reader a straightforward no-frills account of America’s military and political involvement in South Vietnam from 1954 to 1973. In thirty chapters, few of which are more than ten pages long, the author touches on all of the major high (and low) points of the period, skillfully interweaving narrative and analysis with short, interesting, and usually accurate, verbal snapshots of the major players, Vietnamese and American. He focuses mainly on the years 1965 to 1973, years when the United States took charge of the war from its South Vietnamese allies and deployed American ground forces aggressively against the Viet Cong and units of the North Vietnamese Army in the South. Many of Palmer’s judgements are provocative and worthy of debate. For example, he criticizes in the strongest terms the decision of the American commander in Saigon, General William C, Westmoreland, to adopt a strategy of attrition. So choosing was, in fact. "irrefutable proof of the absence of any strategy" and a sign that the United States was "strategically bankrupt" in Vietnam. Whether or not one agrees with Palmer, his critique of the strategy rewards close attention, as does a host of other topics examined in the book, including the enemy’s decision in mid-1964 to infiltrate main force units to the South in 1967 to carry out the Tet Offensive in early 1968. The very accurate characterization of the North Vietnamese leaderships’ discussion leading to the decisions, especially that of 1964, suggests that Palmer, at the time he wrote the book an active duty colonel, may have done more research into documents than his note on sources suggests.
After reading Summons of the Trumpet, the military professional will have a solid and broad understanding of the origins, course, and consequences of the Vietnam War both for Southeast Asia and the United States. From the author’s epilogue, the reader will learn that there are many lessons to be learned from this conflict, but that one is central. A war may be won or lost on the home front as well as in the theater of combat. Therefore, in future conflicts the government should not go to war unless the people know what is at stake, believe in the national objective, are enthusiastic for it, and are determined to win.
Martin Van Creveld. Supplying War: Logistics from Wallenstein to Patton. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1977. (284 pages)Although victory in war is thought by many to be always the result of brilliant strategy and tactical genius on the battlefield, this classic military history convincingly demonstrates the power of logistics. Logistics, the "nuts and bolts" of modern warfare, posses formidable problems of transportation, supply, and administration, and is often a main determinant of whether an army experiences victory or defeat. If a military force cannot be consistently and properly supplied with the tools it needs to effectively function and prevail on the battlefield, Van Creveld writes, even the most experienced fighting men and the most brilliant tactical commanders are often doomed to defeat.
Van Creveld starts with a detailed examination of the logistical capabilities and innovations of the two main opponents of the Thirty Years War (1618-1648), Gustavus Adolphus and Count A. W. Wallenstein. He then traces the history of logistics and supply in modern war in eight well-written and readable chapters covering the 18th century, the Napoleonic Wars, the conflicts of the nineteenth century, World War I, and the World War II campaigns in the Soviet Union, North Africa, and Northwest Europe between 1941 and 1945.
Van Creveld’s relatively short but very comprehensive volume is important reading for every professional military officer. While most obviously of value to those soldiers directly interested in and concerned with administration, transportation, and supply, Supplying War is also of vital importance to soldiers in the combat or operational arms who can gain much, as Van Creveld explains, through the realization that what is possible on the battlefield is often dependant on what takes place well behind the front.
Russell F. Weigley, The American Way of War: A History of United States Military Strategy and Policy. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1977. Original edition, 1973. (477 pages) Tracing the evolution of American military strategy and policy, Weigley’s survey offers a unifying vision of American military history. Widely praised for its comprehensiveness and thoughtful analysis, Weigley’s work has become a classic in American military history. Beginning with George Washington’s generalship in the revolutionary war and ending with the military’s frustration in Vietnam, the author surveys the nation’s major conflicts and thinkers and makes a case for the emergence of a uniquely American way of warfare. Weigley sees an American way of war as evolving over time from the revolution’s limited goal of eliminating British rule in North America into something less restrained. As the United States expanded and became an industrial world power its goals in war likewise expanded, seeking for example to overthrow the enemy in the Indian campaigns and the Civil War by destroying their military power. Although at the beginning of its history the nation employed a strategy of attrition against the powerful British empire, growing wealth and territorial expansion led the way for the strategy of "annihilation" to become the characteristically American way of war. After American military power became great enough to contemplate the destruction of the country’s enemies, the history of American strategy came to be the problem of how to secure victory without undue or excessive costs, in Weigley’s view.
While Weigley’s interpretation has its critics, his book remains a challenging intellectual starting point for studying the Army’s participation in America’s past wars and for thinking about the Army’s role in future conflicts.
Senior Leaders above Brigade
Carl von Clausewitz. On War. Ed. and trans Peter Paret and Michael Howard,. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1984. (732 pages)The classic study of the art of war. Although much of the work represents timeless lessons, one must remember that it was completed prior to the Industrial Revolution. However, On War is the most significant attempt in Western history to understand war, both its internal dynamics and as an instrument of policy. Since first published in 1832, it has been read throughout the world, and it has stimulated generations of soldiers, statesmen, and intellectuals. A must for all claiming to be professional soldiers.
Kent Roberts Greenfield (ed.) Command Decisions. Washington, D.C.: Office of the Chief of Military History, 1960. (565 Pages) Soldiers seek to study the lessons of war in order to fit themselves for command. What, they ask, were the concerns and considerations that bore down upon captains and policy makers of the past when they made the historic decisions that determined, for better or for worse, the course and shape of our own times? Analyzing key decisions of Allied, German, and Japanese commanders in World War II, the authors of this book—all participants in the U.S. Army’s monumental, multi-volume effort to chronicle its role in that conflict— seek to provide at least some of the answers.
All but one of the episodes recounted deal with military issues and means, but— reflecting the nature of wars waged by democracies, particularly in the well-wired 20th Century—all are not made by military commanders. Instead, national governments (Japan, the United States) make some, chiefs of state (Adolf Hitler, Franklin Delano Roosevelt) or Washington-based generals such as George C. Marshall make others. The rest, however, draw examples from all levels of command, going from theater through army group to army and corps. In a number of the most important cases, neither the exercise of authority nor the assumption of responsibility was personal, but even so, a major decision occurred in each, great risks arose, and the course of history changed.
The decisions themselves cover a spectrum of possibilities, ranging from matters of supreme strategic importance—whether to put Germany or Japan down first—to issues of civil-military relations heavy with meaning for the post-war future—the decision to evacuate Japanese Americans from the Pacific Coast. The decision to withdraw from Bataan is here. So are Lucas’ to hold at Anzio and Mark Clark’s to drive on Rome. There are also chapters on why Normandy became the site for Overlord rather than a location on the Mediterranean, the reasoning that led to the Market Garden disaster, the decision to halt the Allied advance at the Elbe, and Harry Truman’s conclusion that it would be necessary to employ the atomic bomb.
In all, some twenty-three command decisions are covered. In a world where human nature remains a constant and history all too often repeats itself, each has a bearing on the present.
Michael Howard, War in European History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1976. (165 pages). In this slim volume, Sir Michael Howard, one of the English-speaking world’s leading military historians, summarizes the evolution of war as an institution in European society from the end of the Roman Empire to the Cold War and the nuclear age. His purpose is "to attempt to trace, not simply the development of warfare itself, but its connection with, and effect on, technical, social, and economic change." Howard divides the military history of the European world into eight epochs: the wars of the knights, the wars of the mercenaries, the wars of the merchants, the wars of the professionals, the wars of the revolution, the wars of the nations, the wars of the technologists, and the nuclear age. For each epoch, he traces the influence of economics, society, and technology on the conduct of warfare, and the influence of warfare upon economics, society, and technology. This is not a detailed account of battles and campaigns. Instead, it is an overview of the tactics, operational art, and strategy of each period. Major themes include the rise of the professional officer since the late Seventeenth Century in counterpoint with the development of mass total warfare driven by nationalism and ideology and made possible by modern science and industry. The work is punctuated throughout by striking insights. For example, Howard suggests that in some respects World War I, bloody as it was, was less grim for the individual soldier than previous conflicts due to advances in supply and medical science that reduced the toll of disease and physical hardship. This fact, he argues, helps account for the attractiveness of various militaristic fascist movements to veterans in the social and economic confusion after 1918.
This volume is an excellent introduction to what is often called the "new military history," which deals with military forces in the context of the societies from which they spring and which they serve. For the serving soldier, it provides a concise overview, without excessive and confusing detail, of the evolution of the military institution of which he is a part, in the context of the history of western civilization.
Paul Kennedy. The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers. New York: Random House, 1987. (677 pages) An irresistible book that has become a classic in terms of educating the masses to the dangers of failing to link a vibrant economy with military power. The book is written with great style and power, contains large quantities of historical material, and all this is presented in a very contemporary thesis. The thesis is that over the past five centuries the great empires (Spanish, Dutch, French, British) have risen and flourished and won their wars because their effective military power was backed by a superior economic force. The author goes on to explain that a downward shift in vital economic indices has signaled a similar shift in the nation’s status as a great power, with predictable military defeat in time of war. A must read for the senior commander and strategist seeking the linkage between military and economic power in an ever-changing global environment.
Henry Kissinger. Diplomacy. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1994. (912 pages)The author draws heavily on his vast reservoir of historical knowledge and experience with statecraft and foreign policy to provide the reader with an understanding of the analytical tools of his trade. He emphasizes the importance of such concepts as geopolitics, ideology, realpolitik, the balance of power, the search for aquilibrium, and the nation-state. The subject matter stretches from Richelieu’s raison d’tat to the triumph of conservative nationalism and the configuration of international power following the First and Second World Wars. The author’s examination of the most critical of diplomatic and military concepts and crises serves a primer for the more advanced student of strategy and world politics.
Williamson Murray and Alan R. Millett, eds. Military Innovation in the Interwar Period. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996. (428 pages)The authors examine seven areas of innovation during the 1919-1939 interwar period: armored warfare, amphibious warfare, strategic bombing, tactical bombing, submarine warfare, carrier aviation, and radar. In treating each, the authors compare and contrast the experiences of three or more national military institutions. The seven case studies are followed by three summary chapters which derive a number of characteristics of innovation. Peacetime innovation is found to be highly non-linear, not at all a predictable progression from primitive stages to breakthroughs. Rather than reliable "lessons learned," the interwar period suggests three implications contributing to successful innovation: the institutional commitment to an evolving vision of future war, processes for testing and refining a concept of future war, and service-wide acceptance of institutionalization of the vision of future war. A successful innovative process integrates technical choices into a combination of systems. For example, the blitzkrieg innovation integrated new means of communication, advances in armor and engines, and close air support techniques.
This examination of innovation is relevant not only as useful preparation for understanding and contributing to periodic processes such as the Quadrennial Defense Review and the current "Joint Vision 2010." Additionally, the editors view the United States as in the initial stages of a revolution in military affairs, a post-Cold War period in which a new vision of future war will present new technical options demanding the careful and informed consideration of leaders.
Richard E. Neustadt and Ernest R. May. Thinking in Time. New York: Free Press, 1986. (321 pages)The authors offer the broader public a primer on a way to use historical experience "in the process of devising what to do today about the prospect of tomorrow." They propose certain techniques for the proper employment of history in decision- making. This work is of tremendous value to the commander and senior staff member faced with decision overload and the necessity to plan for the future.
Peter Paret, ed. Makers of Modern Strategy from Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986. (941 pages) This anthology updates the classic work of the same name published in 1943 that originated in a Princeton University seminar on American foreign policy and security issues. The concept and some of the substance of the current version derive from that earlier work. What was novel about the original was its advocacy of the proposition that the history of strategic thought deserved serious attention and that a clear understanding of the role of armed force in international society was important to durable peace. These ideas have gained wide currency and no longer need to be highlighted.
The current volume offers the reader a historical guide to strategic theory and the use of organized violence from the renaissance to the atomic era. Comprising twenty-eight essays grouped chronologically in five parts, this anthology’s broad sweep resists summary. The focus is on American and European military history. Individual chapters survey the contributions of key historical figures such as Napoleon, Clausewitz, and Frederick the Great and topics such as the economic foundations of military power, the role of doctrine, air power, nuclear strategy, and revolutionary war. An acknowledged authority has written each essay. The book’s value is in providing in a single volume a substantial introduction to a wide range of topics in military history. Even when read selectively, Makers of Modern Strategy, with its notes and bibliography opens the gateway for further study and deeper understanding.
Harry Summers. On Strategy. Novato, California: Presidio Press, 1982. (225 pages) A critical examination of the military in Vietnam. The author suggests that the military and political strategists might have fared better had they adhered more closely to the preeminent theorist of strategy, Carl von Clausewitz. The author contrasts timeless theory with American practice in selecting war goals, employing the principles of war, and allocating resources. Summers concludes that the US failed to employ her armed forces so as to secure US national objectives. He explains how Clausewitz can be used as a tool for analyzing wars and campaigns, but not as a "template" for determining the "approved solution." An excellent tool for educating the future commander. More important, the work can serve as a guide for self-education about a critical period in American military, political, and social history.
Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War. Trans. Rex Warner. Baltimore, MD: Penguin Books, 1972. (648 pages) This is the classic account of the great power struggle in the Mediterranean world before the coming of the Roman Empire, written by perhaps the first true historian in the modern sense of the word. Thucydides clear and unsparing account of the rise and fall of the Athenian empire and its life and death struggle with the grim militarist state of Sparta grabs the reader and enthralls him by this tale of pride, power, arrogance and war. Athens is all that a great empire wants to be: supreme in its alliance, all-powerful at sea, fresh from leading a victory (against all odds) over the Persians, wealthy, and culturally dominant. Its rival, Sparta, is a culturally negligible state based solely on the military power necessary to keep its neighbors (and majority slave population) in a constant state of fear. Yet the Athens lose what little "moral high ground" it had (it was, after all, a state also built on a reliance on slavery) by turning its Persian alliance into an empire directed from Athens. It corralled its allies/subjects into a war with Sparta based on flimsy pretexts, in part to settle with its long-standing rival and in part to keep its own subject states in line. The result was a long struggle which ended, after the disastrous expedition to Syracuse and a decimating plague, with the destruction of the Athenian state and the coming of tyranny.
The story of the Peloponnesian War has many lessons that continue to be valid today: the destructive "imperialization" of an all-powerful democratic state, the arrogance of great power politics, the lure of conquest even when reason dictates otherwise, the cult of personality in a military at war (Pericles and Alcibiades), and the always delicate balance of power between the military and the political structures of a state. It was, after all, the almost fratricidal conflict between the Greek states that ultimately weakened them to the point that these city-states fell first to the forces of Alexander the Great of Macedonia and finally to the all-conquering Romans. It is a timeless lesson in the perils and bankruptcy of a polity built upon endless conflict.
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