by Mike Guardia
Oxford & Philadelphia: Casemate, 2019. Pp. xiv, 184+.
Illus., maps, diagr., gloss., notes, biblio. $16.95 paper. ISBN: 1612007155
The Origins of the Army’s Special Forces
Originally published in hardback in 2010, Guardia’s book on the role of then-Captain Russell W. Volckmann (1911–1982) in building the Filipino-American guerrilla force that opposed the Japanese occupation of the Philippines and then aided in the Liberation of the islands in 1944-1945, is more than just a history of events.
Guardia gives us a lot of material on the how of organizing and sustaining an insurrection, much od which Volckmann had to figure out for himself, with the help of some others, since the Army at the time had little interest in irregular warfare. There is a lot on the surprising amount of bureaucracy necessary to organize, supply, and carry out irregular operations and tips on the dos and don’ts, as well as personality clashes with other officers who’d also formed resistance nodes, some of them with rather ulterior intentions.
Guardia carries Volckmann’s story into the post-war army, where he became one of several officers who pressed the Army to invest in the formation of a permanent special operations force, all of whom are collectively the “Father” of the Special Forces.
American Guerrilla is a good read for anyone interested in the war in the Philippines or unconventional warfare.
Note: American Guerrilla is also available hard cover, audio, and e-editions.