Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Reading List

Cicero, one of my few readers asked for a reading list that I might recommend if he decided to enter the profession of arms. Obviously over the years I have read much like most everyone else. Here are but a few of the works that have helped form my mind and thoughts (at least my military mind). This are not listed in the order of precedence they ought to be in, just put these plus many more on your list and get to them as you can.

This Kind of War; T.R. Fehrenbach
Good history but more importantly good lessons in why it is important to always look for ways to make the organization better. The section on the Battle of Kunu-ri ought to send chills up the spine of any leader. Undisciplined troops will fail when their technology and logistics no longer supports them. The American Army today is not so very different from those soldiers that went into the valley at Kunu-ri as some may like to believe. Many of our soldiers consider themselves technicians; they are accustomed to comfortable garrison lives. Take away our technological and logistical advantages on any battleground in the world today and discipline will collapse just as it did in the mountains of Korea. Read this book and then you should never again ask why think of subjects like “how can I change the organization”

The Defence of Duffer’s Drift; Swinton
Simple book with a simple story.

The General: Robert L. Bullard and Offership in the United States Army; Allan R Millet
Presents an excellent discussion of the introduction of management science into the military art. Discusses how this materialistic system with quantifiable data makes service less selfless. Bullard was of the opinion that a system dependent upon technology and quantifiable data replaced “manly honor”. His views are not nearly as 19th Century as they may seem at first glance. Much of what is wrong in the military can be attributed to business school thinking. Anyone thinking of entering the military with an eye toward making a difference would do well to understand this.

Attacks; Field Marshall Erwin Rommel
Every American officer should read Rommel. Beyond the fact that he was a tactical genius he teaches us much about being an officer. His trials as a junior officer during WWI teach much about selfless service. His actions upon returning to Germany after North Africa in WWII and discovering the true meaning of nazism is a solid demonstration of doing right no matter the cost. Attacks does not cover his actions against an unjust government but it lays a sound foundation for understanding the man that laid down his life to do what was right later in life.

My Reveries Upon The Art of War; Field Marshall Maurice de Saxe
Saxe understood much of human nature and leading men. He was also a true reformer.

De Re Militari-The Military Institutions of the Romans; Flavius Vegetius Renatus
Western military thought and organization owe much to this work. Vegetius understood much about human nature and organization and discipline of an army. American military officers would do well to understand the history of Rome and her legions. The similarities between the transformation of the Roman Republic into the Empire with legions thrown about the world enforcing Roman peace is striking when compared to the events of the last half-century. Reading the institutions one can see many similarities between the Roman soldier and the American soldier. The principles that Vegetius advocated for change and transformation in the Roman Army apply to the American Army. One point to be remembered; Vegetius’ recommendations were not heeded and Rome eventually collapsed.

Starship Troopers, Robert A. Hienlen
Yes this is a novel, a silly one of sorts but there are a couple very good points, particularly reference officer NCO relations. Read this when you do not have time for heavy thinking.

I Rode With Stonewall, Henry Kyd Douglas
Another view into a great man of God and a tactical genius.

Company Commander, Charles B. MacDonald
Company command is the greatest priviledge and challenge a man can aspire to. This book nails it.

Marine! The Life of Chesty Puller
Amazing story of a guy that would not quit

The Fall of the Roman Empire: The Military Explanation. Ferrill, Arther
Discusses the collapse of the Roman Empire as a result of its military decay.

The Challenge of Command, Nye, Roger H
A must read

These are but a few. Of course you have to read the trendy tomes such as Sun Tzu (good read but overrated). Pick also sever biographies. Everyone goes for the biographies of great men, and you should read about Lee, Jackson, Washington etc. Also read about the men around them and about ordinary men. As I mentioned above Rommel is one of my favorites for numerous reasons, not only was he a great battlefield leader he had the moral courage to risk everything to end a bad regime.

Hope this helps you and maybe someone else along the way

No comments:

Post a Comment