Book Review: Grunt-The Curious Science of Humans at War by Mary Roach

I had previously read Gulp by Mary Roach and found it highly entertaining so when I saw this book I knew i had to read it, I was not disappointed.  Like her other works, Grunt takes a behind the scenes look at its subject.  In this case that subject os outfitting and equipping the modern American military member for war.  Given that I myself am a recently retired combat arms soldier (SCOUTS OUT!) who spent some time working weapons testing I was curious to see a civilians take on how the military does what it does. First, the book itself.  There are 285 pages of text divided into 14 chapters with … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Storming the City: U.S. Military Performance in Urban Warfare from World War II to Vietnam by Alec Wahlman

Storming the City: U.S. Military Performance in Urban Warfare from World War II to Vietnam by Alec Wahlman is a study of the 20th Century United States experience in urban warfare. It examines four urban battles fought by US forces from World War II to Vietnam. The focus of the study are the operational effectiveness of US forces and how well US troops faced urban combat given the relative dearth of US doctrine on city fighting. The book itself is 261 pages of text divided into 6 topical chapters plus an introduction and conclusion. There are 63 pages of endnotes, a short glossary, and a 35 page bibliography. There is … More after the Jump…

Podcast: Strategy: It’s Different aspects

This podcast is a wider discussion of strategy and the different aspects and types of strategy there are. Strategy is not one overarching concept except at its most basic. There are different nuances to strategy and strategy development that exist depending on the level at which the strategy is being developed and implemented. Download this episode (right click and save)

Book Review: Hidden Warships by Nicholas A. Veronico

While not strictly military history, Hidden Warships is a very interesting book nonetheless.  It details how and where to visit many shipwrecks and sunken ships from World War II all over the world. The book is 237 pages of text with many images in both color and B/W.  It is organized into five topical parts with an epilogue, appendices, bibliography, and an index.  The bibliography is especially noteworthy as it lists an extensive series of websites where you can go to learn more not just about wreck-diving but the course of the naval war in World War II.  Each chapter includes a brief historical note about the ship or ships that are … More after the Jump…

Podcast: Tactical, Operational, & Strategic; What Do They Mean?

A discussion of what the different terms Tactical, Operational, & Strategic actually mean and how they are so often misused both in history books but especially within the media. Download this episode (right click and save)

Podcast: Air Power and It’s Limits

This podcast discusses Air Power and its limits.  Specifically I expose the myth that it is possible to win a war with airpower alone.  The example of Kosovo often held up as showing airpower can win wars is discussed as well as the utility, or lack thereof, of airpower in the current fight against ISIS in Syria. Download this episode (right click and save)

CSA PRL Book Review: The Philippine War by Brian McCallister Linn

The 2014 US Army Chief of Staff Professional Reading List (PRL) was released in the Summer of 2014 and I was relieved in the extreme to see that there was only one novel on the list, Once an Eagle by Anton Myrer.  The list is different than earlier lists because it is organized topically instead of by position as earlier lists were.  I have read many of the books on the list already and decided to read the ones I have not and post my thoughts on the books on the list.  This review is the next in that series. Most people that have heard of the Spanish-American War at the turn of … More after the Jump…

CSA PRL Book Review: The Utility of Force by Rupert Smith

The new 2014 US Army Chief of Staff Professional Reading List (PRL) was released in the Summer of 2014 and I was relieved in the extreme to see that there was only one novel on the list, Once an Eagle by Anton Myrer.  The list is different than earlier lists because it is organized topically instead of by position as earlier lists were.  I have read many of the books on the list already and decided to read the ones I have not and post my thoughts on the books on the list.  This review is the third in that series. The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World is … More after the Jump…

Russian Military Equipment Advertising

Here is a comical advertisement for Russian military hardware disguised as a news story.  Russian military hardware best in the world.  Just a reminder, Pravda is Russian for truth and was, probably still is, the official government news organ.  One of the amusing tidbits is their trumpeting of an Iranian claim that a Russian-made ground attack aircraft, the SU-25, took out an MQ-1 Predator drone as an example of the equipment’s superiority.  To repeat, a manned aircraft shot down a drone.  Lastly, as far as I know, all of Russia’s high tech eqipment exports and foriegn licenses are for what are called “chimp” models.  That is, model that do not include all the latest equipment upgrades that enter Russian service.

I  will never forget the look on the Russian soldier’s face in Bosnia in 1996 when we showed him our M3A2 Bradley’s and what they could do.  When he looked at us and said “and we thought we could beat you,” it was priceless.

Book Review: Nightfighter: Radar Intercept Killer by Mark A. Magruder

[FULL DISCLOSURE: I received my copy of this book free from the author. I was not paid for this review and the opinion expressed is purely my own] Every time I think that nothing more can be written about WWII that is both interesting and informative a book like this one makes an appearance.  I will even be upfront and admit that I don’t normally go in for biographies or autobiograhies of famous people, much less someone who is not a household name.  Nightfighter: Radar Intercept Killer by Mark A. Magruder has caused me to reevaluate both opinions. This book is the story of USMC COL Marion Magruder, one of the … More after the Jump…

Book Review: Battle Tactics of the Western Front by Paddy Griffith

Battle Tactics of the Western Front: The British Army`s Art of Attack, 1916-18 by Paddy Griffith is a very interesting book. The premise is that despite what many historians have said about the inertia of the British Army in WWI and it’s resistance to tactical change, that is not true and the British were committed to innovation throughout the war in an effort to break the deadlock of the trenches. The book itself is not long, 219 pages of text including appendices. There are extensive endnotes and the bibliography is fairly extensive as well. The book is organized topically and though it purports to only deal with the developments of the … More after the Jump…

The Transformation of War Wrought by the Armies of the French Revolution and Napoleon

In the years before the French Revolution, warfare in Europe was moribund at best.   The wars of the period were dynastic wars fought to maintain the traditional balance of power and were generally limited in scale and scope.   The armies of this era were professional armies with an aristocratic officer class and private soldiers drawn from the lowest segments of society and subject to brutal discipline.   Desertion and looting were rife in the pre-revolutionary or old regime army’s, which partly explains the discipline, the other part of the discipline equation was the need for soldiers to execute their battlefield actions in concert to maximize the effect of … More after the Jump…

Loaded Cannon in NYC

This is a curious item of interest: 18th century cannon in NYC found to be loaded with ammo

The cannon in Question. Image Courtesy CBSNews
The cannon in Question.
Image Courtesy CBSNews

Recently, a Revolutionary era cannon from a British warship that had been on display in Central Park  until the mid-90’s in New York was found to loaded during restoration efforts.  The cannon was apparently loaded with 2 pounds of black powder and a cannonball.  It was disarmed by the NYPD Bomb Squad after the police were notified.  The powder is claimed to have still been viable.  Now wouldn’t that be a hoot if somebody had figured that out while the cannon on was still on display and fired it.  Would we consider anybody injured a Revolutionary War casualty since that is when the cannon was loaded?

War and the Modern Mind

I have been pondering why modern Westernized man has such a problem successfully waging war for a few days and had a breakthrough recently.  Before we can really get to that, a few brief thoughts are in order. First, what is war?  Most people would probably agree that war is armed conflict between states, at least that is the classical definition.  I would add the modern caveat of armed conflict with what are euphemistically called non-state actors (IRA, AL-Qaeda, FARC, etc.).  These two definitions are good enough for my current purposes although I don’t think they really cover everything that we should or could call war. Second, what constitutes victory?  … More after the Jump…

Burg Waldeck in Waldeck, Germany

Below is a series of photos I took recently when my family and I visited the castle ruins of Burg Waldeck in Waldeck, Germany.   The top photo is a screen shot from Google Earth showing the layout of the castle as it appears today. Burg Waldeck is a typical Keep and Bailey type castle.   There is a rounded keep at the center of the complex with a small courtyard and various outbuildings.   It is surrounded by a curtain wall that is currently about 10-15 foot high with rounded turrets defending the most vulnerable parts of the wall.   It sits on top of fairly steep hill that … More after the Jump…