Army Heritage and Military History
(for Field Grade Officers, CW4-CW5, 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) (paperback)
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) (paperback)
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 Willia m 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 his tory. 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 Brit ish 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.