Professional military education needs tools to look at the past as a guide, as a way to learn the practice of discovering solutions that meet present needs by knowing enough to ask the right questions. History supplies these military professionals with the tools to shape models of the present and visions of the future.
The experiences of American soldiers deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, sometimes over and over again, are central to this story, including consideration of the lasting impact of their time abroad. American culture is already rife with conversations about post-traumatic stress, veterans’ services, and treatments following deployments. Unfortunately, the voice of the veterans themselves is seldom heard with clarity in these conversations.
No general would ever suggest you read this book, and maybe that is why you should make time to do it. The first person perspective offered by Kassabian is unpolished, irreverent, and told from a soldier’s perspective. In a world full of strategic challenges it is, in my view, a good thing for those making the decisions and grappling with the consequences to get an appreciation for what the greatest of plans looks like when 18-year-old Americans are sent forth to implement them.
The practice of grand strategy has been a staple of statesmanship since time immemorial. But only since the Napoleonic era has much ink been spilt analyzing and grappling with the grand strategic behavior of varied historical dynamos. Until now, scholars have largely demurred from trying to pin down the theoretical essence of what grand strategy actually is. By borrowing insights from fields as varied as strategic studies and cognitive theory, Layton has created an interpretation of how grand strategy could and should look in practice.
Even without a lifelong appreciation for all things Star Wars, anyone with a basic understanding of the movies and their stories and an interest in better understanding modern military conflict will benefit greatly from reading Strategy Strikes Back. I have not found another collection of essays where the authors use their superior imaginations to explain and simplify complex topics so well.
Lansdale was a colorful figure, who revealed in his maverick status and his disdain for the sprawling national security apparatus. Perhaps if Lansdale had been a bit more of an adept bureaucratic knife fighter he would have been more successful. Yet, if he had, it is likely that he would never have been the agile advisor who helped Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay defeat the Hukbalahap rebellion.
In the beginning, being a fighter pilot was all about having what later came to be called “the right stuff:” good eyesight, excellent hand-eye coordination, good stick and rudder skills, and aggressiveness. Fino goes to great lengths to demonstrate that over the course of next three decades these skills did not necessarily change, but they did evolve as pilots had to contend with increasingly complex aircraft systems. The history of fighter aviation rapidly became the struggle to understand automation.
This book is a must for any student, policymaker, or practitioner seeking to better understand America’s war in Afghanistan––even if that student disagrees with its conclusions. As America seems to be on the verge of stepping into the Afghan breech yet again, this book should serve as warning to the over-zealous or those prone to hubris. Moreover, Our Latest Longest War must be included in any pre-deployment reading list for any soldier, diplomat, or aid worker heading to Afghanistan.
War Porn is an attempt to come to grips with the modern, and perhaps even the postmodern, experience of war—an experience that Achilles would still understand. Yet, what is most striking is the author's incessant meditation on what it means to be “a spectator of calamities taking place in another country.” This tension forms the brutal backbone and gritty strength of the novel, uniting all who watch war.
The decision to stop production of arguably the world’s greatest flying machine elicits impassioned opinions on both sides of the argument. Raptor supporters argue that the Air Force is significantly weaker than it should be because of the limited number of F-22s, while supporters of Secretary Gates’ decision argue the cancellation of the line allowed the investment of billions of dollars in equipment that saved countless lives in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
When Phil Klay's book Redeployment was delivered to my apartment a few months ago, I was about to take a long subway ride down the eighty or so blocks to Columbia. I took the book with me. It wasn’t a good idea after all, to open it up and read the title story on the 1 train — crushed into the railing, rattling southward in the dark tunnel. My throat had closed up by the time I hit my stop. When I emerged out into the sunlight from underground, Sgt. Price, the bluntly insightful narrator of “Redeployment,” walked up the stairs and out onto Broadway with me.