Editor's Shelf


From Parameters, Winter 1998, pp. 143-44.


Several books that have stood the test of time have returned to the market. Brassey's has reprinted T. R. Fehrenbach's This Kind of War: The Classic Korean War History; Presidio has returned to print Michael D. Mahler's Ringed in Steel: Armored Cavalry in Vietnam; and the Army War College Foundation Press has reprinted Anton Myrer's Once An Eagle. In addition to their historical value, each of these works addresses matters of current interest to soldiers and policymakers.

Two unusual books deal with leadership at the tactical and strategic levels. The first, Combat Team: The Captain's War, An Interactive Exercise in Company Level Command in Battle, is by John F. Antal, an Army officer presently serving in the office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The premise of the book, which the author describes as a "scrambled text," is that the reader commands a company-sized combined arms team and leads it through a series of combat situations. The "scrambled" text requires an action at the end of each section of the book. Readers will jump to specified sections of the narrative based on a roll of the dice or decisions they have made while working through each section. This replication of a profoundly nonlinear process illustrates the passage from Clausewitz's On War with which Antal introduces the Foreword:

Everything in war is simple, but the simplest thing is difficult. The difficulties accumulate and end by producing a kind of friction that is inconceivable unless one has experienced war.

The other, Cigars, Whiskey, and Winning: Leadership Lessons from General Ulysses S. Grant, by Al Kaltman, contains 250 leadership vignettes adapted from incidents during Grant's military career. (The author deals with Grant's presidency in an addendum.) In each instance, Kaltman describes a situation involving Grant, shows in Grant's own words why the situation evolved as it did, and then draws a lesson for contemporary managers. The appropriateness of Kaltman's lessons can be attributed to his Ph.D. in political science and many years of experience at the highest levels of US corporate management. The vignettes are indexed alphabetically and by number.

Readers interested in additional material on the expansion of NATO (the feature ends in this issue) might appreciate "NATO: The Dilemmas of Expansion" by Zbigniew Brezezinski in The National Interest, Fall 1998, and "NATO Entrapped: Debating the Next Enlargement Round" by Karl-Heinz Kamp in Survival, the IISS quarterly, Autumn 1998.

The feature on US involvement in the Balkans, which begins in this issue, gains depth and substance from several recent books. The National Defense University released in 1997 Lessons from Bosnia: The IFOR Experience, Larry Wentz, Contributing Editor. This text, a product of the DOD C4ISR Cooperative Research Program, deserves wide recognition for its efforts to place in perspective the US experience during Operation Joint Endeavor (December 1995 to October 1996). Topics covered in the book's 14 chapters range from assessments of the command and control structure and intelligence operations to the international police task force and psychological operations at the tactical level. The volume concludes with an expansive discussion of lessons learned. Be advised that acronyms flow endlessly across its pages; coping with them is a small price to pay for what the book can teach.

This passage from the chapter on civil-military relations is representative of the candor with which Wentz and his authors treat each significant aspect of the operation:

Multinational peace operations are accompanied by doctrine, culture, and language differences that challenge the overall coordination of the mission and ability to achieve unity of effort. Traditions, concepts, customs, and attitudes are often not compatible, and require active efforts to find the "middle ground." In particular, there was no common understanding or approach to CIMIC [Civil Military Cooperation] operations at the outset of the IFOR deployment. Ground commanders generally lacked a basic understanding of the role and value of CIMIC. This lack of understanding led to misperceptions that CIMIC activities were contributing to mission creep, and resulted in unanticipated constraints being placed on CIMIC operations until the value became more apparent to commanders. Unofficial doctrine, tactics, and procedures were essentially developed as the operation progressed. With more than 30 nations participating, there was an added challenge to merge the cultural differences to achieve unity of effort and avoid clashes in these cultures. Liaison activities became a very important way of addressing many cross-cultural difficulties, and were used effectively to facilitate coordination.

Commanders of units preparing for deployment to Bosnia could safely replace their copies of On War with The IFOR Experience, at least until they return to home station. For the complete text of the book, or for more information about the C4ISR Cooperative Research Program, visit http://www.dodccrp.org.

Two other books can add value to those preparing for deployment to the Balkans and to those of us who must learn from the accounts of others. The first, a photo essay, makes no claim to comprehensive coverage of the region. The Road to Peace: NATO and the International Community in Bosnia, published in 1997, records interviews with leaders and soldiers from US, British, and French forces in Bosnia. The accompanying photographs provide compelling evidence of the effects of the conflict. What emerges from the text and images is a human face for the people of the region and for the soldiers who protect them from one another.

The second book, Legal Guide to Peace Operations, is a massive text (580+ pages) that examines material unfamiliar to the average combat arms officer and noncommissioned officer. Its author, US Army Captain Glenn Bowens, identified 42 topics of direct interest to commanders and their staffs and added 18 legal point papers for depth. Presently assigned to the US Army Peacekeeping Institute, Bowens has produced a book that is largely free of legalese, matching form and function to make his case: when briefing charts will convey his message, that's what you get. Copies of his book are available from the Peacekeeping Institute at usapki@csl.carlisle.army.mil. See also his article, "Legal Issues in Peace Operations," in this issue.

Officers and key noncommissioned officers deploying to the Balkans should make room in their knapsacks for Bowens' Legal Guide to Peace Operations and Wentz's The IFOR Experience. -- JJM


Reviewed 6 November 1998. Please send comments or corrections to usarmy.carlisle.awc.mbx.parameters@mail.mil