The Leavenworth Way of War

History Discussion at CGSC

Book Review: Twilight Warriors by James Kitfield

417fjgtl0dl-_sy344_bo1204203200_Twilight Warriors focuses on the cadre of leaders who came of age during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and forged what the author describes as a new “American Way of War.” Kitfield, a senior fellow at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress and a recognized authority on the US national security apparatus (Prodigal Soldiers, 1997, War and Destiny, 2005) presents a well-researched argument based on interviews and personal experience overseas, asserting that over the course ten years of war the US national security apparatus has developed a new and devastatingly effective approach to war. This new approach is based on techniques “find, fix, finish, exploit, and analyze” pioneered by Generals Stanley McCrystal and Mike Flynn in Iraq. Twilight Warriors describes the professional development and interaction of these and other innovators as they succeed and eventually occupy some of the highest positions in the national security structure. A new cooperative inter-agency culture is also a hallmark of the tactics employed not only in Afghanistan and Iraq, but globally as the center-piece of an extremely effective US counter-terrorism strategy.  Kitfield’s work is insightful, informative and timely. He includes in his analysis the rise of ISIS in Syria and Iraq, the immigration issues in Europe, and the recent Paris and Brussels terrorist attacks. This new analysis of US counter-terrorism strategy is required reading for anyone with a personal or professional interest in the subject.

August 25, 2016 Posted by | books, COIN, leadership, military history, Professional Military Education | 1 Comment

H106 H107 War, Strategy and Politics — Book Review

Distinguished U.S. Marine Corps General (ret.) Zinni argues that the key to the U.S. military’s success in battle lies in a combination of strategic decisions and actions that occur off the battlefield and often before the battle begins. Zinni illustrates his primer on the basics of formulating national strategy with examples taken from more than 50 years of military and national security experience. His full-bore critique of presidential administrations is organized chronologically from Kennedy to Obama. In the course of his analysis, Zinni names names and makes some bold and controversial assertions (for example, the U.S. has been too quick to use military force in the past and most civilian politicians are not knowledgeable enough to make correct decisions regarding war or strategy without professional advice). He offers several solutions to the issues he raises, including the creation of a professional, civilian-led national security corps, and a complete legislative reorganization of the military’s administrative departments to force “whole of government” strategic approaches to solving problems of national security. Zinni insightfully criticizes the decision-making process behind our national strategy and makes recommendations worthy of consideration.

October 14, 2015 Posted by | books, H100 | , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Book Review: A Chance In Hell

A short excerpt of my review of the new book that covers the actions of BG MacFarland’s brigade in Iraq:

A Chance in Hell is one of the most important books written thus far on Army operations in Iraq.  The lessons in the book will be obvious and important to lieutenants and captains as well as colonels and generals.  It describes the close relationship between company and platoon tactics, brigade operations, and regional and national strategy.  It clearly describes the tactics, techniques, and procedures  of  the population centric approach to counterinsurgency.  Michaels demonstrates the criticality of cultural understanding to success at all levels of COIN operations. Finally, and most important, the book  highlights the importance of leadership to tactical and operational success.  The tough decision making, and the inspiring example of the leaders of the “Ready First” brigade come through as the critical element in the brigade’s success; a success that was the operational tipping point in the war in Iraq. 

For more information on this book click here for the book website.

August 11, 2010 Posted by | books, COIN, Current Events, Urban Warfare | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: Normandy to Victory

Normandy to Victory : The War Diary of General Courtney H. Hodges and the First U.S. Army, by Major William C. Sylvan and Captain Francis G. Smith Jr. (edited by John Greenwood), is an important book on U.S. Army operations in the European Theater during World War II. Its greatest contribution is as resource for understanding many of the important operations of the war from the perspective of General Hodges and his headquarters. It is also valuable as a firsthand account of leading soldiers in battle at the field army level. This book is not for the uninitiated. Truly appreciating the detail, nuance, and its value as a primary source, requires grounding in the history of the U.S. Army in Europe during World War II. That said, for those with a serious interest in World War II history Normandy to Victory is a “must have” book.

May 22, 2009 Posted by | books | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Readings on Palestine






1948:  A History of the First Arab-Israeli War.  By Benny Morris.

Making Israel.  Edited by Benny Morris.

Interesting and very informative New York Times book review of new books on the 48 War. The review itself is a mini-historiography and well worth the read for any or all who are interested.

May 18, 2009 Posted by | A652, books | , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Review: Schoolbooks and Krags

Schoolbooks and Krags:  The United States Army in the Philippines, 1898-1902.  John M. Gates.  Westport, CT:  Greenwood Press, 1973.

Gates is at his best discussing the American strategy.  He effectively describes how the two aspects of  the dual strategy of attraction and chastisement complimented each other.  The book begins with the efforts of General Otis, the first commander, who did not have the military strength to accomplish his mission, vague guidance from the President, and few intelligence sources.  Otis did not understand the strategy of the Philippine revolutionaries led by Emilio Aguinaldo.  None-the-less, the American army quickly defeated the Filipinos in the conventional phase of combat in 1899.  Gates then details how General Arthur MacArthur wrestled with the challenge of devising and executing a strategy aimed at defeating the Filipinos who had reverted to a deliberate stratagem of guerrilla warfare. MacArthur aimed at separating the insurgents from the civil population and then defeating them.  This strategy required close cooperation with William Howard Taft, the U.S. civil administrator in the islands, and pro-American Filipinos.  The book concludes with an analysis of how the entire strategy was almost undone by MacArthur’s replacement, General Adna Chaffee, as the Army, according to Gates, over-reacted to the Balangiga massacre.  This reaction included the brutal Samar pacification campaign under General Jacob H. Smith.

Read complete review here.

May 11, 2009 Posted by | books | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Reviews: Understanding Islam: An Introduction to the Muslim World; Inside Islam

Understanding Islam:  An Introduction to the Muslim World, by Thomas W. Lippon is a 1995 beginner’s guide to Islam and the Middle.  Lippman was the Washington Post Bureau Chief in the Middle East and he uses information gained through living and traveling through Islamic countries, as well as the words of the Holy Koran and other Islamic works.  The religion of Islam is a message sent by GOD to the Prophet Mohamed may peace be upon him (MPUH), and understanding Islam is not difficult but the majority in the West judge Islam through the acts of some Muslims who do not necessarily represent the Faith..  The author provides information about the rules of Islam and how some governments use Islam to show the right path for policy.   This book contributes to an understanding of Islam. I recommend this book to students that are interested in learning the basic information about Islam and interested in a book that talks fairly about other religions and cultures.

 LTC Abdullah Alsomad

The author of Inside Islam, Anne-Marie Delcamber, is a French citizen who holds doctorates in law and in Islamic Civilization. She is professor of Arabic at Lycee Louis-le-Grand, Paris. She has written many books that relate to Islam and the prophet Mohammed (peace upon him).  Since the events of 9/11, several books on Islam have appeared in bookstores. Two major trends characterize these books. On one hand are authors who seek with their work to facilitate genuine and critical discussions about Islam and its civilization devoid of religious and cultural polemics. The goal of these authors is to encourage dialogue between the Muslim world and the West.  On the other hand are works of authors notorious for their polemics, rather than substance. These authors have found, in the tragic incident of 9/11, an opportunity to spread deep-seated hatred, prejudice, and ignorance about Islam and Muslims. In the latter genre falls “Inside Islam” by Anne-Marie Delcambre.   As far as Delcambre is concerned, there is only one interpretation of Islam, fundamentalist Islam, which is about internalizing and practicing the prohibitions of juridical Islam.  “Inside Islam” is not a work of scholarship, but a collection of personal views, mostly bordering on bigotry, racism and ignorance disguised as academic research. It is a work of ‘selective justice.’ I don’t recommend the book for students who want to learn about Islam in particular and Middle East issues in general.

MAJ Ahmed Ambu-saidi

May 5, 2009 Posted by | A652, books | , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Book Reviews: A Peace to End All Peace; The Gamble.

I thoroughly enjoyed A Peace to End All Peace, and highly recommend it to someone that wants to read a comprehensive history of the Middle East from 1912-1922.  I enjoyed the fact that even though this is an academic history book, that it reads like a good story.  The author does a pretty good job of telling the reader about the personalities and motivations behind the actions of the major players in the Middle East.  The thing that I found difficult about this book was its complexity at times.  I think that this is less a function of the writer, and more a function of the actual complexity of what was going on in this region.  The title of this book is telling, since the competing domestic and foreign politics, and realities of enforcing the peace settlements in the Middle East set the stage for the turmoil and persistent conflict in the region.  I would recommend this book to anybody who wants to know the truth about the origins of the modern Middle East and go beyond the mantra that, “It’s all Great Britain’s fault…..”

MAJ Wayne Wilson, USAF



The Gamble is an easy read, well written, and hard to put down once you start it. The author- Mr. Ricks has done an excellent job of exhaustively researching his facts, interviewing key players, presenting the material in a clear and concise manner, and providing a stark contrast to the current state of the affairs in Iraq vice the state of affairs in Iraq in 2006. His previous book- The Fiasco provides the author with the capacity to discern the true nature of the current situation. Readers clearly understand that Mr. Ricks would not hesitate to criticize military leaders if criticism was appropriate.  The Gamble is a must read for all field grade officers and provides unique insight into the development and practical application of revised counterinsurgency doctrine.  This book should be immediately incorporated into history classes at the Command and General Staff College ASAP.


MAJ Gary Holben, USAR

April 24, 2009 Posted by | A652, books | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Reviews: Empire in the Sands; The Quranic Concept of War.

Empires of the Sand is a bold attempt to redefine the historical understanding of what forces were responsible for shaping the current Middle East from 1789 to 1923.  The Karsh’s contend that the European powers, as is widely accepted by most prominent scholars, were not the primary force behind the current tensions and issues that exist in the region. Instead, that the Middle Eastern powers were willing and active participants in establishing their current boundaries and bare the primary responsibility for its internal problems and volatile nature.  The European powers played a secondary role and without their support and assistance in defining the geographic boundaries of the region it would be less stable and divided into smaller and more contentious states.  I believe that while brilliant in presenting their data that they and their argument are historically inaccurate and biased.  I found the book one sided to the European powers while continually condemning the Arabs and Turks.  While they bear significant responsibility for their failures that led to the current state of the Middle East, this literary effort tries too hard to relieve European Colonialism of its role.


MAJ William Prayner, USA 


In the absence of real Islamic military doctrine, The Quranic Concept of War is the equivalent of the U.S. Army’s FM 3-0 Operations for Muslims searching for “divine guidance” on how to fight.  Allah K. Brohi, late Advocate-General of Pakistan, described Brigadier Malik’s work as “a comprehensive survey of the Quranic Approach to the Principles of War and Peace.”  According to the author the book outlines “a philosophy of war that is supreme and distinctive in all its angles and aspects.”  I did not make a direct connection between this book and terrorist ideology, but apparently many others have.  Publishers Mark Hanna and Patrick Poole said Malik’s book has “critical significance in the ideological foundations of the international jihadist movement” and indicated summaries of the book in various languages have been found on captured and killed insurgents in Afghanistan.  United States Army Lieutenant Colonel Joseph Myers, who reviewed Malik’s book for the Winter 2006-2007 issue of Parameters, said “Anyone charged or interested in the defense of reason and freedom of conscious [sic] should study the Quranic Concept of War for its intellectual and strategic ramifications.” 


MAJ Patricia McPhillips, USA 

April 24, 2009 Posted by | A652, books | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Book Reviews: Urban Warfare Books

The following are short book reviews done by students in A620, The History of Modern Urban Operations:


A Savage War for Peace, by Alstaire Horne.


A Savage War of Peace is an epic story of the history of the final eight years of struggle of the Algerian people for independence. 

After reading the book and then the modern reviews of the book one has to wonder how the press could give such an inaccurate account of the actions of our Soldiers in Iraq.  While there are parallels, likening the Algerian war for independence to the Iraq occupation differs immensely.

MAJ Blaine Wales


The Sling and The Stone – On War in the 21st Century, by T.X. Hammes


COL Hammes shows how we as a military are failing to address the challenge of 4GW (4th Generation Warfare) and that without major political and military reform we are destined to fail.  He uses historical references to show how, through minor adaptations, that small less powerful organizations have systematically defeated large conventional armies.  The book is extremely useful for all levels of command by bringing adaptations of Mao’s principals of insurgency to light in the tactical, operational and strategic environment.

MAJ Dan Kidd


Battle for Hue, by Keith W. Nolan


The Battle for Hue, as captured by Keith Nolan, is an extensive chronology of combat actions fought in an urban environment during the TET Offensive of 1968.  Written predominantly through the eyes of the Marines that fought in and around Hue, the third largest city in South Vietnam, Nolan uses both Marine Corps Archives and firsthand accounts from over 35 Service Members to present a very comprehensive view of one of the longest and fiercest battles during the US participation in combat operations in Vietnam.

MAJ Jason Marquiss


No True Glory, by Bing West


This Book No True Glory is about the American fight against the insurgency in the year of 2004. The Author, Mr. Bing West, wrote this book based on time spent with strategic Leaders and with the Soldiers and Marines in the Infantry Battalions at the final Battle of Fallujah. This book covers the Final Battle of Fallujah in-depth at the Company and Squad leader level.

MAJ Darren Keahtigh


November 7, 2008 Posted by | books, Urban Warfare | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment