Published Airpower Journal - Summer 1997
Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing.
Command Arrangements for Peace Operations by David S. Alberts and Richard E. Hayes. National Defense University Press, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, D.C. 20319-6000, 1995, 136 pages, no price given.
Given the number of ongoing, multinational peacekeeping operations, the topic of command structuresespecially among American and international peacekeepersis both relevant and controversial. The authors argue that the military is neither equipped nor prepared to engage in peacekeeping operations; thus, command arrangements take on increased importance. After analyzing recent coalition and peace operations by the United States (e.g., Somalia, Rwanda, and Bosnia), they conclude that successful peacekeeping operations require the US military to work with a wide variety of institutions and organizations. These include foreign governments, nonnational political actors, and international organizations, as well as private voluntary organizations and foreign military forces that are typically part of a peace operation. The authors use the term peace operations throughout the text to encompass all forms of peacekeeping and enforcement.
Although somewhat dated with regard to Bosnia, Command Arrangements is valuable because it explores a variety of arrangements and attempts to pinpoint the ones that troops in the field could use effectively. The first conclusion is that two command structures are required, since peacekeeping involves a political and military problem. Any form of military operation needs to be preplanned and adapted to the particular situation that might develop. A considerable command and control (C2) capability would have to exist, but such an arrangement is the only realistic way to conduct military actions in peace operations.
The authors make a key point of the use of liaisons, citing Operation Desert Storm, which saw over 150 three- and four-man teams deployed in-theater. Peace operations will require even greater exchanges of liaisons, coupled with communications systems to allow the exchange of information. Simplification of command arrangements in coalition operations is another requirement for successful mission execution. Assignment of missions based on capability, assignment of separate physical space to different commands, use of coordination teams, and exchange of liaison officers should be coupled with the creation of networks that permit informal communications among the coalition members and anyone working with them. Principles used in war fighting must also be modified to meet the mission (i.e., unity of purpose instead of unity of command and consensus planning rather than hierarchical decision making).
The books overall assessment of US forces in peacekeeping operations is that they are far better employed in peace enforcement and peace imposition. Our forces are trained for combat and must be retrained for any peace operation. The authors conclude that we require a far more reliable and valid assessment of command arrangements in peace operations, including war games, simulations, and exercises, so that we can create valid and reliable systems of methodology and measurement for future operations. Command Arrangements has much valuable C2 information that can be applied to current military and peace operations. But we cannot overlook the fact that the military establishment needs to study these command arrangements in more detail to ensure the success of future operations.
Capt Gilles Van Nederveen, USAF
Savage Peace: Americans at War in the 1990s by Daniel P. Bolger. Presidio Press, 505 San Marin Drive, No. 300B, Novato, California 94945-1309, 1995, 420 pages, $27.95.
Daniel Bolger writes to tell Americas soldiers what to look out for in the current spate of American operations. He also has advice for policy makers contemplating such missions. His writing style is clear and lucid, and entertaining. The topic is certainly a timely one, and Bolger does an outstanding job enlightening the reader on current hot spots Americans have visited. He especially wants America to avoid any more embarrassing, costly mistakes, such as our recent involvement in Somalia. As he admonishes in the prologue, what you dont see . . . can kill you. His book hits the mark.
Daniel Bolger is eminently qualified. His background includes tours as S-3 of a unit deployed in Korea, a battalion commander, and at the Pentagon. The book begins with an excellent introduction of how our armed forces are organized to conduct joint operations. It explains how our geographic unified commands work, nicely integrating it with a discussion of peace-keeping operations exercises at the Armys Joint Readiness Training Center. He then illustrates how a successful multinational operation kept the peace in the Sinai peninsula for the last 14 years. Part of the reason for its success is their attitude that they are facing a threat, and a decision to be vigilant. As he points out, this is hard to maintain when low threat begins to seem like no threat. Against this example of a successful (albeit far from bloodless) operation, Bolger details how American Marines were caught unaware during their tenure in Beirut in 1982.
In the second half of the book, he describes what we can learn from such operations and goes into detail regarding three operations America attempted this decade. These three operations are: supporting the Kurds in Northern Iraq; feeding the starving in Somalia; and using airstrikes to support peacekeeping in the former Yugoslavia. The first operation is widely regarded as a success, and it may have set us up for failure in the second. After so easily quelling Iraqi actions against its minorities, without an overwhelming ground force, planners looked to the Kurdish relief effort as a model for helping the starving in Somalia. Using analogies to think about a new situation is not necessarily a bad way to do business. In this instance, however, planners needed to look at the differences between Northern Iraq and Somalia, not only in geography, but the situation on the ground. Analogy helped get us in trouble there, as did decisions based on wishful thinking versus reality. We had a good plan for going in. But it turned out we didnt have such a good plan for getting out.
If there is a weakness in his book, it is that Bolger is an operator, trying to make sense out of our national policies, and other branches and service components efforts to implement them. This leads to a less than complete analysis of how other branches or services may help the infantry soldier handing out food or keeping the peace. While his book is excellent (and very entertaining) reading for that soldier, it may leave the men and women who plan and execute such operations lacking the appreciation for intelligence in such operations.
Its main strength is that it reads like a fictional account, and will have you sitting on the edge of your seat several times. At the same time, Bolger has produced a well-researched and extensively documented book, making it both credible and a bounty for those interested in further research. This combination produces an excellent text for learning about Americas future wars, and how to think about surviving them.
Maj Alan C. Bridges, USAF
USAF Academy, Colorado
Organizing, Training, and Equipping the Air Force for Crises and Lesser Conflicts by Carl H. Builder and Theodore W. Karasik. RAND, 1700 Main Street, Santa Monica, California 90407-2138, 1995, 93 pages.
Few authors have supported, cajoled, incensed, disgusted, and delighted the Air Force as Carl Builder. In the early 1980s, he wrote a provocative book on nonnuclear strategic weapons that challenged the very existence of the Strategic Air Command. Now, with co-author Ted Karasik, he is provoking the Air Force leadership again. This book has as its thesis that the Air Force should rethink how it should organize (reorganize), equip (re-equip), train (educate), and above all, establish doctrine and select a responsible organization to understand crises and lesser conflicts (CALC) in our unstable and disordered world. Even the term they coined, CALC, jars the current thinking about the many nontraditional missions the armed forces are being called upon to perform. Some would describe CALCs as military operations other than war, or, operations other than war, and even, noncombat missions. However, Builder and Karasik believe these terms miss the mark because in the case of the Air Force, we are involved in not just domestic, nontraditional, or routine operations, but are performing international and nonroutine operations short of war, especially those that pose the threat of combat operations. This is the meat of Builders research and is the basis of his definition of crises and lesser conflicts.
CALCs are occurring with increasing frequency, overtaxing crucial parts of the Air Force resources while idling other resources that could conceivably be used to head off CALCs. The challenge to the Air Force, according to Builder, is not so much in determining future missions but rather to define, how military power can be used effectively in a range of difficult situations.
The Air Force, according to the extensive research done to write this report, is encountering this problem sooner and more severely than the other services because our unique aerospace capabilities are in greater demand even though we are already severely stressed. He points out how our airlift, both global and theater, is in daily demand. Surveillance and enforcement platforms in both air and space, especially airborne warning control system, are overused. Reconnaissance and intelligence for situation and risk assessment are also overtaxed. Finally, there is maximum use of ground-to-air threat suppression platforms for enforcement of air security.
It is important to note that this book is not a clarion call for the reserve forces to take on more responsibility. Rather, there are valid recommendations to reorganize important assets in the reserve and active forces. It may be, Builder suggests, that airlift, suppression of enemy air defenses, reconnaissance and logistics units need to be in the active force, while bomber and fighter units dedicated to major regional conflicts should be in the reserve structure. Builder suggests sort of a reverse of the tip-of-the-spear adage where the shaft is the cutting edge for CALCs.
The challenges the authors give the Air Force are neither insurmountable nor unfamiliar. Using historical examples, Builder shows that the Air Force can offer the nations leadership military capabilities that can ameliorate crises and lesser conflicts before they become true combat situations. Aerospace power, with its independent capabilities to feed, supply, rescue, police, and punish from the air, could be fashioned to address urgent problems without being held hostage on the ground. It would behoove the Air Force leadership to read Builder.
David G. Bradford
America at War: An Anthology of Articles from MHQ: The Quarterly Journal of Military History edited by Calvin L. Christman. Naval Institute Press, 118 Maryland Ave, Annapolis, Maryland 21402, 1995, 672 pages, $35.00.
War is woven into the fabric of American history, and Calvin L. Christman, professor of history at Cedar Valley College and adjunct professor at the University of North Texas, has assembled an excellent anthology of the writings of many outstanding historians that describe Americas war experience.
America at War is refreshing because he abandoned the history book approach and instead has assembled 51 stories which offer a range of perspectives on Americas war experience.
I have read other works by many of the authors, people like Stephen E. Ambrose, David McCullough, and Martin Van Creveld. They are all noted experts and well-published historians, and the editor offers an extensive bibliography. I was confident with the quality represented by their work in this book.
Neil Asher Silbermans The Pequot Massacres is the lead-off story. While there were many battles during the colonial era, the Pequot War of 163637 between the Puritans and the Pequot Indians of Connecticut deserves examination because of the motivation and level of violence of the combatants. This conflict set the pattern of Anglo-Native American relations for the next 250 years.
Willard Sterne Randall, author of Benedict Arnold: Patriot and Traitor, provides a new twist to the Benedict Arnold story. He writes that Arnolds wife, Peggy Shippen Arnold, may have been an even greater traitor than her husband.
Custers battle at the Little Big Horn on 25 June 1876 is discussed both by Silberman, an archaeologist and historian, and Robert M. Utley, a former chief historian of the National Park Service.
Silberman describes how battlefield archaeology assists the historian with recreating the event, while Utley gives a more traditional treatment of the battle.
Utley says that it wasnt Custers military incompetence that lost the battle, but that the Sioux and Cheyenne were strong, confident, united, well led, well armed, outraged by the governments war aims, and ready to fight if pressed. Custer lost because Sitting Bull won.
Much of the anthology deals with World War II and Vietnam battles which were infinitely more complicated and vicious than those of the Indian wars of the late 1800s. Fast forward into the future and Thomas B. Allen, author of War Games describes the role that simulated war games played in Desert Storm. America at War is a good read. Its not your normal history book.
Col Jerry Cox, USAF, Retired
Tail of the Storm by Alan Cockrell. University of Alabama Press, Box 870380, Tuscaloosa, Alabama 35487-0380, 1995, 234 pages, $24.95.
When Saddam Husseins army invaded Kuwait in August 1990, precipitating US intervention to free the Arab emirate, few in national policy-making positions could accurately envision the complexity of fighting a war 7,500 miles from American soil. In particular, the difficulty of supplying the war fighters in theater was probably imperceptible to most. But the logistics tail from the United States to Saudi Arabiathe point of embarkation for most military operations during the warmoved millions of tons of equipment, supplies, and personnel. It was one of the most crucial aspects of the conflict and eventually provided US forces with the tools for victory.
Alan Cockrell, a command pilot who logged almost 1,000 hours as an aircraft commander during Desert Shield and Desert Storm, uses the logistical tail of the storm as a framework for chronicling his keen affection for flying and airplanes in this very readable, humorous, and insightful view of military transport aviation during a time of national crisis. He accurately captures the balance of purpose most military aviators share in their profession: a broad sense of duty to country and a more selfish passion to slip the surly bonds of earth for personal satisfaction.
Cockrell punctuates his work with personal stories encompassing his 20-plus years as a pilot in which he has flown private aircraft, tactical fighters, and heavy transport aircraft for himself, the Air Force, the Air National Guard, and a commercial airline. These poignant vignettes from the cockpit and at military facilities around the world expose the human aspect of military aviation. In one episode, Cockrell brings life to the complex emotional and logistical demands of a transglobal C-141 mission from the United States to the Kuwaiti Theater. He illuminates the fraternal spirit, crew members practical jokes, inefficiencies and inconveniences endured, humorous and terrifying experiences in the cockpit, and adds commentary on such issues as female pilots in the Air Force. Also revealed are the personal consequences airmen pay in pursuance of their dreamsdisplacement from family, jetlag, never ending bag drags, and, occasionally, the death of a comrade. Perhaps the most engaging aspect of the book is how Cockrell consistently praises the professionalism and talent of the men and womenboth enlisted and officer, fliers and non-flierswith whom he flew. The book is filled with nuances of teamwork that motivate all to endure, even in the face of danger or, worse, boredom and stupidity.
Cockrell shares personal stories of how misguided fervor in the cockpit can quickly translate into death for an unwise or unsuspecting pilot. He recounts how he tried to prove his tenacity to the wing director of operations by attacking a practice target at high speed, low altitude, and with great bravado but without proper planning and target acquisition. The result was near death in a fiery crash of his A-7. Another story involves a genre of frustration all crew members endure when on long missions. In this case, the commanding general learned hotel rooms in Torrejon were held in reserve for Air Force Academy cadets while visiting aircrews were forced to sleep in the base gymnasium. According to Cockrell, the general proceeded to clean out the temple. These and other examples highlight the illogic that seems to haunt all large bureaucracies.
Cockrell grabs the logistical tail and parlays it into an entertaining and realistic account of the magnitude and limitations of supplying a distant war. As a bonus, it is also an agreeable, personal memoir that merits reading by fellow aviators and aviation enthusiasts alike, because it provides a vivid and coherent account of the trials and tribulations of those who flew in the Tail of the Storm.
Capt Kevin M. Rhoades, USAF
USAF Academy, Colorado
Prisoners of the Japanese: POWs of World War II in the Pacific by Gavan Daws. William Morrow 1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York 10019, 1994, 441 pages, $25.00.
As the World War II generation gets older, and less numerous, we have seen an explosion of personal memoirs of their experiences. Amongst the more recent trends has been memoirs of prisoners of war relating detailed experiences of their years in captivity. Prisoners of the Japanese is among the better of these efforts. Readers will find it useful, whether as anecdotal documentation of events, personal study of human tragedy, or simply as moving tribute to the ability of the human spirit to survive.
While the anecdotal style of the work requires the reader to scrutinize the effects of time and memory on the events that are recorded here, the importance of prisoners relating their experiences, even after half a century, is relevant to military personnel. This particular work concentrates on the experiences of less than a half dozen prisoners of the Japanese in World War II, mostly of men who were captured very early in the war and who were prisoners for extended periods of time, in various locations throughout the Pacific and later in Japan itself. However, their stories are supplemented by other stories and events relating to a larger number of prisoners, in less detail. The memories are both of significant details of treatment during the Bataan Death March and other major incidents of maltreatment of Allied prisoners, and of tiny, personal, details of daily life and the mental and physical tricks and techniques the prisoners used to survive and sometimes to outwit their captors. Especially significant in this work is the fact that these stories cover the experiences of a wide variety of individuals, including enlisted soldiers and officers, civilian defense construction workers and medical doctors. While what stands out in their minds may vary, each adds an additional facet to the POW knowledge base.
The author has provided us with a commendable amount of careful research and interviews to support his work. This provides a level of documentation often not found in the personal anecdote style of these books. His style is easy to read and moves along quite well as he unfolds the chronological story of the prisoners. The author does less well as he attempts in a few spots to make this work politically correct by making comparisons with the treatment of Japanese prisoners by the Allies and the experience of nonwestern prisoners by the Japanese. The author may have felt this helped balance his work, but it adds little and even seems in places to be an apology for the abominable behavior of the Japanese.
The significance of the work lies in its addition to the written record of POW experience, something worth studying by all military personnel. That the pool of those who remain alive to reveal their experiences continues to dwindle rapidly makes it all the more imperative that works such as this be written. The maltreatment recorded here is not isolated in time and applicable only to World War II in the Pacific. Rather, as we have seen in war after war, the willingness of one or more sides in war to abuse military and civilian prisoners is timeless. For military people, awareness of this phenomenon aids in preparation for their own possible captivity, as well as enhancing the understanding of the heritage of the military profession. This work needs to be a part of the library of background material at all military POW indoctrination training programs.
For those curious about the war in the Pacific, for those attempting to understand the POW experience, or for those simply interested in history on a personal level, Prisoner of the Japanese is worth reading.
Lt Col Michael A. Kirtland, USAF, Retired
F-86 Sabre: The Operational Record by Robert Jackson. Smithsonian Institution Press, 470 LEnfant Plaza, Suite 7100, Washington, D.C. 20560, 1994, 154 pages, $24.95.
A very well-written book, F-86 Sabre could best be described as an operational synopsis of North American Aviations successor to the P-51/F-51 Mustang. Veteran aviation author Robert Jackson takes the reader from the inception of the F-86 late in World War II through the twilight years of the last operational Sabres in the mid-1970s. In so doing, he examines in at least some detail all the variants of the F-86 made in the United States, Canada, and Australia as well as the US Navys Fury variants. Mention is also made of the F-100 Super Sabre and its follow-on, the F-107. One should note that descriptions of these types are somewhat limited due to the books emphasis on aircraft operations. However, these descriptions do constitute one of the three highlights of F-86 Sabre.
The other two highlights involve the combat record of the F-86, first with the USAF and its allies in Korea and then with the Pakistani air force in two wars with India in the 1960s and early 1970s. The description of air combat in Korea is truly outstanding. In a very few pages, one quickly understands the gist of the Korean air war. Jackson discusses combat conditions, describes allied and Communist tactics, and covers the involvement of Russian pilots. He mentions the principal problems faced by the USAF fighter force, describes combat sorties, and recounts our losses. Pakistani use of the F-86 provides an interesting counterpoint to its use in Korea. Pakistan successfully used the 30-year-old design for air defense and air-to-ground operations. One veteran pilot became an ace in less than two minutes of air combat in the F-86. Although the F-86 acquitted itself well during the first Pakistani-Indian war, by the 1970s the Sabre could not compete with the newer types operated by the Indian air force. Because Pakistani Sabre losses during the second war were excessive, the surviving F-86s were relegated to training roles.
Although these highlights provide much to recommend F-86 Sabre, the remainder of the book, which catalogues its use with tens of other air forces, does not hold the readers attention nearly as well. Despite Jacksons best efforts, these descriptions almost become a litany of squadron numbers, aircraft losses, and the few highlights associated with the F-86 in that particular service. Granted, one might expect this in a book subtitled The Operational Record, but that did not help me get through those sections.
Otherwise, my biggest disappointment with F-86 Sabre was the absence of color photos. Throughout its long and distinguished career in the worlds air forces, the F-86 sported a myriad of colorful markings and nose art, well documented in color film and movies. However, one would never know this from Jacksons book. At this price, failure to treat the reader to even some of these photos borders on criminal behavior. This deficiency left me negatively disposed to the book before I read the first sentence.
Such problems limit the overall appeal of F-86 Sabre. On the strength of its combat descriptions, I recommend the librarys copy of the book to general aviation fans. Only die-hard Sabre addicts should seriously consider adding F-86 Sabre to their library at list price.
Lt Col David Howard, USAF
Maxwell AFB, Alabama
The Nazi Occupation of Crete, 19411945by G. C. Kiriakopoulos. Praeger Publishers, Greenwood Publishing Group, 88 Post Road West, P.O. Box 5007, Westport, Connecticut 06881-5007, 1995, 264 pages, $55.00.
While World War II has been researched and written about at length, a few events still need more explanation. One such, at least in the United States, concerns the German armys capture and occupation of the Greek island of Crete in the Mediterranean Sea.
There are three firsts here: (1) the first airborne conquest (by elite German paratroopers) of an island fortress in the history of modern warfare; (2) the first organized (and first officially documented) resistance movement in Europe against Nazism, which set an example for others to follow; and (3) the first kidnapping of a German general, a legendary tale of the war.
G. C. Kiriakopoulos, a highly decorated World War II combat veteran, wrote The Nazi Occupation of Crete, 19411945 as a natural but unintended sequel to his first book, Ten Days to Destiny: The Battle for Crete, 1941, acclaimed as the most authentic documentation of that battle by those who fought it. He interviewed many survivors and their relatives and documented their accounts with diaries and letters. The result discusses the German occupation and the dramatic history of courageous human endeavor by local citizenry and Allied special forces against the enemy. On a small island like Crete, virtually every household suffered losses. In the first month alone, German soldiers executed over 2,000 civilians in retribution for resistance movement activities.
This is also a story of an American caught up in war. John Alexander, after graduation from high school in California, joined his family in 1940 to visit his fathers parents on Crete. Trapped by the invasion, the father, a US citizen, was killed by the Nazis, and the son was thrown into prison. John escaped and became a guerilla fighter, British army sergeant, and US Army officer, mostly operating in and about Crete.
The reader learns how British and American special forces and Cretan resistance fighters successfully abducted General Heinrich Kreipe, the German garrison commander, and then survived for weeks the ensuing German army search effort.
Almost 30 years later, there was a reunion of former enemies in Crete to celebrate the generals kidnapping and other exploits, in addition to opening a German military war cemetery. When one of the British captors apologized for what happened, General Kreipe simply remarked, Cest la guerre. The fact that the general later requested that two of his Cretan abductors and resistance fighters become the caretakers of the graves of 5,000 German soldiers speaks volumes.
While reading almost like a novel, the book has shortcomings, the most noticeable being an absence of good detailed maps to follow the action. Source documentation, outside of interviews, was mostly secondary.
The Nazi Occupation of Crete, 19411945 will appeal to those who want to know everything about World War II and are not familiar with these events. Airpower enthusiasts will find satisfaction only in the 1941 airborne assault, and then indirectly. Nevertheless, the numerous tales of individual heroism and sacrifice in the face of overwhelming wartime hardships make for worthwhile reading. Cest la guerre indeed!
Dr. Frank P. Donnini
Newport News, Virginia
The Missile and Space Race by Alan J. Levine. Praeger Publishers, Greenwood Publishing Group, 88 Post Road West, Westport, Connecticut 06881-5007, 256 pages, $55.00.
Alan J. Levine offers a new synthesis of the US-Soviet missile and space race of the 1950s and 1960s. The focus is on space travel and how the United States and Soviets got there politically, socially, and technologically. Levine begins with the early rocket experimenters and thinkersTsiolkovskiy, Goddard, and von Braun, linking their interest in rockets to the dream of space travel. This sets the basic theme of the rest of the bookthe close alliance of missile and space travel developments. Levine presents his argument that Goddard had a much more direct and important contribution to the development of missiles than is usually acknowledged.
Levine analyzes the missile race of the 1950s to explore the hows and whys of US and USSR missile development. He examines the contributions of the German V-2 scientists; the technologies of flight guidance, fuels, and rocket design; the political rationale (including interservice rivalries and partisan politics); and the social milieu in which the missile race began. Throughout it all, he points out those technologies which eventually led to space flight. His analysis of the first satellite launches by the United States and USSR and the missile gap presents his contention that President Eisenhower had a deeper appreciation for the real uses for missiles and space vehicles than most historians of the period have allowed. Levine also argues that Eisenhower kept the two programs on a rational economic, technological, and political track and refused to let Soviet propaganda stunts derail the United States from this approach.
Space travel is the bedrock rationale for the book. Levine discusses the beginnings of the space race, the rationale behind it, and argues that in President Kennedys hands the space race was just another arena for political competition with the Soviets and that he had no real love or appreciation of the true value of space exploration or uses. Consequently, the United States launched itself on an unnecessarily dangerous crash course for manned space flight. Levine also explores winged space vehicles and nuclear propulsionapproaches abandoned by both sides.
The most interesting aspect of Levines book, besides his view of the historical record, is a broader social commentary on the United States and how it affected the missile and space program. One foray into social commentary grows out of his analysis of the Sputnik crisis and the resulting New Frontier and Great Society programs. Although unsubstantiated with references, Levine suggests the criticism that US society and education were failures is essentially unfounded and these political programs resulted . . . not (in) the regeneration but the derailment of a society, which despite its faults had been progressing rapidly.
While admirable, Levines attempt to show the Soviet side of the race suffers from a lack of detail. Approximately 80 percent of the narrative concerns the US programs and only 20 percent the Soviet programs. While understandable due to the dearth of secondary materials on the Soviet programs, it results in a very unbalanced view of the race.
Overall, this is an adequate synthesis of the missile and space race of the 1950s and 1960s but offers no new revelations.
Maj Bill Beaman, USAF
Maxwell AFB, Alabama
The Road from Paradise: Prospects for Democracy in Eastern Europe by Stjepan Gabriel Mestrovic, with Miroslav Goreta and Slaven Letica. University Press of Kentucky, 663 South Limestone Street, Lexington, Kentucky 40508-4008, 1993, 204 pages, $28.00.
Stjepan Mestrovic attempts to explain the future of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union by highlighting the current conflict in the former Yugoslavia. Specifically, he explains why communism collapsed in Eastern Europe, the causes of the Yugoslav civil war, the irresponsibility of the United States and European powers in not stopping the Balkan conflict [this book was written before the US/NATO-sponsored Dayton peace accord ended the civil war], and possible outcomes for the future Eastern Europe and Russia. To cover these vast topics, Mestrovic uses a framework derived from sociology and psychology to prove his central thesisthat with communisms collapse, history has simply begun repeating itself.
While reading this book it becomes very apparent that the author is pro-Croat, anti-American, anti-Western, and anti-Serbian. It is not written for light reading; a dictionary close at hand is recommended to help decipher the meanings of each paragraph. However, it does offer a unique Croatian view of the bloodletting.
Mestrovic begins by placing the collapse of communism in perspective. He cautions the Western democracies against gloating over their victory in the cold war for two reasons. First, communism fell not because the West was ideologically or morally superior, but because communism was inherently unworkable. Second, the final outcome in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union may be anarchy, chaos, and bloodshed for years to come.
The author uses psychology to help explain that once communism fell, all the aggression, desire for revenge, and other repressed emotions explosively released. One result was the eruption of violence in the Balkans. The long suppression of nationalist tendencies, their sudden release, and the distinctions between culturally-based nations and politically based states is offered to explain the tribalism that raged between Serbia, Bosnia, and Croatia.
While The Road from Paradise attempts to explain the collapse of communism and reasons for the Balkan violence, it also heaps blame on the West, especially the United States, for not doing more to end the fighting. Mestrovic draws parallels between the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and the Balkan civil war and clearly climbs up on his Croatian soapbox to accuse the United States of moral hypocrisy by ignoring the Balkans but at the same time aiding Kuwait.
Undoubtedly bitter, Mestrovic goes too far when he compares the Wests destruction of the Iraqi civilian infrastructure to Serbian destruction of Croat cities. He apparently does not understand that nations act in their self-interest. US national security interests in the Balkans are tenuous, and the United States cannot afford to be nor does it desire to be the worlds policeman. If he believes so strongly in foreign intervention in what he so accurately describes as a centuries-old problem, maybe he should have left the comfortable confines of academia and taken up arms at the front.
While providing a good analysis of why communism failed and why civil war erupted in the Balkans in 1991, Stjepan Mestrovic errs seriously in blaming the West for not doing more. It is ironic that after this book was published, the bloodletting was finally ended by the United States and NATO, the very powers Mestrovic attacks.
This book is written in intellectual obfuscation, overuses psychology to analyze the Yugoslav civil war and the Wests initial inaction, and is simply difficult and very dry reading. I do not recommend this book, unless you are serving a long prison sentence, perhaps in a Serbian detention camp, and have nothing else to read.
Maj Phil Bossert, USAF
Scott AFB, Illinois
To Win the Winter Sky: The Air War over the Ardennes, 19441945 by Danny S. Parker. Combined Books, Inc., Conshohocken, Pennsylvania 19428, 1994, 528 pages.
Danny Parker delivers a compelling historical work about air combat over the Battle of the Bulge that will change the way readers think about this battle. Most historical work on the second Ardennes offensive focuses on ground operations, the allure of personalities like Patton and Montgomery, or the defense of Bastogne. Parker shows how Allied performance on the ground hinged on the ability of air commanders to swing their considerable might to the emergency when its seriousness became apparent. No armored offensive could withstand the destruction delivered by Allied air forces under airmen like Hoyt Vandenberg, Jimmy Doolittle, and Pete Quesada.
An unflattering characterization of the main protagonist, Reichsmarshall Hermann Göring, begins the book, and Parker efficiently scans the important elements of Nazi high-level planning that went into Wacht am Rhein, the code name for what we call the Battle of the Bulge. All the trends looked dismal for Germany by late 1944, yet Hitler hoped that a surprise counteroffensive would split the US and British forces and drive all the way to Antwerp. For a variety of reasons, it caught the Allies unprepared.
One of those reasons, which Parker explores in depth, is Allied overreliance on Ultra decrypts. Hitler suspected a leak in the Nazi hierarchy and enforced a high degree of secrecy that hid the buildup of forces in the Ardennes from Ultra. This fed the predispositions of Allied commanders, who ignored important preattack aerial reconnaissance. Also, the unusually bad weather that accompanied the attack kept Allied airpower from detecting and fully interdicting German armored columns during the initial penetration. Bad weather hampered the Allied attempt to win air superiority and crippled the attack in the first days of the battle, yet Parkers research shows that early air operations still slowed the armored spearheads on the narrow roads of the Ardennes.
To explore those crucial first days, the author takes a tactical perspective. Although the thick overcast on the first seven days of the attack (1622 December 1944) inhibited a full Allied air effort, the newly revealed story emphasizes the airmens courage in the face of this obstacle. Alerted to the attack by scouts of the US First Army, pilots from General Quesadas IX Tactical Air Command flew into the thick overcast, determined to find the enemy. In the first three days, bombing and strafing through holes in the clouds and using new radar-bombing techniques, they scattered and slowed the Sixth Panzer Army, in whose path lay a crucial Allied logistical depot at Liège. When the skies cleared on 23 December (Patton decorated his chaplain, whom hed ordered to pray for clear skies), Allied tactical and strategic airpower poured into the fray, dominating the Luftwaffe and crippling the ground offensive through direct attack and interdiction. The Allied high commands ability to concentrate airpower on and around the battlefield, including the 3,500 aircraft of Doolittles Eighth Air Force, testifies to airpowers flexibility and lethality.
The story is well told. Parker provides a steady stream of exciting yet sobering air combat accounts that give the work an intimate feel. His technique reminds one of Donald Caldwells JG26: Top Guns of the Luftwaffe, and, in fact, their work overlaps. The feared pilots of Jagdeschwader 26 saw heavy action in support of the Ardennes offensive. JG26 met its doom in a last great act of defiance on New Years Day 1945 in Operation Base Plate, a massive Luftwaffe attack on Allied airfields that serves as a climax to the book.
Gen Dietrich Peltz, bomber pilot and commander of Luftwaffe air operations in the Ardennes offensive, designed the operation as a preemptive strike on Allied airfields, but weather delayed its execution. Fighter ace Adolph Galland opposed Base Plate in favor of concentrated antibomber attacks he hoped would stop the Allied strategic campaign. Reminiscent of Leigh-Mallorys Big Wing approach during the Battle of Britain, Gallands idea died because of Wacht am Rhein. Although Base Plate achieved tactical surprise, Allied antiaircraft artillery and fighters butchered the attackers in one of the most crippling one-day air encounters of the war. Among the irreplaceable losses were at least 80 wing, group, and squadron leaders. This led to bomber-fighter tensions in the Luftwaffe leadership that culminated in the mutiny of the aces. Conducted against the unyielding depth and breadth of Allied air operations, Base Plate sealed the fate of the Luftwaffe.
The debate about airpowers decisiveness in World War II often emphasizes strategic bombing. This focus trivializes the multifaceted transformation in warfare produced by air forces both away from and on the battlefield. Parker reveals how Allied tactical and strategic forces converged during the Battle of the Bulge, stripping Germanys geniuses of war of the means to communicate their brilliance in any other form but artful retreat. To Win the Winter Sky is presented in an absorbing style that allows readers to gain new perspectives about airpower in World War II while immersing themselves in exciting and sobering personal stories that define the unique arena of air combat.
Lt Col Tom Ehrhard, USAF
The Ship That Held the Line: The U.S.S. Hornet and the First Year of the Pacific War by Lisle A. Rose, The Naval Institute Press, 118 Maryland Ave., Annapolis, Maryland 21402, 1996, 328 pages, $34.95.
The short life of the aircraft carrier Hornetthe first wartime Hornetmakes a singularly good introduction to the study of World War II in the Pacific, for the story of one is essentially the tale of the other. For professional warriors, it is also a useful study of the challenges of actual warfare.
What we forget about the epic sea battles of the Second World War is that most of the ships that died there were still new when they were lost. The life span of many vessels could be measured in months, and once the older between-the-wars relics and their veteran crews had been swept from the board, the wars pivotal battles were fought out by newly launched ships manned by newly trained teenagers. In the case of aircraft carriers, their brand-new pilots were led by senior officers who themselves usually lacked combat experience, and all were handicapped by unformed or obsolete doctrines. The cost in blood was high while all the lessons were being learned.
The Enterprise-class USS Hornet (CV-8) was launched on 14 December 1940, during the first winter of the global war. She was only the nations eighth aircraft carrier, designed at a time when the intricate tradeoffs between carrier speed, armor, armament, and capacity were still being worked out. Fitted out and commissioned in increasing haste as war drew nearer, she was lying at Norfolk Naval Base when Pearl Harbor was attacked. She was immediately sent out to the Caribbean with a raw and untrained air group for a frenetic shakedown cruise. There she began the never-ended process of welding the separate fighter, bomber, and torpedo squadrons into a single combat unit, and then harmonizing the new entity with its mother ship. From there to the central Pacific to provide air cover for the daring Doolittle raid on Japan, and then south to the Guadalcanal campaign to provide backup to the Battle of the Coral Sea. North again, then to Midway to play a strong part in the battle which turned the course of the entire war.
For all of its creature comforts in the teeth of battle its hot meals, showers, and movies war at sea is a war of annihilation, and the ship that loses usually loses everything. Hornets time came only four days after the first anniversary of her commissioning ceremony. Fighting another Japanese fleet off Guadalcanal, the carrier was overwhelmed by a well-executed air attack during the Battle of Santa Cruz. Hornet perished in a volcano of flames with 133 of her men, the last American heavy carrier ever to be sunk in battle. A year later a newer and larger Essex-class namesake, USS Hornet (CV-12) honored her throughout the rest of the war.
Taken by itself, the story of the doughty warships brief career provides a dramatic and exciting history lesson, but the book is much more than a simple action epic. It is the study of her men, the individual blackshoes and airedales making up her crew and air group, which allows professional military readers to put themselves into the lives of their counterparts. Author Lisle Rose profiles the strengths and curious weaknesses of Capt (later Adm) Marc Mitscher as he faced a protean career change, the devastating challenges confronting his air group commanders, and the subtle and terrifying choices which greeted each of his pilots in training and in combat.
As much a study of men meeting the demands of warfare as the biography of a gallant man-o-war, The Ship That Held The Line merits its place on the thoughtful airmans bookshelf.
Dr. Raymond L. Puffer
Edwards AFB, California
Masters of Deception: The Gang That Ruled Cyberspace by Michelle Slatta and Joshua Quittner. HarperCollins, 10 East 53rd St. New York 10022-5299, 1995, 256 pages, $23.00.
This book might not be for everyone. You probably dont need to read it unless you use telephones or related communications systems in your work, or you use or rely on computers and/or computer-assisted systems, or your personal or financial life is significantly affected by networked computer systems. Unless you are in the 1 percent of the country that does not fall into one of these categories, you should read this book.
And that is the point we tend to live in blissful ignorance of not only the degree to which networked computer systems affect nearly every aspect of modern American life and work but also the vulnerability of these systems to tampering whether malicious or otherwise. Masters of Deception: The Gang That Ruled Cyberspace is about a small group of young men almost entirely teenagers still in high school who in the late 1980s and early 1990s, used their home computers (and woefully rudimentary ones at that) to penetrate deeply inside some of the countrys most critical communications and financial networks.
To briefly summarize, Masters of Deception follows the careers of several young hackers, most of whom were from New York City, from their first interest in computers, through their penetration of the New York City telephone system and their entry into the databanks of companies containing thousands of credit card numbers and personal credit reports, to their eventual arrest in 1992. The best of these young hackers banded together in an informal group that called itself the Masters of Deception. Their eventual gang war with another group, the Legion of Doom, is one of the themes throughout the book. While it would be easy to dismiss these young men as messed-up teenagers who had too much time on their hands and too little interest in normal activities, this would be a serious mistake and tremendously understate their intelligence and abilities.
This book tells a fascinating and at times frightening story at several levels. From a sociological perspective, it is an intriguing depiction of rather typical adolescent male posturing, in which these hackers are constantly trying to top the others latest exploits or demonstrate some new bit of knowledge or computer skill. Instead of hot rods or sports, however, their field of competition is their ability to penetrate computer networks. Each hacker has a unique signature by which he (this is not a sexist use of the word; none of the hackers in this book are female, and it seems like very few of the hackers nationwide are female) identifies himself: Eric Bloodaxe, The Scorpion, and the most famous Phiber Optik.
At another level and from a different perspective, the book highlights how the telephone and the computer have made it possible to electronically connect virtually limitless amounts of information and make that information almost instantly available. You will be left shaking your head in wonder as the authors describe how one hacker, calling from Brooklyn, went through at least six different computer-controlled switching systems and finally entered Southwestern Bells main control computer in St. Louis to read the companys own internal security guidance for safeguarding its systems.
This book also has implications at a third and higher level of national security. It is all too easy to focus on the who done it aspects of the story and thus dismiss everything as simply the acts of a few misguided (although brilliant) teenagers. Would you take it more seriously if AT&T and Southwestern Bell had been penetrated by the KGB from a supersecret C3 facility deep in the Urals, instead of from Phiber Optiks bedroom in Queens using a TRS-80? What if the credit databank and financial networks had been penetrated and the contents used for blackmail by a drug cartel, instead of the hacker from Brooklyn who published Geraldo Riveras credit report to impress his fellow hackers and score points against another cybergang? It is worth remembering that at precisely the same time that the Masters of Deception were penetrating and exploring the intricacies of the computers controlling the telephone system, other identical computer-controlled systems, were the indispensable link to our forces in the Persian Gulf. While the Masters were downloading David Dukes credit history from an electronic databank, other electronic databanks contained the spare parts and supplies inventories vital to the logistical support for Desert Shield and Storm. This illustrates a key problem of the information age: computers, networks, and databanks are designed to be entered and used, not the opposite. The Masters of Deception were taking advantage of these systems inherent nature, which is to let themselves be used. There is an obvious danger in the constant push and pull between simplifying access and safeguarding information. It is also worth remembering that while the Masters of Deception did not intentionally damage any information, recent reports indicate that incidents of intentionally malicious computer hacking are on the rise. If you depend on computers in your life or work you ought to read this book.
Dr. Daniel T. Kuehl
Hope Is Not a Method; What Business Leaders Can Learn from Americas Army by Gordon R. Sullivan and Michael V. Harper. Times Books, 201 East 50th Street, New York, New York 10022, 1996, 295 pages, $25.00.
In 1989 the Army was operationally flexible but organizationally structured to win World War II. Despite the post-Vietnam emphasis on professionalism and values, the army was a multilayered bureaucracy. It was large, slow to change, and the most effective Army in the world. Only six years later, it was leaner by one-third, fully in the information age, capable of anticipating and using change, and the most effective army in the world. The new lean, technologically sophisticated Army has built a successful modern organization from a successful outdated organization.
The world didnt stop while the Army downsized by 600,000 people. Changing on the fly, the Army successfully performed its new humanitarian and police missions in Somalia, in Bosnia, and at the scene of many a natural or manmade disaster. That it maintained, perhaps improved, its effectiveness is powerful substantiation of the authors basic argument. The United States Army has found and implemented a method of mastering, indeed prospering, through change.
The problems faced by the Army apply to all forms of business, government or not, for profit or not. Increasingly, intense global competition requires faster reaction time, maximum reduction in cost, better quality, and a speeded up pace of innovation. Theres no longer time for a 1940s command and control structure--even one good enough to win World War II and the subsequent peace. A contemporary organization, the Army defines and focuses on its mission and vision, empowers workers, and uses any applicable tool teaming, organizational learning, orientation by process instead of function, and measurement of the real systemwide impact of decisions. And it always makes time to learn from each exercise. Reinvention is a path, not a destination. According to the authors, Hope Is Not a Method is an after-action report on the reinvention of the United States Army, and its lessons apply to all institutions that would compete and prosper.
How did the Army change? Through trial and error and extensive nothing-held-back post-mortems, the Army tested itself, discarding mistakes and incorporating successes. It committed itself to a method in which the leader and the people would work as a team acculturated to creativity, adaptivity, and a commitment to successful capitalization on unpredictability. The organization rede-signed itself for change.
The Army method requires a leader with a broad vision shared by the organization that ties today to tomorrow and that can capture an unexpected opportunity. There is clear definition of the organizations vision, its values, and its critical processes. This process requires clarification, change, and the growth of core processes in a context of values and vision. There must be commitment to nonstop learning. There must be thin threads to span the gap between what is and what will be and support for the bridge that carries todays strengths into the agreed-to future, qualitatively different but still containing the core values, vision, and processes. Todays Army has to be always prepared for the unexpected, in order to be ready to benefit from opportunity and when necessary, roll with the punches.
Hope Is Not a Method is structurally excellent. It combines a strong theory with examples from the past six years. Pertinent anecdotes from history and the modern business world reinforce and clarify the concepts. There is one major caveat: the authors are the former chief of staff and one of his principal planners; they had three stars to back their effort, and their turnaround was top-down. A view from the trenches might define the new Army and the past six years less favorably. Whether or not the reality matches the authors perception even if the argument is diluted by eyewash, the book is mandatory reading for any manager who wants to be more than just a caretaker for an organization turning slowly irrelevant.
Dr. John H. Barnhill,
Tinker AFB, Oklahoma
Stealth at Sea: The History of the Submarine by Daniel van der Vat. Houghton Mifflin Company, 215 Park Avenue South, New York 10003, 1994, 374 pages, $30.00.
It seems pretty clear to me that the modern Air Force professional has much that he can learn from the study of submarine warfare past and present. There is nothing that new about stealth to airmen. Spooky (AC-47) used the cover of darkness to work its mayhem in Vietnam to cite a recent example. However, the essence of submarine warfare for the past century has been exactly that, stealth, and studying the subject in another context may well reward the warrior-scholar with some different insights. Further, submarine warfare and blockade have much in common with strategic attack and interdiction. One of the problems the RAF grappled with during the Battle of Britain was whether it was necessary to kill the Luftwaffe bombers before they discharged their cargoes on London. As Dan van der Vat explains, one of Doenitzs concerns in running the World War II submarine campaign was whether he should concentrate on the laden merchant vessels or whether he should have his boats sink them wherever and whenever they were found.
Daniel van der Vat was born in the Netherlands in the second month of World War II. His father was a writer; his mother a teacher. He received his BA from the University of Durham in 1960. He spent the first part of his career in journalism, and has written several books on naval warfare, especially the European dimension of it in the twentieth century. One of his books is on the Pacific campaigns of World War II. He has elsewhere claimed to be first and foremost a storyteller, though the jacket of the present work calls him a world authority on the operational history of the submarine. He is explicit in citing the victory in the Battle of the Atlantic as the decisive campaign of World War II.
Stealth at Sea is organized into more or less chronological chapters, and within them there is a loose scheme of covering the various episodes in the history of the development of submarine warfare by geographical areas or nations. It begins with a forty-six page description of the development of submarines before 1914, and dismisses the entire 50-year experience since 1945 in 30 pages. Up until 1945, the book is filled with anecdotal material in great detail to include a tale of how a single cat jinxed a British aircraft carrier (among several other vessels). Occasionally, van der Vat does include short passages devoted to analyses of decision making and strategy, but does not dwell on those topics. In them, he makes some sweeping generalizations without much explanation or support. His treatment of technology and logistics is uneven (though the great Allied success he describes against the German Milch Cows [submarine supply ships] should stimulate the modern airmans thinking about our tankers, AWACS and JSTARS).
The book is really one about the Battle of the Atlantic into which is inserted a chapter on the US submarine campaign in the Pacific occasional passages about undersea warfare in the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, and even the Baltic. All this results in a potpourri that would have benefited from the hand of an editor to improve the works coherence.
Notwithstanding all the interesting sea stories, Stealth at Sea would be difficult to rescue even for an outstanding editor. Van der Vat is biased too much toward the naval and British side of things, too prone to make sweeping generalizations, and too inaccurate with his facts (Hampton Roads is off Long Island, not Virginia) to serve as a reliable source for the Air Force professional. He continually bashes the RAF and the Air Ministry for neglecting naval aviation a misperception, I think, that is uncritically accepted in Britain everywhere and frequently in the US Navy. In my opinion, even if the Royal Navy had been full of Saratogas with decks laden with Wildcats, Dauntlesses, and Avengers, it would not have prevented Dunkirk, and still less have achieved a victory by itself in the Battle of Britain. Nor would it have done any better against the submarines than was the case wrong ships, wrong planes, and especially the wrong mind-set among the Royal Navy commanders.
When van der Vat asserts as he does that the Battle of the Atlantic was the central campaign of the entire war, he demonstrates both his nationalism and his maritime bias. I agree that the victory in the Battle of the Atlantic was necessary to winning the war, but not that it was sufficient. When the author asserts that the two German submarine campaigns were the two most cost-effective campaigns in history, he is far off base. Both campaigns were lost along with the war, and therefore, their efficiency and their effectiveness were zero. When he asserts that the American failure to get MacArthur and Nimitz to agree on a single strategy was enormously costly to the Allies, he does not offer support. It might have been so in other circumstances, but as both prongs of the divided Pacific campaign were stronger than the Japanese, he fails to prove that it was radically more expensive than a single thrust would have been. Finally, to call Stealth at Sea the whole history of undersea warfare is wrong, given the superficial treatment of the past half century and the failure to place it in the context of its times.
The modern USAF warrior-scholar would do well to study submarine warfare, but with other books. Candidate works might include: John Terraines The U-Boat Wars, Clay Blairs Silent Victory, David Syretts The Defeat of the German U-Boats, plus the relevant chapters of Eliot Cohens Military Misfortune, Steven Rosens Winning the Next War, and John Keegans The Price of Admiralty.
Dr. David R. Mets
Maxwell AFB, Alabama
Inside the Blue Berets: A Combat History of Soviet and Russian Airborne Forces, 19301995 by Steven J. Zaloga. Presidio Press, 505 San Marin Drive, Suite 300B, Novato, California 94945-1309, 1995, 339 pages, $24.95.
After World War II, airborne forces became the Soviet Unions weapon of choice in dealing with difficult military situations. Airborne forces provided the Kremlin with power-projection capability in foreign interventions as well as a reliable force in internal disputes. As a result, Soviet leadership favored airborne forces. The best and the brightest of the Soviet military sought to wear the Blue Beret of the airborne soldier. Todays airborne forces are considered Russias premier fighting force and will likely spearhead future combat operations. Until recently, much of their combat history was cloaked under the cover of state secrecy. Steven Zaloga has taken on the task of tracing the development, evolution, and combat experiences of airborne forces. He has used recently declassified Soviet documents to fill in the gaps in the combat record.
The books main emphasis is on airborne combat operations. It discusses the airborne operations in World War II, interventions in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Afghanistan, as well as peacekeeping operations conducted during and after the breakup of the Soviet Union. Many of these operations, especially the World War II airborne operations, ended in disaster and were not included in Soviet history.
The authors expertise really shines when discussing the weapon systems employed by the airborne forces. He provides a good review of airlift and helicopter development, as well as a discussion of armor and antiarmor weapons. Especially interesting is the discussion of such airdrop techniques as dropping armored personnel carriers with their crew inside. Zaloga also compares and contrasts airborne force structure, weapon systems, and tactics with other nations airborne forces.
The book is not limited only to airborne forces. It also discusses other elite forces such as the Soviet Black Beret naval Infantry and naval Spetsnaz, the General Staff intelligence directorate Spetsnaz, the KGB special operations units, and the MVD Dzerzhinskiy Division. Mr. Zaloga bursts the popular Western image of the Spetsnaz as a combination of Rambo and James Bond. He discusses the different forms of Soviet special forces, their level of training, primary missions, and capabilities.
Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, the airborne forces have been used primarily in peacekeeping operations. Mr. Zaloga guides us through the turmoil that accompanied the breakup of the Soviet Union as age-old political, ethnic, and nationalistic issues are resurrected. He provides us a rather rare glimpse of the professional soldier when loyalty is challenged by internal political struggles.
Overall, I recommend Inside the Blue Berets. It is interesting, well written and researched. The book provides us with many lessons about airborne operations and counterinsurgency campaigns. I found it to be more than just a combat history of airborne forces. It is also a glimpse into Soviet and Russian history. As students of war, this book may help us understand events as they continue to unfold.
Lt Col Chris Anderson
Maxwell AFB, Alabama
The Soviet Armed Forces, 19181992: A Research Guide to Soviet Sources by John and Ljubica Erickson. Greenwood Press, 88 Post Road West, Box 5007, Westport, Connecticut 06881, 1996, 224 pages, $75.00.
Professor Ericksons latest offering is an essential book for serious students of Soviet/Russian military thinking. It is a selected bibliography and research guide to Soviet sources, one which is a must for any serious student of the field. It is not a book to read; rather, it is one to use.
Professor Ericksons Soviet holdings and contacts are legendary. Part of his collection of Soviet sources had to be removed from his fifth floor office in an eighteenth century Edinburgh tenement because its weight compromised the structural integrity of the building; his home office resembled the Grand Canyon, with a single narrow path through the four-foot piles of books to his desk. His expertise dates back to the 1940s and his collection covers 200 years of Russian military art. He shorts himself by saying that his personal contacts are senior Soviet officers. He nurtured the junior and field grade officers decades ago and retained the contacts. And his wife, confidente, and harshest critic, Ljubica, herself an expert in the field, guided his course. The Ericksons never take anything at face value: they call it as they see it. At times they were severely criticized by the Soviets; at other times, they lectured the Soviet General Staff.
As a selected bibliography, The Soviet Armed Forces, 19181992 certainly meets its stated goals. It has 1,400 Soviet sources, plus a limited number of Western ones. The annotations are superb. The Ericksons identify where to find the original sources, and in many cases they point to English translations of the works.
Beyond this (and herein lies perhaps the most valuable part of their contribution) when they describe sources, the Ericksons do not limit themselves to the books themselves. Rather, they explain where to find many of the less common sources, the archives in which they can be located, how to contact the archives, and some of the individuals there who were most helpful. Using this approach, The Soviet Armed Forces, 19181992, goes beyond what might be rightfully expected of a bibliography and becomes perhaps the most valuable extant road map to the field of Soviet military studies . . . hence fulfilling its subtitle as a research guide.
The classics (many unknown to even informed Western researchers) are all there, along with a guide to using them: Frunze, Gorshkov, Tukhachevskiy, Zhukov et al. The significance of this volume lies in the remaining 1,350 or so other texts the Ericksons have catalogued and annotated. One might wish for entries on grazhdanskaya oborona [civil defense] or the exceptionally talented (and purged) Chief of the Red Air Service Alksnis or the USAF translation of the Officers Library, but, given the fact that the Ericksons had to navigate their own collection of tens of thousands of books in addition to the books and manuscripts they had viewed in the former USSR to select the most seminal works on the Soviet military, this is understandable.
The Soviet Armed Forces, 19181992 is the essential source for serious students of the Soviet armed forces. It is a gift from the Wests premier Sovietologist, a synopsis of what it took him a half century to learn the hard way. To overlook it is to pass up on a great opportunity.
Dr. Gregory Varhall
Pay Any Price: Lyndon Johnson and the Wars for Vietnam by Lloyd C. Gardner. Ivan R. Dee, 1332 North Halsted St., Chicago, Illinois 60622-2637, 1995, 610 pages, $35.00.
Lloyd Gardner, a highly respected diplomatic historian and author of Spheres of Influence (1993), focuses on Lyndon Johnsons handling of military strategy, international diplomacy, and domestic politics during the Vietnam War. The author begins by stating that to understand Johnson on the Mekong River in 1965 at the point of no return in Vietnam, we must seek his beginnings on the Colorado River. Gardner does a masterful job of demonstrating how Johnsons early background and New Deal experiences molded his political outlook, influenced his ideas about the role of government, and motivated much that he tried to do in Vietnam. Johnson was a firm believer in government intervention for the public good, and while this worked reasonably well at home, the coupling of the Great Society with the anti-Communist imperative overseas led to disaster in Southeast Asia.
Gardner provides a convincing argument that Vietnam was not merely Johnsons war, but rather an extension of cold war diplomacy that had begun long before Johnson became president. He reviews Eisenhowers action in Southeast Asia, but focuses more on John F. Kennedy. Gardner clearly believes that Kennedys Southeast Asia policy (which resulted in the increase of American advisers in Vietnam from 700 to 16,000) set the stage for Johnsons escalation; according to Gardner, Kennedys death left Johnson to figure out how to pay the price in Vietnam.
Gardner demonstrates how the new president tried to apply the tenets of the Great Society to resolve the conflict in South Vietnam with the promise of a Mekong Valley project to surpass even the New Deals Tennessee Valley Authority. When it became apparent that such an approach was not going to work, Johnson found himself faced with an insolvable dilemma. If he abandoned the Saigon regime, he would have been charged with losing South Vietnam to the Communists. If he pursued the enemy and struck at his base of operations, it would be said that he had escalated the war to satisfy a vainglorious quest, dragging everything down with him as the war consumed American spiritual and material resources.
Gardner describes in great detail how Johnson and his advisors tried to come to grips with this quandary, focusing on the behind-the-scenes policy-making process within the Johnson administration, shedding new light on the internal debates over strategy and conduct of the war. He demonstrates how the Kennedy men on Johnsons staff first tried to apply crisis-management techniques that had been successful during the Cuban missile crisis to the situation in South Vietnam, rather than crafting a cogent strategy at the national level that realistically considered national interests and the reasoned application of military power.
The Tet offensive in 1968 proved a turning point for Johnson. Although Gardner acknowledges that the Communists sustained a major tactical defeat, he believes that they won a psychological victory that shook American resolve and in effect, the U.S. psyched itself out of victory. Johnson was stunned by the news footage of Viet Cong attacking the US Embassy, and he came to the realization that the war could not be won in the traditional sense. Accordingly, Johnson announced on 31 March 1968 that the United States was taking the first step to de-escalate . . . unilaterally and at once. He concluded by announcing that he would not seek a second full term so that he could devote his efforts to rectifying the situation in South Vietnam. Gardner maintains that this speech reflected the divisions among the presidents advisers and was really the opening, not the climax, of an intense struggle to shape policy.
This is a very readable, balanced, and comprehensive study of presidential decision making. Drawing on recently declassified documents from the Johnson Library in Austin, Gardner provides keen insight into a subject about which much has been written. The books most significant contributions are the explorations of Lyndon Johnsons roots which go a long way toward explaining his actions as president. Gardner is objective, demonstrating how honest men trying to do the right thing could become so enmeshed in such an untenable situation. This book is a valuable addition to the historiography of the Vietnam War and is highly recommended.
Lt Col James H. Willbanks, USA, Retired
Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
Spandau Phoenix by Greg Iles. Penguin Books USA Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York 10014, 1993, 536 pages, $22.00.
Greg Iless spy novel Spandau Phoenix is a work of continuous suspense. It begins with a 340 mph flight over enemy territory in 1941. Aboard the Messerschmitt are Rudolf Hess, Deputy Führer of the Third Reich, and a physically identical double. Hess bails out of the airplane over England as planned to execute a top secret Nazi missionone designed by Adolf Hitler to win the war. The double, who is supposed to swallow a cyanide capsule if he does not receive a radio message from the parachuting Hess, does not obey orders. Instead, he also bails out. And once he lands safely on English soil, confidently proclaims, I am Reichminister Rudolf Hess!
Iles ignites your curiosity with this bungled but daring German mission. What happens to the real Hess? Will the double succeed in his deception? However, the readers real task is to unravel the meticulously contrived plot revolving around the Nazi mission, which is capable of forcing England to become allies with Germany. Although preposterous, this unlikely alliance would enable Germany to attack Russia and thus wage war on a single frontwhich would possibly ensure a Nazi victory.
Iles carefully reveals the first clues to this Nazi mission when a sheaf of tattered papers are found in Spandau prison after it is destroyed in 1987 following the death of the last war criminal, Rudolf Hess. Berlin police sergeant Hans Apfel finds Hesss frayed diary in a hollow brick while patrolling the demolished prison with Russian, American, French, and British troops. Although the world believes the prisoner to be the real Hess, the diary reveals that it was written by Hesss double.
Iles keeps the readers interest as international spies compete to find the newly discovered Spandau diary. Apfel and fellow Berlin policeman, Dieter Hauer (also his estranged father), struggle to determine why British, Russian, German, and American undercover agents are willing to kill anyone to get the diary. Iles skillfully offers just enough information about the papers to sustain our curiosity. Just as we learn what happened on the original German flight, for example, Iles hints that the diary may prove British officials were going to sign a peace agreement with Hess during World War II.
The diary is eventually recovered by a wealthy defense contractor and head of a neo-Nazi cult, who obtains it by kidnapping Apfels wife and exchanging her for the diary. The climax of the novel occurs as numerous international players converge on the contractors residence in South Africa.
Although diverse, Iless characters are often one-dimensional. For example, Apfel instantly withers from the superstar professional policeman, who had heroically rescued an elderly couple from a burning vehicle, to the overly cautious, protective husband, who proceeds to make every decision about his kidnapped wife with knee-jerk emotion. While this sketch could be forgiven, Iless sketch of Hauer cannot. Hauer is the stereotypical bulldog cop, immune to the barbaric torture and brutal violence that punctuates the action-oriented text.
In spite of the flatness of Iless characters, the challenge of solving an international conundrum overcomes the shortcomings of this realistic thriller. Even Iless curious epilogue, which suggests the possibility of new mystery surrounding the diary, leaves us curious to find out more. If youre interested in a suspenseful espionage novel, Spandau Phoenix will not disappoint.
Capt Rosemary A. King, USAF
Onizuka AS, California
The conclusions and opinions expressed in this document are those of the author cultivated in the freedom of expression, academic environment of Air University. They do not reflect the official position of the U.S. Government, Department of Defense, the United States Air Force or the Air University.
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