10 Obscure “Must Read” Military History Books



The British Way in Counter-insurgency, 1945-1967  by David French

Westmoreland’s War by Gregg Daddis

The Pentomic Era: The U.S. Army Between Korea and Vietnam by Andrew Bacevich

Quartered Safe Out Here by George Macdonald Fraser

 The Wizards of Armageddon by Fred Kaplan

The Counterinsurgency Era by Douglas Blaufarb

Modern Warfare: A Study of Men, Weapons and Theories by Sheldon Bidwell

 Learning to Forget: U.S. Army Counterinsurgency Doctrine and Practice from Vietnam to Iraq  by David Fitzgerald

Reconsidering the American Way of War by Antulio J. Echevarria

The Art of War in World History by Gerard Chaliand


This list was created by Brian Linn,  Professor of History at Texas A&M University and can be found in it’s complete unabridged form at Best Defense.

Stay Alert, Stay Armed and Stay Dangerous!



Cold War Files: JFK’s Plan to Invade Cuba with Airborne and Marines


Over the weekend I was looking through some handwritten notes in the papers of Gen. Lyman Lemnitzer, placed on-line by the National Defense University. The document is undated and unsigned. The NDU catalog lists it as created by Lemnitzer, who was chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff early in the JFK era, until Kennedy dumped him in favor of Maxwell Taylor. It looks to me like General Lemnitzer wrote it or perhaps dictated it as he stewed in retirement — but perhaps not, because on the last page there is a reference to “General Lemnitzer.”

Anyway, on pages 43-44 (as handmarked; PDF lists it as pp. 45-46) of that document, I was surprised to see a summary of “CINCLANT’s operational plan for Cuba,” which seems to have been ordered up after the failure of the Bay of Pigs operation in April 1961. In summary, the American invasion of Castro’s Cuba would begin with an “Assault on the Havana [sic] by the 82nd Airborne Division and one Marine regiment.” The next day, the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment and the 2nd Infantry Brigade would land. (Grasshoppers, what is “the 2nd Infantry Brigade”? Doesn’t ring a specific bell. Maybe the writer mean “division”?) These units would be given 18 days to isolate and capture the capital. Meanwhile, on D+14, the 2nd Marine Division would move toward Santiago. (I don’t understand the delay — why wait two weeks? Surely not to wait for available shipping and air cover.) Between the 24th and 34th days, the two forces would link up.

And then, of course, there is that dose of sunny optimism that ends all U.S. war plans, as if by law: “D+60 to D+90: withdrawal of U.S. forces.” Oh, sure.

If the American invasion had happened back then, more people would know who Ted Conway was — he commanded the 82nd Airborne in 1961-62, and to my knowledge is the only soldier in American history to rise from the lowest rank in the Army to the highest and then in retirement to get a doctorate from Duke.

When Castro buys the collective farm, which should happen pretty soon, if Cuba descends into turmoil, I wonder if these plans will be dusted off…

Read the Original Article at Foreign Policy

Espionage Files: The tradition of Russians Dying in D.C. Hotels under Murky Circumstances


The other day a former Putin spokesman died in a DC hotel. He was 57 years old. Seems young to me for a heart attack.

This reminded me of poor old Walter Krivitsky, a top Soviet intelligence official who defected after his friend and colleague Ignace Reiss was machine gunned in Switzerland in 1937.

American officials didn’t take very seriously Krivitsky’s warning of an impending treaty between Stalin and Hitler. He wound up dead in a hotelnear Union Station.

Krivitsky also may have tried to tip off the Americans that a British journalist in Spain was working for the NKVD. He apparently didn’t have the name of that reporter. We now know it was Kim Philby.

Read the Original Article at Foreign Policy

Understanding Counter-Insurgency Warfare in under 3 minutes

This clip was edited out of the final movie We Were Soldiers for some reason, but I have to agree with Tom Ricks’ Article, they should have left it in.


“You Won’t Run the little Bastards back home sir, They Are Home….”

As I Said, that sums up COIN.


A Soldier can Never Die in Vain


Navy Lieutenant Mike Murphy.

Petty Officer Second Class Matt Axelson.

Petty Officer Second Class Danny Dietz.

These Navy SEALs died in 2005 as part of Operation Red Wings in Afghanistan. Their sacrifices were meaningful, same as those of any soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine that dies on the fields of unfriendly strife.

These three hallowed men mattered to the battle’s lone survivor, Navy Hospital Corpsman Second Class Marcus Luttrell — mattered so much that an interviewer’s suggestion the SEALs deaths were “senseless” prompted Luttrell’s seething response: “[Are you] telling me because we were over there doing what we were told by our country that it was senseless and my guys died for nothing?” Shortly thereafter, Army veteran Jim Gourley penned a provocative essay answering Luttrell’s rhetorical question: “Yes Marcus. Your friends died in vain.”

The phrase in vain flies off the page like a bloody shirt up a giant flagpole. Gourley’s core logic is that if the war, battle, or military judgment was wrong, then the soldier’s death was in vain. As far as courage is concerned, he notes, “however honorably a soldier acquits himself, he can die in vain.” His targets are chickenhawk leaders and apathetic America, a “country that abandoned its civic duty.” And Gourley finds, “the sooner we acknowledge [these conclusions], the more lives we might save.”

Read the Remainder at War on the Rocks