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U.S. Army CMH - Recommended Professional Reading List
Senior NCOs, CW4-CW5, Field Grade Officers

Birtle, Andrew J. U.S. Army Counterinsurgency and Contingency Operations Doctrine, 1942-1976. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Army Center of Military History, 2006. This study is a well written, authoritative account of U.S. Army counterinsurgency, nation building, and stability operations during the turbulent decades that followed World War II. The book not only describes the evolution of doctrine for overseas politico-military actions but also evaluates how that doctrine fared under such diverse circumstances as the occupation of Germany, the Greek Civil War, the intervention in Lebanon, and the war in Vietnam. Contemporary soldiers will find much food for thought by learning how their predecessors coped with the multifaceted challenges posed by politico-military operations.

Clodfelter, Mark A. The Limits of Air Power: The American Bombing of North Vietnam . Lincoln, Nebraska: Bison Books, 2006.Tracing the use of air power in World War II and the Korean War, Clodfelter explains how U. S. Air Force doctrine evolved through the American experience in these conventional wars only to be thwarted in the context of a limited guerrilla struggle in Vietnam. Although faith in bombing's sheer destructive power led air commanders to believe that extensive air assaults could win the war at any time, the Vietnam experience instead showed how even intense aerial attacks may not achieve military or political objectives in a limited war. An important reading for all soldiers who wish to understand the power, and limits, of air support.

Dobak, William A. and Thomas D. Phillips. The Black Regulars, 1866-1898. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 2001. This prize-winning book tells the story of the first generation of black soldiers in the Regular Army, covering who they were, why they enlisted, where they served, and what their living conditions were like. Beginning in the aftermath of the Civil War, their service in the American West paved the way for black participation in the Spanish-American War, two World Wars, and more recent conflicts. The story of these nineteenth-century trailblazers is an inspiration to all American fighting men.

Gordon, Michael and Bernard Trainor. Cobra II: The Inside story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq. New York: Vintage Press, 2007. Cobra II is an extremely critical look at the war planning for the invasion of Iraq by Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld's Pentagon staff and its subsequent execution. Dazzled by the seemingly cheap success in Afghanistan and a fixed commitment on transforming the military into a lighter, leaner force, the high-level planners allowed false assumptions, faulty intelligence, personal politics and a lack of foresight undermine any rationale strategy for the endeavor, producing an unexpected outcome and sowing the seeds for future conflict.

Grossman, Dave. On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society .Boston: Little Brown, 1995. Beginning with S.L.A. Marshall's 1947 work, which indicated that possibly as few as 15 to 20 percent of individual riflemen actually fired their weapons at the enemy, Grossman examines the efforts of military training to overcome the innate hesitancy to kill through "operant conditioning" that will lead soldiers to fire reflexively. Although such training significantly increased fire rates in the Korean and Vietnam Wars, he warns that this conditioning has the potential for psychological backlash when soldiers return home. This is a very readable treatment of a complex subject that will be of interest to any military leader.

Grotelueschen, Mark E. The AEF Way of War: The American Army and Combat in World War I . Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006. An exemplary case study of doctrinal and tactical innovation under fire shows how four divisions of the American Expeditionary Forces adapted, or failed to adapt, to conditions on the Western Front during World War I. The 1st and 2d Divisions perfected artillery-infantry liaison so that by November 1918 they had achieved "state of the art" as practiced by the Allied armies. Both the 26th and 77th failed to achieve this level of skill-the 26th because its commander failed to maintain control over his subordinate units and the 77th because its commander remained wedded to prewar doctrine.

Linn, Brian McAllister. The Philippine War, 1899-1902. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 2000. Professor Linn, who has lectured extensively at Army schools and forums, provides a definitive treatment of military operations in the Philippines from the early pitched battles to the final campaigns against the guerrillas. His work is a clear treatment of a complex, unconventional war, and is essential reading for all junior officers trying to understand the many difficulties inherent in counterinsurgency operations conducted in an alien culture and environment.

McPherson, James. Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era. New York: Ballantine, 1988. Professor McPherson has written a brilliant account of the American Civil War-the war that made the country what it is today. He discusses the causes of the war, the military operations, the soldiers, the leaders, and the political, economic, and social aspects of life in the Union and the Confederacy before and during the war in clear, incisive detail. With many experts judging it the best one-volume history of the Civil War, it provides an excellent introduction to what is still one of the most significant wars fought by the American Army.

Neustadt, Richard E. and Ernest May. Thinking in Time: The Uses of History for Decision Makers. New York: Free Press, 1986. History is an invaluable tool for decision makers; but if used without careful consideration, it can blind the unwary by false analogies. This classic book offers senior leaders invaluable suggestions on how to use and avoid misusing the valuable experience that history can provide.

Palmer, Dave R. Summons of the Trumpet: U.S.-Vietnam in Perspective. Novato, Calif: Presidio Press, 1995. This work is a clear and concise history of the Vietnam war from 1954 to 1973 written by one who witnessed it first-hand as a combat advisor to the South Vietnamese Army. It is especially useful for those seeking a broad overview of an extremely lengthy and confusing conflict and a summary of its main military and political trends.

Paret, Peter, ed. Makers of Modern Strategy: From Machiavelli to the Nuclear Age. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1986. A wonderful anthology on the evolution of strategic thought. Moving from Machiavelli to the present in twenty-eight insightful essays, the authors examine such topics as the role of doctrine, the genius of Napoleon, the limits of air power, and nuclear strategy. A primer for all military leaders who must think strategically on a variety of issues, Makers summarizes the classic military thinkers in a highly digestible manner, underlining the enduring lessons that remain relevant today.

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