Cowboy: interpreter, warlord, one more casualty



The Space Force

President Trump, who was elected to "drain the swamp," is sometimes inclined to muddy it further, most recently by proposing a US Space Force to handle warfare beyond the earth's atmosphere. This is usually presented as a sixth military service, to go along with the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and -- and what, I wonder?

No doubt Mr Trump is thinking of the Marine Corps, but that is actually part of the Navy. (Its commandant, although a member of the Chiefs of Staff, reports directly to the Chief of Naval Operations.) And the Coast Guard, perhaps? In peacetime the Coasties belong to the Homeland Security department, and in war, if mobilized, they become part of the Navy; but never are they a military service in their own right.... Or the National Guard? Or the Reserve? Again, if they fight, they fight as one of the three existing military services.

Three is plenty! Let the Air Force handle space warfare, just as the Navy handles submarine warfare.

The Marine Rifle Squad

Speaking of the US Marines, it has undergone an earth-shaking change, not at the top as Mr Trump proposes, but at the bottom. In May, the Commandant added two men (no women as yet, I'm pretty sure) to the 13-man Marine rifle squad: an assistant squad leader and a "squad systems operator" to handle the flow of information now available to warfighters.

Since overseeing 15 men would task the abilities of even a US Marine sergeant, a man will be dropped from each of the squad's four-man fire teams, resulting in a 12-man squad that is closer to what prevails in most armies. And in the Marines, of course, everyone is a rifleman, so the reduction in firepower is not as great as it seems. Blue skies! — Dan Ford

Poland's Daughter

The essays (in more or less chronological order)

A Rebel in the County Cork, 1915-1923: case study of an insurgency
Was the Cold War an Inevitable Outcome of World War 2?
The Clayton Theorem: Did George Marshall Save the US from Economic Collapse?
To what extent is the US experience in Iraq comparable to their experience in Vietnam?
'Not Right, but British': The Superpower Role in the Falklands War
'But the Russians won, after all!: lessons from the Chechen wars
China: O brave new hegemon!
That's what presidents are for! (Why is 'planning' not the same thing as 'strategy'?)
When Sun-tzu met Clausewitz: John Boyd, the OODA Loop, and the invasion of Iraq
War sucks. Get over it. ('Hybrid war' is a novel concept that captures a real change in the character of warfare: discuss)
How would John Boyd have waged a counterinsurgency?

Other good stuff to read

Gaddis: George Kennan: An American Life
Finkel: The Good Soldiers
Arreguin-Toft: How the Weak Win Wars: A Theory of Asymmetric Conflict
Luttwak: Strategy: The Logic of War and Peace
Smith: The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World
Galula: Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice
van Creveld: The Transformation of War
Bobbitt: 'Terror and Consent: The Wars for the 21st Century'
Ricks: 'The Gamble: Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq
Wright: 'The Looming Tower: The Road to 9/11'
Adams: 'The Army After Next: The First Postindustrial Army'
Was John Boyd a new Sun Tzu? (books about the OODA Loop)
A counterinsurgency reading list by John Nagl
50 best books about terrorism, by Joshua Sinai

Question? Comment? Newsletter? Send me an email. Blue skies! — Daniel Ford

Flying Tigers
revised and updated

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