Worth a Look: Eastern Way of War by H. John Poole

5 Star, Culture, Research, Force Structure (Military), Insurgency & Revolution, Strategy, War & Face of Battle

Wikipedia Page

H. John Poole is an American military author and Marine combat veteran of Vietnam, specializing in small unit and individual tactics. His books focus on the role, training, and skills of the individual infantry soldier and marine, and on those of the combat junior NCOs (non-commissioned officers).

Review: The Tiger’s Way–A U.S. Private’s Best Chance for Survival (Paperback)

Review: Phantom Soldier–The Enemy’s Answer to U.S. Firepower

Review: Tactics of the Crescent Moon–Militant Muslim Combat Methods (Paperback)

See also:

Review: The Tiger’s Way–A U.S. Private’s Best Chance for Survival (Paperback)

5 Star, Survival & Sustainment, War & Face of Battle

Amazon Page
Amazon Page

5.0 out of 5 stars Heresy–Why America Will Lose WWIII,

September 11, 2005
H. John Poole
Edit of 5 April to add ten links supporting error of US ways.

This is an extraordinary book, one that should guide all U.S. and Western infantry training, and in a larger sense, leadership development and acquisition strategy as well.

The author examines, in a careful, objective manner, the many ways in which Asian and Middle Eastern and other “Third World” insurgent infantry are trained in the art of stealth and close quarters infiltration and ambush. The bottom line is as the author ends the book: [Our enemy] prepares its privates to loosely follow orders, outwit enemy technology, and take on many times their number. In contrast, the American military prepares its privates to strictly follow orders, master their own technology, and seek a 3 to 1 advantage.”

In combination with Jonathan Schell's book “Unconquerable World,” and other books about the larger losses of moral status and legitimate alliances that American has suffered since 9-11, this book, at a grass-roots “down in the gutter” level, is daunting, troubling, provocative, and deeply critical.

It has been updated to address the current situation in Iraq, where foreign fighters and indigenous insurgents are slowly grinding down the U.S. occupying forces, while the improvised explosive device and suicidal terrorism techniques of Hezbollah spread rapidly to other countries.

Sad to say, but this book is also a manual for how easily our homeland infrastructure, nuclear and chemical plants, and other key notes, will be penetrated and taken down by a handfull of skilled individuals, most of whom need not die in the endeavor. “The Tiger's Way” is at once an indictment of U.S. military infantry training, and a handbook for just how vulnerable we are across every county in America.

The author is in many ways a complement to Ralph Peters, our own Lawrence of Arabia. The two together offer all that we need to know to transform our military and reassert our morality.

See for the larger context:
The Fifty-Year Wound: How America's Cold War Victory Has Shaped Our World
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World's Last Dictators by 2025
Sleeping with the Devil: How Washington Sold Our Soul for Saudi Crude
Wilson's Ghost: Reducing the Risk of Conflict, Killing, and Catastrophe in the 21st Century
Web of Deceit: The History of Western Complicity in Iraq, from Churchill to Kennedy to George W. Bush
The Looming Tower: Al Qaeda and the Road to 9/11 (Vintage)
9/11 Synthetic Terror: Made in USA, Fourth Edition
DVD Why We Fight
Vice: Dick Cheney and the Hijacking of the American Presidency

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Review: Phantom Soldier–The Enemy’s Answer to U.S. Firepower

5 Star, Threats (Emerging & Perennial), War & Face of Battle

Amazon Page
Amazon Page

5.0 out of 5 stars Addictive Common Sense, Trashes High-Tech Blinders,

April 28, 2005
H. John Poole
Edit of 20 Dec 07 to add links.

This author is addictive. I started with Crescent Moon, got Phantom Soldier next, and now am eagerly awaiting the Last 100 Yards. Although I do not expect to see combat in my remaining years, I have three boys that almost certainly will if things keep going as they are, and this book is frightening to any parent or voter.

His bottom line is clear: all of our expensive high-tech equipment is increasing the soldier's load (shades of SLA Marshall) at the same time that it is reducing the soldier's ability to see (one eye covered by a sensor), smell, move, and communicate. We are pursuing a very expensive top down command and control model of confrontational fire-power warfare that is rather easily bogged down by stealth adversaries patient enough to crawl for days and dig underground for months in adavance. I am reminded of the “Tunnels of Ch Chi.” The author is totally tuned in with what I think of as 5th Generation or “bottom up” warfare in which the small units do most of the sensing and thinking, and they are not simply pawns on a giant chessboard.

Much of the book is a highly readable and easily understood account of the common sense and complex thinking that allows Eastern units that are very well-trained to defeat or avoid Western units that are very well-provisioned (I am also reminded of MajGen Bob Scales “Firepower in Limited War,”, but not trained in the infantry skills needed to go man on man in stealth mode.

There is a very great deal to this author's thinking. I do not expect him to have the impact necessary on our new brigade Army or expeditionary Marine Corps, but I hope that by the time my three boys are of draft age, there are generals in power that share this author's wisdom. This is seriously good stuff that every parent and voter should be reading.

I would add, however, that there is another side of grand strategy that we are neglecting. While this author focuses on the tactical excellence that Eastern warriors can achieve, I also worry about American naivete in not understanding that some countries–China and Iran for example–are home to very strategic cultures that know how to “set the stage” with all of the instruments of national power. As I watch China infiltrate Latin America, pushing a wide range of treaties and trade deals, investments in oil and other resources, pipelines to by-pass the Panama Canal and move Venezuelan crude oil to Cartagena, Colombia, and then refined crude to ships on the coast headed for China, I have a very strong sense of foreboding. In 50 years–a fraction of the time the Chinese consider when thinking strategically (not our strong point), we may well have been marginalized. I hope not–but the same traits this author discusses at the small unit level exist in Iran and China at the top leadership level, and I recommend the book for anyone interested in either the top down threat or the bottom up threat.

See also, with reviews:
The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People
The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic (The American Empire Project)
Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy
Rogue Nation: American Unilateralism and the Failure of Good Intentions
Imperial Hubris: Why the West Is Losing the War on Terror
Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism

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Review: Tactics of the Crescent Moon–Militant Muslim Combat Methods (Paperback)

5 Star, Terrorism & Jihad, War & Face of Battle

Amazon Page
Amazon Page

5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary–Breaks the Code and Outs China and Iran,

April 24, 2005
H. John Poole
This book is quite extraordinary, and all of the reviews are helpful in appreciating its content. The author has done a brilliant meticulous job of culling through open source references to create a thoughtful, well-structured, and superbly foot-noted document that is nothing less than “Ref A” for what must become the new “American Way of War.”

Big ideas:

1) One third of the world is Muslim, and if we do not restore morality to our form of democratic capitalism, and they adopt asymmetric warfare techniques, we are toast.

2) Iran certainly, and China probably, are fostering global terror as part of their grand strategy–each with different objectives–to end Anerica's status as a super-power.

3) Pakistan, Syria, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia continue to train and support terrorists, with North Korea, Yemen, Sudan and various other countries (e.g. Bangladesh) having diverse roles to play.

4) Hezbollah out of Iran, rather than Al Qaeda out of Saudi Arabia, is the major player in the Iraqi insurgency, and its methods (hostages, suicide bombings, disguised IEDs) are clearly visible across the Iraqi theater of operations and now beginning to appear elsewhere in the world.

5) We cannot win 4th generation asymmetric wars with firepower alone. The heart of the book is a dissection of the Muslim insurgent's inspired excellence at close and asymmetric combat, and a carefully articulated case for getting back into the business of field light infantry that has the skill to infiltrate, surprise, and defeat enemies “mano a mano”–as some of us have been saying for some time (my own phrase has been “one man, one bullet”), but this author does a fantastic job of nailing it in war-fighting terms, modern way must be won by bottom up squad-level observation and skill, not top down command and control wielding firepower that kills 10-100 non-combatants for every US life that it might save (and ultimately–the author is compelling on this point–the deaths of those non-combatants inspire more suicidal terrorists who kill more US fighting men and women than might have died if we had done it right in the first place.

6) The author outlines in detail, with absolutely first-class documentation of his many sources (this is the first book I can remember reading where a single short sentence might contain as many as six different footnotes) the tactical techniques that Muslim radicals have learned to use, to including tunnels and disguises for both themselves and their Improvised Explosive Devices (IED). I agree with General Zinni–this book is required reading for every member of our Armed Forces, from Private to General. If you have a loved one in the Armed Forces, buy them this book and send it to them immediately.

7) Light infantry, acting as a gendarme with superior human intelligence, can nail the terrorists, but unless we want to occupy the world–something impossible to do (see point one)–then we must mobilize all of the instruments of national power and dedicate ourselves to nurturing legitimate effective *indigenous* governments everywhere. That means we must stop supporting 44 dictators, and we must stop imposing immoral capitalism (carpetbagging) on South America, Asia, and Africa.

This book is nothing short of ispirational. Sadly, it will probably be ignored by the Pentagon because, as the author himself points out, the old outdated and ineffective American Way of War is based predominantly on massive firepower and a heavy contractor presence that is most profitable for our arms merchants (see General Smedley Butler, “War is a Raquet”) and our beltway bandits. Consequently, I pray that this book will be bought, read, and acted upon by anyone who has every served in the U.S. military, is serving now, or knows someone now serving or likely to serve (I have three boys, the oldest will be of draft age in two years). What we are paying for now is not working and time is running out. We need a fundamental change in direction, and that will not happen absent a national uprising, or at Tom Atlee would say, “from group magic to a wise democracy.”

The author gets special high marks from me for relating morality and our acknowledgement of God to being able to win at war. He is absolutely right to castigate the Supreme Court for removing God from our national fabric, and points out that the same Supreme Court once declared slaves to be non-humans. He understands, as Clausewitz did, that the moral is to the material by at least one order of magnitude–in today's information-rich era, I would double it. Morality matters, and we have lost that high ground by allowing special interests to dictate America's profiteering foreign policy, rather than letting the common sense of the American people enrich America's foreign policy for the common good of all–as the Golden Rule suggests: do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

If the public demands that its politicians attend to this author's views, and if our military leaders–both suited and uniformed–attend to this book, it will save hundreds of thousands of lives, tens of billions of dollars, and perhaps the American way of life.

See the links at Phantom Soldier: The Enemy's Answer to U.S. Firepower

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