A Farewell to Tanks

M60A3 Tanks roll through a German Village during a REFORGER Exercise. For more than 50 years a common site in Germany.

A recent newspaper article from Europe described the departure of the last 22 US Army M1 Tanks from the European Military Theater.  This is truly a historic event.  It may be the final curtain on the play that began with the deployment of literally thousands of US Army tanks to Europe in the midst of WWII.  In many ways those tanks never returned to the US.  They were just updated, replaced, reorganized, and realigned, first as part of the short hot war that was World War II, and then as part of the long Cold War.  So, the departure of the last US tanks from Europe represents recognition of the final end to the US participation in both wars.

However, some observers see the departure of US armor from Europe in a more contemporary light.  Rather than it representing the close of a historical era, they see it representing the beginnings of a new era.  What is that new era?  It could be several thing.  Perhaps it’s the end of the importance of Europe to US foreign policy –representing the final turn away from Europe that began two decades ago.  Europe may not be worthy of the cost of stationing US armor forces (the US’s most costly ground combat system), and those forces may be more effectively and efficiently used either in another theater (Asia or the Middle East) or centrally located for global deployment in the continental US.

Another new era that this event may represent is the withdraw of the US from a commitment to global stability.  The forward basing of US heavy forces since WWII (in Korea and Germany, but also in the Middle East) has represented a firm commitment of the US to enforcing stability in those critical regions.  Nothing speaks to firm commitment more than the permanent basing of US heavy ground forces.    Will we soon see the last of US heavy forces loaded out of the Middle East?  Will the tiny US heavy force commitment to Korea soon be terminated?  This can easily be done and rationalized by the fact that US airpower can quickly make up the combat power of the ground based heavy force.  But US airpower is ephemeral.  There one day, and easily gone the next.  Sea and air power, because of their incredible mobility, do not make the same firm permanent strategic commitment to a region as heavy ground forces –armor.  It may well be that the day of firm strategic commitments overseas are over.

Another new idea that the redeployment of US armor from Europe may represent is that we have turned the corner into a new era of warfare.  Warfare of the future will not require the large heavily armored land forces that are legacies of World War II.  Instead, future war will be dominated by airpower and guided by digital information based technology.  Land forces will be a combination of small highly mobile wheeled platforms coordinated with even smaller special operations ground forces.  Tanks operating in that environment are nothing more than big slow easy to identify targets for precision munitions delivered  by a variety of different sources including drone aircraft piloted by humans on a different continent.

So, observers who follow military affairs probably have no trouble agreeing that the departure of the last US heavy tanks from Europe is a remarkable historical event.  But,  there is likely significant disagreement regarding why the event is remarkable.  The optimist view is that it represents the advancement of the US and its armed forces into the 21st Century with a new and forward thinking mindset and with a technological edge that represents American military preimenance for decades to come.  A more pessimistic view might see this event as a retreat from a global foreign policy and an unwillingness to invest US military resources in expensive technologies that require US national political commitments.

Published in: on April 23, 2013 at 8:52 am  Comments (1)  

New Poser / Daz Art Work


See this image full size and the rest of my art by clicking here.


Published in: on February 16, 2013 at 3:32 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Concrete Hell is Out!

Concrete Hell is now out and available from Amazon and at many bookstores!

As some of you know, I teach urban warfare to US Army officers at the army Command and General Staff College. This book is based on my class research, my academic work in the area of Urban Geography and my work for the army writing Field Manual (FM) 3-06, Urban Operations.  Much of what is written here is what I teach to those who are and will practice urban warfare in the coming years.

This work revisits some familiar historical topics like the classic battles for Stalingrad and Hue. In looking at these topics I take the approach of evaluating them in terms of what timeless aspects of urban warfare are revealed in the historical record.

I also look at several urban battlefields that have received less attention. Two areas where I think this book breaks new ground is the evaluation of the Israeli Operation Defensive Shield (2002) and the look at US forces in the Battle of Ramadi (2006-7). I think Concrete Hell is the only comprehensive look at these operations currently in print.

Ultimately, what I intended, and what I think Concrete Hell achieves, is a thorough look at the evolution of urban warfare over the last fifty years. By isolating and focusing on this history, and what it tells us in terms of the conduct of warfare, I think Concrete Hell also describes the nature of the most important battlefield of the 21st Century: the urban battlefield. Thus, though a history, Concrete Hell presents not only an accounting of the past but a vision of the future. Recent battles in Lybia and current fighting in Syria seem to validate that vision.

The subject of urban combat and it’s relationship to today’s military issues is vitally important and one in which I’m intensely interested.  If you have any comments, questions, or want to air your own views on the subject please use the comment section here to do that, or email me at dimarcol@aol.com.

To give you an idea what the book covers here’s the table of contents:

Chapter 1 Urban warfare Past and Future

Chapter 2 An Operational Debacle:  Stalingrad 1942

Chapter 3 American Urban Warfare:  Aachen 1944

Chapter 4 Urban Warfare fro the Sea:  Inchon and Seoul 1950

Chapter 5 Complex Urban Warfare: The Battle for Hue 1968

Chapter 6 War inthe Casbah: The Battle of Algiers 1956-57

Chapter 7 The Log Urban War:  Operation Banner, 1969-2007

Chapter 8 Urban Death Trap:  The Russian Army in Grozny 1995

Chapter 9 Invading the Urban Sanctuary:  Operation Defensive Shield and the Bttle for Jenin 2002

Chapter 10 Systematic Urban Warfare:  “Ready First” in Rarmadi 2006-07

Chapter 11 Urban Combat in the 21st Century

War Horse Retires

His comrades in the Army would be first to admit that he has never really been the stiff-upper-lip sort.

So when Thomas the strapping black gelding retired after almost 20 years of impeccable military service yesterday, he bowed out in an emotional farewell, complete with goodbye kisses for everyone.

His slobbery smooches for the soldiers looking after him have become the stuff of legend in the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment.  Click Here to read the rest of the article.

Concrete Hell

One of the reasons that this blog has sat idle for a bit is that I’ve been consumed with completing a book on urban warfare.  The manuscipt is complete now and we’re hoping it will be available for purchase in November 2012.

From the Amazon.com description:

Throughout history, cities have been at the center of warfare, from sieges to street-fighting, from peace-keeping to coups de mains. Sun Tzu admonished his readers of The Art of War that the lowest realization of warfare was to attack a fortified city – a maxim that the Russian army should have heeded before it launched its operation to seize the Chechnyan city of Grozny. Indeed, although strategists have advised against it across the millennia, armies and generals have been forced nonetheless to attack and defend cities, and victory has required that they do it well. In Concrete Hell Louis DiMarco has provided a masterful study of the brutal realities of urban warfare, of what it means to seize and hold a city literally block by block. Such a study could not be more timely. We live in an increasingly urbanizing world, a military unprepared for urban operations is unprepared for tomorrow. Fighting in cities requires new skills, new weaponry and new tactics. But there is no better way to prepare than to look at the successes and failure of some of the most famous operations in modern military history including Stalingrad, Hue City and Fallujah.

To preorder follow this link.

I’m Back!

I have had alot of things going on the past six months or so and it has totally overwhelmed this blog.  I’m back now and will start posting new material over the next few days and regularly after that. 

I missed the blog and I know its like starting over but I have a lot of new ideas I want to try out as well.

Published in: on June 14, 2012 at 4:32 pm  Comments (1)  

War Horse: the Movie

I blogged last year about both the book and the play.  Click here for my book review. Both were excellent.  Add in Steven Spielberg and the movie HAS to be great!  From the trailer it looks like it will meet expectations.  I will review it after I see it, which will probably be on Christmas day as a present to myself.

And, NO IT IS NOT BASED ON MY BOOK! …lol… I wish it was 🙂

Published in: on November 30, 2011 at 11:59 am  Comments (4)  
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Poser Art 1: P-51 Mustang

One of the things that has distracted me from the blog over the recent months is learning how to use poser type models and create poser art.  This is one of my first efforts. 

Clicking on the image will take you to the deviant art page I have set up to display this and a few other art items.

Published in: on November 29, 2011 at 11:18 am  Comments (1)  
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Returning to Operations

Just a short note to advise any visitors that I am aware that I have not posted here in almost a year.  I plan to begin posting again shortly and have a number of things I’d like to share with anyone who is interested.   There has been and will continue to be lots going on in my little corner of the world.

All the best,


Published in: on November 29, 2011 at 10:54 am  Leave a Comment  

Restoring Order: The US Army Experience in Occupation Operations, 1865 – 1952

Abstract of my dissertation on US Army occupation operations:

This dissertation examines the influence of the US Army experience in military government and occupation missions on occupations conducted during and immediately after World War II. The study concludes that army occupation experiences between the end of the Civil War and World War II positively influenced the occupations that occurred during and after World War II. The study specifically examines occupation and government operations in the post-Civil War American South, Cuba, the Philippines, Mexico, post-World War I Germany, and the major occupations associated with World War II in Italy, Germany, and Japan. Though historians have examined individual occupations, none has studied the entirety of the American army‘s experience with these operations. This dissertation finds that significant elements of continuity exist between the occupations, so much so that by the World War II period it discerns a unique American way of conducting occupation operations. Army doctrine was one of the major facilitators of continuity. An additional and perhaps more important factor affecting the continuity between occupations was the army‘s institutional culture, which accepted occupation missions as both important and necessary. An institutional understanding of occupation operations developed over time as the army repeatedly performed the mission or similar nontraditional military tasks. Institutional culture ensured an understanding of the occupation mission passed informally from generation to generation of army officers through a complex network of formal and informal, professional and personal relationships. That network of relationships was so complete that the World War II generation of leaders including Generals Marshall, Eisenhower, Clay and MacArthur, and Secretary of War Stimson, all had direct personal ties to individuals who served in key positions in previous occupations in the Philippines, Cuba, Mexico, or the Rhineland. Doctrine and the cultural understanding of the occupation mission influenced the army to devote major resources and command attention to occupation operations during and after World War II. Robust resourcing and the focus of leaders were key to overcoming the inevitable shortfalls in policy and planning that occurred during the war. These efforts contributed significantly to the success of the military occupations of Japan and Germany after World War II.

For more information on this subject and access to the complete dissertation contact me at dimarcol@aol.com.