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

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.

Book Review: A Chance in Hell

A Chance in Hell is one of the most important books written thus far on Army operations in Iraq.  The lessons in the book will be obvious and important to lieutenants and captains as well as colonels and generals.  It describes the close relationship between company and platoon tactics, brigade operations, and regional and national strategy.  It clearly describes the tactics, techniques, and procedures  of  the population centric approach to counterinsurgency.  Michaels demonstrates the criticality of cultural understanding to success at all levels of COIN operations. Finally, and most important, the book  highlights the importance of leadership to tactical and operational success.  The tough decision making, and the inspiring example of the leaders of the “Ready First” brigade come through as the critical element in the brigade’s success; a success that was the operational tipping point in the war in Iraq. 

For more information on this book click here for the book website.

War Horse: Sefton, British Army

Some times my various interests collide in interesting and unusual ways.  Recently I was discussing IRA bombing tactics as an example of the militant wing of an insurgent group dominating its political wing.  Nothing probably demonstrates this better than the July, 1982 bombing by the IRA of the British Household Cavalry guards.  The below is the report from the BBC as to what happened. 

Sefton, Lifeguard Cavalry Horse

One of the survivors was the Household Cavalry horse Sefton.  See his story here

The interesting aspect of this bombing is that it is really a major tactical mistake by the IRA.  Not in the sense that it didn’t achieve their objective of bring publicity to their campaign.  That was a tactical success.  But it was  a mistake in the strategic sense.  Killing horses and bandsmen had a huge public backlash against the IRA.  Even among the Catholic community of Northern Ireland, a bastion of IRA support, few could have sanctioned killing horses and bandsmen.  Especially when many of the horses were Irish breed.  

This attack makes the point that terrorism is really about information operations.  The side that manages the message the best wins.  Attacking bandsmen and horses is a terrible message.  In the years after 1982 the British army and government became expert at turning such IRA attacks against the terrorists.  The British were able to make such actions a net loss to the terrorists among their own supporters by carefully exploiting the negative images of the attack while avoiding an overt response to the bombing which would have increased support for the terrorists. 

See this discussion to see how the British strategy against the IRA changed over time. 

Many Americans were too young or have forgotten how savage the battle between the British and IRA was.  This might be a reminder.  

For additional reading on the time of troubles see: 

 

  

For more informaton on the Sefton story see:

Book Review: Moroland

Moroland, 1899-1906.  America’s First Attempt to Transform an Islamic Society, by Robert A. Fulton (Bend, OR:  Tumalo Creek Press, 2007), 417.

Moroland by Robert A. Fulton is a comprehensive examination of American policy toward and military operations against the Moros of the southern Philippine Islands from 1899 to 1906.  Fulton very effectively covers policies, politics, and military operations.  What emerges from his work is a fascinating tale of brilliance and opportunities lost.  It is a must read volume for anyone interested in a host of contemporary issues including counterinsurgency, clash of cultures, Islamic warrior societies, and nation-building.

Read Complete Review Here.

Visit the Author’s Website Here.

Book Review: The Philippine War, 1899 – 1902

The Philippine War, 1899-1902, by Brian McAllister Linn (Lawrence:  University Press of Kansas, 2000), 427.

Brian Linn’s The Philippine War is the best history of the U.S. war in the Philippines from February 1899 to July 1902.  Linn’s work systematically covers all aspects of the war, all the major personalities, and makes a special effort to address the major myths and misconceptions regarding the war.  Linn’s history is simply the best, clear, and objectively reasoned discussion of  the military aspects of the war yet written.

One of the great values of Linn’s work is his efforts to provide balance and accuracy to the many misconceptions and myths that have been created or perpetuated by earlier histories of the war.  Thus, though conceding that Generals Otis and MacArthur were quirky personalities who made some serious mistakes, he also recognizes that each of the first two American commanders were essentially competent and in different areas, very capable.  Otis, the trained lawyer, laid the foundation of the President McKinley’s benevolence policy, while MacArthur recognized the need for and supervised the well run counterinsurgency campaign of 1901.  Linn backs up John Gate’s analysis that the major part of the insurgency was won by the time MacArthur gave up command in the Summer of 1901 and makes the point that the Samar and Batangas campaigns, the most infamous of the war, were not typical of the war in general.

Read Complete Review Here.

Book Review: Benevolent Assimilation

Benevolent Assimilation:  The American Conquest of the Philippines, 1899-1903,Stuart Creighton Miller, Yale University Press, 1982.

Benevolent Assimilation is one of the most referenced and consulted works on the American – Philippine war.  The book is a well-written general military and political history that falls into the group of new-left histories written during or shortly after the U.S. Vietnam war.  As such, it consciously evaluates the American experience in the Philippines within the context of the perceived American tragedy of Vietnam. Miller’s view is that American success in the Philippines represents the triumph of a world military power over the nationalistic aspirations of an oppressed indigenous population.

Miller’s is an important work to read and understand.  To many, the book continues to represent how the U.S. military repeatied mistakes made in earlier wars in Vietnam.  Currently,  it is also used to illustrate the flawed U.S. policy in Iraq.    For these reasons it is important that military professionals engage with Miller’s history, and are able to compare and contrast his history with the more nuanced, pragmatic, and realistic analysis of John Gates and Brian Linn.

Read Complete Review Here.