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

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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.

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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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.

New Review of “War Horse”

A Recent and I believe fair review of War Horse in Michigan War Studies Review byGervase Phillips, Manchester Metropolitan University :

A one-volume history of mounted warfare is a bold undertaking, for the scope of the topic is immense. As Louis DiMarco remarks in the introduction to this new study, “the war horse and rider was a viable military system for more than 3,000 years, far longer than any other military system” (ix). It is a challenge that has largely defeated the handful of historians who have attempted the task thus far: G. T. Denison, in the late nineteenth century, wrote what was, essentially, a polemic advocating the then current “mounted rifleman” school rather than a history;1 in 1961, James Lunt, a former cavalryman, published an elegy for his arm, too episodic to serve as a general history.2 In the 1970s, two works, one a collection of essays,3 the other a monograph by John Ellis,4 attempted a more comprehensive coverage, but these slim volumes provide only superficial treatment of their topic, and Ellis’s work is marred by his ideological prejudices against those social classes who (in the west at least) traditionally dominated the cavalry branch. DiMarco’s work is different: in his history, the horse itself provides the strong, central, unifying theme. The physical characteristics of the horse, breeds and types, horse equipment, equitation and horse mastership (care of horses) in the field—these are DiMarco’s concerns as he takes his reader from the earliest years of man’s blossoming relationship with equids, up through their use by American special forces in Afghanistan today.

I can recommend DiMarco’s work as the best single-volume history of cavalry….

Read the complete Review Here.

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.

“History of the Horse” Coming Soon

Above is the trailer for a six part documentary entitled “The History of the Horse” that will be on most PBS stations later this year (dates and times TBD).  I helped out some with the episode on the horse warrior.  I have no idea what the final product looks like but the trailer promises a pretty interesting project.

See below for more information.

Saddle Up with Dennis Brouse is a television series airing on public television stations across the nation

The show celebrates the relationship between horse and human. Whether you own a horse or just love to watch them in the movies, we have a storied partnership with this magnificent animal. This series showcases everything from training tips for horse owners to trail destinations for recreational riders. We visit ranches and other locations where our bond with horses is illustrated in countless ways.

Click here to follow to the webpage.

Memorial Day Includes Four Legged Comrads

Reckless: “Pride of the Marines.”

The story of Reckless is not only remarkable – it is unusual. And once you learn about her, you will see why the Marine Corps not only fell in love with her – but honored her and promoted her every chance they got. And it wasn’t just the Marines that served with her in the trenches that honored her – her last promotion to Staff Sergeant was by Gen. Randolph McC Pate – the Commandant of the entire Marine Corps. You can’t get higher than that in the Marines.

Read the Rest of Reckless’ story Here.

Memorial Day War Movies

Saw all or parts of several classic war flicks yesterday and today. AMC was running a marathon. My thumbnail reviews:

Kelly’s Heroes. Four Stars. Uniforms and equipment are excellent. The Tiger Tank is awesome and the Sherman’s aren’t bad! Also, I love anything with Jack Bauer in it! 😉

Big Red One. Three Stars. I think it tries too hard to be serious and artsy. Lee Marvin is too moody and the squad is too cute.

To Hell and Back. Two Stars. It looks like it was made in a training area (which is was) and just doesn’t have that “real” feel. You would think Audie would have said something to the effect of “This isn’t what it looked like!”  Murphey’s story is truly inspiring –the movie just doesn’t do it justice.

The Enemy Below. Four Stars. Good drama… one of first good movies of the German view.

Mr. Roberts. Four Stars. The best movie about the critical but sometimes dull job of strategic logistics. The acting (Fonda, Lemon, Cagney) is superior.

Heartbreak Ridge. One Star. I didn’t like it when it came out and it gets worse with age. I doubt its possible to make a decent about the invasion of Grenada.

Courage under Fire. Three Stars. A little hokey on the story but Denzel Washington is excellent and looks for all the world like a half dozen different armored cavalry colonels I’ve known. The night tank battle was nicely done.

Pride of the Marines. Four Stars. The true story of Marine Al Schmid who was blinded while winning the Navy Cross on Guadalcanal. A classic about why we have memorial day and why being a soldier, sailor, airman, or marine is not just another job. Reminds us all why today’s Wounded Warrior program is so important.

The Pacific – An Interim Review

My initial impressions of Pacific are positive.

 First, I don’t have HBO so I didn’t plan on seeing the series until after it came out on DVD.  However, because of a business trip I spent three days in a hotel that had HBO and I was able to catch  episodes 1-3 and 5.  So my observations are based on about 4 hours of the series.  I suspect I won’t see any more until the DVDs come out.  If so, I will try to remember to come back and update this post.

Like the Band of Brothers (BOB) series, Pacific is hyper realistic in terms of sets, equipment and uniforms.  So an A+ on those important traits.  I think, after Saving Private Ryan and BOB, however, the big battle scenes, such as the attack across the airfield in episode 5, were somewhat predictable.  I counted five arms or legs being blown off, at least one maybe two medics killed while treating wounded, and overall you knew that some of the most engaging of the characters weren’t going to survive.  The only question was who wasn’t going to make it.  I also am not impressed with modern  battle scenes were hundreds of troops mass for an attack.  That’s just not realistic for anything other than the beach landings (where, unfortunately, massing was a necessary evil).  Since I saw episode 5 first, and that’s where Marines storm the airfield on Peleliu, my initial impression of the series was not so hot, however, that changed as I viewed episodes 1-3.

Pacific is not BOB and that’s a good thing.  It is different because the war in the Pacific was very different from the war in Europe, and it is different because the source material is very different.  BOB is based on the Steven Ambrose book which is based on his interviews with the soldiers.  Pacific is mostly based on the written memoirs of the men of the 1st Marine Division.  In particular, it relies on Robert Leckie’s Helmet for my Pillow and With the Old Breed by E.B. Sledge.  Because it is based on memoirs, Pacific is much more personal than BOB.  It includes a significant story line that focuses on the personal lives and loves of the men.  This gives the series greater weight and makes you care even more than in BOB about the individual marines.

I didn’t see episode 4, and that is where the Marines land on Peleliu.  From what I’ve seen in the trailers and in the above documentary, the landing scene using AMTRACs is probably the most realistic ever filmed.

So, overall I’m very happy with Pacific.  Without seeing the next five episodes, I am guessing it is on its way to be a classic similar to BOB.  If you have HBO I strongly recommend that you catch up with the past episodes and invest in the next five.  If you don’t have HBO (like me) than, enjoy the making of the movie above, tease yourself with the trailers on youtube, and look forward to that boxed set that I’m guessing will be in stores just in time for Christmas 🙂

Here are the books I recommend to go with the series:

Published in: on April 21, 2010 at 11:26 pm  Comments (2)  
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