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

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.

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.

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)  
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Comanche, Old Baldy and their Buddies

There is a little known group of distinguished horses that to my knowledge has never been documented or recognized in any formal way as a group.  That group is the war horses whose remains have been preserved and are on display.  To my knowledge, there are only four American military horses that belong to this group:  Commanche, Winchester, Old Baldy, and Little Sorrel.

Old Baldy, General George Meade’s Civil War mount at the battle of Gettysburg and throughout most of the war was recently recovered and in the news.  He will soon be on display again.  Only Old Baldy’s head was preserved after his death.   See the story here.  Baldy’s display seems to be somewhat half-hearted and makes me a bit uncomfortable. 

Actually, I’m uncomfortable with the whole idea of perserving the remains of these fine horses.  But at least, if its going to be done it should be done completely as an honor, not partially, like a trophy.  The other three horses that I know of in this group are displayed with significantly greater care and honor.

Commanche was the mount of Captain Miles Keogh of the 7th Cavalry.  The horse was the only known survivor of Custer’s command at the Little Big Horn.  Commanche is displayed at the University of Kansas Museum of Natural History.  The museum has recently invested significant effort to ensure the integrity of the display and its preservation. 

Little Sorrel was the mount of Confederate General “Stonewall” Jackson.  Jackson was killed by friendly sentry fire in 1863 and was riding Little Sorrel at the time.  Little Sorrel lived a long life, dying in 1886 at the age of 36.  His hid was mounted and is on display at the Viriginia Military Institute.  His bones were cremated and buried on the grounds at VMI.

The final of the four horse warriors is Winchester, the mount of Union Civil War General Phil Sheridan.  Winchester is the mount that Sheridan rode in the counterattack against Confederate forces at the Battle of Cedar Creek in 1864.  Union forces were surprised and in retreat.  Sheridan galloped twenty miles on Rienzi, the horse’s original name, and arrived just in time to rally the troops and lead the successful counterattack.  Winchester was a black Morgan and stood 16 hands.  Sheridan said of him: ““an animal of great intelligence and immense strength and endurance. He always held his head high, and by the quickness of his movements gave many persons the idea that he was exceedingly impetuous. This was not so, for I could at any time control him by a firm hand and a few words, and he was as cool and quiet under fire as one of my soldiers. I doubt if his superior as a horse for field service was ever ridden by any one.”  Winchester died after the war at the age of nineteen.  He was immortalized in a poem entitled “Sheridan’s Ride.”

Excerpt from “Sheridan’s Ride.”

And there, through the flush of the morning light,
A steed as black as the steeds of night
Was seen to pass, as with eagle flight;
As if he knew the terrible need,
He stretched away with his utmost speed.
Hills rose and fell, but his heart was gay,
With Sheridan fifteen miles away.

If you know of any other American or international warhorses that are on display let me know.

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: