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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Books on military tactics

   
Author Topic: Books on military tactics
Szymon
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Hey,

I have never been in the army, but I always wanted to learn about military tactics. I always tried to find some good web sites about that, but they are usually very simple. Do you know a book (available on amazon or sth) that covers the subject thoroughly? From the basics?
What I'm interested in exactly is:
- How should a military training look like?
- What are the most important features of a good commander?
- Psychological factors (stress, fear, hunger) that influence a single soldier, but also morale of a team, platoon, battalion and so on;
- Tactics stricto- how to move, how to run, how to shoot, when to hide, when to cover someone, when to retreat, when to surrender;
- Some basics on strategy;

Is there a book like that available? Maybe a military textbook available to everyone?

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Samprimary
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Cue a thousand weird nerds mentioning their blessed The Art Of War and then quoting it in every thread about warfare and human conflict to show how much they understand it superbly.

"A History Of Warfare" is good, informative, but probably exposes a bit of an ideological rift in agreement on some of the absolutes of warfare theory. Socioeconomic ones, anyway.

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AchillesHeel
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In regards to psychological factors for a single soldier, if you read Miyamoto Musashi's Book of Five Rings and The Unfettered Mind by Takuan they both write as well as one can about the mind set of a powerful warrior. I don't think the personal philosophies of two very individual martial artists can be applied to many people evenly, but the words of a man who won sixty duels before the age of thirty-two should be worth something.
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fugu13
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Caesar's Gallic War is worth reading, and also serves as excellent advice on propaganda. On War is sort of the modern foundational text (but be warned, easy to misread).

It would have been very interesting to see what Rommel might have written on tactics, but he never got the chance.

For certain of your questions, I would go to the best modern applied sources, like US Army Field Manuals (pretty easy to get your hands on). For instance, here's the manual on physical fitness training for the army. For a contrasting approach, here's a set of USMC manuals, including several training manuals and a tactics fundamentals manual (along with many others).

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fugu13
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Wait, Rommel did write a book, Infantry Attacks. Read that, definitely.
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Szymon
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I read both Sun Zi and Caesar [Frown] I find them a bit too, hm, ancient. Some things dont change, for sure, but a lot do.
The manual on physical fitness for the army would be ok, but only as a chapter.
What I need is like a textbook for a young Westpoint student. Learn about battle without taking part in it. When I was younger I wanted to join the military, but I'm not physically fit (have problems with my spine, and my eyesight is awful). How to move when in woods? How to position a heavy machine gun (I read a short description of it by Hemingway, I think it was in "For whom the bell tolls"), how to flank, what to do when out-numbered. Something like a notebook taken during Ender's classes with Rackham [Smile]

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Szymon
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fugu13, I will check that! Thanks
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fugu13
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There isn't "a" textbook for a young West Point student, there are a dozen (or more; I've never reviewed the curriculum, but I am entirely confident they study their subjects in depth, which means a lot of textbooks). And I wouldn't write off the manual on physical fitness for the army so quickly; did you look at how long it is? That's hundreds of pages of content on just the topic of getting recruits physically fit (which relates closely to mental preparation), and there are manuals for the military on just about everything. The marine corps manual I linked just on the bare bones tactics fundamentals is 200 pages (including a few pages of exercises).

Any high level work that tries to address the whole problem is going to ignore most of your low level questions, because anyone capable of absorbing and in a position to apply the high level instruction will not just have been taught (through more in depth sources plus experience) the details you're interested in knowing, but will, if lacking experience in a particular area, have an experienced NCO on hand to manage common tasks and provide useful information as needed.

So either cut down what you're interested in to a sufficiently specified set of questions you can just look up the answers to, or be prepared to do a lot of reading (which, since you're not studying for practical application, can be made easier by skimming TOCs for topics of interest, then reading those parts).

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Lyrhawn
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
Cue a thousand weird nerds mentioning their blessed The Art Of War and then quoting it in every thread about warfare and human conflict to show how much they understand it superbly.

"A History Of Warfare" is good, informative, but probably exposes a bit of an ideological rift in agreement on some of the absolutes of warfare theory. Socioeconomic ones, anyway.

I figured the first book mentioned would be Clausewitz's "On War."

The writing might be a little dated, but it's a key text.

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Szymon
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quote:
Originally posted by fugu13:

Any high level work that tries to address the whole problem is going to ignore most of your low level questions, because anyone capable of absorbing and in a position to apply the high level instruction will not just have been taught (through more in depth sources plus experience) the details you're interested in knowing, but will, if lacking experience in a particular area, have an experienced NCO on hand to manage common tasks and provide useful information as needed.

So either cut down what you're interested in to a sufficiently specified set of questions you can just look up the answers to, or be prepared to do a lot of reading (which, since you're not studying for practical application, can be made easier by skimming TOCs for topics of interest, then reading those parts).

You are absolutely right.I am prepared to a lot of reading, just gimme the titles [Wink]
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fugu13
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Just look over some lists of military manuals. There are hundreds, and probably at least a couple dozen will be relevant. The first two (and some of the others) on Wikipedia's list of selected army field manuals will be important, for instance: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U.S._Army_Field_Manuals
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Dr Strangelove
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There's a book called Makers of Modern Strategy I believe, edited by Peter Paret. It either has selections from major thinkers, or analysis of their work, from ancient times to the modern (as in nuclear) age. I would highly recommend it in terms of getting an overview.
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fugu13
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Yeah, I've got that (well, the original one edited by Edward Earle, that went through Hitler). Very good book, but almost entirely of very high level strategy, so it only addresses the last of the questions above ("Some basics on strategy").
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Blayne Bradley
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I second "Infantry Attacks" by Rommel, I believe they published post humously his notes that would've been made into "Armor Attacks", as well as "Infantry Platoon" which is excellent. It's basically a choose yur own adventure book but puts you in command of an infantry platoon holding off against an unspecified OPSFOR armoured regiment in an unspecified war. Where every decision counts.

Von Krieg (On War) by Clauswitz, Tactics by Liddel Hart. As well as Art of War and Book of the 5 Rings.

Might be a few others like anything by Jominian, as well as "Rise and Fall of the Great Powers" to see how strategy interacts with economics.

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Dr Strangelove
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quote:
Originally posted by fugu13:
Yeah, I've got that (well, the original one edited by Edward Earle, that went through Hitler). Very good book, but almost entirely of very high level strategy, so it only addresses the last of the questions above ("Some basics on strategy").

I don't know, I think answers to the first two questions can also be inferred. I suppose though that I am somewhat biased towards answering those questions historically, with less attention on the present day. If you want answers about tactics and strategy in the eighteenth century, let me know!
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Szymon
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So far those Rommel books sound most interesting, thanks. If I aren't much mistaken he was one of the decent guys during the time of WWII. I usually hate it when people say "nazi" or "nazi Germany" instead of "Germans" and "Germany" as if it was a different country and different people then, but looks like he wasn't a part of those nazi crimes.
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Darth_Mauve
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Don't underestimate the power of Machiavelli's "The Prince". Its more on the politics of war and how to hold captured territory without creating a rebellion, but it also gets you some great, fearful looks from strangers that catch you reading it in public.
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Wingracer
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Strategy by B. H. Liddel Hart and anything else you can find by Liddell Hart. While I find his writing style a bit repetitive and annoying at times, the info contained in his books is as good as it gets.
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Wingracer
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Also, slightly off topic is one of my all time favorite books, One Thousand Years of Explosives by William S. Dutton. A truly fascinating look at how explosives changed everything, including warfare of course. The chapter on Jan Zizka's exploits during the Hussite war was an amazing look at an almost completely unknown commander that made some major innovations. It's a hard to find oldy (my copy is a 1960 first edition) but I saw a couple used ones available on Amazon.
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Orincoro
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quote:
Originally posted by Samprimary:
Cue a thousand weird nerds mentioning their blessed The Art Of War and then quoting it in every thread about warfare and human conflict to show how much they understand it superbly.

Not that you're bitter...
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