Getting it right : American military reforms after Vietnam to the Persian Gulf and beyond /

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Main Author: Dunnigan, James F.
Other Authors: Macedonia, Raymond M.
Format: Book
Published:New York : W. Morrow and Co., c1993.
Edition:1st ed.
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Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

One of the bitter legacies of the Vietnam War was the breakdown in discipline, morale and fighting capability that led the U.S. military, particularly the Army, to initiate dramatic reforms in the '70s. Dunnigan, the author of How to Make War , and Macedonia, founder and chairman of the war gaming department of the Army War College, review the movement led by General William DePuy that sparked a host of dynamic concepts formally outlined in the 1976 edition of Field Manual 100-5. Ensuing changes included a revamped officer corps; carefully selected, well-paid volunteer troops; realistic, rigorous and plentiful training; and an overall tactical doctrine that stressed balanced teams of combined arms. In the authors' view, the Persian Gulf War was something of a final exam for the reformed Army--which it passed in a ``historically exceptional performance.'' In the post-Desert Storm era, they warn, the problem is to avoid the ``Victory Disease,'' an affliction to which all winning armies are susceptible and which is marked by institutional arrogance and a conviction that future conflicts should be fought like previous ones. Lucidly written, highly informative, this is an up-to-date appraisal of the current state of the nation's armed forces. (Nov.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review

A worldly-wise take on how the US military managed to overcome a tradition of unpreparedness during the post-Vietnam era and decisively win the Gulf War. While Dunnigan (coauthor, From Shield to Storm, 1992, etc.) and Macedonia (a retired colonel and former chairman of the US Army War College's War Gaming Department) focus on the Army, they offer commentary on other branches of our armed forces, beginning with a documentation of ways in which lessons of previous wars invariably have been lost and have had to be relearned over a span of nearly three centuries. The authors note that, initial defeats in North Africa, Korea, and Southeast Asia apart, the introduction of intercontinental missiles with nuclear warheads sharply curtailed the Army's role in military policy following WW II; meanwhile, cold war strategists devoted almost all their attention to the putative threat posed by the Soviet Union in Central Europe. Getting down to business, Dunnigan and Macedonia observe that the Arab/Israeli clash of 1973 helped trigger an internal reform movement in the US military that produced innovative new doctrines on how the Army should operate on a variety of fronts, including the battlefield. The end of the draft, larger defense budgets, and other factors--in particular, more effective training of high-caliber volunteers-- also enhanced the Army's capabilities, preparing it to perform with deadly efficiency in the Persian Gulf. Nonetheless, the authors caution that the USSR's collapse and, to some extent, the Desert Storm triumph have created another watershed. If the military is to avoid the setbacks experienced by other victorious armies, they contend, it must identify an uncertain future's likely enemies and reorganize on the shorter rations available to meet these potential foes. Down-to-earth, savvy perspectives on one of the few government enterprises that works and is still equipped to give value for money. (Glossary, plus tabular material throughout)

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