Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

So you’re deploying to Afghanistan: Exum’s recommendations & more (II)

Here is Andrew Exum’s take on what a platoon leader or company commander might want to read before getting on the plane to Kandahar or Bagram. It is a great list, well presented, and concise. My only quibble is with whether the Kalyvas book on the logic of violence in civil wars is "fun." I ...

SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images
SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images
SHAH MARAI/AFP/Getty Images

Here is Andrew Exum's take on what a platoon leader or company commander might want to read before getting on the plane to Kandahar or Bagram. It is a great list, well presented, and concise. My only quibble is with whether the Kalyvas book on the logic of violence in civil wars is "fun." I usually like hard books but that one gave me a headache.

And, just so you have this all in one place, here's the item I wrote a couple of weeks ago that pulled together various documents I've flagged in this blog that might be helpful.

Meanwhile, here is Colonel Gentile's critique. He takes a coupla pops at me, but I think it is worth reading. He is right about some things (like, how do we get out of these wars?), and provocative even where he is not (like, COIN is basically BS but we were doing it all along, thank you very much). Most importantly, I think this is worth reading because I suspect Gentile represents the silent majority of Army officers, and especially of generals, who generally seem to think, Screw you, Dave, we did pretty damn good in Iraq in 2003-2006, no matter what you and your intellectual soldiers and journalistic running dogs think.

Here is Andrew Exum’s take on what a platoon leader or company commander might want to read before getting on the plane to Kandahar or Bagram. It is a great list, well presented, and concise. My only quibble is with whether the Kalyvas book on the logic of violence in civil wars is "fun." I usually like hard books but that one gave me a headache.

And, just so you have this all in one place, here’s the item I wrote a couple of weeks ago that pulled together various documents I’ve flagged in this blog that might be helpful.

Meanwhile, here is Colonel Gentile’s critique. He takes a coupla pops at me, but I think it is worth reading. He is right about some things (like, how do we get out of these wars?), and provocative even where he is not (like, COIN is basically BS but we were doing it all along, thank you very much). Most importantly, I think this is worth reading because I suspect Gentile represents the silent majority of Army officers, and especially of generals, who generally seem to think, Screw you, Dave, we did pretty damn good in Iraq in 2003-2006, no matter what you and your intellectual soldiers and journalistic running dogs think.

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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