Wikipedia:WikiProject Military history/News/October 2012/Book reviews

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Transforming Command: The Pursuit of Mission Command in the U.S., British and Israeli Armies

U.S. Marines from 1st Battalion, 3rd Marines seize a key junction of roads just outside of Marja in February 2010

2.5/5 stars

By Hawkeye7

Transforming Command: The Pursuit of Mission Command in the U.S., British and Israeli Armies is all about doctrine, and the process by which armies attempt to adopt foreign doctrine. Israel has, as one might expect, produced some pretty good military historians over the years. The best known in the west would be Martin van Creveld and Edward Luttwak.

Mission Command - yes, we have an article on the topic, it just isn't very good - is a concept long associated with the German Army, which calls it Auftragstaktik. Put simply, mission command is a style of command whereby the commander gives a statement of intent, and subordinates conform to that. An army employing mission command is theoretically capable of responding to the changing circumstances of a battle very rapidly, as no time is required for orders to be passed up and down the chain of command.

It arose from the series of reforms that the Prussian Army undertook in the 1806-1815 period in order to beat Napoleon. The idea came into the Australian Army before the Great War through the reading of German works, and subsequent writings, of John Monash, who found the ideas falling on more fertile ground that Walter Krueger's similar efforts in the United States.

In the 1980s there arose a substantial interest in the subject as it was seen as a potential force modifiers for NATO armies faced with numerically superior Warsaw Pact forces. This book follows the efforts of the U.S., British and Israeli Armies to implement mission command, and how each of them managed it. None of the three were able to assimilate it completely or correctly owing to cultural factors that tended to distort it.

The U.S. Army's effort is the best known of the three. It was one of a package of reforms pushed by William DePuy and others in the post-Vietnam era, and there are quite a few books on this intellectual revolution in the United States. Sir Nigel Bagnall's advocacy of reform in the British Army in the aftermath of the Falklands War is less well known, as British historians have not shown much interest in recent wars. Least well known of all is the Israeli Army's efforts; nearly all of the sources here are only available in Hebrew. Despite, and perhaps because of this, it is the most interesting of the three.

  • Publishing details Shamir, Eitan (2011). Transforming Command: The Pursuit of Mission Command in the U.S., British and Israeli Armies. Stanford, California: Stanford Security Studies. ISBN 9780804772020. OCLC 651011978. 

Recent external reviews

Fritz, Stephen G. (2011). Ostkrieg : Hitler's War of Extermination in the East. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0813134161. 

Ham, Paul (2012). Sandakan : The untold story of the Sandakan Death Marches. North Sydney: Random House Australia. ISBN 9781864711400. 

Gordon, Michael; Trainor, Bernard E. (2012). The Endgame : The Inside Story of the Struggle for Iraq, from George W. Bush to Barack Obama. New York City: Pantheon Books. ISBN 0307377229. 

Bowden, Mark (2012). The Finish : The Killing of Osama Bin Laden. New York City: Atlantic Monthly Press. ISBN 0802120342. 

  • McKelvey, Tara (19 October 2012). "Closing In". The New York Times. 
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