A great book on multiple levels. Perhaps the most valuable is the wisdom on leadership.
Master Sergeant Howe a great example of the physical, moral and intellectual qualities that give such strength to our military, especially the Special Forces. Much of the power of the book is derived from its simple, composite content - lesson plans for the warrior, "case discussion" and analysis. As the author notes the text has not been scrubbed into political correctness and academic flacidity.
Howe brings something else to the table that perhaps no other author possesses, field experience that began with multiple tours and continued with both the Army and CIA across decades to the war in Afghanistan. While excellent books such as One Bullet Away cover weeks of combat, Howe's experience covers multiple campaigns but always in the field.
Howe's lesson plans are directed at the needs of warriors and law enforcement at the point of the spear. It is the wisdom of someone who has led forces into hellholes around the world while carefully preserving the lessons learned. I am in no position to judge the quality of his tactical advice; but, his record and reputation speak volumes.
Howe points out the need to change the mindset and how many training exercises instill the wrong responses. One example is the use of paintball and laser drills where one hit and you are out of the fight. To Howe this is totally unacceptable in the field and, therefore, unacceptable training. There are lesson that appears page after page - training, more training, planning that utilizes collective wisdom, aggressive execution and leadership.
His "case studies" are not a recital of what someone wrote about what he thought some distant soldier experienced, but rather his personal experiences. They are woven into the book to illustrate points not to entertain or establish Howe's credentials. Together they document a way of preparing to fight, fighting, achieving the goal and coming home to a cold beer. Along the way they entertain the reader while reminding him of how truly special our warriors are and the depth of their commitment and sacrifices.
If the book stopped here it would be a great read. However, Howe goes on displaying a great understanding of what makes a leader, lessons of history, the intellectual gifts of fighter pilot John Boyd whose OODA Loop had an immense impact on current surface warfare concepts and what's wrong with military leadership.
Howe's discussion of leadership is enlightening. In his line of work leadership is a matter of life and death, for his fellow soldiers and perhaps for our nation. His concerns regarding both leadership training for officers and culling the flock to remove those not suited for leadership deserve consideration by our top military leaders. He points out that the senior enlisted ranks are filled by those who have proven their competence and leadership skills.
On a larger scale these same leadership concerns reflect much of what is wrong with the entire concept of business and public administration and why so many of our local and state public entities appear to be unmanageable. Perhaps the problem is not the lack of stronger management, but, rather the lack of leadership. Sadly our best and brightest emerging from four or six years at the best universities seldom grasp the importance of leadership other than that it helps get their football and basketball teams to national championships. The most obvious connection between leadership and success seldom makes it to the classroom.
Highly recommended to general audiences, those who go into bad neighborhoods and to those who seek to understand how the military works. Short, easy to read and it is also a great read for anyone headed towards a position of leadership in the military, business or academic world.
Howe also provides the background to understand Blackhawk Down.
Finally Howe promises that there will be no second revised edition with the sharp edges rounded in the name of political correctness. One only hopes that he writes again of the experiences which were not included in this book.
If your library had only one book on leadership and combat this would be the easy choice.