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Sling and the Stone: On War in the 21st Century (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 17. Februar 2006

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Parameters: U.S. Army War College Quarterly, Autumn 2005
“This is a stimulating – nay, provocative – book that should cause military readers and all associated with the security of the United States to question their fundamental assumptions. It is also a gutsy book because the author, a serving officer, asserts in effect that the Secretary of Defense, his team in the Pentagon, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff are wrong in the way they are fighting the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He further contends that the United States stands a good chance of losing its wars in the future unless the forces confront the realities of warfare in this century.”


Ongoing events in Iraq show how difficult it is for the world's only remaining superpower to impose its will upon other peoples. From Vietnam, French and US, to Afghanistan, Russian and US, to Israel and the Palestinians, to Somalia and Kosovo, recent history is replete with powerful military forces being tied up by seemingly weaker opponents. Answers to the "hows" of this along with recommendations for prescriptive actions are found in Thomas Hammes insightful book on the strengths and weaknesses of conventional military power. Hammes, a full colonel on active duty in the Marine Corps is an expert at asymmetrical warfare, perhaps better known as fourth generation warfare (4GW). This is the means by which Davids can defeat Goliaths. Colonel Hammes is well placed to write this study. As a career-Marine he has trained 4GW warriors in some places and fought against them in others. He has also made a lifelong study of military history which helps him illuminate the previous three generations of armed conflict and define and detail the newest, fourth generation of war. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.

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Amazon.com: HASH(0x93b97fa8) von 5 Sternen 67 Rezensionen
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HASH(0x9399b048) von 5 Sternen Forget the battles, let's win the war 20. Oktober 2004
Von C. W. Richards - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
In 1991, Israeli historian and military analyst Martin van Creveld shocked the defense community with his book, The Transformation of War. At least, he shocked that part more worried about post-Soviet threats than about buying weapons. Van Creveld preached that future danger to the West would come from groups other than state armies and that they would employ means that we would find repulsively violent and indiscriminate. In the intervening 13 years, all this has come to pass, but, as Marine Colonel T. X. Hammes eloquently argues in this important new book, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

What we are in fact seeing is "fourth generation warfare," (4GW) a term coined in a famous 1989 paper in the Marine Corps Gazette and now easily available on the Internet. Hammes argues that 4GW, far from being something academic or esoteric, represents the cumulative efforts of "practical people" trying to solve the problem of confronting superior military power. Their efforts are bearing fruit: "At the strategic level, the combination of our perceived technological superiority and our bureaucratic organization sets us up for a major failure against a more agile, intellectually prepared enemy." Amen.

The failure, in Hammes' view, will not be defeat in some Clausewitzian "decisive battle," but failure nonetheless as American politicians, tiring of the costs and despairing of victory, withdraw our forces short of achieving our objectives. He traces the evolution of 4GW through its successes--Mao, the Vietnamese, Sandinistas, Somalis, and Palestinians (in the first Intifada)--and its failures--the Al-Aqsa Intifada and perhaps al-Qa'ida, although the verdict, I fear, is still out on the latter.

It is the transnational element--we are not confronting state-based armies or even isolated insurgencies--that is driving the evolution of guerilla warfare into 4GW. So the 4GW danger in Iraq is not so much the insurgency but whether the conflict acts as a recruiting depot, training facility, and War Lab for violent transnational ideological groups, as was the case in Afghanistan.

Hammes concludes that when 4GW organizations remain true to their socially networked roots, and keep their focus on influencing their state opponents' desires to continue, they win. Such organizations only lose when they drop out of the 4GW paradigm--as when the Palestinians of the Al Aqsa Intifida shifted their focus away from influencing Israeli and Western opinion and directly towards destruction of the State of Israel, or perhaps when al-Qa'ida brought the war to the US homeland on 9/11.

In the last third of the book, Hammes raises issues that should trouble every US political and military leader. Perhaps most penetrating, given DoD's current focus, is the observation is that if information technology is the key to success in future combat, then we're probably going to lose. The reason is that dispersed, rapidly evolving networks can more quickly invent ways to exploit new information technologies than can large, bureaucratic, hierarchical structures such as the Pentagon. The parade of viruses, Trojans, and other worms that assault our (non-Mac) computers daily attest to the truth of this argument.

The solution, in Hammes' view, is to become more of a network ourselves. He is brutally realistic about the problems this entails--for starters we would need to eliminate about 50% of the field grade and general officers on active duty, which agrees with most studies of successful transformation--to "lean," for example-- which suggest reducing management ranks by 25-40%. Such thinking is a refreshing change from the gradualist school of "transformation" prevalent in DoD these days.

Many of his other recommendations will be familiar to those who have read US Army Major Don Vandergriff's The Path to Victory, which Hammes credits as the basis for his own personnel proposals: Solve the people problems and our troops will figure out ways to employ suitable technologies. Hammes' application of Vandergriff's ideas to fashioning a military capable of 4GW are among the most innovative parts of the book and potentially among the most decisive.

By the way, watch for Hammes' sly take on the phrase "coalition of the willing," which reveals a biting wit generally thought rare in Marine colonels.

If you are curious about where armed conflict is heading over the next 20-30 years, you must read The Sling and The Stone. You may not agree with all of Colonel Hammes' recommendations, but you'll find it hard to argue that he hasn't made a correct diagnosis of the problem. And just in time.
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HASH(0x9389f384) von 5 Sternen Overall Excellent Primer 13. Februar 2005
Von Robert David STEELE Vivas - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
Edit of 20 Dec 07 to add links.

In the context of the thousands of book on strategy, force structure, emerging threats, and so on, this is a solid primer and excellent work for both those who know nothing of the many other books, and a good place to start for conventional military minds ready to think more deeply about transformation.

This is an excellent book over-all. His two key points are clear: 4th Generation Wars take decades, not months as the Pentagon likes to fight; and only 4th Generation Wars have defeated super-powers--the US losing three times, Russia in Afghanistan, France in Viet-Nam, etc.

The author offers solid critiques of the Pentagon's mediocre strategy (Joint Vision 20XX) and its preference for technology over people, an excellent short list of key players in world affairs, interesting lists and a discussion of insurgent versus coalition force strengths and weaknesses in Iraq, and a brutal--positively brutal--comparison of the pathetic performance of "secret" imagery taking days or weeks to order up, versus, "good enough" commercial imagery that can be gotten in hours.

There are flashes of brilliance that suggest that the author's next book will be just as good if not better. He understands the war of ideas and talks about insurgent handbills as a form of ammunition that the US is not seeing, reading, or understanding; he points out that Al Qaeda is like a venture capitalist, franchising and subsidizing or inspiring distributed terrorism; and he is superbly on target, on page 39, when he points out that when Al Qaeda attacks in the US, the only thing that is "moving" is information or knowledge. Everything else they pick up locally--hence, US homeland security comes down to intercepting the information, not the players or the things they use to attack us.

The author is among those who feel that we must nail Egypt, Syria, and Iran, among others (I would include Pakistan), for exporting support to terrorism.

I have a number of underlinings and margin comments throughout this book, so it is by no means a light read. It is a very fine place to start understanding war in the 21st Century, and an excellent foundation for reading the more nuanced and broader works of GI Wilson, Max Manwaring, Steve Metz, Ralph Peters, and others.

Other seminal works in this area, with reviews:
Uncomfortable Wars Revisited (International and Security Affairs Series)
The Search for Security: A U.S. Grand Strategy for the Twenty-First Century
Tactics of the Crescent Moon: Militant Muslim Combat Methods
The Tiger's Way: A U.S. Private's Best Chance for Survival
War of the Flea: The Classic Study of Guerrilla Warfare
Wars of Blood and Faith: The Conflicts That Will Shape the 21st Century
18 von 19 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9389f264) von 5 Sternen Good Darwinian Perspective on War 11. Juli 2005
Von Thomas O'Connor - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe Verifizierter Kauf
War evolves, rather than transforms, is the central thesis of this book. The author should not be taken to task for over-emphasizing Fourth Generation warfare so much. The way I took it is that the author was rightly proud of his championing certain concepts, so the overemphasis was not excessive. It's a good primer on insurgency and counterinsurgency as well, and even starts to get into the neofunctionalist approach to nation building. Better works can indeed be found, such as Chaplin's in-depth Mao's Legacy and surely on Vietnam, but the book really starts picking up with the chapters on al-Qaeda, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Overall, all the case studies in the middle chapters are enlightening. The last five chapters also contain some relatively good ideas for military reform, but the focus is too much on personnel issues, such as 360-degree job evaluations and the ideas in Vandergriff's Revolution in Human Affairs. Although the personnel focus is understandable given the author's brief coverage of CONUS and Homeland Security issues, the strength of this book lies not in the critique of bureaucracy it tries to provide, but in the way the author uses history and a consistent perspective to generate social scientific insights, and in that sense, it is traditional, but also innovative and suggestive in some places.
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HASH(0x9389f354) von 5 Sternen Key implications not just for warfare, but for the marketplace as well 28. Januar 2007
Von David Reimer - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
As a layman when it comes to military strategy and tactics, I found The Sling and the Stone to offer an accessible explanation of three key elements of 4th Generation Warfare. First, how the first three generations evolved, overlapped, and distinguished themselves from one another. Second, how 4GW has itself matured throughout the 20th and into the 21st centuries. And third, the practical implications of 4GW for our military planning and policy decisions today.

Published in 2004, before the Iraqui conflict had become as complex as it is today, Hammes' book is not a political manifesto on current policy. Rather, it takes aim at the higher-level question of how the evolution of military conflict has allowed rag-tag, largely civillian armies, to defeat vastly superior (in terms of training, equippage and technology) conventional forces. Furthermore, Hammes offers a convincing argument that such defeats have not been random events, but rather the outcome of careful planning by guerilla strategists and field tacticians who studied their own and others' successes and failures, not to mention their politically and militarily evolving opponents, and have relentlessly adapted accordingly.

The book's primary weakness is its uneven writing. Hammes first drafted sections of the book for academic courses at various military colleges over the prior 10 years. And certain sections feel exactly like Master's thesis prose. Despite a hostile reception from a handful of traditionalist military theorists, however, the strength of Hammes' concepts and his dogged determination to create clarity overcome those slightly clunky stretches.

Finally - in addition to the obvious contribution this book can make to any current debate about the right or wrong next steps for US military and foreign policy - there is an implication here that Hammes does not explore (as it's not part of his objective), but which fascinated me from early on in the book. The parallels of 4GW for business seem to me to be stark. Whereas traditional business- and market-planning assumed fairly concrete and repeatable forms during the 20th century, on that front, too, the world faces a shifting target. Small companies using unconventional strategies have emerged to strike fear into traditionalist giants (think of Google putting fear into Microsoft, or the worries that Skype raised for AT&T, for instance).

Additionally, and perhaps more immediately, the way that companies employ, train and engage workforces today largely follows an early- to mid-20th century script that 50 years ago applied specifically because there was little alternative to the traditional model: employment for life. Today, on the other hand, employees operate largely with a guerilla or free agency mentality, while most business still recruit, hire and train employees using extremely conventional tactics. For them, while they often acknowledge the frailty of their current approach, there is no 'next generation' model yet. That strikes me as an unsustainable situation.

While the military issues that Hammes raises have a life-and-death immediacy for the world today, the underlying parallels for the marketplace will be far reaching and significant, though they will unfold more slowly. Thus, in its layout of its basic concepts, The Sling and the Stone offers fodder for thought that should extend beyond its overt military topic.
14 von 16 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
HASH(0x9389f21c) von 5 Sternen 4GW is a term we need to know more about 28. August 2005
Von Michael A. Whitney - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
4GW, Fourth Generation Warfare. The kind of war we will be fighting for the remainder of this Century is a way of warfare that most Americans will not find appealing. Hammes builds an excellent case about why we will lose these wars rather than win them if the DOD hews to current strategies. He also creates a game plan for picking our future fights and fighting 4GW enemies much more holistically instead of depending solely on our technological prowess to win. An excellent read to put Afganistan, Iraq, and thre global war on terror in perspective.
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