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Old 09-19-2006, 07:23 PM   #1
William Winger
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I'm taking a class on 'Military Leadership and Social Class', for which I will be writing a long (~30 pages) paper over the course of this semester.

I know that many CFitters are active in the military, or former enlisted men and women, so if you'd like to comment or give advice on my thesis, and projected resources, please do so. I appreciate any and all advice. It will also help me just to write this down, so feel free to ignore too!

Right so, my thesis (which I must have fully formed tomorrow) is thus:

The rift between the common footsoldier (infantryman? I'm not sure which is preferred) and high-technology units (again, ???) is palpable in the modern US military, as seen in the two Gulf Wars, and this rift actively reduces the footsoldier's battlefield capability.

Yeah, the language could be more refined. But basically I want to examine how a normal Private views his role given the greater context of stealth bombers, tank units, and cruise-missiles. Does the soldier in that situation question his own effectiveness? Is he loath to attempt a mission that could be handled by a more technology-dependent type of unit? Etc.

If any of this makes sense I'll be happy, though I hope the idea will be fully formed in time for class tomorrow!
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Old 09-19-2006, 07:57 PM   #2
William Winger
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As far as potential sources go, I'm thinking of the following:

Jarhead, Anthony Swafford (I've seen the movie already, I've not yet read the book)

Speed and Angels, a documentary on the 'making' of navy fighter pilots.

My school has held a subscription to the journal of 'Military Psychology' since its inception in 1989 (at least electronically) so I'm going to look for that tomorrow morning. Hopefully there will be one or more articles of interest.

Other than that I don't really know. If anyone has read a book even tangential to this subject please let me know. Thanks,
Will
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Old 09-20-2006, 04:44 AM   #3
Don Stevenson
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The infantry soldier is generally of the opinion that all the fancy gear on earth is just there an an entree before they go in and do the real job.

Basically everyone in the military understands that no matter how good your laser guided smart bombs are the battle ain't won until there is a grunt with a rifle standing on the top of the hill.

I'd bet that you'll be hard pressed to find an infantryan who has a whinge about high tech units.

Some books you might want to read are things like "The Art of Maneuver" by R Leonard and the "Maneuver Warfare Handbook" by W Lind.

You should also probably readanything you can find on joint operations so that you have an understanding of the roles that various units/services play in modern conflict.
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Old 09-20-2006, 05:11 AM   #4
William Winger
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Thanks Don, really appreciate it. I will definitely be reforming my thesis. And thanks a bunch for the source suggestions.

Also, I would think that the relative value of infantry has increased thanks to our enemy's tactic of hiding in residential areas that we can't just carpet bomb. Now that I think about it, I'll likely end up with a thesis completely reversed from my first post.

Thanks again,
Will
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Old 09-20-2006, 05:37 AM   #5
Peter Queen
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William, I have read the book Jarhead and have seen the movie. IMO, the movie sucked but the book was much better and more detailed. I did not like the fact that the movie basically skipped the first 5 chapters. Anyway, you might want to get a book or books on the history of MEUs (Marine Expeditionary Units). They incorporate both old-school and high-tech maneuvers. Don suggested "The Art of Maneuver" by R Leonard and the "Maneuver Warfare Handbook" by W Lind. I have read both and they are great resources. Also another good read is Marine Special Warfare and Elite Unit Tactics. Make sure you research books on the Army Special Forces, ie: Airborne Rangers and Green Berets, as well as the Navy SEALs. Good grunt work and hi-tech tactics are a common marriage among those units. They should offer some good insight as well as those who’ve served. Also, don't forget your history. Get resources from WW2 up through the Viet Nam era and see how that experience has caused the training to change into todays battle field.

The bottom line is, you are only as good as your training, hi-tech or not. When all the techno stuff has failed/malfunctioned you still need the foot soldier and grunt to get the job done.
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Old 09-20-2006, 09:37 AM   #6
Frank DiMeo
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Don, you are right on the mark!
In talking with my Dad, who served with the Marines in the Pacific during WWII, your viewpoint very accurate.
He told me no matter how much Naval bombardment they did prior to the Marines goin in, there were always plent of the enemy still alive and ready to fight.Then the Marines got to do what they did best, kill the enemy up close and personal.
That is based on 3 years of fighting in the Pacific.
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Old 09-20-2006, 01:31 PM   #7
Nathan Stanley
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>I'm taking a class on 'Military Leadership and Social Class', for which I will be writing a long (~30 pages) paper over the course of this semester.

Can I ask what the class is for?

>The rift between the common footsoldier (infantryman? I'm not sure which is preferred) and high-technology units (again, ???) is palpable in the modern US military, as seen in the two Gulf Wars, and this rift actively reduces the footsoldier's battlefield capability.

Could you clarify what you mean by "rift?"

Also I'd suggest looking at doing an oral history. Cetainly there are some good resources out there but I think it would be a lot of fun to interview a bunch of guys (by Email, in person, by phone, etc). I did that for a thesis on the Korean War. It was about ten years ago, so I think you could do a better job w/ the increased online resources, etc. Here's the link to it http://mcel.pacificu.edu/as/students...esistitle.html. Good luck
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Old 09-20-2006, 02:52 PM   #8
William Winger
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Nathan,

The class is just a college seminar, though technically I could get history credit for it... I'm not sure what you mean by, 'what is it for?' I'm taking it as an elective course, as it is well outside of my major. We're covering a great deal of history (beginning with the Iliad...), not just the two Gulf Wars.

As to the 'rift', I think that can be ignored now, I've significantly changed my thesis since my first post. In fact, for reference, my thesis is now (as it was submitted today, still in rough form):
This paper will examine the role infantrymen in the United States' modern army see for themselves in the context of other high-technology units operating on the battlefield. It will take into account the memoirs of several soldiers from the First and Second Gulf Wars, as well as expert discourse on modern strategy incorporating both high-tech and low-tech units. The goal will be to record the differences between infantry and other battlefield units, both in military psychology and in direction.

Most of my sources are listed in the advice above, though I will cast a slightly larger net when I buckle down to the research.

I agree an oral history and investigative component could be invaluable. I will make every effort to perform the necessary interviews.

And thanks for the link, I'll be sure to give it a read-through (as soon as I finish my econometrics pset!).

Thank you everyone for your help!
William
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Old 09-20-2006, 08:57 PM   #9
Chris Goodrich
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If you're going to focus on the human factor, I recommend you check out American Soldiers by Peter Kindsvatter. I think its one of the better scholorly attempts to capture the combat experience of the individual soldier and it may give you some good ideas.
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Old 09-21-2006, 07:29 AM   #10
William Winger
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Thanks Chris!
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