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Sam Gordon Campbell




Location: Australia.
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PostPosted: Sun 12 Jun, 2011 7:23 pm    Post subject: You're A Well Educated Commander...         Reply with quote

Hullo all,

So if you were a well educated leader, with regards to your personal preference for time period and place (e.g. If you like 15thC. Germany, then what sources would you have available? If you like 11thC. China or 18thC. India, what then? etc.), what would you have been expected, or rather endeavored to try and read.
Off the top of my head I can think of these ones:

Vegetius' Epitoma Rei Militaris.
The Strategikon of Maurice.
Konungs skuggsjá (Kings Mirror).
Niccolň Machiavelli's Dell'arte della Guerra (The Art of War) and Il Principe (The Prince).
Miyamoto Musashi's Go Rin No Sho.
And Sun Tzu's The Art Of War.

Do you think that they can still be relevant today? If so, how and why?

I'm on a mission to educate myself in such matters... Y'know, in case Z-Day arrives. Laughing Out Loud

Sam.

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Craig Johnson
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PostPosted: Sun 12 Jun, 2011 8:18 pm    Post subject: Good Question? No Answer!         Reply with quote

Interesting question Sam! Sadly after a good deal of study of the history of conflict both war and political, I have found that the inputs into the equation are far less important than the hardware that is employed.

How can a leader versed in history and literature turn it into action? How can a man of action lead others when he has must step back from the front line? There are many tomes written on the subject but none can make or brake a leader. The best one can hope for is to take what one is given or has plunged into themselves and use the material to evolve into a leader.

Now any of the works you have listed will have concrete and enlightening information. Can you communicate this to your subordinates? Are they inclined to listen? Do you have a chance to lead them rather then direct and declare? All are crucial and very pertinent points that will bear heavily on your chances.

Best things I have heard on leadership are not about what one has read and studied but rather about truth of self and the ability to be honest and clear about your mission, expectations and chances.

I would suggest, study all one can, then be true to yourself and your ideals. Honesty is something others will follow, everything else is less motivational.

Best
Craig
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Christopher Treichel




Location: Metro D.C.
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PostPosted: Sun 12 Jun, 2011 8:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Many of these books are still relevant and read by leaders to this day... take for instance the Marine Corps Comandant's reading list. Interesting which historic books are on there.

http://www.mcu.usmc.mil/lejeune_leadership/LL...ochure.pdf
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Bryce Felperin




Location: San Jose, CA
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PostPosted: Mon 13 Jun, 2011 10:08 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Christopher Treichel wrote:
Many of these books are still relevant and read by leaders to this day... take for instance the Marine Corps Comandant's reading list. Interesting which historic books are on there.

http://www.mcu.usmc.mil/lejeune_leadership/LL...ochure.pdf


Interesting to see that I have read or have in my collection half of this list. Guess I'll have to read the rest of the list in the future. :-)
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Christopher Treichel




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PostPosted: Mon 13 Jun, 2011 12:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As to Craig's point... teaching history should be incorporated into a units training. It builds esprit de corps. A unit that lives and trains together becomes even stronger when they are proud of their history. Every time you teach a class, read a section from say Vegetius or Infantry Attacks (Rommel) as a motivational introduction or to make a point of how something was done at a different time you tie what you are teaching to a previous success. A flanking attack or an L shaped ambush done 500 years ago still has many principles in common with one now, even if your weapons allow for different implementation. Having members of the unit complete a small project in which they do a battle study, read a tactical manual or biography and then teach something relevant also instills pride and might come handy at some time. Ipsa scientia potestas est.
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Sam Gordon Campbell




Location: Australia.
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PostPosted: Tue 14 Jun, 2011 10:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I must say it is interesting that even the modern military still continues (at least [to my knowledge] in Australia) to impliment bayonet drills in training situations. I'm sure it builds some form of courage at the thought that ones combat knife is the modern equivalent to the ancient sword.
Here's another two things of interest that I'd say I'd try to read if I was a leader:

La Régle du Temple (The Rule Of The Templars).

And (though I have yet to find a translation of any of them) the Furūsiyya.

I must say it's interesting to see Thucydides in that reading list.

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John Turner




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PostPosted: Wed 15 Jun, 2011 4:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The British Army still teaches Bayonet Drills to all soldiers and officers, although this is for practical reasons (we still use them in combat as a pretty effective weapon), and not for building esprit de corps. For this we use foot (and horse) drill. Whilst seen by some as outdated and irrelevant, being part of a body of men, moving in absolute harmony, smartly turned out (often accompanied by some pretty stirring music) is one of the key ways of turning a civilian into a soldier. The sense of pride and "specialness" that this engenders in the individual is rightly called esprit de corps. It also provides a very real and interactive link to our history, as most of the movements and drills are directly descended from the days when a well drilled body of men could win the day over less disciplined troops.

Back towards the topic, and to expand on Christopher's point. Military history is taught in various ways to all soldiers in the British Army, and the regimental system helps to focus this. Indeed there are very few soldiers who cannot tell you about their Regiment's history, its battle honours and the stories of its gallany heroes. We will have lessons but will also use Battlefield tours and "Staff Rides" (a sort of battlefield tour that incorporates some real work and comparisons to modern tactics etc.). Anniversary days of battle honours provide an ideal opportunity to celebrate and relearn our history.

Back on the topic, all officers at Sandhurst and afterwards have a reading list, in many titles similar to the USMC one, but sustituting writings by many of the British generals, such as Slim, Montgomery, Wavell etc. Also encouraged are a number of titles by some well known German generals (Rommel, Guderian, Von Manstein). I cannot put my hand on the reading list at present. Most of these are 18th 19th or (the majority) 20th Century texts, and so are from the modern period. There is very little on the modern officers reading list from the medieaval period or before.

The Military Analysis course that every officer undertakes as part of thier professional further development includes an intensive study module on Von Clausewitz, and his relevance today.

If I had to choose, for my (current) favorite period - HYW - I would probably choose some of the texts already mentioned(although I don't know if they were available then, or would all have been known about). I might also add the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, and the writings of Augustine on Just war (an essential read for any one who needs to understand how we justify the noble but brutal art of war).

"Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it."

Edmund Burke

"If History is so important, why is it so easy to forget?"
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Sam Gordon Campbell




Location: Australia.
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PostPosted: Wed 15 Jun, 2011 5:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

John Turner wrote:
... the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, and the writings of Augustine on Just war (an essential read for any one who needs to understand how we justify the noble but brutal art of war).


Hm. I shall have to see if I can gain a copy of these then.
Who was that English chap who dressed like a Scot and one battles by carrying a sword and longbow in WWII again? Now that would be a sight to see! Shame the modern military doesn't allow swords to be carried by a choice few in active duty... Or whatever it's called.

I wonder if one could pull off a manuvore like Hannibal in this day and age?

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John Turner




Location: East Riding of Yorkshire, England
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PostPosted: Wed 15 Jun, 2011 6:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sam,

There is an online translation of the meditations at:

http://classics.mit.edu/Antoninus/meditations.html

Not a bad translation as it happens.

St Augustine's writings on Just War are contained in his book "De Civitate Dei contra Paganos"often known in English as "The City of God".

The most accesible and the latest (that i know of) translation is :

The City of God against the Pagans. Translation by R. W. Dyson. New York : Cambridge University Press, 1998. ISBN 0521464757

The principles of Just War were further expanded by Thomas Aquinas, and have since been further refined. They have basically now been adopted as the principles of Just War, which are used in practice (more or less succesfully) by governments and the UN. They form the philisophical basis for many of the Geneva Conventions and Protocols


The chap you mean is Lt Col John Malcolm Thorpe Fleming "Mad Jack" Churchill DSO & Bar, MC & Bar

wikipedia article on him here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jack_Churchill

Clealy the coolest "Churchill" of the Second World War!

"Those who don't know history are destined to repeat it."

Edmund Burke

"If History is so important, why is it so easy to forget?"
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Christopher Treichel




Location: Metro D.C.
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PostPosted: Wed 15 Jun, 2011 10:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you think that the bayonet is a thing from a bygone era... ask someone like Capt Lewis Millet (Korea) or CPL Dip Prasad Pun (Afghanistan) if they would rather carry a bayonet or an extra 30 rd magazine.
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E. Storesund





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PostPosted: Wed 15 Jun, 2011 1:51 pm    Post subject: Re: You're A Well Educated Commander...         Reply with quote

I think parts of Konungs Skuggsjá are quite reasonable in a civil context at least. How to behave in etiquette and good habits. Elling probably has a thing or two to say about this, and probably knows the work better than I do. Honestly I can't remember much of the martial parts of it.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Fri 17 Jun, 2011 11:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Baden-Powell's Aids to Scouting and Scouting for Boys are massively underrated works in this regard. Sure, they might have been adapted for the use of a civilian youth organisation, but the vast majority of their contents is nearly identical to the fieldcraft section in modern training manuals for sniper and reconnaissance units.

Machiavelli's Art of War, on the other hand, isn't nearly half as useful as The Prince. His more significant contribution to military science is as a theorist who presaged Clausewitz's later statement that war is a continuation of politics by other means. The actual recommendations he made for the composition and tactics of the Florentine army, however, smacks a bit too much of the theorist and not enough of the practical soldier. That doesn't mean you couldn't read the Art of War as an interesting example of the classicising paradigm among contemporary thinkers and how it could sometimes be taken too far.
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Sam Gordon Campbell




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PostPosted: Fri 29 Jul, 2011 9:30 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I guess one can't run out of a bayonet.
After having a look through Wiktenauer (a pretty neat little site) I came across a lot of works by fencing masters speaking not of fencing, but rather of morality and ethics vs. practicality/reality in regards to single combat and the law.

Should one give more credance to those writers who have actualy experianced it first hand (if only for a short while), or should one prefer the scholar with years of research behind them?

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Craig Johnson
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PostPosted: Sat 30 Jul, 2011 9:22 pm    Post subject: Some more ideas         Reply with quote

Lafayette C Curtis wrote:
Baden-Powell's Aids to Scouting and Scouting for Boys are massively underrated works in this regard. Sure, they might have been adapted for the use of a civilian youth organisation, but the vast majority of their contents is nearly identical to the fieldcraft section in modern training manuals for sniper and reconnaissance units.


If you have not heard it I highly recommend the History Networks Podcast on Baden-Powell episode 902 I believe. Or any other of their podcasts that grab your fancy. Great stuff.


Sam Gordon Campbell wrote:

I guess one can't run out of a bayonet.
After having a look through Wiktenauer (a pretty neat little site) I came across a lot of works by fencing masters speaking not of fencing, but rather of morality and ethics vs. practicality/reality in regards to single combat and the law.

Should one give more credance to those writers who have actualy experianced it first hand (if only for a short while), or should one prefer the scholar with years of research behind them?


Sam, excellent question and one that is debated by many usually with little value coming from the debate, as learned considered viewpoints that are well thought out will have value. This knowledge can be gained in may ways and will give you different focuses as there is probably no one answer to your original query. But as you notice the fellows who wrote of personal combat from the past had a great respect and understood the deep need to understand why one would take up arms and the result doing such will have on you and society. They can not be separated in ways that are often described by those who have less understanding of such things.

Combat (caveat, I personally have never experienced combat in war) is something that I understand to be formative on a level that those of us who have not been there can only glimpse in minor ways when those that have share their experiences with us. Historians and veterans will look back on the past in ways that may differ but that if done correctly will teach us about who we are and what is called upon of those who must face such circumstances.

I feel one can not fully realize the types of issues you are looking at with out a thoughtful and continuous search for such information and to always be willing to understand new perspectives.

If you are looking for such resources I have found the podcasts and programs from this Pritzker Military Library, their Medal of Honor series is astounding and I can not recommend it with the energy it deserves. Their general podcasts deal with many aspects of history and many will touch on leadership and the choices man makes in combat. Very very good stuff.

I do not think you would want to choice one over the other in what you study. The veteran is going to give you a point of view that is an experience and has validity in way just studying a subject will not. A historian is, hopefully pondering many factors that have influence on the role of a leader from the personal to the larger picture that someone in combat may well not have a clear view of on the day they are called to fight.

Best
Craig
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Kurt Scholz





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PostPosted: Sun 31 Jul, 2011 3:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sam Gordon Campbell wrote:
I guess one can't run out of a bayonet.
After having a look through Wiktenauer (a pretty neat little site) I came across a lot of works by fencing masters speaking not of fencing, but rather of morality and ethics vs. practicality/reality in regards to single combat and the law.

Should one give more credance to those writers who have actualy experianced it first hand (if only for a short while), or should one prefer the scholar with years of research behind them?


I agree, I came across a work about the use of psychology in the military and they referred to some US surveys after World War II that found out that most frontline soldiers thought they hadn't injured an enemy, about a third thought they had injured or killed and less than 10% that they had done that multiple times.
From mamluk training mentioned in the Furusiyya, I remember this image about two mamluks training with swords on clay to deliver injuring or killing blows. So these elite soldiers trained making decisions about their battlefield damage. That rounds counter to my training for example that focused on stopping the man by killing a sentient being.

My favorites are Xenophon, especially the anabasis, and Sosylos, from whom only fragments have yet been discovered, but who is an outstanding historian (he was the teacher of Hannibal).
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Nathan Quarantillo




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PostPosted: Sun 31 Jul, 2011 7:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I personally like Machiavelli's Art of War. Not nearly as much as Clausewitz, but I think it offers some good insights regardless. Much less on actual battle tactics, but he is rather helpful with (Renaissance era) troop compositions, and the training of an effective militia force.
"Id rather be historically accurate than politically correct"
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Bennison N




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PostPosted: Sun 31 Jul, 2011 6:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sun Tzu's The Art of War is obviously excellent reading, but I feel you have to combine it with Sun Bin's The Art of War (sometimes called The Lost Art of War) to more fully understand it. Add to this the fact that Sun Bin is apparently Sun Tzu's descendant, and the student of the famous, but seemingly unpublished Hermit-Strategist Gui Guzi.

Put them together and you get quite a good resource... Plus what is known about Sun Bin himself makes for some good interesting reading in itself...

"Never give a sword to a man who can't dance" - Confucius

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Sam Gordon Campbell




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PostPosted: Thu 04 Aug, 2011 4:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

A quick query if I may?
I recently found an online (and free) copy of Machiavel's Prince and Art Of War (I'll be sure to take his Art Of War with a pinch of salt from what you've said), I also have a copy of De Re Militari but alas it's in French.
I've also sought and followed the recommendations suggested thus far too (boy scouts, Marcus etc.).
So my question is thus: does anyone know of where one can get more of the aforementioned sources for free and maybe even translated? My Google-Fu is weak.
And thank you gentlemen again for you recommendations, hopefully there will be more to come.

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Ahmad Tabari





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PostPosted: Sun 07 Aug, 2011 9:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sam Gordon Campbell wrote:
A quick query if I may?
I recently found an online (and free) copy of Machiavel's Prince and Art Of War (I'll be sure to take his Art Of War with a pinch of salt from what you've said), I also have a copy of De Re Militari but alas it's in French.
I've also sought and followed the recommendations suggested thus far too (boy scouts, Marcus etc.).
So my question is thus: does anyone know of where one can get more of the aforementioned sources for free and maybe even translated? My Google-Fu is weak.
And thank you gentlemen again for you recommendations, hopefully there will be more to come.


Your best bet would be the Fordham sourcebook http://www.fordham.edu/Halsall/
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Sam Gordon Campbell




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PostPosted: Sun 07 Aug, 2011 9:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ah, thankyou Ahmad, I'll be sure to scour it diligently.
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