Hablan los generales: Las grandes batallas del conflicto colombiano contadas por sus protagonistas edited by Glenda Martinez Osorio. Grupo Editorial Norma (http://www.carvajal.com.co/CarvajalIng/empresas-eng/grupo-editorial/grupo-principal.html), Bogotá, Colombia, 2006, 340 pages, $12.50, ISBN 958049312X.
Despite its title, not all of this anthology’s authors are generals, but they all give revealing, firsthand accounts of Colombia’s violent campaigns against guerrillas, drug lords, and other outlaws since the early 1960s. A prologue by Dr. Alfredo Rangel comments on the 14 chronologically organized chapters. Referring to the Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC) insurgency, Rangel notes, “That guerrilla group has always demonstrated an immense capacity to survive, resist, and persist, but a weak ability to definitively tilt the political and military balance to its side” (p. 35), an assessment one might make of many insurgent groups. However, his remark that “the city is by its own nature a dangerous place for clandestine and irregular groups” (p. 14) might amuse veterans of urban warfare in Baghdad. Chapters 2 and 3 describe Colombian military manhunts to find incredibly violent criminals. The author of chapter 11 is an anonymous undercover agent who cooperated with US officials to intercept cell-phone calls and use unmanned aerial vehicles to track down leaders of Cali drug cartels. Chapter 12 is an ordinary soldier’s bizarre account of how FARC guerrillas wiped out his unit and held him prisoner for years, an ordeal that literally drove him insane.
Readers will find many familiar nuggets of counterinsurgency (COIN) wisdom. Gen Álvaro Valencia, who penned two chapters, observes that “in guerrilla warfare, nothing can remain fixed or stable. Mental, physical, and methodological flexibility constitute a true principle” (p. 62). Because Colombian insurgents often fill power vacuums in remote regions, sometimes serving as de facto local governments for decades, Colombian military leaders understand the need for an integrated civil-military strategy. Regarding one operation, General Valencia says that “the plan’s emphasis would be on the combination of civil and psychological actions, which would have priority over any combat operation” (p. 45). When Colombian forces entered rebel-controlled areas, local residents often hesitated to confide in them until convinced that the government would stay and provide basic services. Cultural awareness is as essential in Colombia as it is anywhere else, but Colombian COIN forces have the advantage of operating in their own country. Nevertheless, the Colombian military struggled many years to adapt. Reflecting on the failed Operation Marquetalia against the FARC in 1964, Gen José Bonnet philosophically remarks, “Without knowing it at that moment, a new army was born there, a modern army” (p. 108).
Airpower proved essential in Colombian COIN campaigns. During operations against communist guerrillas in the 1960s, Colombian Air Force C-47 transports landed troops on an open field, float planes landed troops on a river, and other aircraft dropped leaflets urging residents not to support the guerrillas. In 1990 helicopters and fighter-bombers participated in an intense air-ground assault against the FARC’s Casa Verde stronghold where Gen Humberto Correa wished for even more airpower because “we found ourselves short of helicopters, a considerable number of them having taken hits while landing troops” (p. 214). International cooperation figured prominently. US officials supplied information about the immense “Tranquilandia” cocaine factory hidden in the jungle and gave the Colombians the aircraft they needed to capture it. When the FARC attacked Mitú, a remote town beyond helicopter range of the nearest Colombian base, guerrillas hid in a hospital and schools where aircraft could not easily bomb them due to worries about collateral damage. The Colombian military arranged to use a nearby Brazilian air base as a staging area for a helicopter assault. The ensuing Operation Angel Flight marked a watershed for the Colombian Air Force, which implemented “the policy of centralized control-decentralized execution . . . in order to increase reaction speed” (pp. 290–91). Gen Yair Perdomo comments that “never . . . prior to that moment in Colombian history, had we fully appreciated the importance of the logistical system for aircraft operating at distances greater than one hundred miles” (p. 302).
This thought-provoking book contains both strengths and limitations. The chapters seem relatively candid; however, General Valencia is clearly defensive about his unit’s role in killing renegade priest (and family friend) Camilo Torres, who had joined a rebel group. The general subsequently fended off repeated government inquiries, a communist backlash, and even an assassination attempt. Such episodes make readers wonder how much suffering the Colombian government could have avoided by maintaining enough presence in remote areas to prevent hostile groups from becoming deeply entrenched. The book says little about right-wing paramilitary groups, but the absence of a chapter about the manhunt for notorious drug baron Pablo Escobar is most surprising. There is no index, but the maps are helpful. An abstract and brief author biography begin each chapter, but they contain errors. Chapter 13’s abstract refers to Operation Angel Flight of 1998 as the debut of the AC-47 gunship, but chapter 9 describes using those planes eight years previously. Overall, readers will be impressed with the Colombian military’s perseverance. Anyone interested in the military’s role in COIN and counterdrug operations would find Hablan los generales instructive.
Lt Col Paul D. Berg, USAF
Maxwell AFB, Alabama
Barbarossa: The Air Battle, July–December 1941 by Christer Bergström. Ian Allan Publishing (http://www.ianallanpublishing.com/home.php), Riverdene Business Park, Molesey Road, Hersham, Surrey KT12 4RG, United Kingdom, 2007, 144 pages, $49.95 (hardcover), ISBN 1857802705.
There are a few battles of World War II that one could certainly call epic. Among them are the invasion of the Normandy coastline in 1944; the invasion of Iwo Jima; and the Battles of Britain, Midway, and the Coral Sea. Operation Barbarossa, Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union, is no less an epic struggle. But in several respects, Barbarossa stands on its own. Aside from the sheer scale of the endeavor—in terms of manpower as well as battle frontage—the ferocity of this fight from its start in June 1941 gives Barbarossa claim to its own distinct pedestal.
As we’ve studied Barbarossa’s air and land operations in our profession, we know of the problems the Germans faced with logistics; the constantly changing objectives as Hitler focused on Moscow and then Leningrad and then Kiev, as well as others over the course of the war; the Russian winter; and the battle of attrition, for which the Germans were not prepared. Less well known, perhaps, is the fact that the Germans had not anticipated that the Soviets would prove so determined, well organized, and highly motivated—traits for which history has certainly given the Soviets credit.
In Barbarossa: The Air Battle, July–December 1941, author Christer Bergström gives what I consider a very readable and well-researched account of the first six months of the battle. The book isn’t just a dry narrative of activities and battle losses. Quite the contrary, Bergström goes to great lengths to relate the battles and activities to specific people. It’s this personal touch, coming from diaries, logbooks, and other unprinted (unpublished) records, that sets Barbarossa apart from most other chronicles of historical battles that I’ve read.
Throughout the book, the reader follows individuals such as Oberst Werner Mölders from the time he becomes a 100-count ace until his death several months later in an accident. The reader will possibly chuckle at fighter pilot Major Hannes Trautloft, who, while touring the German front lines near Leningrad, comes under attack by Soviet fighters and exclaims, “Where the hell are our fighters?” (p. 86). Bergström also takes the reader into the Soviet pilots’ world, where the amazing feats of airmen such as Leytenant Mikhail Garam and Leytenant Aleksandr Pavlichenko come to light. In a moment of battlefield humor that illustrates the Soviets’ severe lack of training and desperation as they fought to defend Moscow, the reader will smile at Mladshiy Leytenant Boris Kovzan’s tale of hacking down a German aircraft with his own propeller. Kovzan had to force-land his MiG-3 as a result. His response to his commander as to why he’d used only half of his ammunition but had resorted to the taran (air-to-air ramming) to bring down his opponent: “I don’t know how to shoot!” (p. 107).
Without a doubt, the fighting on the German Eastern Front was bitter. The author drives home the point that this was a war fought between probably the two most motivated armies in the world at the time, with opposing ideologies as a driving force (summarized on p. 115). The accounts that Bergström lays out throughout Barbarossa serve to illustrate this bitterness.
Skill and valor on both sides also played a significant part in these first six months of combat. The author cites some very good analysis showing that Germany’s reliance on its technological advantage did not always fare better than numbers of troops. Even as early in the conflict as the last months of 1941, the Soviets were able to begin closing the technology gap (examples abound—the T-34 tank and the Il-2 Shturmovik among them).
Barbarossa is well worth the read. Bergström’s account made me feel like I was reading the play-by-play of a key match; at times, I found myself almost pulling for one side and then the other as the author relayed both sides’ dire day-by-day struggles for air superiority. We all know how the match turned out. Bergström gives us much better insight into why this battle front evolved the way it did. Barbarossa is insightful, informative, and a pleasure to read.
Maj Paul Niesen, USAF, Retired
Scott AFB, Illinois
F-100 Super Sabre at War by Thomas E. Gardner. Zenith Press (http://www.zenithpress.com), 729 Prospect Avenue, P.O. Box 1, Osceola, Wisconsin 54020, 2007,128 pages, $19.95 (softcover), ISBN 0760328609.
Few aircraft have made their appearance under as auspicious circumstances as the North American F-100 Super Sabre. Designed by the same team responsible for the legendary P-51 Mustang and the superb F-86 Sabre, the F-100 was the world’s first production fighter capable of flying at supersonic speeds in level flight. In service, however, the F-100 never lived up to the standards set by its illustrious predecessors. Early examples proved exceedingly hazardous to fly. By the time the aircraft’s problems were solved, later and better fighters had entered service. The F-100 eventually settled into the role of a fighter-bomber, in which it provided solid service in the Cold War as well as the Vietnam War and into the 1980s.
Thomas E. Gardner’s F-100 Super Sabre at War is an uneven work. Its good points include a commendable description of the aircraft, with comparisons to its contemporaries—the F4D Skyray and the MiG-19. Moreover, the author uses illustrations from technical orders to illustrate many points. Unfortunately some of these illustrations are too small to be easily read, at least by this reviewer’s eyes. The book also includes an abundance of photographs of the F-100, many in color, and describes its service in the air forces of Denmark, France, Taiwan, and Turkey.
One would expect a book whose title contains the phrase “at War” to concentrate on the aircraft in combat. The book does offer fascinating descriptions of two specialized uses of the F-100 in the Vietnam War—on Misty forward air controller and Wild Weasel missions. Alas, it includes barely any descriptions of the aircraft’s bread-and-butter combat missions—close air support and battlefield interdiction in South Vietnam. Also missing is any mention of combat that the F-100 saw in service with France, Taiwan, and Turkey. Although not actual combat, other notable operational roles of the F-100 included sitting on quick-reaction alert with nuclear weapons and flying air shows in the colors of the Thunderbirds and Skyblazers aerial demonstration teams. Many F-100s ended their lives as remote-controlled target drones, shot down as part of training and test activities. Gardner covers these significant roles only in passing or not at all.
F-100 Super Sabre at War is at least the third popular history of this aircraft to be published recently. The other two (F-100 Super Sabre in Action by Larry Davis and David Menard, and a lengthy article by Jon Lake in International Air Power Review 11 [Winter 2003]) are better works. I recommend that readers wishing to learn about this significant fighter take a look at one or both of the alternatives instead.
Kenneth P. Katz
Dawn over Baghdad: How the U.S. Military Is Using Bullets and Ballots to Remake Iraq by Karl Zinsmeister. Encounter Books (http://www.encounterbooks.com), 900 Broadway, Suite 400, New York, New York 10003, 2004, 237 pages, $25.95 (hardcover), ISBN 1594030502; $16.95 (softcover), ISBN 1594030901.
Since the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the future of that country and its people remains uncertain. Security is a serious issue in most regions, civilian casualties remain high, and basic amenities such as electricity and running water are still considered a privilege. Nearly 4,000 American troops have died fighting for their country, and a majority of the American public wants to bring its Soldiers home. However, in Dawn over Baghdad, Karl Zinsmeister points out that there is hope for the Iraqis and that the suffering and loss of US troops are necessary to win the war on terror.
The author’s travels throughout Iraq with different Army divisions provide an insightful look into today’s fighting military men and women. His book reveals the stories of numerous modern-day American heroes and gives a firsthand account of what daily life is like in tumultuous Iraq. Zinsmeister accompanied Soldiers to local Iraqi political meetings and elections, insurgent searches, and even raids on villages and houses. With his straightforward style and everyday prose, he paints an accurate picture of what it is like to be an American Soldier and an Iraqi civilian in Iraq.
Zinsmeister introduces his time in Iraq by first describing his high admiration and respect for the members of today’s armed services. His numerous accounts of specific Soldiers instill pride in both the United States and its military. Such sentiments are most evident when he states that
it’s easy for critics on both the left and the right to convince themselves that the United States is a decadent society, that our young people have gone soft, that we will never produce another generation like the men who climbed the cliffs at Normandy on D-day. That judgment, I’m here to report, is as wrong as wrong can be. We’ve got plenty of soldiers in uniform today whom Americans can trust with any responsibility, any difficulty, any mortal challenge (p. 19).
The bulk of Dawn over Baghdad focuses on the wide array of activities that US Soldiers are performing, from helping Iraqis decide what should be done with Saddam’s abandoned buildings, to sitting in on city council meetings to ensure that local politicians are making wise decisions. Clearly, US Soldiers are taking on unfamiliar assignments. The Soldiers’ ability to adapt to these unpredictable situations increases the level of respect they deserve.
Beyond creating an immense amount of reverence towards American troops, Zinsmeister’s narrative also creates a sense of hope in Iraq that is missing in American media reports. He describes how the majority of Iraqi people favor a government structure similar to that of the United States and points out that the insurgents represent only a small percentage of the Iraqi population. However, he also relates how the Iraqi people do not follow the same moral code as do Americans and predicts that the road to a successful and effective democracy will be a long one with many challenges along the way.
Zinsmeister finishes with a powerful assessment of how the United States needs to continue its fight in Iraq and uses the conflict as grounds to reassess who America’s true allies are. He points out that the world’s perception is that the US population is not willing to endure a long-term overseas conflict and that by continuing the war in Iraq, America is proving that belief wrong.
Overall, Dawn over Baghdad is an inspiring account of the US military’s actions in Iraq. However, no book is perfect, and Zinsmeister’s work does have a few flaws. At times, he seems too optimistic and is easily satisfied with only slight majorities in his polling. Also, his writing appears random and scattered, but he does a good job of tying his points together at the end of each chapter. Unfortunately, the book is somewhat dated, but his preface, written in 2005, addresses some of the more recent developments.
I highly recommend Dawn over Baghdad to any American who wishes to read a straightforward and informative book about the war in Iraq—and especially to anyone who will be deploying to Iraq in the near future. Zinsmeister not only provides a multitude of insightful information but also creates a great feeling of pride in the reader. The author makes it clear that the US Soldiers who have died in Iraq deserve our respect and admiration as well as our gratitude for willingly fighting the war on terror in the Middle East so that we do not have to fight it in our own backyards.
Cadet Fourth Class Samuel Major
Korea: A Lieutenant’s Story by Gen Robert C. Mathis, USAF, retired. Xlibris (http://www2
.xlibris.com/bookstore/index.asp), International Plaza II, Suite 340, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19113-1513, 2006, 162 pages, $27.89 (hardcover), ISBN 1-42570-548-0; $17.84 (trade paperback), ISBN 1-42570-547-2.
In this short snapshot of a biography, Gen Robert Mathis recounts his experiences as a young officer in Korea from 1950 to 1951. A reader can’t help imagining that he is sitting beside the author, who recounts story after story, recalling memories of years gone by. Numerous anecdotes of friends and family and of his training at West Point and Willie Field all serve to set the stage for the few small joys and many great losses the Korean War would bring to this young man. Some accounts seem insignificant as the pages go by, but they were all important memories for General Mathis, looking back over a lifetime of military service.
In those two short years, Robert Mathis held a wide variety of jobs. He flew the F-80 in Korea as one of the Air Force’s first jet fighter pilots. Having graduated from West Point in 1948, he also put his soldiering skills to work as a forward air controller (FAC), both on the ground and as an airborne FAC in the T-6 Mosquito. Mathis even suffered through serving as a general’s aide for a few months.
On 26 November 1950, Mathis was directing air strikes at night when the Chinese massively overran his FAC position. Despite being shot in the chest, he charged back through the Chinese lines to rejoin his own lines and avoid capture at all costs. His gallantry that night earned him a Silver Star.
What does the book have to offer the reader? Besides a peek into the day-to-day life of a modest American hero, there are other takeaways. Mathis was joint before anyone ever used the word to describe interservice operability. As a fighter pilot in the one-year-old Air Force, he saw airpower as a way of helping his 1948 West Point classmates who had their boots on the ground. Mathis also points out lessons that he learned along the way as a young officer: the wisdom in seeking counsel from good noncommissioned officers, remembering who got him where he was, the frustration and benefits of additional duties, overcoming obstacles along the way, the value of moral courage, and the high price of military service paid by many of his friends.
The book shows Robert Mathis as a man with few pretenses. He was an all-American boy from Texas who wanted to serve his country as a military pilot. He volunteered for duties since he believed that doing so would help save the lives of others. While recounting the hardships he endured, he is quick to acknowledge the many people who suffered worse than he—and the many who did not return from the war in one piece. After numerous accounts of close calls with death, he simply credits his guardian angel: “It is hard not to believe that God has a strong hand in all that we do” (p. 148). It’s refreshing to read about a humble four-star fighter pilot.
Korea: A Lieutenant’s Story is just that—one man’s story about the early years of his life. While some books are made into audio versions these days, this one seems as though it started that way: “Okay, General, when I press ‘record,’ tell me about your time in Korea.”
Chaplain, Maj Matthew P. Franke, USAF
Boeing versus Airbus: The Inside Story of the Greatest International Competition in Business by John Newhouse. Alfred A. Knopf (http://www.randomhouse.com/knopf/home.pperl), 1745 Broadway, New York, New York 10019, 2007, 272 pages, $26.95 (hardcover), ISBN 1400043360; 2008, $14.95 (trade paperback), ISBN 1400078725.
In the early 1990s, a visitor to the Boeing company’s main aircraft-assembly plant near Seattle, Washington, would enter a huge, multiwing building and see in every direction brand-new commercial aircraft under construction. Standing out in the crowd were the 747 jumbo passenger jets with both US and foreign airline logos already painted on the fuselages of the ones nearing completion. It was an impressive sight and a vivid testimony to the world’s then-largest aircraft producer and America’s biggest exporter.
Today, Boeing’s fortune has changed. No longer can it claim dominance as the premier manufacturer of both commercial and military aircraft. Put into perspective, the venerable 747 is becoming a bit dated. It’s hard to imagine, but the first versions went into airline service more than 40 years ago.
Although there is limited domestic competition for profitable airplane contracts, overseas business is a different story. A single company stands out—Airbus, a European consortium of nationally backed industries with headquarters in France. No new aircraft has attracted more attention than the company’s monstrous A380, which made its long-awaited debut in 2007. Granted, the 747 is a big jumbo, but the A380 is a superjumbo. The issue becomes whether either aircraft-development-and-production corporation will be the overall winner if it concentrates on a single large airplane—a 747 major-upgrade model for Boeing or the A380 for Airbus.
Trying to make sense of all this is John Newhouse, an accomplished foreign-policy analyst for the New Yorker, a senior adviser in the Clinton administration, and a prolific author whose book The Sporty Game is a classic study of the aviation industry. Boeing versus Airbus, his latest work, provides useful insight into how these dynamic corporations perform in the arena of high-stakes airplane development and production. Part of Newhouse’s extensive research consists of conducting interviews throughout the industry with individuals at all levels, representing both the present and the past. Besides the usual discussions with senior management at Boeing and Airbus, the book includes a good sampling of lower-level inside views from design engineers and factory workers, as well as from outside financial and economic analysts who focus on the airplane business.
Noteworthy is Newhouse’s assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the top-level bosses at each of the corporations. More often than not, individuals who rise to senior positions are great engineers and technicians. However, consistent decision making, calculated risk taking, and the ability to direct adjustments to changing conditions at the corporate level are not always their strongest qualities. Also surprising is the fairly rapid turnover of executives in key positions. Maybe that’s business as usual in the airplane industry, but some of the resulting mismanagement, which helps contribute to various troubles—as well as a series of corporate scandals—leaves lasting impressions.
Before the reader assumes that everything is lost, recent public announcements give positive updates to the issues at hand. In 2007 the two rivals won more than 2,750 airplane orders combined—a record number. These remaining manufacturers of big and medium airplanes have the desirable position of wrestling to get new models to the airlines lining up to buy them, to include a noticeably growing demand from Asian carriers.
Boeing is developing and pushing sales for several airplanes in its 700 series that support multiple ranges, short to long. In fact, orders for the new 787 Dreamliner—the company’s first new model since the 777 in 1995—give the plane one of the industry’s most successful launches ever. Shortfalls among suppliers and slow progress on the assembly line have delayed the debut of the technologically advanced 787. The extended global supply chain, quality of some outsourced work, and start-up issues at the Seattle-area factory have challenged the Boeing team. Despite these problems, delivery of the first aircraft should still occur in 2010. Orders numbering 800-plus make it the best-selling new airplane in Boeing’s long history. Overall, the industry shows Boeing with a backlog order exceeding 3,400 airplanes of all types, which the company projects will take over five years to fill.
Airbus is obviously relying on sales of the A380—reportedly sold out through 2011—to set the large-jet standard. It delivered 10 aircraft in 2009 after being almost two years late with the first delivery to Singapore Airlines. Airbus is also working on other airplanes in the A300 series, to include redesigning the A350 to compete with Boeing’s 787 for the lucrative long-haul market and developing several smaller passenger-size airplanes in the A300 series for the short- to midrange markets. The industry carries Airbus with a healthy order backlog. It has almost the same number of airplanes on order as Boeing—also over 3,400—and figures to take at least six years to fill them.
During the next few decades of the twenty-first century, many of the world’s commercial airplanes will be upgraded or replaced in traditional and emerging markets. Observers can expect Boeing and Airbus to remain at the forefront, fighting for global business opportunities. Readers who have an interest in the aviation industry should take a look at Boeing versus Airbus. Despite a tendency to wander that sometimes makes it difficult for the reader to follow, the newest Newhouse effort offers a timely and informed perspective on the highly turbulent airplane business.
Dr. Frank P. Donnini
Lieutenant Colonel, USAF, Retired
Newport News, Virginia
Aircraft Carriers: A History of Carrier Aviation and Its Influence on World Events, Volume I: 1909–1945, rev. ed., by Norman Polmar in collaboration with Minoru Genda et al. Potomac Books (http://www.potomac
booksinc.com), 22841 Quicksilver Drive, Dulles, Virginia 20166, 2006, 576 pages, $34.97 (hardcover), ISBN 1574886630.
The first volume of Norman Polmar’s Aircraft Carriers provides a detailed history of the development of these ships that professional officers, aviation enthusiasts, and historians alike can appreciate. An updated version of the first edition, published in 1969, this iteration serves as a companion to volume two, which covers 1946–2006.
Beginning with the initial concept of an “aircraft carrying ship” by French inventor Clement Ader and ending with the triumph of naval airpower at the conclusion of World War II, this extraordinarily well researched and documented text offers readers an extensive analysis of American, British, French, and Japanese carrier development and operations. Polmar collaborated with aviators such as Minoru Genda (Japanese Air Self Defense Force, formerly a captain in the Imperial Japanese Navy), Capt Eric Brown of the Royal Navy (who flew from HMS Audacity, the world’s first escort carrier), and over 50 other professional aviators and scholars.
The study begins with the early days of carrier development, from Eugene Ely flying off the USS Birmingham (14 November 2010 marks the 100th anniversary of naval aviation), and moves through World War I (which saw the introduction of the first “true” carrier, HMS Furious) to the postwar era. During the interwar period, the aircraft carrier evolved rapidly—a period that Polmar covers very well. However, the bulk of Aircraft Carriers deals with World War II.
The author recounts carrier aviation’s early successes (Taranto, Pearl Harbor, and Coral Sea) as well as its failures (readily addressing both the U-boat threat and the loss of HMS Courageous and HMS Glorious). He provides an extensive review of operations in the Mediterranean, highlighting the resupply of aircraft to the island outpost of Malta. The two chapters on Atlantic operations deal primarily with early British operations and support to D-day. The rest of the work is an exhaustive recounting of lightning-fast Pacific operations, from Pearl Harbor to the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay (an event directly supported by 1,000 carrier-based aircraft—and 429 B-29 Superfortresses).
Brilliant, rare photographs illustrate the rise of these massive vessels; they also provide insight into the development of carrier aircraft. Additionally, the book offers detailed analysis of the composition of the carrier air wing and the effect of improved technology (catapults, radar, communications, etc.) on naval operations. Detailed appendices outline carrier losses in World War II, highlighting the number of aircraft ferried to Malta.
This book is extremely relevant to Airmen insofar as it gives them another historical vista on the rise of airpower as well as a primer on carrier operations. Many of the tactics, techniques, and procedures used in carrier operations today had their origins in World War II. Any Airman with an appreciation of airpower history will want to read Aircraft Carriers.
However, one portion might rankle Airmen: the description of Gen Billy Mitchell. Painting a distinctly partisan portrait of Mitchell, Polmar is fairly dismissive of the sinking of the Ostfriesland, implying—much like naval “shoes” of the day—that properly manned, the battleship would have survived. Several pages later, the author acknowledges that “General Mitchell was a great success to the development of the aircraft carrier because he forced the Navy to take serious notice of aviation and embrace its own air arm” (p. 45). Given that Navy leadership at the time held carrier aviation in low esteem and that “battleship admirals” ruled well until 7 December 1941, one might offer a different rendering of Polmar’s analysis of General Mitchell: all Airmen, including naval aviators, can understand Billy Mitchell’s drive and determination to improve the status of American aviation.
Lt Col Richard J. Hughes, USAF
Robins AFB, Georgia
Planetary Landers and Entry Probes by Andrew J. Ball, James R. C. Garry, Ralph D. Lorenz, and Viktor V. Kerzhanovich. Cambridge University Press (http://us.cambridge.org), 32 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10013-2473, 2007, 362 pages, $138.00 (hardcover), ISBN 0521820022; $111.00 (e-book).
A quartet of exceptionally qualified engineers and scientists, two in the United Kingdom and two in the United States, has collaborated to produce an important reference for industry professionals, academic researchers, and graduate students working in the fields of planetary science, aerospace engineering, and space-mission development. Their textbook, Planetary Landers and Entry Probes, draws from more than 45 years of operational history—over 100 missions—to deliver between its covers a fairly concise overview of the wide range of design and flight issues specifically associated with these types of vehicles, as opposed to Earth-orbiting satellites, planetary orbiters, or flyby spacecraft. Drawing examples from over 30 different designs for landers and entry probes used in lunar and planetary missions since the early 1960s, the authors discuss engineering aspects usually ignored by traditional texts on spacecraft engineering: landing systems, parachutes, planetary protection, and entry shields. Regardless of any particular mission’s success or failure, Dr. Ball and his colleagues pull examples from space programs worldwide to explain the broad range of challenges and the surprising variety of solutions chosen to meet stated requirements.
Planetary Landers and Entry Probes includes three parts, the second and third parts shorter and more narrowly focused than their predecessors but all complementing each other. While serving as a guide to basic technological principles specific to landers, penetrators, and atmospheric-entry probes, the first part also points readers toward more technical, supplementary sources of information. Avoiding minutiae, the authors provide an overview of problems and solutions for each subsystem or mission phase. The 14 chapters in this part cover mission goals and system engineering; launch, cruise, and arrival; entry and descent through an atmosphere; descent to an airless body and arrival at a surface; thermal control; power systems; communication and tracking; radiation protection; surface activities; structures; and contamination of spacecraft and planets. An especially interesting chapter deals with planetary balloons, aircraft, submarines, and cryobots. After studying part 1, readers should have a basic comprehension of the complexities surrounding the design of interplanetary probes and landers.
Part 2 offers a collection of significant information about more than 30 previously launched or planned near-term “atmosphere/surface” vehicles—from the first Soviet Venera and Mars entry probes to the upcoming Phoenix and the Mars Science Laboratory—and their missions. The authors divide these vehicles into six categories, based on the way each encounters an atmosphere or surface: destructive-impact probes; atmospheric-entry probes; pod landers, which land initially in any orientation; legged landers, which have a landing gear; payload-delivery penetrators, which decelerate in the subsurface for payload emplacement; and small-body surface missions, in which the vehicle operates in a low-gravity surface environment. Their discussion of destructive-impact probes, such as Luna 2 in 1959 or Deep Impact in 2004, occupies less than two pages but enables the reader to understand how crashing a vehicle onto another world can yield an abundance of useful scientific data. A plethora of tables, drawings, charts, and key references to sources for additional information makes this section of the book more interesting to a larger audience possessing limited technical knowledge or comprehension.
In part 3, the authors drill to another level of detail by presenting seven case studies of particular spacecraft, each selected because its program team faced and overcame an unusual challenge in the vehicle’s design or mission. From the Surveyor lunar soft-landing vehicles (1966–68) to Spirit and Opportunity (the Mars exploration rovers [2004–present]), spacecraft designers needed a “judicious mixture” of caution and innovation to deliver even the possibility of a successful mission (p. 312). Successful performance of the Huygens probe through Titan’s atmosphere in 2005 depended on balancing conservatism and novelty in structural design, descent control, and scientific instrumentation. Other studies examine the Galileo probe, Mars Pathfinder and its Sojourner rover, the Deep Space 2 Mars microprobes, and the Rosetta lander known as Philae. Investigation of why the Deep Space 2 microprobe mission failed, aside from technical reasons, exposed programmatic deficiencies—“a rushed schedule, changing goals and inadequate testing” (p. 298). Rosetta, which aims to accomplish the first-ever controlled landing on a comet nucleus in 2014, underwent a significant reorientation of its mission in 1992 due to financial and programmatic difficulties. Collectively, these last seven chapters cover an amazing variety of static and mobile elements for missions to worlds with and without atmospheres, and worlds with low- and high-gravity environments.
At first glance, members of the Air Force community might think that Planetary Landers and Entry Probes deals with a realm so far beyond their Earth-orbiting focus that it could not contain useful information or insight. It would be a mistake, however, to make such a hasty judgment. This volume can expand one’s conceptual understanding of spaceflight, thereby enabling Air Force space planners, engineers, and scientists to better grasp potential deficiencies in their own programs. The more extensive one’s knowledge of the cultural and technical history of spaceflight, especially of the approaches and lessons learned from varied missions over five decades, the better one’s comprehension of present and future challenges. Even when advances in science and engineering might seem to render decades-old accomplishments irrelevant or outdated, it remains important for spacefarers to understand in the broadest sense the foundations on which they build.
Dr. Rick W. Sturdevant
Peterson AFB, Colorado
Highest Traditions: Memories of War by Tony Lazzarini. Voyager Publishing, P. O. Box 669, Larkspur, California 94977, 2003, 151 pages, $18.95 (hardcover), ISBN 9781891555022.
“Your word, your action, your machine gun is who you are. Period” (p. 29). These simple yet powerful words set the tone for Tony Lazzarini’s Highest Traditions: Memories of War, which recounts the author’s experiences as a door gunner on an Army UH-1 Huey helicopter during the Vietnam War (1966–68). As a member of very highly decorated “A” Company, 25th Aviation Battalion (“the Little Bears”), Mr. Lazzarini took part in over 250 missions, which included routine “ash and trash” supply, medical evacuation, transport of VIP celebrities and flag officers as well as ground troops, and the somber task of transporting the dead. Highest Traditions is filled with exhilarating stories of claymore mines getting caught on the Huey’s landing skids, inadvertently landing in a minefield, taking off in tight jungle openings, and flying clandestine “spook missions” in black, unmarked UH-1s.
Rather than relate an exacting day-by-day, mission-by-mission, blow-by-blow, gory description of his two tours, the author describes more memorable missions in more general terms, yielding a personalized description of everyday life for a helicopter door gunner. Armed with M-60 machine guns, the gunners quickly recognized the flaws of their weapons: potential jams, overheating barrels, and limited ammunition. They eliminated these problems with battlefield innovation: placing a C-ration can on the belt feed to reduce the rate of fire and replacing the ammunition-storage cans with boxes five times larger. Proudly, the author points out that, in over 250 missions, his gun never jammed.
The book reaches a high point with its descriptions of the various daily, routine activities and emotions of typical Vietnam War door gunners, who all shared a special bond and a desire not to let their brothers down. “Knowing that death could take all of us at the same instant bound us together stronger than any known metals” (p. 132). Mr. Lazzarini describes the range of emotion he experienced, from his reluctance to look at wounded soldiers so that he could remain emotionless and focused on his job, to the adrenaline rush of setting down in a hot landing zone under enemy fire. With doors open and machine guns firing, door gunners had a life expectancy of 20 seconds in these zones.
Utilizing short chapters to cover individual descriptions or missions, the book makes for a very easy and exciting read that offers an excellent introduction into a door gunner’s personal view of the birth of helicopter warfare and the Vietnam War. The two photo sections complement the book’s descriptions. It is also a great companion to other studies that focus on specific details of the helicopter’s participation in and effect on specific battles during the war. Easily perused in one day, Highest Traditions is definitely worth reading.
Lt Col Daniel J. Simonsen, USAF, Retired
French Strategic and Tactical Bombardment Forces of World War I by René Martel, translated by Allen Suddaby, and edited by Steven Suddaby. Scarecrow Press (http://www.scarecrowpress.com), 4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, Maryland 20706, 2006, 504 pages, $60.00 (softcover), ISBN 081085662X.
On 3 August 1914, the German ambassador to Paris declared his nation’s reason for commencing offensive military operations: simply to retaliate for the French aerial bombardment of Nürnberg. By that evening, however, the Germans had changed their tune: aerial bombing of unidentified targets in Baden had set the cataclysm into motion! Of course, neither assertion was true, but the fact that aviation was even mentioned in the realpolitik of the day perhaps foretold its impending military importance in the war to end all wars.
Originally published as L’Aviation Francaise de Bombardement (Des Origines au 11 Novembre 1918) on the eve of the second Great War, René Martel’s classic work remains the definitive assessment of what had been the world’s largest aerial-bombardment force. A respected interwar historian, Martel had also served as an observer-bombardier in obsolete Voisin aircraft during the conflict. As such, he writes from the perspective of combat experience; he also does so with academic rigor, utilizing memory, published memoirs, and a thorough examination of official French war records.
Chapters chronologically review the development of French aerial bombardment throughout the war years 1914–18. An opening snapshot of prewar experimentation in aerial bombardment helps set the context for what follows. Martel closes with topical discussion of the specific challenges faced by the French navy’s use of bombardment aviation as well as joint Anglo-French efforts along the Eastern Front and over the Dardanelles. There is no summary or conclusion. The editor has added limited but useful photographs of bomber variants flown by the French, and the translator has provided parenthetical information that clarifies or expands upon the text.
Within weeks of the near catastrophe on the Marne, Commanding Gen Joseph Joffre signed headquarters note S23 authorizing aerial bombardment, with escadrilles (squadrons) V14 and V21 becoming the first bomber units. Martel observes that throughout October 1914, on average, the French were dropping daily by airplane 50,000 antipersonnel fléchettes (steel darts)—the only suitable airborne projectiles available in large numbers. By April 1915, there were 12 dedicated bomber squadrons organized into four groups, all flying the Voisin Pusher. Although quickly outclassed, the Voisin, with various modifications and the ability to fly at night, was a “robust and solid machine” (p. 28) that remained an integral part of French bomber operations until the armistice. The author well chronicles subsequent evolutions in bomber aircraft, ordnance, organization, and operations. Not surprisingly, the rapid incorporation of aviation into the order of battle was not without human cost. Martel recalls that “nervous fatigue” (p. 41) had appeared in even the best aviators by the end of 1915 as Fokker’s synchronized, forward-firing machine gun significantly changed air-war dynamics to favor the nimbler pursuer.
Martel writes from what he calls a “scientific” perspective, seeking to provide readers with only the “incontestable facts” (p. 306) of French bombardment operations. Because he regularly avoids areas where personal bias as a wartime participant might skew objectivity, Martel at times leaves readers frustrated. Although the author lauds, among others, Commandant Joseph Vuillemin’s prudence, Lieutenant Dagnaux’s bravery, and the indomitable spirit of Commandant Louis de Goys (the “father of French bombardment aviation”), he does not allow personal reflection on controversial topics such as the bombing of civilian targets. Perhaps because Martel’s “sole pre-occupation is to study and to understand” (p. 308) French aerial bombardment in order to “sift out lessons and information” (p. 308), he sees no need to offer a conclusion at the end of the book—the facts stand on their own. Even Martel’s attacks against German general Ernst von Höppner’s memoir accounts of aerial operations appear based primarily on academic challenges to their authenticity rather than on issues of personality.
World War I aviation buffs know well the exploits of the fighter pilots, regardless of nationality. Although Georges Guynemer, Roland Garros, and René Fonck are regaled alongside Manfred von Richthofen, Eddie Rickenbacker, Oswald Bölcke, Albert Ball, and Billy Bishop, those who flew less glamorous but equally dangerous missions in those heady days of aviation’s infancy have earned their place in the Great War pantheon of heroes. René Martel offers such recognition. Although a participant, the author does not offer a personal memoir and does not write for the casual reader. French Strategic and Tactical Bombardment Forces of World War I is a dense, well-written, and well-researched book that should be on the shelves of serious World War I aviation scholars. As such, the Suddabys have done a great service, long overdue, in opening Martel’s classic tome to an English-speaking audience.
Maj William E. Fischer Jr., USAF, Retired
Westland High School, Galloway, Ohio
Frontline Pakistan: The Struggle with Militant Islam by Zahid Hussain. Columbia University Press (http://www.columbia.edu/cu/cup), 61 West 62nd Street, New York, New York 10023, 2007, 232 pages, $24.95 (hardcover), ISBN 978-0-231-14224-3; $18.95 (softcover), ISBN 978-0-231-14225-0.
If there be an air warrior in the readership of Air and Space Power Journal who needs any convincing that US foreign policy in the Islamic world is complex and dangerous, he or she can get a good view of it in Frontline Pakistan. It will be hard enough for readers accustomed to English to make any sense out of it because of unfamiliarity with the names of Pakistani places and persons, but the labyrinth of politics and religion in a region that hovers near anarchy will persuade just about anybody of the dilemmas facing decision makers everywhere.
It appears that Zahid Hussain is well qualified in attempting to give us a picture of the situation. A journalist who provides material to the Times of London, Newsweek, and the Wall Street Journal, he possesses a good writing style. Clearly, Hussain is an expert on the region and has had access to some difficult-to-find sources. He organizes his work in topical chapters and in a more or less chronological order. The political landscape is cluttered with military, religious, power-seeking, nuclear-smuggling, and drug interests that yielded an almost impossible problem for former president Pervez Musharraf, who was trying to survive between many mutually hostile domestic groups and the pressures of international politics.
I fear that the reader seeking a coherent picture of what Pakistan and Afghanistan are about is doomed to frustration. Both countries have long seemed ungovernable, partly due to the fact that the central governments have had very limited powers over the regional and local interests. I suppose that the main idea of the book is that there is likely trouble ahead for the United States since Pakistan has been a principal ally during the global war on terror, but that is largely a result of President Musharraf’s having sided with the United States, very much against the tide in his own homeland. That cannot go on forever, according to Hussain, and I suppose that he thinks the only possible solution is to permit real democracy in Pakistan. However, given the strength of the local warlords and the growing power of radical Islam, that would be a miracle. In addition to that, Musharraf was faced with a tough problem of nuclear proliferation. Pakistan followed India into the elite group of nuclear states, but its control of nuclear secrets has been defective, and its people have been involved in serious underground nuclear proliferation. If that were not enough, he was also utterly dependent upon the loyalty of his military, and that is a little shaky since the latter has an affinity for some of the radical Islamic groups, who are against secular government.
Hussain does not get into the character of the “liberal” Pakistani groups advocating secular rule, but it appears that they are utterly opposed to radical Islam and to military rule. If that were not enough, there has been a perennial issue with India over Kashmir, and Musharraf was able to contain that up to a certain degree, but this situation is fully capable of boiling over into a disaster for Pakistan’s leaders—and for the United States. Since our campaign in Afghanistan against the remnants of the Taliban and al-Qaeda is highly dependent upon our relationship with the Pakistani government, that means trouble.
Few Americans know much about Pakistan and its surrounding region, and this book will certainly not make one an instant expert on the subject. However, it is readable and will serve as a useful introduction to the problems of the area. I therefore recommend it for a moderately high place on the air warrior’s reading list.
Dr. David R. Mets
Maxwell AFB, Alabama
Iraq and Back: Inside the War to Win the Peace by Col Kim Olson, USAF, Retired. Naval Institute Press (http://www.usni.org/naval
institutepress/index.asp), 291 Wood Road, Annapolis, Maryland 21402, 2006, 256 pages, $26.95 (hardcover), ISBN 1591145279.
In Iraq our military continues the struggle against an obstinate insurgency; simultaneously, our nation fights a war of public opinion over what went wrong in 2003 and how we must overcome those early deficiencies to defeat democracy’s enemies. Though an interesting and enjoyable read, Iraq and Back—more a memoir than a scholarly tutorial—raises more questions than answers. The author, Col Kim Olson, seems an intelligent, family-oriented, and confident patriot eager to help transform a nation from tyranny to democracy.
The book seems to stray from the subject suggested by the title, which leads one to believe that Olson provides a guide to counterinsurgency and techniques for success based upon her experience. Instead, the reader will enjoy the tale of a woman overcoming the “good ole boy” network of Air Force aviation in the early 1980s, eventually commanding an operational flying squadron, rising to the rank of colonel, working for the Joint Staff, and volunteering for the job of executive officer to Lt Gen Jay Garner, US Army, retired, director of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance in Iraq. Candidly written, full of emotion, and deeply introspective, Iraq and Back brings many important leadership lessons to the forefront, while barely skimming what leadership could have done better to ensure success in rebuilding the infrastructure and security of post-Saddam Iraq. It offers even less scrutiny of the current insurgency.
In Olson, readers find a leader who gets out from behind her desk and wants to meet people. Although others in the position could have hidden behind that desk, she (along with General Garner) was shaking hands with village elders and city leaders while the battle raged. She shows us the daunting task of being among the first generation of female Air Force pilots and having the tenacity and endurance to reach her potential.
The author critiques many shortcomings in the reconstruction of Iraq, such as the lack of security for key nodes in infrastructure (power plants, sewage plants, etc.) and for protecting those nodes, once repaired. But she offers little insight on how to do it correctly. Introducing a variety of important subjects, Olson displays resounding evidence that economic sanctions against Iraq failed completely. While the common people lacked basic necessities, Saddam continued to build marble-laden palaces (p. 91).
The most important topic introduced in this book is the tension and mistrust among the Shia, Sunni, and Kurd leaders on the Council of Seven—the initial de facto government organized by General Garner to bring discussion and reconciliation to the forefront. Although it was necessary to bring these groups together, forging alliances between groups who have despised each other for years is—and continues to be—a challenging task (p. 98).
The most touching episode in Iraq and Back is the story of Christian girls and Muslim boys similar to, as the author notes, “an Iraqi Romeo and Juliet.” After an “informant” alerts coalition forces of a kidnapping, Olson travels with an assault force that will attempt a rescue of two “kidnapped” females. Questioning of the youth reveals that the kidnapping is in fact a clash of cultures. Actually, the Christian girls, in love with the Muslim boys, were hiding from their fathers. Both cultures had forbidden them to marry. This story demonstrates two critical points in counterinsurgency. First, it is difficult to distinguish friend from foe in a civil war or in counterinsurgency operations. Second, the United States will not change the mind-sets of people with the stroke of a pen. Instead, it will take time and a “win the people” mentality (p. 174).
Readers will quickly adjust to the fact that this book is more memoir than anything else. They will also ask what is going on in the war. While Olson offers her own account, one wonders what the 3rd Infantry Division and US Marine Corps forces were doing on the drive to Baghdad.
An interesting, emotional, and personal narrative of Colonel Olson’s journey, Iraq and Back would be a great read for any young woman who wants to pursue a career in the military or aviation in general. It also allows the reader to see the other side of war. Though our forces are technologically and militarily superior in current conflicts, US military personnel who read this book will find that it takes more than firepower to win a war.
Capt Patrick Dierig, USAF
Hurlburt Field, Florida
Science in Flux: NASA’s Nuclear Program at Plum Brook Station, 1955–2005 by Mark D. Bowles. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (http://history.nasa.gov/
series95.html), Washington, DC 20546-0001, 2006, 279 pages, $25.00 (hardcover). Available free from http://history.nasa.gov/sp4317.pdf.
In the early 1940s, knowing that World War II was imminent, the US government built 77 contractor-operated ordnance facilities scattered around the country. Thirty-four of them were “works” that produced powder, explosives, and chemicals, and 43 were “plants” that fabricated and assembled materials such as tanks, guns, and small-arms ammunition. One of these facilities, the Plum Brook Ordnance Works near Sandusky, Ohio, encompassed 9,000 acres obtained by eminent domain from farmers who, for the most part, felt it their patriotic duty to accept the government’s “fair” offers.
After the Japanese surrendered to the Allies on 17 August 1945, production of explosives at Plum Brook came to a halt, and roughly 900 people were suddenly out of work. The land lay fallow until 1955 when the government, convinced that the Soviet Union had an atomic airplane, allotted funds for a program known as Nuclear Energy for the Propulsion of Aircraft. The Air Force and the Atomic Energy Commission selected the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics’ (NACA) Lewis Research Center, adjacent to Cleveland Hopkins Municipal Airport, to conduct the propulsion studies, and in September 1956 they began construction of a new and powerful nuclear test reactor (different than a nuclear power reactor) on the Plum Brook site about 50 miles northwest of Hopkins.
The NACA morphed into the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in 1958, and it took 15 years and untold millions of dollars to build and operate the reactor, with much testing also devoted to Nuclear Engines for Rocket Vehicle Application and the Space Nuclear Auxiliary Program. When it became clear that atomic power for airplanes would never be acceptably safe and that liquid and solid chemical propellants had supplanted atomic power for rockets, the government saw no reason to continue nuclear testing at Plum Brook, pulling the plug early in 1973. Despite doing so, it eventually cost more to deactivate the reactor than it had originally cost to build it. Here the author, Mark Bowles, takes the government to task, explaining that his book’s title is a deliberate double entendre, not only relating to flux as a rate of flow of nuclear particles passing through space but also reflecting the constant changes in political climate that led to huge wastes in money, manpower, and time. He hopes that the future mission to Mars, which will employ atomic power, might give Plum Brook Station a new lease on life but fears that our politicians will inevitably repeat the mistakes of the past.
Bowles interviewed 38 people who worked at Plum Brook, listing them alphabetically in the appendix with their job titles (but not the years devoted to said jobs) and quoting them liberally throughout the text as he elaborates on issues of management, morale, public opinion, safety, and scientific gains—some with humor, all with insight. There are also four pages of organizational charts with the names of more people than I could count who undoubtedly will want to buy this book as a testimonial to their service there.
Also in the appendix we learn in 12 brief paragraphs that the reactor wasn’t the only test site at Plum Brook Station—completed in its entirety in the 1960s for a total cost of almost $121 million. Although not specified, this amount more than likely does not include payroll. The author cites total construction costs for each of these other on-site facilities but refers to them in the past tense, seeming to imply that they are no longer operational—further proof of government extravagance and incompetence. Giving him the benefit of the doubt, I have to think this was not deliberate obfuscation since I’m sure he knows that some parts of the facility, including the world’s largest thermal vacuum chamber and a hypersonic wind tunnel, are still very much in business (verifiable by visiting the Web site http://www.nasa.gov/centers/glenn/test
Because the book is written in layman’s terms, I learned a great deal about nuclear fission and how a reactor works. I recommend Science in Flux for inclusion in the libraries of all Air Force bases, especially those involved in missile launches and the exploration of air and space, and in every public library in Erie and adjoining counties in Ohio.
Thomas F. Saal
North Ridgeville, Ohio
Diplomacy and War at NATO: The Secretary General and Military Action after the Cold War by Ryan C. Hendrickson. University of Missouri Press (http://www.umsystem.edu/upress), 2910 LeMone Boulevard, Columbia, Missouri 65201, 2006, 184 pages, $34.95 (hardcover), ISBN 0826216641; $16.95 (softcover), ISBN 0826216358.
Research on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) post–Cold War transformation devotes little analysis to the secretary-general position and implicitly downplays the significance of NATO’s post–Cold War military operations. Recognizing the notable absence of scholarly literature on NATO’s secretaries-general during this period, Ryan Hendrickson investigates their evolving impact on the alliance, particularly regarding the use of force. Only those secretaries-general who led after the Cold War oversaw NATO’s use of military force.
Employing an analytical framework that he credits to Michael G. Schechter, the author examines the first four of five post–Cold War secretaries-general and the roles they played in moving the alliance toward military action. Hendrickson theorizes that the NATO military instrument remains relevant and that the secretaries-general who have served since the end of the Cold War have significantly affected NATO policy, transnational unity, and the use of military force.
Upon completion of a concise yet substantive historical overview of the creation of the office of secretary-general, the author dedicates the remaining chapters to comparative case-study analysis of the first four people who held this position after the Cold War. Although not alike (and thus making for imperfect comparisons), the cases examined are suitably relevant to meet the author’s objective. Each chapter focuses on the role that each secretary-general played in contemplating the use-of-force option (e.g., Manfred Worner—Bosnia; Willy Claes—Operation Deliberate Force against Bosnian Serbs; Javier Solana—Operation Allied Force bombings of Serbia; and Lord George Robertson—post-9/11 defense measures for the protection of Turkey). Personal interviews of key diplomats and NATO policy makers, coupled with the use of professional literature, provide a sound basis for the comparative analysis.
Each of the chapters dedicated to the secretaries-general begins with the process—the behind-the-scenes geopolitical posturing and consensus building that led to their elections. Moreover, the author goes on to describe how their professional and national backgrounds shaped their approaches in leading NATO. This backdrop alone makes the book an interesting read.
One of the many intriguing insights provided in the book occurs in the chapter addressing Secretary-General Javier Solana. In light of his vocal opposition to Spain’s joining NATO in 1982 and to the stationing of American military bases in Spain, this Spaniard later led NATO expansion into the former Eastern Bloc states. Finding sufficient legal basis without United Nations approval, he advocated and oversaw NATO’s military response to Yugoslavian (Serbian) president Slobodan Milosevic’s acts of aggression against Kosovo Albanians. Furthermore, Solana aggressively secured member states’ support for the operational/targeting plan of Gen Wesley Clark, supreme allied commander, Europe (SACEUR), which ultimately led to the capitulation of Serbian forces in Kosovo.
In all cases, Hendrickson’s comparative analysis supports his theory. Although the position of secretary-general has limited formal authority in the alliance, each leader utilized an assortment of diplomatic tactics and alliance tools to make an impact on major political and military decisions at NATO. The author’s findings clearly demonstrate that different personalities and diplomatic styles employed by the secretaries-general seemed to work equally well in promoting consensus, depending upon the circumstances. Furthermore, his findings highlight the importance of the SACEUR’s and the secretary-general’s viewing the alliance from similar ideological perspectives.
Hendrickson concludes this fine work with summarized findings, offers a comparative assessment of effective diplomatic leadership in NATO, and provides policy recommendations for the improvement of transnational tensions surrounding the office of secretary-general. Of particular note, he emphasizes the tremendous political challenges faced by the office of secretary-general in promoting consensus if the US preference for “coalitions of the willing,” rather than NATO-supported military operations, remains the norm.
This rich yet concise book is very reader-friendly. Diplomacy and War at NATO is most suitable for those individuals interested in American foreign policy and NATO’s post–Cold War history and politics, those destined to work directly or indirectly with NATO, and scholars and students of political science / international affairs.
Dr. David A. Anderson
Lieutenant Colonel, USMC, Retired
Fort Leavenworth, Kansas
Into That Silent Sea: Trailblazers of the Space Era, 1961–1965 by Francis French and Colin Burgess. University of Nebraska Press (http://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu), 1111 Lincoln Mall, Lincoln, Nebraska 68588-0630, 2007, 402 pages, $29.95 (hardcover), ISBN 0803211465.
A tediously researched yet never tedious book, Into That Silent Sea offers a wonderful, in-depth look at the people of the early American and Soviet space programs. Readers looking for a technical treatise full of statistics, velocities, and orbital-mechanics equations will not find them here. This is a book about people, and in the long run, people are more fascinating than machines.
The authors have done meticulous research on each of the Mercury and Vostok astronauts and cosmonauts, as one would expect. While most Americans have at least a passing familiarity with Alan Shepard and John Glenn, and probably know the name Yuri Gagarin, this book introduces us to the other great characters who were their contemporaries. Far from being state-controlled automatons, the early Soviet cosmonauts were a diverse and fascinating bunch, from the complicated yet publicity-friendly Gagarin to the brash Gherman Titov; the poetic Pavel Popovich; the strong, decisive Alexei Leonov; and the also-media-friendly-but-not-terribly-well-qualified first woman in space, Valentina Tereshkova.
Neither were the Americans a homogeneous group. The Mercury Seven were as different from each other as the Soviets were: Shepard, the tough, intimidating type; Gus Grissom, the quiet, consummate professional; Glenn, the all-American boy; Scott Carpenter, the poet; Wally Schirra, the jokester; Deke Slayton, the autocratic boss; and Gordon Cooper, the young hotshot who proved his mettle in a near-disastrous mission.
The book really shines, however, in two major ways: introducing the reader to many of the personalities of the era who are not well known, and serving as a “myth buster” by correcting many of the misconceptions about the early space programs. In the first case, Burgess and French tell us of Dee O’Hara, a young lady who became not only the nurse to the astronauts but also their closest confidante. The men felt safe discussing anything with her, especially matters that might make a flight surgeon ground them. In return she would dispense advice and promise not to reveal anything to the doctors that wasn’t clearly mission critical or life threatening. She served in that capacity from the beginning of Mercury through the early years of the space shuttle.
Another unsung hero—Jim Lewis, the helicopter pilot who tried in vain to save Grissom’s Liberty Bell 7 from sinking—would later work on the Gemini program in Houston, including Grissom’s Gemini 3 flight. He was, of course, devastated by Grissom’s death in the Apollo 1 fire, noting the irony that Gus was nearly killed by a hatch that opened too quickly and actually killed by one that didn’t open quickly enough.
Also interesting is the tale of Miss Wally Funk, one of the “Mercury 13”—a group of women who were more or less misled into thinking they were being considered for the astronaut corps. By participating in a series of tests at the Lovelace Clinic in New Mexico, they believed that NASA was considering sending a woman into space, despite the fact that it was choosing only test pilots. Dr. Randy Lovelace put the women through the physical screening program for astronauts, creating the impression that they were in the running for spaceflight. However, this was nothing more than his personal research—a fact that he never bothered to mention to his subjects, lest he lose them.
Into That Silent Sea also excels at setting many records straight on issues both large and small. First, regarding the naming of the spacecraft, most textbooks tell the story that Alan Shepard named his capsule Freedom 7 for (1) the freedom represented by America (thus taking a subtle jab at the Soviets), and (2) the seven Mercury astronauts. The first part was true, but in reality Shepard used the number in reference to his ship’s being the seventh off the assembly line. However, the reported version made a good story, so no one bothered to correct it for decades. Use of the number seven as a naming convention in Mercury stuck, adding to the myth.
Second, contrary to the portrayal of Grissom as a nervous, even panicky, man in the movie The Right Stuff, he was perhaps the most dedicated and professional of all the astronauts. The authors thoroughly and completely debunk the insinuation that Grissom panicked and blew the hatch on his Mercury spacecraft after splashdown. In fact, it is important to remember that NASA had so much confidence in his abilities that he was selected to command the first Gemini mission, making him the first man to fly in space twice. (To be fair, he was named commander after Shepard, the original commander, was medically disqualified.) Grissom also commanded the first Apollo mission, which, of course, ended in the tragic fire on the launchpad. Years later, chief astronaut and crew-scheduling czar Deke Slayton wrote in his autobiography that had Grissom not died, very likely the first footprints on the moon would have been Gus’s, not Neil Armstrong’s.
Last, there’s the matter of the Soviets’ alleged technological advantage since they achieved so many firsts. True, they did put the first man in space, and they were first with two manned spacecraft in orbit simultaneously, first with a woman in space, first with a three-man crew, and first with a space walk; however, the Soviets did so at terrible risk to human life and for the sake of publicity. For example, Tereshkova—not exceptionally well qualified to be an astronaut—performed less than spectacularly during her flight. Spacewalker Leonov nearly died when his space suit pressurized to the point that he could not reenter the capsule, and he had to nearly completely deflate it to get back in. Further, the first three-man crew managed to perform its mission only by using an earlier capsule modified to make more room by removing the ejection seats; the crew also flew without space suits.
In summary, Into That Silent Sea offers an excellent profile of the people who captured the world’s attention in the early 1960s. As incredible as the machines were that took these men and women into space, that’s not the most interesting part of the program. After all, the story of space exploration is ultimately a human one.
Lt Col Christopher J. Rodel
Wisconsin Air National Guard
Learning to Love the Bomb: Canada’s Nuclear Weapons during the Cold War by Sean M. Maloney. Potomac Books (http://www
.potomacbooksinc.com), 22841 Quicksilver Drive, Dulles, Virginia 20166, 2007, 400 pages, $29.95 (hardcover), ISBN 978-1-57488-616-0.
When the Cuban missile crisis exploded, Pres. John F. Kennedy and Canadian premier John Diefenbaker, the men ultimately responsible for the defense of North America, were having a personal set-to and not speaking to one another instead of working together against the threat of Soviet nuclear missiles. The episode typifies the often difficult relationship between Canada and the United States. Canadian-US relations were delicate after World War II, particularly with the United States unwilling to trust its ally with nuclear information and Canada regarding its larger neighbor as a cultural and economic imperialist. Both militaries needed one another, however, for there was no effective defense against the Soviet threat unless they worked together.
Learning to Love the Bomb deals with the Canadian struggle to find an appropriate way of living with its need for but dislike of American nuclear weapons during the Cold War. One might feel tempted to write this book off as peripheral to contemporary Air Force concerns. After all, as everyone knows, Canada has largely enjoyed a free ride with regard to defense, and the United States has taken almost the entire burden. Or so it seems. The story is not quite that simple.
Canada provided a significant input to the British nuclear program during World War II. Canadians produced several technical firsts, particularly in designs for naval vessels that reduced the impact and degree of nuclear contamination as well as decontamination procedures. In the 1950s, Canada provided more than its share of North American defense, with a burden ranging between 20 and 25 percent of the fighter force deployed against potential Soviet attack. (Canada has a population only one-tenth that of the United States.) Further, Canada developed some of its own aircraft as well as an engine for the US-built Sabre that was superior to that used in American models. As late as 1959, Canada was developing the Arrow, an airplane capable of delivering a nuclear payload. When Canada accepted that the primary goal of North American defense was the protection of Strategic Air Command bases, the Canadians wrote off their industrial and population centers to enable that command’s bombers to have time to launch a preemptive or quickly reactive strike against Soviet bombers and, later, missiles.
So there is more to the story than just Canada’s tagging along as the United States developed and implemented various defenses during the Cold War arms race. This book is in part the story of a small country struggling after World War II to establish its sovereignty after many long years under Great Britain. Another aspect is wounded pride due to US economic and cultural intrusions into Canadian life. There were also budget constraints under both liberal and conservative governments, neither of which in the early 1960s had a consensus regarding nuclear weapons on Canadian soil.
Unlike the US Defense Department, the Canadian counterpart always had to be cost conscious. On the other hand, Canadian constraints meant that in practice Canadians followed where the United States led, whether for overflights of Canadian territory, storage of US missiles at Goose Bay, or technological change. More often than not, the Canadians ended up with US equipment since it was cheaper (and, on occasion, because the United States refused to provide information sufficient to allow Canada to develop compatible nuclear arms). When the Diefenbaker government decided to kill the homegrown Arrow platform in 1959 because US weapons systems were cheaper, 25,000 Canadian industrial workers lost their defense jobs, and Canadians had no Canadian-made air defense capability. Dependency on US forces dealt a blow to Canadian pride and sovereignty—always major issues in the delicate relationship between the two nations.
The work abounds in acronyms since, after all, it deals with the military. For instance, “The Soviets had SOXMIS in the British sectors of NORTHAG, while SMLM-B was in Baden-Baden and SMLM-F was located in Frankfurt” (p. 342). English translation: the Soviets had spies in the British part of Germany. Acronym lovers can translate SACEUR, SACLANT, BOMARC, and CINCNORAD, as well as many others.
The author’s attention to detail shows in his careful description of the various types of air wings and basic characteristics of the various weapons and platforms, including the differences between versions developed for Canadian, US, and other North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces. Although the necessary chapter on the developing organizational structure is a labor to get through, it shows an evolving bureaucracy that is exceedingly complex and cumbersome, with many layered and overlapping functions (both internal and external to Canada, as well as both formal and informal).
The author also makes clear his anger and frustration at the slow rolling and deception of the Diefenbaker government that, he argues, delayed implementation of the nuclear agreements between Canada and the United States for three years. Nuclear Canadian forces came only after the near disaster of the Cuban missile crisis, during which Canadian forces handled northern defense while the United States shifted planes, ships, and submarines to the blockade.
For at least 20 years, Canadians have believed that they never had a nuclear force, merely a US nuclear presence on Canadian soil. This lengthy work should put to rest that misconception. It documents the years of deliberation and negotiation in the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations—for Canadians the St. Laurent, Diefenbaker, and Pearson governments—that finally gave American nuclear weapons to Canadian forces between 1963 and 1968. To clinch the argument, it provides a chapter on the Canadian alert procedures and weapons safeguards as well as the nuclear force structure in NATO, the Atlantic, and North America during the 1960s.
Overall, the style is clear, and the coverage good. The documentation is thorough, and the charts and other illustrations enhance the text. Learning to Love the Bomb may not be indispensable for an understanding of US involvement in the Cold War, but it does enhance awareness that the United States did not fight that battle alone.
Dr. John H. Barnhill
Forgotten Continent: The Battle for Latin America’s Soul by Michael Reid. Yale University Press (http://www.yale.edu/yup), P.O. Box 209040, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-9040, 2007, 400 pages, $30.00 (hardcover), ISBN 0300116160.
Michael Reid, editor of the “Americas” section of the Economist, has written an exceptionally timely analysis of Latin America’s social and economic performance in the last decade. The fact that Yale University Press published it is a strong recommendation—and the book does not disappoint the reader. The title reflects the essential thesis: in spite of its enormous potential in terms of resources and human talent, Latin America, once the most advanced region of the developing world, has been forgotten and has fallen behind other developing regions because it failed to achieve sufficient progress in improving the conditions of its people. As the result of frustration and the fact that some 40 percent of the population lives in poverty, the political force of populism is attracting attention among the underclass in a number of countries, notably Venezuela, Argentina, Bolivia, and Ecuador. Populism, which takes many forms, both liberal and conservative, seeks to empower the powerless and redistribute wealth quickly. Antidemocratic, it concentrates political power in the executive branch, and its historical record suggests that it will once again fail. Despite this record, democracy survives and, amazingly, has sunk deeper roots in Latin America. Reid underlines this fact constantly in this fast-paced book.
Venezuela serves as an example of the allure of populism. Underwritten by vast petroleum income, chavismo (a form of populism named after Pres. Hugo Chávez) has reached a high level of support among Venezuelans because of the failure of predecessor governments to channel wealth to improve the conditions of the vast underclass. Though chavismo may have already reached its apogee, the continuing, depressing socioeconomic conditions of poverty and social exclusion threaten the legitimacy of democracy in a number of countries. Here, Reid is at his best, drawing on his impressive observations as a journalist to draw comparisons and derive conclusions across various countries, large and small. He possesses unlimited energy and an uncanny reportorial eye to find profound significance in vignettes that define the compelling human condition in cities, towns, and villages. His reporting also takes him to the higher reaches of academic organizations, the news media, government institutions, and diplomacy.
Reid demonstrates a passion for Latin America and obviously admires the region and its people. At the same time, he appreciates the enormous impact of history, seeking constantly to connect the present with the past. He is also an effective analyst of social and economic indicators, such as investment and growth patterns, writing in a style that the nonspecialist audience can understand. He deploys his talented and lively pen to coldly analyze the sources of the problem, the nature of reform efforts, and what he calls “The Stubborn Resilience of Flawed Democracies” (the title of chap. 11). He attributes Latin America’s failure to weak and ineffective state systems—that is, to the inability of government ministries to reach the people they are supposed to serve by providing security, justice, and education, and by promoting vibrant economies that productively employ the maximum number of people.
But state weakness is only one part of the story, according to Reid. National leaders of the last generation embarked on a series of neoliberal reforms espoused by the “Washington Consensus” (p. 6) (pushed by research centers and multinational lending institutions) to remove tariff barriers to trade and investment and get the state out of running enterprises. But progress could not be sustained because the governments did not conduct additional reforms and protections of the most vulnerable, which would unlock their creativity and wealth. Accordingly, an anti-neoliberalism backlash is now generating tensions between the proponents of free-market economies and those who advocate that the central government provide greater direction to the economy, as well as redistribution of wealth schemes. Add to this the awesome insecurity in the streets. Indeed, criminal violence subtracts nearly 25 percent of gross domestic product annually.
This reviewer is sympathetic to this kind of writing. Reid writes well, with an engaging style that captures the reader. To be sure, some simplifications challenge credibility. Note, for example, the statement that “the Catholic Church—which had blessed injustice in Latin America since the moment a Dominican friar had taken a full part in the capture and murder of Atahualpa, the Inca—had an attack of conscience” in the twentieth century (pp. 97–98). But Reid has captured the essence of the Latin American social, economic, and political dilemma. The only disappointment with the book is that he doesn’t offer some policy alternatives. Nonetheless, Forgotten Continent is a worthy addition to a growing collection of writings on what went wrong and what should be done in Lain America.
Dr. Gabriel Marcella
Carlisle Barracks, Pennsylvania
SECDEF: The Nearly Impossible Job of Secretary of Defense by Charles A. Stevenson. Potomac Books (http://www.potomacbooks
inc.com), 22841 Quicksilver Drive, Dulles, Virginia 20166, 2006, 224 pages, $19.96 (hardcover), ISBN 978-1-57488-794-5; $13.56 (softcover), ISBN 978-1-57488-795-2.
Drawing on his experience on four senatorial staffs, the Policy Planning Staff of the Department of State, and faculties of the National War College and Nitze School of Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University, Charles Stevenson has written a clear, concise, and readable history of the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and the men who have occupied it. This inexpensive volume nicely fills a gap in the literature. It is a perfectly suited primer for officers and civilian professionals who need or desire to understand the OSD, including those pursuing professional military education or a degree in security studies.
Stevenson divides his work into three sections. In the first, he deftly discusses the origins of the OSD, its first secretaries, and its evolution through the Eisenhower administration. He recounts the origins of the secretary of defense in Pres. Harry S. Truman’s desire to increase interservice cooperation, the compromise that was the National Security Act of 1947, and Truman’s revenge in appointing Navy secretary—and vociferous opponent of the act—James Forrestal as the first secretary of defense. The first occupants of the office struggled to assert the secretary’s authority over budgets (Louis Johnson, Charles Wilson, and Neil McElroy) and over the services (Forrestal, George Marshall, and Thomas Gates). The secretaries who focused on budgetary matters at best restrained spending in peacetime but failed to systemically alter the spoils system used by the services in the wake of the intense budget battle between the Navy and the Air Force in 1948. Marshall and Gates succeeded admirably: Marshall strengthened civilian authority by backing President Truman’s decision to fire Gen Douglas MacArthur, while Gates shepherded the Defense Reorganization Act of 1958, which strengthened his statutory authority, and issued a directive requiring a joint, combined, allied, or OSD tour as a prerequisite for promotion to general officer. (Regrettably, that requirement was not written into law until the next major Defense Reorganization Act in 1986.) Much of this history has been forgotten, but officers and policy makers should be keenly interested in these developments as the US government looks to enhance interagency cooperation today.
In the second section, Stevenson discusses individual secretaries of defense, focusing on their background; relations with the president, Congress, and the military; their operating style; and the way they fulfilled their roles as Pentagon manager, war planner, diplomat, and National Security Council advisor. He divides them into three categories, characterizing Robert McNamara, James Schlesinger, and Caspar Weinberger as revolutionaries; Melvin Laird, Les Aspin, and William Cohen as firefighters; and Harold Brown, Richard Cheney, William Perry, and Donald Rumsfeld as team players. Finally, he omits from the analysis three secretaries who were primarily caretakers: Clark Clifford, Elliot Richardson, and Frank Carlucci.
Stevenson provides lucid and evenhanded evaluations of these men and their tenure. For instance, he recounts the “McNamara Revolution” and Rumsfeld’s “Transformation” analytically, refraining from the invective common in other accounts, and focuses instead on the manner in which these men strengthened the office they held, the policies they pursued, and their relations with the president, the military, and Congress. He makes clear that the office suggests certain behaviors whose acceptance is more a reflection of the secretary’s operating style than an affirmation of their inherent legitimacy. Virtually all secretaries since McNamara have required the service chiefs to clear their congressional and public statements with the OSD before their delivery, but McNamara and Rumsfeld drew vitriolic ire for this practice. Like Rumsfeld, Cheney personally interviewed all candidates for three- and four-star billets and interested himself in the career paths of promising one- and two-star officers—yet drew little resentment for “meddling” in personnel matters (p. 139). Like McNamara, Brown picked apart programs with systems analysis, yet was admired despite having canceled cherished programs such as the B-1 bomber and another nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. The lesson to be learned is that at this level, a collegial leadership style is more effective over the long term than one that focuses on asserting unilateral control.
Stevenson evaluates each man’s performance, judging McNamara, Weinberger, Laird, Cohen, Brown, Cheney, and Perry successes, and Forrestal, Johnson, Schlesinger, and Aspin failures. He does not explicitly judge Rumsfeld—perhaps reserving judgment since Rumsfeld was still in office when the book was written—but groups him with the successful secretaries in his conclusion, noting that he maintained “a close relationship with the president, adequate relations with key officials in Congress, and . . . excellent relations with the military leadership” (p. 215). His account of the secretary’s tenure seems to contradict most of this assessment, however.
In the final section, Stevenson pivots his analysis and discusses the various roles the secretary must perform (manager of the Pentagon, war planner, diplomat, and National Security Council advisor) and evaluates how well they were filled by each man. These chapters are notable for their clear discussions of the secretary’s statutory power, the Department of Defense’s budgetary and planning processes, the influence of the secretary and the military on American foreign policy, and their privileged position in national-security decision making, given their advantages in personnel, resources, disciplined processes, and the clarity they appear to bring to key issues in national security. As Stevenson argues, the secretary and the military can effectively veto military action by offering professional advice against it or only untenable options such as “250,000 troops, six months, and $10 billion” (p. 197).
In all, the secretary of defense controls the largest agency in the government, more resources than most countries, and the ultimate means of settling international disputes. That this office has not been subjected to more systematic attention is unconscionable, and Stevenson’s volume is an excellent introduction. This first-rate book should find its way onto syllabi in professional military education and security studies courses, the shelves of officers and Department of Defense civilians aspiring to develop themselves professionally, and the desks of congressional staff members who oversee this powerful institution.
Dr. Gary Schaub Jr.
Maxwell AFB, Alabama