- Mike Guardia
- ARRSE Rating
- 4.5 Mushroom Heads
I was immediately intrigued when I got the chance to review Mike Guardia’s book Crusader. I had recently had cause to read two books that his name had cropped up in, and was eager to learn a little more about him. The subtitle to Crusader is “General Donn Starry and the Army Of his times”. It is just that theme that makes this book so fascinating to me.
In my time in Germany in the late Eighties, the American Army that I exercised and exchanged with was very much the end product of what could be described as Starry’s life’s work. A West Point “ringknocker” he graduated too late to serve in the Second World War, but the Army that he served his early years with was a battle hardened product of that war. His career reads like a whose who of American senior Officers. His first Commanding Officer for example was Creighton Abrams, a fellow junior officer eldest son of one George Patton.
His story is as the subtitle suggests very much the story of the postwar US Army, his career follows the shock of Vietnam, and the sorry drug and crime ridden carcass that remained after America’s withdrawal. Starry himself was massively influential in the subsequent rebuilding, reorientation, retraining, and development of that Army. The very Army that following his retirement used the doctrines that he helped introduce to smash Saddam Hussain’s ground forces in a matter of days. Starry’s name is synonymous with both the Airland Battle and the Deep Battle concepts that he worked so hard to introduce.
It is interesting to see from Guardia’s well researched and informative writing style, the Starry was not at all averse to taking on the sacred cows of the organisation that he clearly loved. For example though a product of West Point he was harshly critical of its relevance to the modern Army and the training required of its officers.
The book is a fascinating read and it’s scope is so much wider than the story of just one man. Though I must say a Cavalry Officer through and through. I think I would very much have liked the General if I had met him.