Losing Small Wars

Discussion in 'The Book Club' started by Gluteus Maximus, Jul 26, 2012.

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  1. Now, before anyone throws their teddy out of the pram I know that there's a 'What Are You Reading Now' thread but this book has greater relevance. Entitled Losing Small Wars, British Military Failure in Iraq and Afghanistan, its written by one Frank Ledwidge, an ex-RNR officer and intelligence herbert, and a barrister.

    Now I've never had the misfortune to serve in either place but I do follow the news and, I hope, can pick fact from fiction most of the time. The author's contention is that the Army as a whole has been sold down the river by the General Staff and commanders in place in the old-fashioned hunt for Glory before Honour - he is not out to get the average Tom and is at pains to say so.

    If anyone has read it already I'd be interested in their comments and urge the others of you to read it yourselves - I got my copy out of the local library.
  2. I have read it and pretty much agree with his opinions/conclusions.
  3. No.4 Mk.1

    No.4 Mk.1 On ROPs

    I'm just debating the kindle or paperback version - any thoughts please?

    (would i miss out on glossy pics if i get the kindle version is principle query)
  4. There are no pictures in it at all.
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  5. DaManBugs

    DaManBugs LE Book Reviewer

    It sounds like a cracking read. It's definitely on my order list now.

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  6. no pictures? :(
  7. No.4 Mk.1

    No.4 Mk.1 On ROPs

    There's plenty of moving pictures on the interweb, and i have watched most of them more than once.

    70 Amazon reviews with an average rating of 4.5 / 5.0, and a couple of recommendations on here tells me it's worth putting my reading glasses on for.
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  8. TheresaMay

    TheresaMay LE Moderator DirtyBAT

    Is this the book that mentions something along the lines of needing 7,000 personnel in order to put 200 boots on the ground? Or am I thinking of a different book?
  9. No.4 Mk.1

    No.4 Mk.1 On ROPs

    I'll let you know as i work my way through it.

    I've heard one Senior Officer say (on film) that in 2006 they'd told the Helmand Governor Daoud that there'd be 3000 soldiers in theatre, but omitted to tell him that when the QRF, reserve, etc had been taken into account that would only equate to c.300 soldiers active on the ground at any one time. As the said officer was making his excuses in the program maybe the 7000 / 200 ratio is nearer the truth, or perhaps somewhere in-between?
  10. Yes. It is
  11. TheresaMay

    TheresaMay LE Moderator DirtyBAT


    This was highly recommended to me recently by a colleague (a very knowledgeable LE who I've served with a few times over the years).

    I've just had a look on Amazon though, and the cheapest is about £8.00 - so I might have to join the library instead.

    Hunger Games Mockingjay for my daughter cost £8.99 from WHSmith, but the way I see it - that saved me £40 from taking my daughter to the cinema *twice* to watch both parts. Of course, I read it myself first, albeit very carefully to avoid creasing the spine :-D


    So anyway, be sure to tune in next week to "Pikey TV" kids, where I'll be demonstrating how to make another bar of soap out of all the little ones you normally throw away...
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  12. No.4 Mk.1

    No.4 Mk.1 On ROPs

    Spoiler alert ( but it appears to show Frank has the facts at his finger tips) - 4 months into the deployment in Helmand (c.Oct 2006), from 3500 soldiers deployed they could only muster 168 combat troops to conduct operations.

    I can't wait to get to Chapter 5 now, 'Dereliction of Duty: The Generals and Strategy', as those are pretty much the words i'd use to describe what little i know.
  13. I read this last year with an ever-increasing sense of 'OMFG really!?'

    Until, that is, I came across one or two areas about which I had some quite extensive first-hand knowledge. Let's just say that, whilst he wasn't wrong, I'm now more of the opinion that Mr Ledwidge views the world through a 'lens' much like everyone else does, and that a sensible approach might be to read wider and treat this book as one viewpoint among many.

    Not saying that he's massively wide of the mark (my experience doesn't encompass everything he deals with), but my limited reference points tell me that his conclusions may not all be of equal, errm... 'reliability'. Others I have spoken to concur for their own reasons.

    Oh, and I found that at least one of his references was wrong, so if you're going to quote him to anyone important, do a bit of homework first. Not a criticism as such — big book, lots of moving parts and all that — just a word to the wise.
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  14. OldSnowy

    OldSnowy LE Moderator Book Reviewer

    This is, without a doubt, one of the worst-argued and full-of-bollocks books it has ever been my mistake to buy. It came well recommended - but in reality it is the uninformed ramblings of a nincompoop with chips the size of Chrieftains on each shoulder.

    The basic trouble is, as pointed out above, is that if you have specific knowledge of any of the areas he whines about, you will probably notice how wrong his facts, let alone his conclusions, are. This leads you to think that maybe, just maybe, the rest of his facts/conclusions are flawed as well.

    I didn't like it.
  15. 519y-XXKYXL._SX315_BO1,204,203,200_[1].jpg

    I will be reading the precursor to LSW over the xmas period ,shame Sandhurst's and Whitehall's finest failed to do the same [I know this specific book was not printed then but its hardly an excuse ]

    sorry about the image quality ,nothing I can do about it .

    Fair enough you did not like it but i'd be interested in the specifics of what you did not like and what you thought was so wrong ,I mean its a fact that the truth does sometimes hurt .
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