Rmas Reading List

Discussion in 'Officers' started by Bambi984, Jul 27, 2009.

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  1. Im due to start RMAS in Sept, can any one give me an idea of what would be good to be reading up on now to get a bit of a head start when i get there.

  2. msr

    msr LE

  3. Having read that im some what apprehensive to the response's i will now get. I only looking for reads that will be useful to me both at RMAS and later on in my service. While the Ross Kemps, Tim Collins are interesting in different ways im looking for slightly deeper reads.
  4. Mills and Boon.
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  5. The British Officer: Leading the Army from 1660 to the Present

    Acts of War: The Behaviour of Men in Battle (Cassell Military Paperbacks)

    On the Psychology of Military Incompetence (Pimlico)

    Spike Milligan (hitler his part in my downfall).

    There was some book I read about leadership or something, it had something to do with Captains going down with their boats, etc.
  6. Taliban by Ahmed Rashid should be essential reading for anyone starting RMAS
  7. "The Junior Officers' Reading Club" by Patrick Hennessy describes his experiences with Grenadier Guards from RMAS onwards. He jacked it in after about 5 years but did fit in a tour to Iraq and Afghan. I'm only half way through. Somethings grate a bit - attitude to LEs and "entertaining" birds while on public duties - but I never did understand woodentop subalterns.
  8. Sarastro

    Sarastro LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    Bear in mind, that thread was written in 2005, a time when we were bollocksing up in Iraq while boasting about how good we were at counterinsurgency, and generally demonstrating that we had learned very little from history. A little reading might have made us wiser. Fortunately, today there is slightly more acceptance for the fact that COIN ops such as we are engaged in require a bit more than brains than we have traditionally allowed for, and that reading types might have their uses. Having said that, don't expect it to be liked, and you can probably expect the same crap about keenness etc. Ignore it.

    First, RMAS is one of the places that hasn't quite caught on to the importance of buks'n'educashun. They are given lipservice, but under the tacit understanding that literally everything else (such as standing still, practising Napoleonic battle manoeuvres and so on) is far more important. Unless you luck out with your platoon / company commander, most won't give a toss about how well read you are.

    Second, since you only have a month or so, I would recommend:

    Clausewitz On War Book 1 - only 60-odd pages, probably online but get the Michael Howard translation
    Sun Tzu The Art of War - again, very short & online
    Stephen Tanner Afghanistan - or something else shortish & accessible on the long history of Afghanistan, there are quite a few
    David Kilcullen 28 Articles - on the web here
    Also, the Economist and other current affairs weeklies.

    Also, a brief history of European style war:

    Paul Hirst War and Power in the 21st Century is good on the evolution of war, but ignore the last few chapters where he predicts the future and gets it horribly wrong.
    Col TX Hammes The Sling and the Stone is good, but selling a particular theory, and is longer.

    If you read only half of those, you'll be doing okay.

    And get a copy of / download this: http://www.fas.org/irp/doddir/army/fm3-24.pdf - the US field manual on COIN compiled by Gen Petraeus, demonstrating that though we may take the piss out of the Yanks, they are years ahead of us at learning from their mistakes in an extraordinarily short turnaround time. Take it with you to RMAS, but don't expect to understand it before you've got a bit more experience with acronyms.

    Anything specifically about RMAS or training - you are going to experience it all anyway. There will be plenty of people there with insider knowledge about the course / Army to get you through (back-termed cadets, rankers), and the course changes often.

    The upside is that you'll find in the real Army, the best officers are eager for learning & read pretty heavily about the job, particularly those getting posted to the top jobs (Ops & Int, Coy commanders etc) from senior Captain and above. Even more so in some places - ie the Intelligence Corps, since my psychic G2 senses suggest you might be a girl, for whom it is a popular choice.

    Finally, though it is always better reading books than burning them (Sean Connery said so), never make the mistake of thinking that what you have read in a book trumps hands-on experience of how stuff works in reality. Particularly where Colour Sergeants are involved. Seen it happen. Had a potential cadet try it on me. Not pretty.
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  9. For an excellent book on leadership, try Major Dick Winters's biography, 'Beyond Band of Brothers'. A thoroughly brilliant read, and a very humbling account of his role in the war.
  10. I have just finished reading "The British Officer: Leading the Army from 1660 to Present". It was a good read and really informative if you want to look the ways in which the Army Officer has evolved.

    There are a few good hard backs around about the history and peoples of Afghanistan which I'm sure are very useful.
  11. rampant

    rampant LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    all the above recommendations are excellent, the best thing to do is read widely as possible. I would also recommend acquiring some general histroy books as well such as those in the Oxford History series on World History, Africa, South America and so on. Having an understanding of regional issues and history allows you to better put military knowledge into a better context.

    Here is a general list for now regarding Strategy & Coin, if you want any other recommendations just PM me. I would also recommend that you google USMC, RAN etc reading lists which are easily accessible online.


    • The Art of War by Sun Tzu
    • Attacks! By E. Rommel

    • Clausewitz, Carl von. On War. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1984.
    o This is a war classic that sets the standard for books on the art of war.
    • Hart, B.H. Liddell. Strategy. Plume; 2 revised edition, 1991.
    o This book is a classic work on strategy that rivals Clausewitz.
    • Sumida, Jon Tetsuro. Inventing Grand Strategy and Teaching Command. The John Hopkins University Press, 1999.
    o This book is a review of Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan’s books on naval strategy.
    • Bamm, Peter. Alexander The Great. New York, NY: MacGraw-Hill, 1968.
    o This book takes a look at the tactics used by Alexander the Great as he expanded his empire.
    • Bonaparte, Napoleon. The Military Maxims of Napoleon: The Principles of Warfare by Napoleon. Trans. By George C. D’Aguilar. Greenhill Books/Lionel Leventhal, 2002.
    o This book is an assortment of Bonaparte’s own thoughts and ideas on waging war and leading men.
    • Handel, L. Michael. Masters of War: Classical Strategic Thought. Frank Cass & Company, 2001.
    o This book is review of history’s most famous strategist and military leaders. Handel takes a look at what they had in common and how they operated.
    • Brennaon, Joseph. Foundations of Moral Obligation: The Stockdale Course. Newport, RI: Naval War College, 1992.
    o A compilation of lectures the author gave while at the Naval War College drawing mostly on Admiral Stockdale’s experiences as a POW in Vietnam.
    • Creasy, Edward Sheperd. Fifteen Decisive Battles of the World: From Marathon to Waterloo. DaCapo Press, 1994.
    o This book reflects on major battles dating back over 2,000 years ago that altered the course of history.
    • Kolenda, Christopher ed. Leadership: The Warrior’s Art. Carlisle: The Army War College Foundation Press, 2001. (E)
    o Kolenda has compiled a collection of military papers focusing on the history of combat leadership, combat leader development and future combat challenges for leaders.
    • Hartle, A. Moral Issues in Military Decision Making. Kansas: University of Kansas Press, 2004. (E)
    o Colonel Anthony Hartle examines the complexity of military ethics in our current environment. He provides an outline for which military decisions should be made.

    • Kirkpatrick, Donald L. Evaluating Training Programs: The Four Levels. San Francisco: Barrett-Koehler, 1994.
    o An interesting study for anyone evaluating curriculum or training programs. It identifies four levels of effectiveness for any training program: reaction, learning, behavior, and results.
    • Marshall, S.L.A. Men Against Fire. New York: William Morrow and Co., 1947.
    o This is a reflection on leadership by one of the most important and respected American military theorists of the 20th Century. This book had great influence on the military culture’s view of leadership and management through the 1950’s.
    • Smith, Rupert. The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World. New York:Knopf, 2007. 430pp. (U21.2 .S53 2007)
    • Retired British General Rupert Smith "draws on his vast experience as a commander in the 1991Gulf War, in Bosnia, Kosovo and Northern Ireland, to give us a probing analysis of modern warand to call for radically new military thinking".
    • Gray, Colin S. Another Bloody Century: Future Warfare. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson,2005. 431pp. (U21.2 .G61 2005)In Another Bloody Century, Gray explains "war is ever changing yet always remains the same,regardless of time, technology, belligerents, or motives for combat, however much of its methodsmay vary over time and between conflicts".

    • Tactics of the Crescent Moon: Militant Muslim Combat Methods,
    o John Poole
    • Minimanual of the Urban Guerrilla,
    o Carlos Marighella
    • Street Without Joy,
    o Bernard Fall
    • Guerrilla Warfare,
    o Che’ Guevara
    • FM 31-15, Operations Against Irregular Forces
    • Small Wars manual (read in context) 1940 edition
    • Thomas Marks, Maoist Insurgency since Vietnam
    • Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife: Counterinsurgency Lessons from Malaya and Vietnam. Chicago:University of Chicago Press, 2005. 249pp. (DS597 .N342 2005)
    o Nagl, John A.
    o Nagl's analysis of these two similar counterinsurgencies contrasts the BritishArmy's success at adapting in Malaya to what United States forces accomplished in Vietnam.
    • David Galula, Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice
    • (New York: Frederick A. Praeger, 1964
    • Record, Jeffrey. Beating Goliath: Why Insurgencies Win. Washington, D.C.: Potomac Books, 2007. 180pp. (D431 .R43 2007)
    o "Beating Goliath examines the phenomenon of victories by the weak over the strong more specifically,insurgencies that succeeded against great powers. Jeffrey Record reviews eleven insurgentwars from 1775 to the present and determines why the seemingly weaker side won."
    • Shultz, Richard H., Jr., and Andrea J. Dew. Insurgents, Terrorists, and Militias: The Warriors of Contemporary Combat. New York: Columbia University Press, 2006. 316pp. (U240.S37 2006)
    o Shultz and Dew "describe the reasons nongovernment combatants wage war, and the non-traditional approaches those combatants use". To defeat them, the authors argue, governments must learn about the cultures and traditions of these groups, instead of depending on firepower alone.

    Peacekeeping & Stability Operations
    • W. Andrew Terrill, Reconstructing Iraq: Insights, Challenges, and Missions for Military Forces in a Post-Conflict Scenario (Carlisle Barracks, PA: SSI, February 2003).
    o URL: http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pubs/display.cfm?PubID=182
    • Small Unit Leaders Guide to Counterinsurgency
    • Weiss, Thomas G., Military-Civilian Interactions: Humanitarian
    • Lanham: Crises and the Responsibility to Protect, 2d ed. Rowman & Littlefield,2005. 275pp. (KZ6369 .W231 2005)
    o Focusing primarily on the role of the United States, Weiss analyzes humanitarian interventionand how it is evolving.
  12. Jesus Christ - the boy's not doing Advanced Staff College (though I don't know any Psc guru that would have read the books listed above). The factory is about leadership:

    1 month, 1 book : Defeat into Victory by Bill Slim
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  13. Agree with the Hennessey recommendation. Anything that will increase your understanding on modern conflicts especially e.g. Tim Collins, 3CDO, 16AAB, 3PARA, Danger Close, Apache/Apache Dawn.

    Other bits - Clausewitz, anything on WW2 especially the DDay landings etc.

    If you have the time read, however I really recommend the Economist and a good braodsheet etc. purely because you need to be ahead as you don't get masses of time to keep up to date once you are at RMAS so a good base understanding will help a lot.
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  14. I can assure you that there is no way anyone on ACSC would have read anywhere near that amount of books - with the possible exception of a few Crab Admin types (especially the girlies)? Personally, I don't thing I read more than 2 or 3 books during the whole course - supplemented by a bit of selective plagerism and heavy use of Google, Wikipedia and other online resources. Maybe that's why I didn't do quite as well as I sould have?
  15. Agree with the view that there is a bit of black dogging going on with these reading lists. As an ex Pl Comd at RMAS I don't think I would have been expecting anything more from the cadets than a good understanding of the world (daily broadsheet and an occasional browse through Time, Economist, Private Eye etc) and ... eh that's it. An officer cadet needs to be bright enough to take in what he is being taught and focus on mastering the basics of leadership. A lot of the other stuff that would apparently be unlocked through reading some of these books can wait until they are a field officer or beyond. Young 2Lts should be concentrating on looking after their blokes on ops, not working out the Strategy (if there is one) for the war in Afghanistan.