How to become military literate?

Jul 2016
8,163
USA
#21
THAT's exactly what I was trying to say. A general does not have to have experience working EVERY low-end clerical or technical job in the industry to be proficient in division-level logistics. But he certainly DOES have to know *his* part of the job!

Matthew
But the general did so the low level logistical stuff, but they weren't generals then, they were lieutenants and captains at the beginning of a long professional career. Without that knowledge he's an arm chair general who might be able to regurgitate Sun Tsu but he's not going to have a clue how Pvt Smuckatelli gets his beans, bullets, bandages. He can only learn that through on the job training over a professional lifetime, not by reading a book.

The only thing a novice can learn from books regarding logistics is how past armies did it using their system. And that its important. Hence why professionals deal with logistics, because they can only learn by doing their jobs full time over a career. Amateurs have no way of learning how a bureaucratic logistics system works as they aren't in it, so they can't know how it works besides knowing its important.
 
Oct 2013
5,879
Planet Nine, Oregon
#23
But the general did so the low level logistical stuff, but they weren't generals then, they were lieutenants and captains at the beginning of a long professional career. Without that knowledge he's an arm chair general who might be able to regurgitate Sun Tsu but he's not going to have a clue how Pvt Smuckatelli gets his beans, bullets, bandages. He can only learn that through on the job training over a professional lifetime, not by reading a book.

The only thing a novice can learn from books regarding logistics is how past armies did it using their system. And that its important. Hence why professionals deal with logistics, because they can only learn by doing their jobs full time over a career. Amateurs have no way of learning how a bureaucratic logistics system works as they aren't in it, so they can't know how it works besides knowing its important.
I remember the controversy with Rumsfeld's changes:

"Afghanistan and Iraq

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld (left) and the Commander of U.S. Central Command General Tommy Franks, listen to a question at the close of a Pentagon press conference on March 5, 2003. Rumsfeld and Franks gave reporters an operational update and fielded questions on the possible conflict in Iraq.
After the war in Afghanistan was launched, Rumsfeld participated in a meeting in regard to the review of the Department of Defense's Contingency Plan in the event of a war with Iraq. The plan, as it was then conceived, contemplated troop levels of up to 500,000, which Rumsfeld felt was far too many. Gordon and Trainor wrote:

As [General] Newbold outlined the plan ... it was clear that Rumsfeld was growing increasingly irritated. For Rumsfeld, the plan required too many troops and supplies and took far too long to execute. It was, Rumsfeld declared, the "product of old thinking and the embodiment of everything that was wrong with the military."[70]

Rumsfeld's plan resulted in a lightning invasion that took Baghdad in well under a month with very few American casualties. Many government buildings, plus major museums, electrical generation infrastructure, and even oil equipment were looted and vandalized during the transition from the fall of Saddam Hussein's regime to the establishment of the Coalition Provisional Authority. A violent insurrection began shortly after the military operation started. After the German and French governments voiced opposition to invading Iraq, Rumsfeld labeled these countries as part of "Old Europe", implying that countries that supported the war were part of a newer, modern Europe.[71]

As a result, Rumsfeld stirred controversy as to whether the forces that did invade Iraq were enough in size.[70] In a September 2007 interview with The Daily Telegraph, General Mike Jackson, the head of the British army during the invasion, criticized Rumsfeld's plans for the invasion of Iraq as "intellectually bankrupt," adding that Rumsfeld is "one of those most responsible for the current situation in Iraq," and that he felt that "the US approach to combating global terrorism is 'inadequate' and too focused on military might rather than nation building and diplomacy."[72]

In 2006, Rumsfeld responded to a question by Brit Hume of Fox News as to whether he pressed General Tommy Franks to lower his request for 400,000 troops for the war:

Absolutely not. That's a mythology. This town [Washington, D.C] is filled with this kind of nonsense. The people who decide the levels of forces on the ground are not the Secretary of Defense or the President. We hear recommendations, but the recommendations are made by the combatant commanders and by members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and there hasn't been a minute in the last six years when we have not had the number of troops that the combatant commanders have requested.[73]"

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Donald_Rumsfeld
 
Jan 2015
2,812
MD, USA
#24
But the general did so the low level logistical stuff, but they weren't generals then, they were lieutenants and captains at the beginning of a long professional career. Without that knowledge he's an arm chair general who might be able to regurgitate Sun Tsu but he's not going to have a clue how Pvt Smuckatelli gets his beans, bullets, bandages. He can only learn that through on the job training over a professional lifetime, not by reading a book.
I *know* generals start as lieutenants and work their way up, learning all the time. Does every lieutenant spend time machining out rifle parts, or welding tank parts together? Does every lieutenant serve as a purchasing agent? Do only those lieutenants who do ALL of these tasks and many more actually make it to the rank of general?

So is it possible that some generals have not had actual training and experience with EVERY low-level lifting and painting task involved in military logistics? Because I have no doubt that a general CAN understand logistics very well without the hundreds of years required to actually perform in every one of those positions.

You and I are saying the same thing, aggie! The generals need to know how logistics work, and they learn it over time. But ask any general who puts in a request for more ammunition, and he will tell you flat out that he does not care whether a worker in one particular factory in Nebraska has been filling out his leave slips wrong. But that worker is part of military logistics.

Matthew
 
Dec 2011
1,916
#26
Reading books of strategies and military history doesn't always generate decent or even great generals; we have textbook generals that failed.
Then, how to become military literate?
Understanding something is very different from reading something.
The English translation of On War is quite awful.
Let me select a random text:
We shall not enter into any of the abstruse definitions of war used by publicists. We shall keep to the element of the thing itself, to a duel. War is nothing but a duel on an extensive scale. If we would conceive as a unit the countless number of duels which make up a war, we shall do so best by supposing to ourselves two wrestlers. Each strives by physical force to compel the other to submit to his will: his first object is to throw his adversary, and thus to render him incapable of further resistance.

Since reading On War entirely may not render a person military literate, how should a layperson become somewhat military literate?
I'm not exactly sure what you are getting at here, but, outside of actually enlisting, I would say field manuals (a.k.a., FM's) are useful in addition to military histories of all types. I am assuming that by "military literate" you want to think like actual soldiers, generals and etc. That would include, I guess, the micro as well as the macro view.

For example: google: Army Field Manual

When I was in the Army we used FM's as a learning tool all the time. Many of these can be found online on sites such as Amazon.

There are also CD's with dozens of FM's in digital format.

I hope this helps. :)
 
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Jul 2016
8,163
USA
#27
Start small. You'll never understand how to manage a baseball team unless you understand how a pitcher pitches and a hitter hits. You want to understand war pick who you want to study and learn their lives from the lowest level. Once you have a good understanding what they do in their part of the organisation then move onto their boss, so on and so forth. Eventually you'll get to the big stuff and by then you'll start really comprehending how much of their lives is devoted to administration, service and support, basically all the boring parts.

Battle is actually the reward for most senior brass, they can do exciting things again, plan and lead grand battles, make a name for themselves, try to imitate past captains of war. Its like that for lower enlisted too as long as their battle casualties aren't terrible. They finally get a chance of revenge at an enemy they see as responsible for all the misery they must endure as preperation for the large decisive battle.
 

VHS

Ad Honorem
Dec 2015
4,281
Brassicaland
#28
Start small. You'll never understand how to manage a baseball team unless you understand how a pitcher pitches and a hitter hits. You want to understand war pick who you want to study and learn their lives from the lowest level. Once you have a good understanding what they do in their part of the organisation then move onto their boss, so on and so forth. Eventually you'll get to the big stuff and by then you'll start really comprehending how much of their lives is devoted to administration, service and support, basically all the boring parts.

Battle is actually the reward for most senior brass, they can do exciting things again, plan and lead grand battles, make a name for themselves, try to imitate past captains of war. Its like that for lower enlisted too as long as their battle casualties aren't terrible. They finally get a chance of revenge at an enemy they see as responsible for all the misery they must endure as preperation for the large decisive battle.
A layperson perhaps may never truly understand the military; then, even rudimentary understanding would help a lot.
 
Jul 2016
8,163
USA
#30
A layperson perhaps may never truly understand the military; then, even rudimentary understanding would help a lot.
You'll never understand what a general is supposed to do if you don't know what a private is supposed to do. Pick a military you want to learn about (they're all very different from one another). Find accounts of the private soldier, read them. While you're reading those accounts have Wikipedia open to check on whatever got don't understand from context of book. After that book, read another. Repeat at different levels, different perspectives.

By that point you'll have the context to start understanding treaties and the role of high command in war. But even then without a very firm understanding of political science and history you'll still not get it. After all war is just politics with violence.
 
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