Small Wars Journal

Past is Prologue

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Past is Prologue:

The Ability to Modify Strategic Doctrine While Still at War

Book review by Reyes Z. Cole

Download the Full Review: Past is Prologue

Martin Samuels, Command or Control? Command, Training and Tactics in the British and German Armies, 1888-1918, Oregon. Frank Cass Publishers, 2003, 285 pgs, $48.27.

Understanding that in military history "past is often prologue", it would seem odd to return to a book on World War I to compare and contrast U.S. military efforts at adapting doctrine while at war. However, Samuels's book shares some enlightening facts about how German and British forces attempted to modify strategic methods while embroiled in a trench warfare stalemate. This can be a lesson to today's fight as U.S. forces must continually update and modify doctrine, leaving many feeling that the current U.S. Counterinsurgency (COIN) Manual is out of date in regards to operations in Afghanistan.

The Global War on Terror has been underway now for over ten years and at this point I would say the U.S. military strategic goals have not kept pace with enemy strategies, and the military has failed at the task of modifying doctrine while in the midst of fighting a war.

Download the Full Review: Past is Prologue

Reyes Cole is an Infantry Lieutenant Colonel with 25 years experience in the U.S. Army and Army Reserve. He is currently a civilian Branch Head at the U.S. Marine Corps Center for Irregular Warfare. The opinions expressed here are the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Defense or Marine Corps.

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