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Militant Tricks: Battlefield Ruses of the Islamic Insurgent

Militant Tricks: Battlefield Ruses of the Islamic Insurgent

by H. John Poole, Ray L. Smith (Foreword by), Michael Leahy (Illustrator)

Over the last 15 years, our deployed troops have experienced many things. Though the war in Afghanistan is still going, their hard-won lessons have yet to be assimilated by the Stateside bureaucracy. To help, Militant Tricks recounts America's progress in Iraq and Afghanistan from the standpoint of East Asian battlefield deception. Both countries were part


Over the last 15 years, our deployed troops have experienced many things. Though the war in Afghanistan is still going, their hard-won lessons have yet to be assimilated by the Stateside bureaucracy. To help, Militant Tricks recounts America's progress in Iraq and Afghanistan from the standpoint of East Asian battlefield deception. Both countries were part of the Mongol Empire for over 200 years and thus prone to every sort of ancient Chinese illusion. Militant Tricks also contains the tactical "techniques" with which to counter a Muslim urban offensive. While some of these nontraditional techniques were risked during the Baghdad Surge, they may all too soon be forgotten.

Editorial Reviews

Leatherneck Magazine
Our missions in Iraq and Afghanistan are simple. But, is it possible to win on all fronts?... This book is a must read for anyone who has a stake in the newest war and for every American who wants to see our values upheld.
The best book on how to fight militants, resistance fighters, insurgents, or what ever you want to call them, is 'Militant Tricks' .... Poole ... has a keen insight [in]to the Islamic [warriors'] combat tactics and how they wage jihad in all its forms.
North County Times
Poole's book examines war at the tactical level, the level of small units and individuals, and tries to explain the insurgents' way of thinking and fighting.
Newport News Daily Press
[This] 412-page book features 45 illustrations and serves as both an intelligence reference manual and an in-depth solution to the enemy's formula.
Stars and Stripes
[R]ead two excellent and relevant books by retired Marine H. John Poole. 'Tactics of the Crescent Moon' and 'Militant Tricks' would give all soldiers the knowledge base for defeating this enemy.
U.S. Marine Corps Center for Lessons Learned newsletter
[This is] a detailed description of how our opponents in Iraq and Afghanistan fight.... [Poole] provides exactly the sort of material our soldiers and Marines need ... if they are to understand their enemies.
Mil. Officers of America Assn. (MOAA) Magazine
This book gauges America's progress in Iraq and Afghanistan from a unique perspective--that of East Asian battlefield trickery.... In combination, those [famous 36] stratagems ... [can] make a losing adversary think he is winning. They have done so to America before.
Washington Monthly
On the tactical level, Poole agrees with virtually every other expert on counter-insurgency that the key to success [in Iraq and Afghanistan] ... is a variant of the Vietnam war CAP [Combined Action Platoon] program, where the troops defended the local population instead of becoming it.
Poole's books should be read by the Secretary of Defense on down to the grunt in the field and more ... outfits should go through his course.... [T]his particular book ... should be MANDATORY READING for every soldier, sailor, airman, or Marine deploying to Iraq or Afghanistan.
United Press International
[John] Poole ... is America's best writer on small unit tactics and techniques.... If the people at the top will give John Poole's work the attention it is rightly receiving at the battalion level and below, we would have a better chance of winning [wars].

Product Details

Posterity Press (NC)
Publication date:
Edition description:
45 illustrations
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.30(w) x 5.50(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

Appearances Can Be Deceiving in Southwest Asia Too

While ostensibly crude, the Muslim militant's method has never been defeated. Through multiple deception and continual mutation, it has so far bested Russia in Afghanistan and Chechnya, Israel in Southern Lebanon and Gaza, and the United States in Beirut and Mogadishu. To finally defeat that method, every deployed (or about-to-be-deployed) GI must become thoroughly familiar with its latest configuration. That will take a good, hard look at all that has happened over the last year.

In Iraq, U.S. forces have won every firefight and killed thousands of Islamic fighters. (See Map 1.1.) Unfortunately, wars are not won by occupying nonstrategic ground or killing opposition soldiers. They are won by destroying the enemy's "strategic assets." Eastern insurgents don't have many strategic assets. Whatever they need, they can generally take from a well-supplied adversary. To make matters worse, they have the edge in a 4th-generation-warfare (4GW) environment—one in which combat/tactics, religion/psychology, politics/media, and economics/infrastructure all come into play. In a densely populated area, they are virtually immune to electronic surveillance and precision bombardment. Every time their pursuer overreacts, he damages local infrastructure and loses popular support. As such, Eastern insurgents develop a full portfolio of battlefield feints.

What has, or has not, occurred in Iraq deserves a closer look from this perspective. Marco Polo did, after all, warn of the diabolical mysteries of Upper Persia. Could U.S. forces have "won" every firefight in Iraq and still be losing the war? They were equally lethal andnever driven from the field in Vietnam.

Within the context of Eastern intrigue, Iraq's future looks far less certain than one might think. The U.S. military has had trouble countering its new foe's propensity for chaos and deception. To do so now, it must identify, analyze, and compare every one of his strategic initiatives between September 2004 to September 2005. For many, there was a hidden objective, subtle diversion, and secret maneuver.

The Muslim Militants' So-Far-Successful Equation

The Iraqi "insurgency" is not the first regional jihad against a "high-tech" invader. Its architects have drawn on the lessons of Southern Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Chechnya. Their initial strategy is the same as it was there—to create chaos. By so doing, they hope to bankrupt the occupier, discredit the government, and manipulate the people. Since the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the opposition has done whatever it could to disrupt the everyday workings of that country. It has crippled the infrastructure, discouraged foreign aid, and terrorized the population. All the while, it has managed to create the impression that someone else was to blame. For the U.S. to succeed in Iraq, it must first discover how this "projection" of complicity has been accomplished.

What People are Saying About This

Robert V. Kane
By changing our current dependence on firepower and mechanized warfare and adopting an almost decentralized approach, as found in Chapter 13,... we stand a chance of turning things around in both Iraq and Afghanistan (Robert V. Kane, publisher emeritus of Presidio Press).
William S. Lind
'Militant Tricks' is a worthy supplement to John Poole's previous, excellent books on the Eastern way of war (William S. Lind, father of 4th-Generation Warfare theory).
Ray L. Smith
John Poole's new book ... provides a detailed 'blueprint for victory' in not only Iraq, but also Afghanistan.... For all Americans who want to see ... [the Muslim militant's] so-far-successful method defeated, I can't recommend this book highly enough (Ray L. Smith, former commander of Camp Lejeune).
Thomas R. Sargent
This book must be required reading at the War Colleges and ... by all our military leaders. It is based on meticulous ... research coupled with on-site experience. John Poole is a master of military history (Thomas R. Sargent, frigate commander at the Battle of Leyte Gulf).
Edwin Howard Simmons
[F]or those who wish to better understand today's confused events, it [this book] is well worth reading (Edwin Howard Simmons, former head of History & Museums Division, HQMC).
Anthony C. Zinni
John Poole has written another superb work on the nitty-gritty lessons to be drawn from the complex conflict our forces face today. He gives our troops a clear understanding of the nature of the enemy and the tactical lessons needed to defeat him (Anthony C. Zinni, former Head of CENTCOM).

Meet the Author

Through an inverted military career, H. John Poole has discovered a few things that more promotable people miss. After spending his first two years as a combat commander, he did his last seven as an enlisted tactics instructor. That allowed him to see why U.S. troops have always had so much trouble outmaneuvering their immediate adversaries. Their tactical techniques (like football plays) are quite simply outmoded. These U.S. small-unit maneuvers are so unlikely to surprise anyone as to be "premachinegun" in format. This oversight on the part of their commanders and how to compensate for it forms the framework of Poole's work.

Since retirement from the U.S. Marine Corps in 1993, Poole has has traveled extensively in both Communist and Islamist worlds. He has also written 10 other tactics/intelligence supplements and conducted multiday training sessions for 40 U.S. battalions, 9 schools, and 7 special operations units. As most U.S. intelligence personnel know too little about the Eastern thought process and evolution of squad tactics, these supplements provide currently deployed GIs with a rare glimpse into their enemies' intentions. Since 2000, Poole has done research in Russia, Mainland China (twice), North Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Sri Lanka, India (three times), Pakistan (three times), Iran, Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, Sudan, Tanzania, and Venezuela. Over the course of his lifetime, he has further traveled throughout Asia, Europe, and most of the Western Hemisphere. He has lived (or been stationed) in Mexico, Panama, Vietnam, and Japan. Between early tours in the Marine Corps (from 1969 to 1971), Poole worked as a criminal investigator for the Illinois Bureau of Investigation (IBI). After attending the State Police Academy, he worked out of the IBI's Chicago office.

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