The Sling and the Stone: On War in the 21st Century

The Sling and the Stone: On War in the 21st Century

by Colonel Thomas X. Hammes, USMC
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Sling and the Stone: On War in the 21st Century 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
A lot of theoretical military science - a book that would have the most impact on anyone interested in history, military science, or international relations. The theoretical nature of the narrative may be enough to frankly bore the casual reader. That being said, I liked it a lot. I even did something I rarely do when I read - I took notes. I wasn't quite sure what to think after reading the 1st chapter or 2 and was afraid I was starting to read the rant of an unhappy officer. However, as I read more and more, I found myself thinking of military conflict in a new way, and found myself agreeing with most, but not all of the author's viewpoints. The parts that I did not like was the fact that he stated that the US military had lost the 'wars' in Somalia and Lebanon - 'war' is a strong word to use to describe something that was essentially a humanitarian mission to provide a prescence to protect human life, with no intention of staying in a long-term conflict, and in that respect, the US was not about to remain involved once they started to take casualties and it became a military combat operation. I waited for the author to return to that idea and explain those statements, but only vague at best arguments were made to support the idea. The author should have just left those references out altogether as he compiled enough case studies to make a compelling argument without their use. The chapter on the al-Aqsa intifada also sort of wandered around without conclusion for awhile. As I began the chapter on Iraq, I was afraid I was in for another rant again, but I found myself in complete agreement with him as he said we can't completely identify who the insurgents in Iraq are, making it even more difficult to defeat them. I agreed with his suggestions for change in how personnel are distributed in the military and how promotions are awarded. But I disagree with the author that more Military Police units should be created from combat arms units. But this is a fundamental difference of opinion, because I also believe that there are real conventional threats still lurking, validating the importance of combat arms, and also that not all wars are 4GW. I don't believe it is that black and white. Operation Iraqi Freedom did not begin as a 4GW conflict, even though it would seem to have reached that point now. More Civil Affairs and Engineering units would help along with MPs. But to blindly sugget that the world has only 1 type of warfare is a bit naive, and we should staff our military to meet a hybrid version of 3GW and 4GW. But this book does a fantastic job of opening minds to see modern warfare from a completely different angle and I personally will highly recommend it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
As we spend Billions to fight the wars of the past, Col. Hammes shows how history shows we need to move past our ideas of what war is. It¿s even more Political, Economic, Low tech, and wars last decades not months. I found his ideas for a new training program and advancement system to be a very good plan to get our military ready to be the Flexible player needed in today¿s world. This book is great for anyone in or joining the Military or wish to be in government where some of the ideas presented need to be pushed. I am not a member of the armed services, but have been waiting for someone to wake up the public to this not so new type of war we are fighing.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am not a Military Scholar or a professional officer with a long distinguished career. I have also never been in combat. However, I am someone who is uniquely qualified to say something very positive about Colonel Hammes: the Man and the Marine. As a young Marine Second Lieutenant I had the privilege and honor of serving in the same Rifle Company with Tom Hammes 27 years ago. We were both Platoon Commanders with India Company, 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Brigade, Fleet Marine Force Pacific in Hawaii. As I remember Tom, he was an outstanding human being and brilliant young officer and everyone in our Battalion knew that he was destined for greatness. It looks like we were all correct to think so. I have not seen him in almost 30 years and I have not read his new book. However, I can't wait to pick up a copy. Robert K. Leonard, Former Captain, USMCR.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Last year in Iraq, the US armed forces and allies proved their mastery of conventional war; then proved they knew too little about the unconventional or ¿Peoples War¿ that the occupation stirred up. There is a small circle of strategic practitioners who have studied well the phenomena of Peoples War or what some call ¿Fourth Generation Warfare¿ (4GW) and TX Hammes has taken the time to write a clear guidebook on how best to address the enemy in a Peoples War: The Sling and the Stone. It is a handbook on their strategies and tactics in war where the propaganda message is more powerful than the other elements of strategy and policy. In conjunction with other works such as Eric Hoffer¿s ¿The True Believer¿ and ¿Occidentalism: The West in the Eyes of its Enemys, by Ian Baruma and Avishai Margalit, you can begin to formulate a set of messages that can help counter the guerrillas¿ messages. First, Hammes, a Marine Colonel on active duty, defines the Four Generations of Warfare: Lace Wars, Industrial Attritional Warfare, Maneuver Warfare and Peoples Warfare. Peoples War has glimmerings as far back as Wat Tyler¿s Rebellion of 1381 and the establishment of the Swiss Republic, and the US addressed Peoples War as far back as 1900 in the Philippine Insurrection. Our stay-behind troops also waged a successful 4GW campaign against the Japanese in the Philippines during World War 2. But Hammes, after charting the Changes in Society that are critical to understanding societal stresses in this new century, begins his case studies on 4GW with Mao¿s Peoples War of 1930-49. Central to understanding how they fight 4GW is that time is the factor that works in their favor, not the tempo of operations. Also central is the messages the guerrilla leaders send to their followers, to their opponent¿s populace (the target of their war), to their opponent government, and to the world at large. Because time and message work in their favor, the opponent¿s military force tends to waste its energy in mounting a massive tempo of operations and utilizing attritional and maneuver tactics seeking to force a set piece battle to destroy the guerrilla army. Hammes continues from Mao to Ho Chi Minh whose message was refined to resonate through the increasing power of the electronic media. He then studies how the Sadanistas of Nicaragua masqueraded as something more broad-based than the doctrinaire Marxist movement that was its central essence. Interestingly, he then contrasts the very successful Intifada of 1987-91 with Yassir Arafat¿s badly bungled 2nd Intifada (2000-present). Young Palestinians with slings and stones brought Israel to the bargaining table in Oslo, while suicide bombers have gotten Arafat nothing but rubble and ruin. He then addresses in sequence Al Qaeda, Afghanistan and Iraq. Ideologies and principles underlying Peoples War are not 'rocket surgery,' as TX will tell you informally. In his concluding chapters Colonel Hammes contests our establishment¿s obsession with techno-war solutions; they worked well enough in the conventional campaign that liberated Iraq but gave us no means of averting the uprisings by various elements of Iraqi society and Al Qaeda that ensued. All our rapid tempo and high tech wizardry is of limited use in deterring the bombers or Muqtada al-Sadr¿s gun men and boys. We have to think flexibly, he concludes, and in the final essence we have to understand better how to formulate and deliver a clear message of opportunity to the target audience that both we and the guerrillas seek to motivate. We are fortunate that in this new century, communism and other ideologies are increasingly antique and radical messages such as Al Qaeda's and that of the Chechen insurrectionists do not resonate with the vast majority in their target populations who relish the opportunities presented by our information age. On the other hand, al-Sadr¿s more crafted Populist message does resonate with a significant slice of Iraq¿s population and