National Military Appreciation Month: Celebrating Our Troops

May 12, 2014

may military appreciation monthMay is National Military Appreciation Month (NMAM), a time to recognize and celebrate the contributions of the courageous men and women who have served or are currently serving in the United States Armed Forces.

Designated by Congress, NMAM encourages Americans to publicly show their appreciation for the sacrifices—and accomplishments—made by our military personnel. During this important month, Americans have the opportunity to come together to thank our military for their patriotic service in support of our country, at several national events planned throughout the month.

loyalty dayLoyalty Day, which is celebrated May 1 of each year, kicks off our Nation’s month-long celebration of military appreciation. In his proclamation of Loyalty Day, 2014, President Barack Obama reminded Americans of the significance of this important day: “On this day, let us reaffirm our allegiance to the United States of America and pay tribute to the heritage of American freedom.”

Image source courtesy of DOD http://www.defense.gov/afd/

Image source courtesy of DOD http://www.defense.gov/afd/

Other important events honoring our military’s achievements include Victory in Europe (VE) Day celebrated on May 8, Military Spouse Appreciation Day celebrated on May 9, Armed Forces Day celebrated on May 17, and Memorial Day celebrated on May 26. Armed Forces Day and Memorial Day are the best known of the May military-themed holidays. Armed Forces Day, which was created to honor all branches of the U.S. Military, replaced separate Army, Navy and Air Force Days. And Memorial Day commemorates the men and women who died while serving in military service.

A man looks at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Memorial Day 2013: Image source nps.gov

A man looks at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Memorial Day 2013: Image source nps.gov

In observance of NMAM and the other important events around the country honoring our military this month, Government Book Talk is highlighting several of our bestselling military journals and magazines.

army historyArmy History is published by the U.S. Army Center of Military History (CMH). It is a professional military magazine devoted to informing the military history community about new work on the Army’s history. Issues include illustrated articles, commentaries, book reviews, and news about Army history and the U.S. Army Center of Military History.

naval avaition newsNaval Aviation News is the flagship publication of naval aviation. It covers all aspects of naval air operations. Featured articles review the latest technological advances in aircraft and weapon systems and the influence of U.S. naval air power in global events. Issues include historical profiles of aircraft, aviation ships, important aviators, and organizations that affected the Navy’s control of the air.

military review2As one of the premier military magazines/military journals, Military Review provides a forum for original thought and debate on the art and science of land warfare and other issues of current interest to the U.S. Army and the Department of Defense.

Joint Force Quarterly is designed for national security professionals in and out of the U.S. Government to promote understanding of the integrated employment of land, sea, air, space, and special operations forces. This journal focuses on joint doctrine, integrated operations, coalition warfare, contingency planning, military operations conducted across the spectrum of conflict, and joint force development.joint force quarterly

army al&tArmy AL&T Magazine is a quarterly professional journal published
by the U.S. Army Acquisition Support Center within the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology or AL&T. This official military magazine reports on Army research, development and acquisition and includes articles relative to state-of-the-art technology, capabilities, processes, procedures, techniques, and management philosophy, focusing heavily on lessons learned and best business practices.

How can I get these military magazine/journal publications?

Shop Online Anytime: You can buy these publications (with FREE Standard Shipping worldwide) from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore website at http://bookstore.gpo.gov:
Click here to purchase Army History

Click here to purchase Naval Aviation News

Click here to purchase Military Review

Click here to purchase Joint Force Quarterly

Click here to purchase Army AL&T

Shop our entire Military Journals and Magazines collection

Order by Phone: You may also Order print editions by calling our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.

Shop our Retail Store: Buy a copy of any print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.

Visit a Federal Depository Library: Search for U.S. Government publications in a nearby Federal depository library. You can find the records for most titles in the Catalog of U.S. Government Publications or CGP.

About the author: Trudy Hawkins is a writer and marketing specialist in GPO’s Publication & Information Sales Division supporting the U.S. Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov).

 

 

 


Happy 66th -or 106th- Birthday, US Air Force

September 18, 2013

According to the Department of Defense’s website, the United States Air Force is 66 years ago today “that the National Security Act of 1947 turned what was then known as the Army Air Corps into the United States Department of the Air Force. A strategic, tactical and defensive force for the skies, the Air Force has become a vital role in our country’s military power.

USAF-Birthday-Video

Watch this US Air Force birthday video on YouTube.

However, if you add in the years since the Army Air Corps first flew in 1907, then the Air Force’s operations have really been going strong for 106 years today. It all depends on how you count it.

Therefore, it is fitting to look at the entirety of military aviation when looking at the US Air Force’s illustrious history.

A number of excellent publications have come out recently, both in print and eBooks, for the US Air Force, Army Air Corps and military aviation in general.

The ones we most recommend for understanding the evolution of today’s US Air Force include:

Overall History and Mission

008-070-00727-4The best two books covering the overall history and mission of what is now the United States Air Force are A Concise History of the United States Air Force and its recently released EPUB eBook version, as well as the extremely thought-provoking Air Force Roles and Missions: A History (also recently released as an eBook) which traces the evolution of the Air Force’s role and missions as well as the conflicts with other branches of the military over these definitions.

Early Beginnings through World War 1

Are you more interested in the earliest days of aviation when the Army first bought one of the Wright Brothers’ planes and its “daring young men in those flying machines” began to determine how airpower could be used for military purposes? Then you should read Logbook of the Signal Corps No. 1: The United States Army’s First Airplane in paperback or as a new eBook, which recounts the experiences of Benjamin D. Foulois, the pioneering, self-taught pilot of “Signal Corps No. 1″, the very first airplane of the United States Army Signal Corps.

HAP: Henry H. Arnold, Military Aviator, Shown here as Army Flight Instructor in College Park, Maryland. ISBN: 0-16-049071-5And don’t miss HAP: Henry H. Arnold, Military Aviator (Paperback) or the new EPUB eBook edition which tells the story of beloved Henry “Hap” Arnold, one of the first Army flight instructors and daring pilot. (See his image to the right as an Army Flight Instructor. Image courtesy: College Park Aviation Museum.)

Another very popular publication tells the story of air espionage during World War 1: Shooting the Front: Allied Aerial Reconnaissance and Photographic Interpretation on the Western Front – World War I.

Shooting the Front: Allied Aerial Reconnaissance and Photographic Interpretation on the Western Front - World War I (Paperbound)

World War 2

World War II is when it is widely acknowledged that military aviation came into its own. Toward Independence: The Emergence of the United States Air Force, 1945-1947 tells of the rapid evolution in use of airpower in the period leading up to its formation as a separate entity.

Korean War

By the Korean War, the US Air Force had become its own branch of the United States Armed Forces. Several publications chronicle the involvement of the newly formed USAF during this conflict, including Within Limits: The United States Air Force and the Korean War, Coalition Air Warfare in the Korean War, 1950 1953, and Silver Wings, Golden Valor: The USAF Remembers Korea which includes reminiscences and perspectives of Korean War Air Force veterans and historians.

Vietnam War

War Too Long: The United States Air Force in Southeast Asia 1961-1975 ISBN: 9780160613692Over 50 years later, Americans are still wrestling with the lessons of Vietnam. So, too, is the Air Force in these excellent USAF publications War Too Long: The United States Air Force in Southeast Asia 1961-1975  and War in South Vietnam: The Years of the Offensive, 1965-1968, as well as this Army digital publication, Interservice Rivalry and Airpower in the Vietnam War (eBook).

Cold War and Space Race

When the Soviets launched Sputnik, the space race was subsequently kicked off with the United States. The Air Force role was critical during the Cold War and in both in helping start our space exploration and ongoing support through to today in support of NASA. Read Early Cold War Overflights, 1950-1956 to understand the beginning of the espionage flights, and pick up a copy of the United States Air Force in Space, 1945 to the Twenty-First Century which covers the Air Force’s involvement in space exploration.

Gulf War to the Present

None of us can forget the images of bombs dropping during the Gulf War, the tale of which is told in Decisive Force: Strategic Bombing in the Gulf War.

Turning Point 9.11: Air Force Reserve in the 21st Century, 2001-2011  ISBN: 9780160914485And anyone with family in or who themselves are in the National Guard or a military reservist knows how the Gulf Wars and Afghanistan have changed the role of these personnel from backup to active participants. One of the best books we’ve read on the subject is the excellent Turning Point 9.11: Air Force Reserve in the 21st Century, 2001-2011 which chronicles these stark changes in the Air Force Reserve since the terrorist attacks on 9.11.2001.

Air Force on TV and in the Movies

Fans of the movie “War Games” will know about NORAD. Learn the true story behind this important homeland airspace defense organization in Guarding What You Value Most: North American Aerospace Defense Command Celebrating 50 Years and a new EPUB eBook version. Includes the heart-warming story of NORAD’s Christmas Eve Santa Tracker. (Read about this in our blog post Tracking “Big Red”: NORAD’s Secret Santa Mission [UPDATED].)

Fans of the TV show “JAG” Will love to discover the real history of this Air Force department in First 50 Years: United States Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Department.

Humanitarian Operations

Wings of Hope: The United States Air Force and Humanitarian Airlift OperationsLike the other branches of the US military, the US Air Force plays an important role in humanitarian operations, both here at home and worldwide. This publication—Wings of Hope: The United States Air Force and Humanitarian Airlift Operations—tells the overall story of various airlift operations. While it sounds like the plot of a disaster movie, the Ash Warriors (paperback) and its EPUB eBook version recounts the true story of the “Ash Warriors,” those Air Force men and women who carried out their mission in the face of an incredible series of natural disasters, including volcanic eruption, flood, typhoons, and earthquakes, all of which plagued Clark Air Base in the Philippines and the surrounding areas during June and July 1991. And the horrendous Hurricane Katrina brought out the best in the Air Force’s Air Education and Training Command, whose role is described in Operation Dragon Comeback: Air Education and Training Command’s Response to Hurricane Katrina.

“Blue Sky” Future

So join us in wishing a very happy 66th (or 106th) birthday to our very own United States Air Force. May there be blue skies in its future!

How can I obtain these Air Force History publications?

  • Shop Online: You can purchase these publications from the U.S. Government Online Bookstore at http://bookstore.gpo.gov, by clicking on the links above in this blog post or shopping our United States Air Force (USAF) History collection under our US & Military History category.
  • Order by Phone: Call our Customer Contact Center Monday through Friday, 8 am to 5:30 pm Eastern (except US Federal holidays). From US and Canada, call toll-free 1.866.512.1800. DC or International customers call +1.202.512.1800.
  • Visit our Retail Store: Buy a copy of print editions from this collection at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday–Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., except Federal holidays, Call (202) 512-0132 for information or to arrange in-store pick-up.
  • Find them in a Library: Find these publications in a federal depository library.

About the Author: Government Book Talk Editor Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division in Washington, DC, and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (http://bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


Economic Security: Neglected Dimension of National Security?

January 31, 2013

Guest blogger GPO Public Relations Specialist Emma Wojtowicz reviews this new publication asking whether our economic security is a neglected dimension of U.S. national security policy, a timely topic considering the recent national economic recession and yesterday’s news of the GDP drop.

The public generally agrees that the United States’ economic security is a vital component to the country’s overall national security. This is especially true in light of yesterday’s announcement that the U.S. gross domestic product (GDP)—the  measure of all goods and services produced by the economy—shrank an unexpected 0.1% annual rate in the fourth quarter of 2012, the first quarterly contraction since the second quarter of 2009 during the recession.

But what exactly does economic security mean in this context? This topic is explored in Economic Security: Neglected Dimension of National Security?, a publication by the Institute for National Strategic Studies of the National Defense University.

Economic Security: Neglected Dimension of National Security? ISBN 9780160898082The book’s editor, Sheila R. Ronis, argues that the economy has often been ignored and misunderstood in relation to national security and that economic strength is the foundation of national security. To make this argument, papers from a conference in 2010 that had the same title as the book comprise the publication and focus on the different factors that contribute to economic security.

Foundation: The first chapter explains how the economy works and provides the reader with a foundation for understanding economic components like budgets, debt, deficits, lenders, interest rates, GDP and so on. This is the best chapter of the book because it gives the reader perspective when considering the country’s economic security.

History:  Taking up 50 pages of this 110 page publication, the second chapter focuses on how the U.S. emerged after World War II as an economic and military superpower and how the boom in industrialization and commerce in the previous decades lead to America’s position after World War II. This approach to understanding the United States’ current economy is fascinating but the use of minute historical details to make the point is perhaps too in-depth for the casual reader, but will be of great interest to scholars, specialists and journalists.

Energy: The third and fourth chapters tackle the topic of energy security and how that relates to the country’s economic and national security. If you are not an energy aficionado, then the content may be over your head, but there are some fundamental facts that anyone can absorb. The U.S. spends $500 billion annually on energy and is the world’s largest energy consumer second to China. The United States’ energy consumption grows every year along with its energy imports.  These chapters strategize how to reform energy policy, thus strengthening the country’s economic and national security.

 Energy Security intersection of National Security, Economic Security and Environmental Security

Image: Energy security is a common topic in relation to economic and national security. Another professor, Massoud Amin at the University of Minnesota, describes energy security as the overlap between economic security, national security, and environmental security.  Source:  DialogueEarth.org

Education: Chapter five explores education in the U.S. and the skill set needed for the workforce of today and the future.  Science and technology are necessary skills for the country’s current workforce in order for the U.S. to play a role in the global economy. Those skills are also important for engaging the next generation of students who were born into an already technologically advanced society, well-versed in using computers, the Internet and mobile devices. This chapter takes a comprehensive approach to the topic of education and the long-term effect it will have on the country’s economic security.

Innovation: The author of the sixth and final chapter takes on the subject of innovation and its contribution to United States’ economic prosperity more so than its economic security. Building upon the previous chapter of education, innovation is the next step to strengthening the economy by creating jobs through new industries and products. The best take-away from this chapter is that while innovation is important and vital to the economy, it alone cannot ensure economic security.

President Obama’s Strategy for American Innovation Image: This image represents the President’s “Strategy for American Innovation” which, according to the White House, “seeks to harness the ingenuity of the American people to ensure economic growth that is rapid, broad-based, and sustained. This economic growth will bring greater income, higher quality jobs, and improved quality of life to all Americans.” Source: White House.

Economic Security: Neglected Dimension of National Security? does a good job of breaking down the issue of economic security making the reader more thoughtful and aware of this important, relevant topic.

HOW DO I OBTAIN THIS BOOK: “Economic Security: Neglected Dimension of National Security?

  • Buy it online 24/7 at GPO’s Online Bookstore.
  • Buy it at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm, except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.
  • Find it in a library.

Related Publications:

 


War, Will and Warlords: An Interview, Part II

July 23, 2012

 

In this second part of a two-part interview by Government Book Talk blog editor Michele Bartram,  Col. Robert M. Cassidy, author of the new, critically acclaimed book, War, Will, and Warlords: Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 2001-2011, describes the lessons learned after ten years of war in Afghanistan. Click here to read Part I of the interview.

GovBookTalk: In Chapter 5 of War, Will, and Warlords, you refer to Pakistan’s prospects of doing what needs to be done as “hard, not hopeful, but not impossible.”  What role does Pakistan play today in 2012 in this counterinsurgency, and how do you rate these prospects today on the scale of hopeful vs. impossible?

Cassidy: There is currently not much at all to be sanguine about in relation to Pakistan, as it has done the most odious things in terms of regenerating and sustaining the Afghan Taliban and other groups.  And, the Coalition and the international community have allowed Pakistan to get away with this—murders, literally.  Pakistan poses as a friend, but performs as a foe. The Afghan Taliban would have withered away over the last several years of the surge if Pakistan had stopped supporting the regeneration, resting, recruitment, and retraining of militants, improvised explosive device makers, technology, and components in its tribal sanctuaries and in Baluchistan.

Image: Balochistan’s strategic importance. Source: Intellibriefs

Pakistan has employed terrorism and unconventional warfare to ostensibly achieve strategic depth by supporting its proxies in Afghanistan for almost four decades.

However, the United States has not yet crafted a Pakistan strategy that employs its substantial leverage to modify Pakistan’s strategic calculus.  A genuine Pakistan strategy, coupled with unambiguous momentum and perseverance in Afghanistan, could compel Pakistan to alter its strategic rationale and reduce support to the Afghan Taliban and the Haqqani network. 

Image: [GovBookTalk] The Haqqani Network,an insurgent group allied with the Taliban and operating on both sides of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, is one of the most dangerous groups fighting U.S.-led Coalition forces and the Afghan government. Originating in Afghanistan during the mid-1970s, it was nurtured by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) during the 1980s Soviet war in Afghanistan. Maulvi Jalaluddin Haqqani and his son Sirajuddin Haqqani lead the group. A reward of $200,000-USD was offered by Coalition forces for information leading to the arrest of Siraj Haqqani. Source: Wikipedia.

The United States needs a strategy for Pakistan, one which is logically and temporally linked and integrated with the imperatives in Afghanistan.  A viable strategy must first recognize that the U.S. does have considerable leverage over Pakistan.  America must demand discernible results for the steady diet of carrots it has been feeding Pakistan for the perfidious abetting of enemies who kill and maim the Afghan and Coalition civilians and military forces trying to stabilize the country in some lasting way.

GovBookTalk: After wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, what lessons has the US military learned about fighting a counterinsurgency campaign— in strategy, training, equipment, communications with locals, relations with coalition nations and neighboring regions?

Cassidy: Let me clarify at the outset that counterinsurgency is not a strategy in and of itself, but more of the art and method of an operational campaign to defeat or neutralize an insurgency.  The first and most paramount thing we should learn is not to unlearn or expunge what we know of previous counterinsurgencies’ best practices.  In 2001-2003 when we undertook those wars, there was very little thinking, knowledge, doctrine, or awareness of the requirements for prosecuting counterinsurgency to a successful conclusion.   The American military was compelled to adapt in the crucible of combat and it ultimately changed over time, and we now see the most seasoned counterinsurgent forces in our history.

Image: [GovBookTalk]: This is an actual PowerPoint slide shown by Gen. Stanley McChrystal, commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan in the summer of 2009 to portray the complexity of U.S. strategy. Source: Charles V. Peña. Click on image above to enlarge.

Cassidy: Notwithstanding, it is negligence of criminal magnitude to prepare soldiers with the doctrine, the equipment, and the leadership savvy for countering insurgents only after the fighting has begun.  Also, in many ways and instances, it was the early methods of American military forces in Iraq and Afghanistan that helped catalyze support for the insurgencies by alienating large parts of those populations.  Here are some pithy things we should retain:

  • Knowledge empowers and the one who thinks, wins:  analyze and understand the environment.
  • Good counterinsurgency campaigns fully integrate both general purpose and special forces.
  • Start with simple and clear, not convoluted and cumbersome, command and control.
  • Match action and information to address grievances to win the war of ideas.
  • If the insurgency benefits from unimpeded sanctuary, ruthlessly shut this down.
  • Start with the end— what should the indigenous security capacity be when we leave?
  • Show moral rectitude:  kill precisely the insurgent leaders and protect most of the people.

GovBookTalk: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in this book?

Cassidy: Two things: one, I would have added a chapter that explained how we need to rethink and reframe our relationship with Pakistan after the bin Laden raid; and two, I would have made one more look to minimize any redundancy between the first chapter and the last chapter because the last chapter was something I developed apart from the main manuscript when I was last in Afghanistan during 2011.

GovBookTalk: Did you personally learn anything from writing this book and what was it?   

Cassidy: I deepened and broadened my knowledge about the enduring and deplorable perfidy of the Pakistani ISI in Afghanistan over almost four decades of war in the region.

Image: Pakistan spy chief (right), Lt. Gen. Shuja Pasha, is head of  the Pakistan Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence or ISI, whose headquarters are shown to the left. Source: Jagran Post. [GovBookTalk] Note that the ISI continually denies links to the Taliban and terrorism, in spite of accusations by Coalition allies of ISI ties to the 7/7/2005 terrorist attacks in London, the attempted assassination of President Karzai, the bombing of the Indian embassy, supporting terrorist groups and other acts. Source: The Council on Foreign Relations 

GovBookTalk: Are there additional resources where readers can go for more information, assistance with this topic?

Cassidy: Some useful resources include the websites of the Afghan Analysts Network (AAN), the New America Foundation Counterterrorism Strategy Initiative Policy Paper series, the Congressional Research Service (CRS) [link to Stanford University’s archives of CRS reports], the Institute for the Study of War (ISW), The Council on Foreign Relations  and the U.S. Government 1230 and 1231 reports on the progress in Afghanistan.  Also, they could start with the bibliography of this book.

GovBookTalk: What are the next upcoming projects for you?  

I am drafting an outline for a new book with the draft title of, On Raw War:  The wages of the American way of strategy and war.  This will start with a theoretical chapter that distills the best thinkers on strategy and war and then it will proceed to explore American wars after Vietnam, from the Persian Gulf War up until Afghanistan to assess how practices compared to the theory.

GovBookTalk: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers in parting, a memorable quote?

Cassidy: The Roger Ascham quote in Chapter 1:  “it is a costly wisdom that is bought by experience;” juxtaposed with the famous Bismarck quote that “fools say they learn from experience; I prefer to learn from the experience of others.”

GovBookTalk: Thank you for your insights, Col. Cassidy!
HOW CAN YOU OBTAIN a copy of War, Will, and Warlords: Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan and Pakistan, 2001-2011?

  • Buy it online 24/7 at GPO’s Online Bookstore.
  • Buy it at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm, except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.
  • Find it in a library.

To learn more about America’s involvement in Afghanistan, browse our new Afghanistan Collection of Federal publications.

About the author: Colonel Robert M. Cassidy, USA, is a military professor at the U.S. Naval War College, a senior fellow with the Center for Advanced Defense Studies, and a member of the RUSI Advisory Board. His experience and scholarship focus on strategy and irregular warfare. He has served on deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan, the Persian Gulf, Egypt, and Grenada. He most recently served as a special assistant to the senior operational commander in Afghanistan in 2011. Colonel Cassidy has published a number of articles and two previous books on stability operations and irregular war:  1) Peacekeeping in the Abyss: British and American Peacekeeping Doctrine and Practice after the Cold War and 2) Counterinsurgency and the Global War on Terror: Military Culture and Irregular War. He has a Ph.D. from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University.


Understanding America’s Longest War

May 25, 2012

Memorial Day in the United States is a time to remember those members of the military who have died in service to our country.  Originally known as Decoration Day, this federal holiday originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the fallen Union soldiers as widows would turn out to decorate the graves.

In fact, as I write this, all available members of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment, also known as The Old Guard, are a just a mile away from GPO headquarters at Arlington National Cemetery, planting over 280,000 small U.S. flags—one at each grave marker— that will stay in place just for Memorial Day weekend, carrying on an annual “Flags In” tradition started in 1948.

Image: “Old Guard” soldier and son place flags in Arlington Cemetery during “Flags in”, Memorial Day 2008. Source: Arlington Cemetery FlickR

Remembering—and understanding—the war in Afghanistan

Many on this day take the time to reflect on the various military missions that resulted in the losses of brave service men and women, with our current war in Afghanistan offering the most recent opportunity for reflection.

A master at providing this analysis is Joseph J. Collins, author and professor at the National War College, who wrote the new book from the National Defense University called “Understanding War in Afghanistan” in order to provide military leaders, civil servants, diplomats, students and civilians the lessons in history of war and strife in that troubled nation.

Thoughtful questions, thought-provoking answers

Collins asks—and answers—a number of thought-provoking questions about the current war in Afghanistan:

  1. How did the United States and its allies get to where they are today?
  2. How can that coalition understand the many wars in Afghanistan over the past 33 years?
  3. How should it define its interests today?
  4. How can this coalition of nearly 50 nations help to bring this war to an end?

To answer these questions, Professor Collins provides both historical background and analysis to put it into context, finishing with a look towards possible next steps:

  • Chapter 1- Afghan history and culture:  Says Collins, “It is important to first examine the land, [the Afghan] people, and their culture.
  • Chapters 2 through 5- Prior wars: Next, Collins reviews the war-fraught Afghan history, the Soviet-Afghan War and the conflicts that followed it, including their Civil War, the rise of the Taliban, their role in 9/11, and the first war against the Taliban government.
  • Chapter 6- Insurgency: This chapter helps us “understand the basic theory and concepts that underpin Afghan counterinsurgency in the 21st century”.
  • Chapter 7 & 8- 2nd War against the Taliban, Rebuilding and the Surge: These chapters enable us to comprehend what happened during 2002-2010 as the coalition attempted to fight the Taliban while rebuilding this battle-weary land.
  • Chapter 9: – Assessment and Options:  Collins completes his book with a frank assessment of the “potential choices that national leaders face for the future” in Afghanistan.

Enduring lessons and legacy of Operation Enduring Freedom

Now in its twelfth year, the Afghanistan War is the longest war in U.S. history, surpassing even the Vietnam War.  Operation Enduring Freedom, with over 1,892 fallen servicemen and women just from the United States and over 1,000 casualties from other nations who form part of the coalition, is in the minds of many this Memorial Day.

Following the mantra of Spanish born American philosopher and writer George Santayana who wrote “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” Understanding War in Afghanistan helps provide us the basis to learn the lessons of history in this particular conflict in order to inform our future course.

Dan Caldwell, Distinguished Professor at Pepperdine University, agrees, saying of Professor Collins’ book:

“This is the required text for ‘Afghanistan 101’—a primer that skillfully explains the realities of a complicated country and America’s longest war. It is written in a clear, informative way that is accessible to citizens, students, and civilian and military personnel who want or need to learn more about one of the most important issues of our time.”

What better way to remember those who have fallen in Afghanistan than to learn about the cause for which they sacrificed all?

How Do I Obtain Understanding War in Afghanistan?

  • Buy it online 24/7 at GPO’s Online Bookstore.
  • Buy it at GPO’s retail bookstore at 710 North Capitol Street NW, Washington, DC 20401, open Monday-Friday, 9am to 4pm, except Federal holidays, (202) 512-0132.
  • Find it in a library.

About the Author:  Michele Bartram is Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division and is responsible for online and offline marketing of the US Government Online Bookstore (Bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public.


Steve Jobs and our Innovation Nation

October 11, 2011

Last week we lost one of America’s great geniuses of innovation, Apple’s founder and CEO, Steve Jobs.

I can remember each time I first used one of Apple’s products. While working for IBM as a systems engineer right out of college and working with both mainframe systems and some not-always-so-friendly early PC operating systems (remember DOS?), I got to use a friend’s Macintosh and was blown away by how easy it was to use. Fast forward through the introduction of the iPod; iTunes online music and apps store; the iPhone—the first touchscreen smartphone; and now the iPad, first touchscreen tablet; and we now have a world that couldn’t conceive of life without Steve Jobs’ innovations.

One of Jobs’ secret to success was treating Apple as an idea and business incubator to continually research and fund what could possibly be the “next great thing” in the future, but was still only a germ of an idea from some engineer or scientist.

The Federal Government as an Incubator of Innovation

Like Apple, one of the key roles of the US Federal Government is to serve as an incubator of innovation.

Here at GPO, for example, we are embracing innovation by producing eBooks, digital downloads, information portals and databases in response to the changing needs of our increasingly digital society, which have been driven in part by Apple inventions introduced by Steve Jobs.

Most of the work products from the Federal Government can be and are used freely by private industry or other areas of Government to spur their own innovations. From statistics to research, processes to products, the Government has provided the seeds to innovation for American industry throughout the years.

Looking through our recent catalog on the US Government Bookstore website, I came across these publications which provide examples of innovation both within the Federal Government and in partnership with the private sector:

 
  • Spinoff Innovative Partnerships Program 2009, provides an in-depth look at how NASA’s initiatives in aeronautics and space exploration have resulted in beneficial commercial technologies in the fields of health and medicine, transportation, public safety, consumer goods, environmental protection, computer technology and industrial productivity.  Some innovation spinoffs over the years include:
    • lightweight breathing system adapted for firefighters;
    • Teflon-coated fiberglass fabric for astronaut spacesuits is now used as a permanent roofing material for buildings and stadiums;
    • remote-controlled robotic arms are now being used for robotic surgical operations; and
    • artificial heart pump based on the design of NASA’s space shuttle main engine fuel pumps.
    • You can get a print copy of this book now at the US Government Bookstore or find it in a library.
 
 

About the Author:  I am Michele Bartram, Promotions Manager for GPO’s Publication and Information Sales Division.  My duties include marketing for the US Government Online Bookstore (Bookstore.gpo.gov) and promoting Federal government content to the public. Due to the retirement of Jim Cameron, my duties now also include taking the helm as Blogger for Government Book Talk. I have been in the Internet marketing and ecommerce field for over 15 years.

We at GPO wish Jim all the best in his retirement, and will continue to do our best to spotlight the amazing variety of Government publications and their impact on ourselves and our world – and have fun while doing it.

 



Partnering in Latin America’s Defense

April 27, 2011

Anyone reading the international news these days knows about the turmoil currently engulfing a number of nations in the Middle East. In fact, for the past decade, it’s hard to think of a time when the headlines weren’t about some hot spot or another in that volatile part of our world. This wouldn’t surprise the Latin Americanists among us; it sometimes seems that the Southern Hemisphere is terra incognita for the media.

That’s one reason why Partnership for the Americas: Western Hemisphere Strategy and U.S. Southern Command is so refreshing. This new book from the National Defense University, written by Admiral James G. Stavrides, formerly in charge of the Southern Command, focuses on the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean as if they are more than just “America’s backyard” – a phrase that the author dislikes intensely. He sees this area as “our shared home” – shared with nations that take enormous pride in their histories and cultures and sometimes view their large North American co-tenant with some misgivings. Partly this is due to another misconception: “all the countries down there are pretty much the same.” Partnership for the Americas is adamant that the diverse languages and cultures in the hemisphere all deserve greater study and respect.

In this post-Cold war era, concerns about subversion have been replaced by what the book sees as the real issues – gangs, drugs, and crime. After citing some appalling statistics about the international drug trade as it affects the Southern hemisphere, it points to developments in trafficking that require more than a local or even regional response. Take, for instance, the SPSS, or self-propelled semi-submersible (left). These drug-transporting vessels, about 60 to 80 feet long, transport tons of cocaine, are almost invisible from any distance, and  designed to be scuttled at their destination or if intercepted by any military or police vessels. It’s easy to see how the Navy might be helpful here!

Partnership for the Americas also focuses on the need to be aware of human rights issues, the role of Southern Command personnel in health care and humanitarian relief efforts, and innovation in the way the military interacts with other nations to accomplish mutually desirable aims. It’s a thoughtful book that policymakers, members of the military, and anyone interested in this part of the world could benefit from reading. You can browse through it here, get a copy here, or locate it in a library.


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