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This Is Mandatory Reading at West Point
on October 20, 2001
As the title indicates, West Point cadets are required to read this book (or at least they used to be when I was a cadet) to understand the role that first battles have played in American military history. The reason cadets are required to read this book is because the U.S. record during the first battle of most wars has been less than stellar. Citing examples like Task Force Smith in Korea and our first battle in North Africa during WWII, the authors expose flawed strategies, low training, and poor equipment. Many times the military enters a war completely unprepared because the normal cycle of demobilization after a conflict reduces the funding and attention our leaders pay to military preparedness. This is a fantastic book to read if you wish to understand the issues and constraints which military leaders and our country usually have to overcome following our first engagement. Given that our "first battle" in the war on terrorism has already occurred, this book could help leaders think through the issues that will be necessary to change our military readiness, as well as homeland security posture to suppress terrorism to more acceptable levels.
A must have for any military library. As a student of military history, I am rereading the book more than ten years later. First Battles is still as relevant today as it was in 1990.