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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Proves that counter-insurgency is not new
Despite being over sixty years old, the 1940 edition of the USMC's Small Wars Manual remains one of the cornerstone documents for fighting counter-insurgency warfare. Written in a direct style that is absent from today's military documents, the small wars manual covers the art of fighting limited wars from A-Z, to include ambushes, running elections, disarming the...
Published on May 2, 2006 by Amazon Customer

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3.0 out of 5 stars Not enough detail
During the lengthy Banana Wars, Corps headquarters undoubtedly heard about many guerrilla-fighting details, but you won't find them here. Like with its subsequent manuals, most of the tactical technique has been edited out by desk jockeys who couldn't agree on it. For the frontline specifics of unconventional warfare, one must look elsewhere--like at "Dragon Days" or...
Published 2 months ago by War Wagon


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31 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Proves that counter-insurgency is not new, May 2, 2006
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This review is from: Small Wars Manual (Paperback)
Despite being over sixty years old, the 1940 edition of the USMC's Small Wars Manual remains one of the cornerstone documents for fighting counter-insurgency warfare. Written in a direct style that is absent from today's military documents, the small wars manual covers the art of fighting limited wars from A-Z, to include ambushes, running elections, disarming the population, and dealing with locals. This book is widely used, often imitated, but never beaten. Far from a historical document, the Small Wars Manual remains vital today.
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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Old Book but Surprisingly Revelant, October 25, 2005
This review is from: Small Wars Manual (Paperback)
Between the two world wars the United States sent its military forces to numerous small countries to bolster the US diplomatic efforts. The countries so 'invaded' included virtually every Latin American country and countries as far away as China and the Philippines. In order to have their forces operate, the United States military has to have manuals that define what the forces are going to do.

'Small Wars' are defined in several ways but which do not involve a major effort in regular warfare against a first-rate power. The final manual on the subject was published in 1940, before the concept of small wars was erased by bigger events. After World War II, the manual was not re-written but was reprinted from time to time with the admonition that it should be considered in relation to the time in which it was written.

Now re-published again, the book has been sent to Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries where 'Small Wars' are being fought. It covers every aspect from Strategy to Logistics, from Transportation to small unit tactics. Within the range of subjects covered is Air Trasportation, remember that this was written in 1940. But it also tells you how to load a Browning .30 water cooled machine gun on a pack mule.

This book is obviously not a direct report on what is going on around the world, but it is surprising that so much of the information given here is directly applicable.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars GOOD BOOK, but VERY POOR BINDING, December 21, 2006
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This review is from: Small Wars Manual (Paperback)
Fascinating book, well written, thoughtful field manual relevant to the history of this type of conflict.

Good historical introduction. I am thankful for its preservation.

Pavillion Press edition is the most poorly bound book I have ever bought.

I thought Gutenburg figured out how to do that job correctly.

Treat it gently as it falls apart in your hands due to poor binding and construction.

Don't even think about opening it flat.

Consider it more as a looseleaf photocopy of a lost text.

Such poor presentation detracts from an otherwise very worthwhile effort.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SMALL WARS: The Classic Counter-Insurgency Primer, April 8, 2012
This review is from: Small Wars Manual (Paperback)
This manual has some great historical knowledge from the Marine Corps' "Banana Wars" era covering the ageless counter-insurgency methodology that is still relevant today in Afghanistan. The "Small Wars Manual" is a capstone document in the tactical and operational art and science of small wars or low-intensity conflicts. Written before World War II, the manual now serves as an information source for present-day military personnel and should not be considered directive in nature. When reading the "Small Wars Manual", the reader should place it in context with pre-World War II politics and operational methods. While the operational events described in the manual are not relevant today, the terms, concepts, and methods still are applicable. Today's counter-insurgent warriors will see relevance to today's events and the historical connection between the tactics, techniques and procedures used in this manual and American's current involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. While this book is recommended for those whose job it is to lead counter-insurgency units at the tactical and operational levels, every officer and enlisted soldier should take time to study the manual. The American military is faced with being drawn into more and more operations that require civil action in conjunction with military action. Therefore, the more knowledgeable a leader is on the workings of small wars, the better prepared he will be in accomplishing the mission and explaining to subordinates the relevance of what they are being asked to do. I also highly recommend reading C. E. Callwell's book "Small Wars Their Principles and Practice" were Callwell concludes that technological superiority is important, but not the most important ingredient in low intensity warfare. An army must adapt to climate, terrain, an enemy's mobility, and take what an enemy values most.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary lessons lost and recovered, April 16, 2009
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This review is from: Small Wars Manual (Paperback)
Written in 1940, the U.S.Marine Corps' "Small Wars Manual" is both an important historical document and a valuable addition to a contemporary military science library.

Historically, this document is built from the collective lessons of many of the smaller and lesser known conflicts between WWI and WWII, mostly in Latin America. It provides clear descriptions of approaches and processes that the Marine Corps (in 1940) believed were effective in these stability, counter-insurgency, and other operations in areas that had surreal politics (see Stupid Wars: A Citizen's Guide to Botched Putsches, Failed Coups, Inane Invasions, and Ridiculous Revolutions for examples of politics and conflict in Latin America in that period). This book provides valuable context for serious research in this period and region.

As to the contemporary relevance, the book begins with a broad but useful definition -
"The term 'Small War' is often a vague name for any one of a great variety of military operations... small wars are operations undertaken under executive authority, wherein military force is combined with diplomatic pressure in the internal or external affairs of another state
whose government is unstable, inadequate, or unsatisfactory for the preservation of life and of such interests as are determined by the foreign policy of our Nation."

And contemporary operations and conflicts certainly fall into this realm. Allowing that some material seems dated, like the use of horses and mules (just like in Afghanistan in 2001...) and the absense of electronic gadgets (just like when units are low on batteries...), and the discussion of local boats (like the ones used on the Tigris and Euphrates, there is a lot of thought provoking discussion and relevant insights on building nations out of fragile and failed states and working in the interest of a foreign population that might not hold you in high regard. Discussions of how to hold elections, how to build a local constabulary, how to establish an uncorrupt (or at least less corrupt) government, etc are excellent additions to current discussions on the same topics, offering historical perspective on what has worked elsewhere and how the U.S. has operated elsewhere. Not much would in this book would stand on it's own, either due to technological changes, cultural differences in the current areas of operations, or political sensitivies in an media saturated global environment, but every section of this book would be worth looking at in relation to the contemporary environment.

A great little book for anyone involved with military operations other than conventional war, or interested in the interwar period or Latin American history.

E. M. Van Court
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars SMALL WARS: The Classic Counter-Insurgency Primer, April 8, 2012
This review is from: Small Wars Manual (Paperback)
This manual has some great historical knowledge from the Marine Corps' "Banana Wars" era covering the ageless counter-insurgency methodology that is still relevant today in Afghanistan. The "Small Wars Manual" is a capstone document in the tactical and operational art and science of small wars or low-intensity conflicts. Written before World War II, the manual now serves as an information source for present-day military personnel and should not be considered directive in nature. When reading the "Small Wars Manual", the reader should place it in context with pre-World War II politics and operational methods. While the operational events described in the manual are not relevant today, the terms, concepts, and methods still are applicable. Today's counter-insurgent warriors will see relevance to today's events and the historical connection between the tactics, techniques and procedures used in this manual and American's current involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. While this book is recommended for those whose job it is to lead counter-insurgency units at the tactical and operational levels, every officer and enlisted soldier should take time to study the manual. The American military is faced with being drawn into more and more operations that require civil action in conjunction with military action. Therefore, the more knowledgeable a leader is on the workings of small wars, the better prepared he will be in accomplishing the mission and explaining to subordinates the relevance of what they are being asked to do. I also highly recommend reading C. E. Callwell's book "Small Wars: Their Principles and Practice" were Callwell concludes that technological superiority is important, but not the most important ingredient in low intensity warfare. An army must adapt to climate, terrain, an enemy's mobility, and take what an enemy values most.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Manual from 1940. Not what I expected, but I received much more, April 30, 2011
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This review is from: Small Wars Manual (Paperback)
From the description, I expected a current update of this Marine Corps publication. It's dated 1940, and the book looks like it was photocopied from the original. I find much of the book to be interesting, if nothing else a good piece of history. Many points about logistics, and interruption of the enemies economy truly demonstrates the mastery of the art of war by the Marines.
In that this book was written before Pearl Harbor, it appeared the Japanese paid more attention to this material than the US Government.
Much of the information is dated, especially when detailing weapons systems, & care of mules, with complete anatomical drawings. But the point is that one has to study a lot, and plan in detail before a war of any size.
I have two relatives serving in the Corps at the moment. Their training focuses on adaptation, and getting the task done.
It wasn't what I expected, but on reflection, it's an interesting read.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Not enough detail, June 24, 2014
This review is from: Small Wars Manual (Paperback)
During the lengthy Banana Wars, Corps headquarters undoubtedly heard about many guerrilla-fighting details, but you won't find them here. Like with its subsequent manuals, most of the tactical technique has been edited out by desk jockeys who couldn't agree on it. For the frontline specifics of unconventional warfare, one must look elsewhere--like at "Dragon Days" or "Tequila Junction." On a more positive note, this book does make clear why America will always need Leathernecks--they more greatly value maneuver.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Must have manual for historians, May 12, 2014
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This review is from: Small Wars Manual (Paperback)
This manual was written by marines who participated in the numerous banana wars in South America and in the Philippines ,it a helpful guide for all officers in the field as well as NCOs . The manual is still relevant today I the military's fight against terrorism . A guide in winning.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely Invaluable, January 17, 2014
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This review is from: Small Wars Manual (Paperback)
This is a must read for every military strategist, leader, or future military personnel. I can not stress to you enough how important this book is to the longevity of dominant military theory and operations.
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Small Wars Manual
Small Wars Manual by United States Marine Corps.
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