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VINE VOICEon February 20, 2007
Col Richards walks the reader through how Sun Tzu and John Boyd might have assessed 4th generation warfare and the world in which we find ourselves. His presentation is thought provoking to say the least.

Sun Tzu's wisdom has survived 2,000 years of study by people from a young Mao to the United States Marines. Sun Tzu is all about winning the battle before the battle begins. His wisdom is durable beyond expectations,

" Those whose generals are able and not constrained by governments are victorious ."

Sun Tzu speaks of "The Way" where there is unity of purpose between the ruler and the population. By inference a goal is to break that bond.

John Boyd, cigar chomping fighter pilot turned student of war. His early studies focused on why one side won aerial combat in the jet age. After annoying the Fighter Mafia of the USAF to no end he was sent off to an obscure Pentagon office, hidden exile. However, Boyd used the time to launch a study of Patterns of Conflict, which turned into a monumental brief. Out of this effort also came the OODA loop which stressed the importance of maintaining an advantage by processing information and operating on a faster cycle than the opposition.

Boyd's greatest contribution was not to the USAF but rather to a fundamental restructuring of the Marine Corps battle doctrine. After the 1991 Gulf War the Marine commandant gave Boyd much of the credit for helping to achieve what many pundits believed to be impossible, rapid movement through the heavily armed Iraqi forces occupying Kuwait.

Again and again Sun Tzu, Boyd and Richards stress the importance of non combat war. Victory, not slaughter is the goal.

During the early days of the war in Iraq the press was filled with reports of very tired US troops, often so far beyond their supply lines that they were short on food, yet they continued on. Why, too often the Generals are seeking near perfect preparation while Boyd and others understood that the ability to act is a way that kept the enemy off balance was the quickest and lowest cost way to victory. Richards seeks to restructure the military along the visions of Boyd and Sun Tzu.

Richards acknowledges that he goes far beyond his mentor, John Boyd, in his recommendations for an overhaul of the US military from top to bottom. Richard's ideas are bold and near revolutionary, reduce the officer ranks, close the service academies, promote officers from the ranks of the enlisted, fill pilot slots in the AF, Navy and Marines with non officers. The list goes on.

Col Richards has produced a highly readable book, filled with wisdom of the past 2,000 years along with his own ideas. Highly recommended.
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on November 27, 2006
As I understand it, Dr. Richards' book is in fact an amended version of a presentation he gave at a conference in Quantico in Fall of 2001. The presentation itself, which is available on the net in Powerpoint format, was a straight-forward summary of the new situation we find ourselves in: the age of 4th Generation Warfare. The book expands on the presentation, pointing out the obvious flaws of U.S. military management by examining the ideas of John Boyd and Sun Tzu.

In an era where the U.S. still emphasizes gadgets over human assets, answering every other problem with more cash rather than new concepts, Boyd's advice ("People. Ideas. Technology. In that order.") seems more practical than ever. Richards' work is a good examination of Boyd's core concepts and solid guide to reorganizing U.S. Defense strategy.

Readers who enjoyed this book may also want to take a look at H.J. Poole's "The Tiger Way." It applies similar concepts towards the reorganization of the military on the tactical level.
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The difference between an effective and efficient military as opposed to an ineffective and bloated military. A must read for every military planner and every citizen concerned with runaway government spending.
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on September 21, 2012
What a disappointment! Small, overpriced, dated book. The breathless recommendations for the wonderful things you can learn and apply (OODA loops!, remarkable insights! etc.) perhaps had me expecting too much. Even considering that, it was still a light and largely useless read. I give 2 stars only because someone who has no understanding of Sun Tzu or John Boyd might be encouraged to go ELSEWHERE to learn something about their ideas.
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on November 5, 2006
This is a short book but it will get you started and more.

What is an OODA cycle? Don't know.

Better find out today
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on December 24, 2011
Really? I would like to purchase this book either in the kindle format or as a hardcopy book...Why is it $159.99?
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