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US Army Small Unit Tactics Handbook Paperback – September 11, 2015
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I had the opportunity to read and get a copy of the most recent version (I believe its distinctive from the original (or past versions) by its additional material/topics covered and most easily recognizable addition of a ranger tab to the front /w multi-cam background)
Originally, I was under the opinion that the product was primarily a tool for young non-11B (infantry) soldiers to have a leg-up passing the Small-units tactics portion of the Q Course (where SF Green Berets are trained) by getting additional information on ambush/raid/etc that make up the bulk of the training at this phase. Because of this, I didn't really understand its purpose when in comparison to other products such as the beloved Ranger Handbook. Couldn't these students just read the ranger handbook (SH 21-76), an established book you can generally pick up anywhere? Why does SF need its 'own' book on small-unit tactics? What's its purpose?
So with this somewhat negative mindset and confusion I went diving into this book - about a month later I came back up for air. Completely turned around 180 on this product. I even think the author is a bit disingenuous for only calling it a small unit tactics book. This is literally a 'primer' for all things special forces and for setting the basic framework of an SF soldier (or combat arms soldier in many ways). It goes out to address not just the tactics and procedures of leading small unit patrols (the foundation of all things SOF) but goes beyond it to address the whole-man concept. Both addressing doctrinal knowledge requirements of the SF soldier (from concepts behind the fundamentals of war to more complex personal topics such as leadership in a small unit or NCO and O relations, etc) to setting a historical precedent for why these skillsets have proven useful and continue to be the backbone of our training. Even in the subjects where I thought this book would only be emulating the ranger handbook, did I realize how poorly the R handbook sets the reasoning for why you are doing what you are doing. This book has the space and area to explain reasoning behind the checklist. (pg 293, starts a great OPorder layout - super useful for the new Q student).
Which I guess is where I found the purpose behind this book (in my opinion) - in addition to products like the ranger handbook. This is the type of book you read first thru and reference back to upon completing field training problems (its visuals are well designed and clear to the reader - though a few in the SF history I don't think really added to much to the narrative and were a bit cluttered.) It (the reviewed book) becomes the basic foundation of your knowledge set as a future SF soldier, which is then added to by more detailed specific writings and works in the various topics its addresses. I didn't realize until reading it that as an SF guy we really lacked the backbone or foundation reading material that all others are built upon - this book does that do a surprisingly effective degree. This is sometimes missing when reading specifics about one subject or another in doctrine.
As for subjects included - I was little disappointed in the Unconventional Warfare (UW) section - it addresses the foundational topics, but I was hoping for more 'why' answered. Then again, this book isn't trying to be TC-18 (UW manual). I did like the section following however on the differences on UW and Foreign Internal Defense (FID) - that set the two in order mentally, which surprisingly I find students often confusing - not in doctrine but in understanding the inverse relationship between the two.
Not a huge fan of giving anything 5 stars, because there can be some improving - but generally I'm sold 100% on the product. Why the army doesn't issue you one on arrival to the Q course doesn't make any sense to me. Great product, GET IT, if you are headed to Bragg soon. Just my long two cents. (which you can imagine if I cared to write this long-winded rant - I think is important to future SF.... or even current SF guys who may need a check up on their fundamentals.)
BRANDED BY HER: "A Scorned Woman is The Most Destructive of All Man Made Disasters."
I can't even think of a single thing that was left out here. The only way this could have been fleshed out a little more would be a chapter on methodologies of assisting local forces & counter-insurgencies.
If you're a soldier you -NEED- to read this book. It will put you in a position to fly up leadership as long as you're staying on track as a soldier. Just amazing.