- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: Naval Institute Press (June 15, 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1612519962
- ISBN-13: 978-1612519968
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 13 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,354 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Margin of Victory: Five Battles that Changed the Face of Modern War Hardcover – June 15, 2016
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"Douglas Macgregor's latest book combines masterful campaign studies and thoughtful analysis of their long-term implications for today's military establishments." - The Journal of Military History
"The challenge is for a nation's military system to successfully adapt to changes in warfare. Although seemingly disparate, these battles are linked together with a logical theme, which makes for an informative and thought-provoking work." -- Military Heritage
"Macgregor makes many profound recommendations based on significant historical evidence. This is a must-read for strategic leaders seeking ideas on military reform. In what I have read about future strategy and the defense innovation (including the Third Offset), few to none of Macgregor's proposals are being considered. The focus is on technology improvements--mostly in regard to ISR and autonomous systems--and not the fundamental changes Macgregor champions. They deserve serious consideration." -- Joint Force Quarterly
"In Margin of Victory, Macgregor includes the Battle of Mons in 1914, the Battle of Shanghai in 1937, The Red Army's destruction of Germany's Army Group Center in 1944, the Israeli Defense Force's counter-attack across the Suez Canal in 1973, and the Battle of '73 Easting in 1991. The reason for the selection of these battles is that each shows the imbalance between victor and vanquished had roots in the reforms that the victorious side enacted well before the war began. Macgregor wants the U.S. to begin a serious study of what it lacks in dealing with 21st century war in order to avoid finding out too late that its solutions are not adequate to provide victory." -- U.S. Military History Review
"What does it take to win a war? West Pointer, combat leader, and renowned military thinker Douglas Macgregor answers that question in this engaging look at five major battles during the last century of combat: Mons 1914, Shanghai 1937, Belorussia 1944, Suez 1973, and Iraq 1991. You may not yet know much about these great clashes, but when you read this book, you will. More than that, you'll know just what it takes to fight and win."--Lt. Gen. Daniel P. Bolger, USA (Ret.), author of Why We Lost: A General's Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars
"Margin of Victory is an extraordinarily informed and informative study that is unreservedly recommended for personal, community and academic library Military History collections and supplemental studies reading lists."--Midwest Book Review
"Margin of Victory is a worthy read with several well-considered recommendations that will prompt critical thinking and debate among senior military leaders and others in the defense community about how we fight--and what it might take to win the next war."--Parameters
"Macgregor offers guidance for future conflicts, stressing the importance of strategy and geopolitics over ideology if nations are to effectively fight and win future battles."--Military History
"Douglas Macgregor's superb analysis points to a wholesale restructuring of the American military--a general staff and cadre of officers with lifetime expertise in such issues as cyber warfare or distinct third-world regions and cultures, not cookie cutter products trained to fill slots to refight World War II."--Jon Basil Utley, publisher, The American Conservative
"All told, however, Macgregor has written another powerful critique of the American way of planning and developing strategy for war. His lesson for policy makers and strategists alike is that 'whenever new military concepts and technologies appear, the complex interaction of national culture, bureaucratic interests, and economic power does not automatically work to support them. . . .[W]hen conditions change and the margin of victory suddenly narrows, frailties and vulnerabilities concealed from view inside the armed forces . . . suddenly produce catastrophic failure.' He asserts that Washington needs to focus on its long-standing and still primary strategic concern, namely, prevention of a hostile power from dominating the Eurasian lands. He argues that the American military must increase its force levels, notably those of the Army. And he advocates for the creation of what he terms a 'national defense staff' (in other words, a general staff) 'to guide the application of American military power,' encompassing integrated capabilities across service lines."--Naval War College Review
About the Author
Col. Douglas Macgregor USA (Ret.) is a decorated combat veteran with a PhD in international relations from the University of Virginia. He is the author of five books and is the executive vice president of Burke-Macgregor Group LLC, a defense and foreign policy consulting firm in Northern Virginia.
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Even most WWII buffs are not that familiar with the Battle of Shanghai of 1937, but it was one of the biggest battles of WWII involving a million men. The point here is that even though the Japanese military was fairly modernized, it was still semi-medieval relying on a samurai-like fighting spirit, a fanatical urge to act, and massive numbers of men instead of efficient tactics. Japan eventually took Shanghai but the Chinese forces were able to escape and Japan ended up in a war without end in China. As the allies later approached Japan, it had millions of men still stationed in China.
The German Army was designed for quick military victories involving initiative and maneuver, which worked very well in Europe from 1939 to 1941. The Germans were tactical masters and no one could match them division for division. But once the Germans invaded the Soviet Union in 1941, strategic ability took over and the Russians were better at this. In WWI Germany lacked the resources to fight a strategic two-front war and its main mission after the war was to avoid this situation. But the German successes at the beginning of WWII apparently emboldened Hitler and his military to make one more decisive strike. But the massive space, weather, and manpower of Russia soon took over. In hindsight it is apparent that once the Germans failed to take Moscow, the war was over.
In 1944 the Russians amassed two million men as well as thousands of planes and tanks for Operation Bagration to drive the Germans out of Belarus (then Byelorussia). Hitler's interference made things worse as he was convinced the Russian attack would come through Ukraine further south, since Balarus was considered too swampy for a major attack, so resources were concentrated in Ukraine. Additional complacency found many Germans on leave so only about 166,000 were available to face the Russian onslaught at first. Once the fighting started, Hitler further exacerbated things by insisting that all ground be held to the last man, when initiative and maneuver were the German strong points. Like the Japanese relying on fighting spirit he relied on willpower. Hitler also insisted on a "guns and butter" approach where German factories ran single shifts until late in the war, consumer goods were still being produced, and women were excused from the war effort. Macgregor is particularly impressed with the Russians' unity of effort where one commander had total control of all military forces. This contrasts with the interservice rivalry in the German forces and the same interservice rivalry still present in US and UK forces today. Once the Russians smashed through Belarus the road to Berlin through Poland was open.
The Yom Kippur War in 1973 found Israel in a state of complacency about Arab abilities. Israeli culture considered Arabs incapable of any decisive attack. The surprise attack found Egypt across the Suez Canal and in charge of the east bank. After nine days, it was only the Israeli assets of initiative, maneuver, and a massive American airlift which allowed Israel to wage a counterattack across the canal and achieve a settlement. The nonstop congratulatory coverage of this counterattack by the American media may have obscured the final result. First, while the Israelis had surrounded the Egyptian Third Army, which held the southern part of the canal, the Second Army, which held the northern part, was still intact. Second, while the initial Egyptian objective was to regain a few miles of the east bank, it ended up regaining the whole Sinai Peninsula with the peace settlement.
Everyone has heard of Desert Storm but how many people have heard of 73 Easting? The Iraqi desert was flat without any landmarks so the US Army divided it into longitudinal lines using GPS. 73 Easting was such a line east of where the US Army started its offensive into Iraq and where the main battle took place. Everyone knows the results: using advanced armor with night vision (necessary in the desert dust storm) and laser guided targeting, the army smashed through one Republican Guard division, destroying one brigade. US capabilities were obvious but Bush then quickly announced a cease fire. His main objective was to drive Hussein out of Kuwait and overcome the Vietnam Syndrome which generally opposed US military action. The result was most of the Republican Guard escaped further into Iraq and Hussein survived. But Bush achieved what much of the public generally wants: a relatively bloodless victory in record time.
Macgregor finishes with an assessment of US military capability today which is filled with military jargon but some things are clear. He believes the US still has a WWII force structure, modernized but still without the unity of command and control the Soviets had in 1944. The US military also has a short term approach like just about everything else in American culture. He says the military needs to have real unity of command with a National Defense Staff instead of the usual interservice rivalry. America's grand national strategy is to maintain economic prosperity for which it needs access to world resources available by trade. The deliberate phasing of buildup, air offensive, and then ground offensive, as seen in the 1991 and 2003 wars in Iraq, are obsolete. It needs a much more flexible quick-force projection strategy.
Finally, he mentions how the world is full of weak and divided countries with disgruntled populations. But this description increasingly includes the US. It may seem ridiculous to call America weak but a fear of using military strength is weakness. Nevertheless, America now has a stronger leader in Trump and things seem to be changing.