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The Village Mass Market Paperback – January 1, 2003
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The Washington Post A minor classic about war.
The New York Times A vivid and unbiased portrait of one Vietnamese hamlet in the grip of war...Exceptional insight....West has told this story with honesty and without embroidery, while bringing out its inherent human drama.
Charles B. MacDonald Author of Company Commander Unquestionably the best book to come out of the Vietnam war -- human, compassionate, suspenseful, dramatic.
Peter Braestrup Author of Tet A superbly honest, readable work that goes beyond journalism to become good literature.
Washington Post Book Review This is the way Vietnam should have been fought -- by tough volunteers who lived alongside the Vietnamese....It will take the sternest idealogue to remain unmoved by West's perceptive and human treatment of the men who fought it....It's an account of brave men at war in a far country, honestly told.
Keith William Nolan Author of The Battle for Saigon and A Hundred Miles of Bad Road One of the small handful of truly great books to come out of the Vietnam war.
Pacific Affairs Pure Hemingway in the best sense of that characterization....West brilliantly portrays the drama of a war few Americans have known.
Leatherneck Magazine A fantastic, down in the mud and crud book of enlisted Marines fighting to defend a village....West tells of some of the victories and the tragic cost. And he tells it well.
About the Author
Francis J. "Bing" West served in Vietnam as a Marine infantry officer, and later as Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, Dean of Research at the Naval War College, an analyst at the RAND Corporation, and a lead CNN commentator during Desert Storm. He is currently president of the GAMA Corporation. A frequent contributor to defense journals, West is also the author of Small Unit Action in Vietnam, and Naval Forces and National Security. His new novel, The Pepperdogs, is available from Simon & Schuster. Visit his Web site at www.westwrite.com
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At age 19 I was suddenly put into a CAP unit outside of DaNang, Quebec 4. The TET Offensive had just started, I and other Marines were installed there to help with extra security. We did not fit in with the regular CAP Marines.
The book tells of the dedication and bond the Marines had with the village people and the Popular Forces. I had only contempt for the PF's because I was not trained or had the personal compassion for the Vietnamese as the Cap regulars had.
The book goes into great detail of how extra ordinary a Marine must be living in an outpost with the shadow of death hanging continuously over them. Being responsible for the lives not only of their comrades but the people they are there to protect.
So now I know what it takes to be a CAP unit Marine thanks to this wonderfully written book.
Make no doubt the invasion of Iraq on 19 March 2003 placed Afghanistan and what strategy at that time prevailed deeply in second place. As a direct hire/contractor for USAID standing up the 1st PRT in Gardez, Paktia, I witnessed military minimized due to the demands of Iraq. The only financial resource at that time for "hearts and minds" was the CERP (commander's emergency response program; USAID's only implementation partner (USAID is not a direct funding agency) was IOM (International Organization of Migration)..hardly an NGO with experience in "post war" infrastructure development. The last time a had experience IOM was in Haiti (Operation Uphold Democracy) with their mission moving people around from one IDP camp to another.
Although, I spent very little time at the Embassy, there were instances when I sat in on meetings (toward the end of my tour) with USAID's implementing partners in education, health care, infrastructure development (Louis Berger..the singular infrastructure development USAID partner in Afghanistan..schools, clinics..and the Kandahar-Kabul Road thru Ghazni). Because the Embassy folks and USAID managers would never venture from the Embassy, the inflated "success" of the implementation partners (NGO's-IO's) became a show. In one case, the presenters did not know there was a field rep for USAID who had traveled to Ghazni, Khost, Logar and Paktia on a daily basis (PRT commander/5th SFG/LTC was a real road warrior). Their assertions of projects was in some cases simply false.
Unfortunately, had some of the tenants of Mr. West's summaries in The Village combined with what we know from "all the talk" of COIN been implemented in early 2003, no doubt Afghanistan would be in much better strategic position than today...in short, we wasted perhaps seven (7) years..bleeding us financially and the tragic lost of alot of fine Soldiers, Marines, Air Force and Navy personnel.
Lessons learned from The Village and from the Ten Thousand Day War-Vietnam seemed to of been lost within the Administration of that time..and for Afghanistan, what momentum won was quickly lost.
This book is part of the current edition of the Professional Reading List, promulgated by the Commandant of the Marine Corps. You can see how it would apply to Iraq and Afghanistan, but in the current environment of shifting strategies, short cycles, up-or-out promotions and the like, would a long-term strategy of patience work? Or be allowed to work?
An excellent read. I've already picked up a second book by West (on Afghanistan) and will pick up additional works by him. I read this book both as a paperback and an eBook (on two different eBook gadgets). Reading the eBook version enabled me to keep notes (and tweet the same notes), but for some reason the eBook does not have the photographs included in the paper edition.
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Also read 1 Million Steps...SSDD.
a good picture of the sacrifices our military makes for our
country that more people should read about .