We can win our wars. One of our warriors explains how.

Summary: Our military loses quite consistently, but not for lack of lack of knowledge how to win. Here is one of the many books by our warriors explaining how we can win

Guardian Joe: How Less Force Helps the Warrior
Available at Amazon.

Guardian Joe:
How Less Force Helps the Warrior

By H. John Poole (Lt. Colonel, USMC, retired)
Published 2018.

Review by G.I. Wilson (Colonel, USMC, retired).

“A must read for all those actually trying to win at war. …For company grade officers responsible for the troops’ battlefield welfare and success, Guardian Joe offers a comprehensive look into Irregular Warfare. For those troops themselves, it provides specific instructions for how more easily to survive in combat. This is the manual for the next U.S. advance in warfighting.” {From the publisher.}

Do not overlook Guardian Joe as we witness a U.S. government’s spending binge of historic proportions unfold. Sadly we are painfully reminded of DOD’s and Congress’ addiction to high-tech-high-cost hardware as the operational solution to everything. Despite DOD and Congress’ voracious appetite for universal high-tech-high-cost hardware solutions over people, Frank Konkel is Nextgov’s executive editor. observes that “about one-third of decision-makers surveyed found “lack of personnel” the largest impediment to spending their remaining budgets, followed by “internal gridlock” and “lack of sufficient time.”

While Guardian Joe emphasizes people as the number one priority for national security, Guardian Joe will probably not be read by most American ground combat officers. Which exactly the reason it should be read by everyone involved in national security.

Guardian Joe lays bare the fact that in a constantly world our enemies “bring no respect for conventions, codes, or morality and the temptation to be reduced to their level of ruthlessness and brutality” because of our technological destructive capability is ever present. Unfortunately that destructive capability is high tech high cost hardware inwardly focused. Regrettably Congress and DOD have lost sight of what it takes to win wars and setting the necessary priorities of investing in people, ideas, and hardware in that order.

John Poole, author of Guardian Joe, says …

“We invest a great deal of resources and time in training and educating our warriors in how to apply an ever more lethal and technologically advanced panoply of physical materiel. We also make an equal investment in the mental aspect, to out-think and out-maneuver the enemy. How much, however, do we invest in the moral aspect.”

Poole’s book gives us an understanding of the moral-mental-physical aspects of war and how the individual and small units can effectively engage and shape in the tactical and operational levels of war as opposed to universal high-tech-high-cost hardware to every operational challenge.

Poole in Chapter 26 cautions on the role of non-state actors who “can ill afford fancy gear”, takes aim at the “Ever Present Headquarters Distraction”, empathizes “Things only a Snuffy Will See”, and makes the point “The Name of the Game is Winning Wars.” Poole is one the last remaining authorities on how to train infantry combatants and infantry squad.

Guardian Joe is most timely to again warn us of our over-reliance on high-tech-high-cost hardware and technology. Our foes are counting on our addiction to high-tech-high-cost hardware and technology. and attrition.

High-tech-high-cost surveillance and targeting devices do not make U.S. troops any less detectable by their ground foes/opposition be they state or non-state actors. It does, however, make small-unit maneuver seem less important. As a result, America now lacks proficient assault and engagement personnel at tactical level where the rubber meets the road. The former do not have enough movement Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs) to bypass conventional and/or unconventional enemy’ surfaces and/or exploit gaps. As a result, DOD has diminished capability to conduct 2nd/3rd generation warfare (2GW/3GW) or even 4th generation warfare (4GW).

The latter chapters of Guardian Joe detail the TTPs needed for enhancing infantry capability. That is the book’s primary contribution to the body of knowledge. It is a fully comprehensive irregular/asymmetric warfare manual for 3GW and 4GW.

Poole grasps and understands what the late military strategist John Boyd (Colonel, USAF) meant when he said …

“Machines don’t fight wars, terrain doesn’t fight wars. You must get into the minds of humans. That’s where the battles are won.”


The rest of the story: why we lose

The “swamp” scores another victory. A reformer is hired for DoD with promises of support from those up high. At the first complaints from the military-industrial complex, Mattis and company run like cowards. This is why the US doesn’t win.

Hired to Drain the Swamp, Fired in Less Than a Year” by Mark Perry at The American Conservative — “‘This is the Boeing mafia in all of its glory,’ one DoD official said of John ‘Jay’ Gibson’s demise.”

About the author: H. John Poole

Lieutenant Colonel H. John Poole retired in 1993 after almost 28 years of commissioned and noncommissioned infantry service in the Marine Corps. He spent two years in combat (Vietnam 1966-69, including 8 months as the commander of a rifle company), six years as an instructor with the Advanced Infantry Training Company at Camp Lejeune (1986-92), and one year as the Staff Non-Commissioned Officer In Charge of the 3rd Marine Division Combat Squad Leaders Course on Okinawa (1992-93).

Since retirement, he has run training courses about 4GW tactics at the small-unit level. See his detailed bio here. See his entry at Wikipedia.

He is the author of 16 books. His first and most famous is The Last Hundred Yards: The NCO’s Contribution to Warfare (1997), widely studied by Marine NCOs. In the Terrorist Trail: Backtracking the Foreign Fighter (2006), he says that America faces serious fourth generation warfare (4GW) challenges that require 4GW solutions.

For More Information

Ideas! For shopping ideas see my recommended books and films at Amazon.

If you liked this post, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter. See all posts about ways to reform our militaryabout our long war, about military strategy, about our incompetent senior generals, and especially these…

  1. Why does the US field the best soldiers but lose so often?
  2. Why the US military keeps losing wars.
  3. Possible solutions, paths to a better future for the US military.
  4. A look at our military threats – and at our greatest foe.
  5. William Lind looks at our fake military in action.
  6. A Captain describes our broken military & how to fix it.
  7. Why America Loses Every War It Starts.

Essential reading to understand modern war

There are two the best books about modern war.

The Transformation of War: The Most Radical Reinterpretation of Armed Conflict Since Clausewitz by Martin van Creveld.

The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World by General Rupert Smith.

Transformation of War
Available at Amazon.
The Utility of Force: The Art of War in the Modern World
Available at Amazon.

4 thoughts on “We can win our wars. One of our warriors explains how.”

  1. The Man Who Laughs

    This book sounds interesting, and I have a feeling that what you’ve provided is a small part of a larger and more complex argument, and I’ll have to read the whole book to judge it fairly. Here I will settle for quoting something I heard a guy say who was discussing personal security. “You win 100% of the gunfights you’re not in.” You could change gunfights to wars and you’d be spot on.

    Firefights too, maybe?

  2. I have two of Poole’s books (Tiger’s Way and Phantom Soldier). Both are genius. Like Lind, Van Creveld, and Vandergriff, he is ignored.

    Perhaps non-state actors will make the best use of these books in an era of collapsing nation-state legitimacy.

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