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Men Against Fire: The Problem of Battle Command in Future War

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S. L. A. "Slam" Marshall was a veteran of World War I and a combat historian during World War II. He startled the military and civilian world in 1947 by announcing that, in an average infantry company, no more than one in four soldiers actually fired their weapons while in contact with the enemy. His contention was based on interviews he conducted immediately after combat S. L. A. "Slam" Marshall was a veteran of World War I and a combat historian during World War II. He startled the military and civilian world in 1947 by announcing that, in an average infantry company, no more than one in four soldiers actually fired their weapons while in contact with the enemy. His contention was based on interviews he conducted immediately after combat in both the European and Pacific theaters of World War II. To remedy the gunfire imbalance he proposed changes to infantry training designed to ensure that American soldiers in future wars brought more fire upon the enemy. His studies during the Korean War showed that the ratio of fire had more than doubled since World War II. "This is one of the great volumes on fighting published since World War II and should be required reading for every staff officer as well as every combat officer of the arms which fight on the ground. It deserves a place among the really great volumes on combat and command."--Military Affairs


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S. L. A. "Slam" Marshall was a veteran of World War I and a combat historian during World War II. He startled the military and civilian world in 1947 by announcing that, in an average infantry company, no more than one in four soldiers actually fired their weapons while in contact with the enemy. His contention was based on interviews he conducted immediately after combat S. L. A. "Slam" Marshall was a veteran of World War I and a combat historian during World War II. He startled the military and civilian world in 1947 by announcing that, in an average infantry company, no more than one in four soldiers actually fired their weapons while in contact with the enemy. His contention was based on interviews he conducted immediately after combat in both the European and Pacific theaters of World War II. To remedy the gunfire imbalance he proposed changes to infantry training designed to ensure that American soldiers in future wars brought more fire upon the enemy. His studies during the Korean War showed that the ratio of fire had more than doubled since World War II. "This is one of the great volumes on fighting published since World War II and should be required reading for every staff officer as well as every combat officer of the arms which fight on the ground. It deserves a place among the really great volumes on combat and command."--Military Affairs

30 review for Men Against Fire: The Problem of Battle Command in Future War

  1. 4 out of 5

    Tom Wilson

    Based on POW interviews. this book caused the US Army to change its doctrine from the private soldier as the basic unit of the military organization to the squad. One of the purposes of the US Army Ranger School was to proliferate the leadership model for the squad structure, along with other military virtues associated with the Ranger traditions dating back to the 7 Years War, throughout the Army. This strategy transformed the Army's performance model from the 19th Century 3rd Wave High Perform Based on POW interviews. this book caused the US Army to change its doctrine from the private soldier as the basic unit of the military organization to the squad. One of the purposes of the US Army Ranger School was to proliferate the leadership model for the squad structure, along with other military virtues associated with the Ranger traditions dating back to the 7 Years War, throughout the Army. This strategy transformed the Army's performance model from the 19th Century 3rd Wave High Performance to the current "Be All You Can Be" 5th Wave High Performance reflected in Gordon Sullivan's Hope Is Not A Miracle, which is 70 years ahead of the Harvard Business model.

  2. 5 out of 5

    James

    A very mixed bag. On the one hand, Marshall was truly onto something with his reporting on the extreme reluctance of many soldiers to actively try to kill enemy soldiers. He wasn't the first to note this, and some of his data collection and analysis methods were unsound. Still, it's true that most people find it harder than they expect to kill other people, and to a lot of military leaders in his day the extent of this phenomenon came as as surprise. That reluctance is a good thing in general, but A very mixed bag. On the one hand, Marshall was truly onto something with his reporting on the extreme reluctance of many soldiers to actively try to kill enemy soldiers. He wasn't the first to note this, and some of his data collection and analysis methods were unsound. Still, it's true that most people find it harder than they expect to kill other people, and to a lot of military leaders in his day the extent of this phenomenon came as as surprise. That reluctance is a good thing in general, but bad for military effectiveness, and we do need to have effective military forces. Marshall's solution, to change training methods to reduce those inhibitions, has been effective both by getting soldiers more used to the idea in real terms rather than the more abstract sense gained by firing a gun at a blank round bullseye and by training the act into muscle memory so that soldiers will be more likely to aim and fire automatically, before the thinking mind has time to interrupt the process with moral qualms. This was where Marshall made his greatest mistake. It didn't seem to cross his mind, or those of the military training establishment in general, to wonder how having reflexively killed people would affect those soldiers once they had time to think about it, with their moral systems still unchanged; basically, having been tricked into doing something that their instincts and upbringing told them was evil. As we now know, of course, the impact of having killed has been shattering on a large share of those who fought throughout history, often haunting them for the rest of their lives. By increasing the number who killed and ensuring that more killed without being psychologically ready for the reality of it, Marshall and the military establishment greatly increased the damage caused by what we now call PTSD or PTS. So that's one gigantic aspect of the fundamental subject of the book on which Marshall is silent. His second mistake was in his forecast for the future of warfare. He looked at the increase in the firepower of military arms up to and including nuclear weapons and at the fact that throughout history, each advance in weapons technology had led to the new and improved weapons being used without inhibition; from that he extrapolated that the trend would continue with nuclear weapons, and painted his picture of the future of warfare accordingly. Of course, that has not happened, because we finally managed to create weapons so destructive we were afraid to start using them on each other. The balance of terror based on the doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction led to an avoidance of not only nuclear war but of all-out high-intensity conventional war between the strongest powers, for fear it would lead to that nuclear war when someone felt they had nothing to lose. So instead it led to the era of lower-intensity, or shorter, or smaller-scope proxy wars by weaker allies of the opposing superpowers. Marshall might argue that nuclear weapons were something new and no one could have anticipated the too-terrible-to-use argument actually working. However, he'd seen that happen during his lifetime with the poison gas weapons used in World War I but not before or during World War II, except against noncombatants and troops of countries like Ethiopia that could not retaliate in kind. So this book is interesting as a look at where the U.S. military mindset was at after the Korean War and before Vietnam, but not as a realistic or complete picture of the issues addressed.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Viola

    https://www.historynet.com/long-dead-... The long-dead hand of S.L.A. Marshall misleads historians Robert L. Bateman One of the most widely read military historians of the 20th century, S.L.A. Marshall was also a liar and a shameless self-promoter. His best-known book, Men Against Fire, is at least in part, and perhaps wholly, a work of fiction. Yet it has been, and unfortunately continues to be, read by generations of officers and historians who have subsequently applied the “lessons learned” to https://www.historynet.com/long-dead-... The long-dead hand of S.L.A. Marshall misleads historians Robert L. Bateman One of the most widely read military historians of the 20th century, S.L.A. Marshall was also a liar and a shameless self-promoter. His best-known book, Men Against Fire, is at least in part, and perhaps wholly, a work of fiction. Yet it has been, and unfortunately continues to be, read by generations of officers and historians who have subsequently applied the “lessons learned” to their own work. Faced with the “facts of combat” such as the ratio of fire provided in Men Against Fire, even writers of U.S. Army doctrine modified texts in an attempt to overcome the problems Marshall outlined. It has been known for more than a decade now that Marshall made up “facts” to support his personal theories and pet ideas. The most famous (or infamous) of those was his fiction that “no more than 15 percent of the men in combat fired their weapons in World War Two.” Despite being credited with inventing “bottom-up” history, Marshall was really just a newspaper reporter in a soldier’s uniform. Yet his puffery endures, influencing historical analysis and popular history. Samuel Lyman Atwood Marshall was born in Catskill, N.Y., in 1900. That he enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1917 is documented, as is his discharge in 1919. According to Marshall, he was commissioned as the youngest lieutenant in the American Expeditionary Force and served in the infantry in the Soissons, St. Mihiel and Meuse-Argonne campaigns. In Bringing Up the Rear, he claimed he ended the war on November 11, 1918, “in a foxhole not far from Stenay.” The research of author, historian and World War II combat veteran Harold Leinbaugh into Marshall’s personal records indicates that he was actually a sergeant. Marshall’s unit, the 315th Engineer Battalion, built roads and delousing stations. According to Leinbaugh, it was only after the war that Marshall attended an abbreviated Officer Candidate School in France. Given the massive and rapid demobilization of the Army in the months after the armistice, gaining acceptance into this version of OCS was not terribly difficult. Marshall apparently did receive a commission but left the Army at the end of his commitment. During the 20 years between the two world conflicts, Marshall worked as a reporter for various newspapers. Selling heroes to the American public has never been particularly difficult, and Marshall mastered the winning formula of the underdog and the common man displaying uncommon attributes. When World War II began and Marshall was brought on active duty, first as a public relations man and later as a “historian,” he brought with him the techniques he had learned as a sports writer. He wrote history in an anecdotal style—not creating a history so much as telling stories. He was the consummate storyteller. Nobody would dispute the fact that Marshall talked to many soldiers, perhaps thousands, who had recently been rotated out of combat. Questions surface, however, when one examines what he was talking to them about. Roger Spiller of the Combat Studies Institute at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., noted in an article more than a decade ago that the number of companies Marshall claimed to have interviewed seemed to change over time. For example, in the original text of Men Against Fire, Marshall claimed that his statistics were the result of interviews with “approximately four hundred infantry companies.” But as Spiller discovered, during addresses made at Fort Leavenworth in the early 1950s, Marshall claimed that he had interviewed 603 infantry companies, while by 1957 the number had dropped back down to “something over 500.” These numbers are indeed significant, but one has to wonder. After all, according to Marshall, it generally took two or three days to interview a rifle company. Marshall started his interviewing in the Pacific, specifically after the Makin Island invasion in November 1943. In the European theater, the first interviews he conducted did not start before June 1944. Since Marshall did not start practicing his technique of “post-combat interviewing” before that date, and the war ended with the surrender of Japan in August 1945, how could he possibly have interviewed 600 companies (1,800 workdays or almost five years), or 500 companies (1,500 days or just over four years) or even 400 companies? The simple answer is that Marshall made it up. If Marshall spent every single day all year for more than 2l⁄2 years doing absolutely nothing but interviewing combat soldiers fresh off the front lines, it is conceivable that he could have interviewed something like what he claims. But he did not, an observation buttressed by the research conducted by Spiller in Marshall’s papers. Specifically, it seems that even in the interviews that he did conduct, his much vaunted “after-action review” technique was not methodical and consistent, but more anecdotal in nature. Moreover, his own notebooks seem to indicate that wherever Marshall got that famous “15 percent fire their weapons” statistic, it was not from his own interviews. Even more damning than Marshall’s inflation of the number of interviews he conducted is the fact that he never seems to have asked anyone, “Did you fire your weapon in combat?” In none of his notes, either in the Army’s possession or on deposit in El Paso, Texas, is there any record of his ever asking that question. Spiller noted that the absence of notes on the fundamental question of the ratio of fire, as well as testimony of Marshall’s coworkers from that time, suggests that he actually had no solid material on which to base his statement that only 15 percent of men in combat fire their weapons. Marshall’s style and what he considered “history” seem to have changed over time. Initially the only fabrications he foisted upon others were about himself. As time went on and his influence grew, he began to modify or create facts to support his arguments. Eventually, as Marshall began to publish more commercial histories, he also resorted to lies to create better characters to act on his historical stage. A careful reading of his Korean and Vietnam War works clearly shows how he created larger-than-life heroes for his narrative. One shining example is Marshall’s account of then-Major (now retired Colonel) David Hackworth from Battles in the Monsoon: The word for Hackworth is merry. He has that kind of smile, accented more by the deep twinkle in his eye than the cracking of his face, and that rarer thing yet in a soldier—a merry gait; he rolls along like a sailor. Under high pressure he is utterly calm without having to be self-restrained, up to the moment when he must take the initiative, which he may do either with a laugh or with words that sting. Yet he is never abusive. A thoroughly likable man, Hack, a stimulating companion who in conversation acquires force by deliberate understatement. And he is a fighter born, as well as being the kind of commander who sees beyond the skyline of immediate orders. Spit and polish—no, not for him. There was a four day beard on his face that added nothing to his age or beauty. I had last seen him when he was a platoon sergeant in Cap. Lew Millett’s company in Korea, fifteen years before. It was the day the outfit staged the one great bayonet attack of that war. Lew got a Medal of Honor from it, Hack got a commission, and I got a wife. So the drinks should be on me. I should preface this part by saying that personally I know and like Hackworth. He is a hero, winning a battlefield commission in a bayonet charge. Nobody denies that getting a commission in this manner is the ultimate “hard way.” The problem is that Marshall’s single passage contains several factual errors, including three outright lies. To begin with, Hackworth himself says he never met Marshall while he was a platoon sergeant in Korea. Beyond that, he was not in Captain Lewis Millett’s company, which means that he could not have participated in its famous bayonet charge on February 7, 1951. Moreover, this could not have been an “honest mistake” because Marshall knew and worked with Hackworth extensively. It all sounded awfully heroic, though, didn’t it? Battles in the Monsoon was published in 1967. Marshall didn’t stop there, however, because he continued and amplified the account of the engagements described in that book a few years later in his autobiography Bringing Up the Rear. This time Marshall repeats and adds to his earlier lies regarding Hackworth—and also places himself in the situation, under fire: Before we could settle in to work, there came a new rattle, again as close as the next second. This time it was for real. A group of North Vietnamese skirmishers had closed in on us; the firing came from the higher ground. In the next thirty minutes, before the incident closed, there were seven dead Charlies on the hill, against two Americans so slightly wounded that they wouldn’t leave the hill. “This is a typical SLAM error,” according to Colonel Hackworth. “Throughout the time he was with the battalion doing his AAR [after-action report] we were not under fire. The night before he visited my small battalion TOC [tactical operations center] we were hit and there were some NVA piled up nearby. I think this ‘war story’ came from his urgent need to be a warrior. Something he probably never was.” Once again, Marshall created fiction to bolster his image and inserted it directly into the historical record. Despite all the lies and the fabricated statistics about the behavior of men in combat, is there anything in what Marshall wrote from which military scholars can learn today? Surely there are nuggets of wisdom embedded in his texts, but is it worth the trouble to go mining for them? It would likely prove impossible to determine what is true and what are merely Marshall’s personal pet theories in his two quasi-theoretical works, Men Against Fire and The Soldier’s Load and the Mobility of a Nation. There are going to be elements of “pure truth” about the nature of men in combat that could be lost by dismissing Marshall entirely—but only a massive amount of archival research can determine what those parts might be. Meanwhile, do we want to train the next generation of soldiers and leaders with such a flawed source? Already one of the most potentially promising works of military psychology in recent years, On Killing, by David Grossman, is badly contaminated by its reliance on Marshall’s frauds. Better, newer works are now available on similar topics—in some cases written by infantrymen who also happen to hold doctorates in military history. We can trust books like Keith Bonn’s When the Odds Were Even, John McManus’ The Deadly Brotherhood and most recently Peter Mansoor’s The G.I. Offensive in Europe. It’s high time that this generation shook off the cloak Marshall has thrown over its eyes for so long and sought truth in history, rather than just some good stories. +++++ Originally published in the February 2007 issue of Military History

  4. 5 out of 5

    Riley

    For full disclosure, I'm not sure why I read a book of military theory in the first place. This work had two flaws that ended up being fatal for me. The first was that the most intriguing detail S.L.A. offered -- that one of four soldiers fail to fire their weapons during combat because of fear, confusion and a reluctance to kill their fellow man -- ended up being a statistic that he made up without factual support. The second was that his the view of battle that he offered comes across as very d For full disclosure, I'm not sure why I read a book of military theory in the first place. This work had two flaws that ended up being fatal for me. The first was that the most intriguing detail S.L.A. offered -- that one of four soldiers fail to fire their weapons during combat because of fear, confusion and a reluctance to kill their fellow man -- ended up being a statistic that he made up without factual support. The second was that his the view of battle that he offered comes across as very dated in our time of terrorism and scattered urban combat. For instance: "But it is not the fact of death and of killing which is the prime characteristic of the battlefield. Its essential is that it is the meeting place of opposing military forces where they engage in decisive struggle for the possession of ground. ... There is no battlefield until two forces close, each with the object of overriding the body of the enemy while avoiding being overridden. "It is my belief that the field, as I have defined it here, has not lost its decisive character, and that in the nature of things, it cannot do so."

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

    A good psychological book about battle command, weak statistics This book is a classic in military history — one of the most popular analyses of morale in the US WW2 soldier. Unfortunately some of the main statistics in the book (primarily that only 10-25% of soldiers fire their weapons in combat) were probably never true, and are definitely not true with current training systems, but the rest of the book’s insights about the psychology of both commanders and the commanded remain true. It was inte A good psychological book about battle command, weak statistics This book is a classic in military history — one of the most popular analyses of morale in the US WW2 soldier. Unfortunately some of the main statistics in the book (primarily that only 10-25% of soldiers fire their weapons in combat) were probably never true, and are definitely not true with current training systems, but the rest of the book’s insights about the psychology of both commanders and the commanded remain true. It was interesting to me just how different WW2-style war is from the “low intensity conflict” I’ve seen up close — primarily in an urban environment, sustained for years, and without decisive force or the same kind of clear territorial objectives. While both kinds of war are terrible, I hope we never see total war of the WW2 style again. Some of the insights from this book seem applicable to civilian leadership, but it probably isn’t a particularly good resource for that, being both very dated and kind of specific to a certain kind of challenge (even if it weren’t military).

  6. 4 out of 5

    Victor Wu

    This is a great example of when someone is wrong in the details but right in the big picture. As documented in the helpful Introduction by Russell W. Glenn, Marshall's purported data (or lack thereof) do not stand up to professional standards of scrutiny. But the conclusions Marshall mines from his experiences and reflections in the World Wars are some of the most enduring insights of military theory and psychology. The influence of Marshall's ideas on Marine Corps maneuver warfare doctrine (see This is a great example of when someone is wrong in the details but right in the big picture. As documented in the helpful Introduction by Russell W. Glenn, Marshall's purported data (or lack thereof) do not stand up to professional standards of scrutiny. But the conclusions Marshall mines from his experiences and reflections in the World Wars are some of the most enduring insights of military theory and psychology. The influence of Marshall's ideas on Marine Corps maneuver warfare doctrine (see e.g. MCDP 1 Warfighting ), as well as on the methodology of innovative historians such as John Keegan, is undeniably deep. His basic approach can be summarized as this: Understand the real experience on the ground and how people actually are and act, not what you might assume or idealize them to be.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Noah Dommaschk

    I thought this book would be good, as I saw it was recommended on a Quora digest page on military and battle command. Turned out it was a directly factual book with no story behind it, that I did not enjoy. It was too black and white for me. However, the book is filled with information that is useful for changes in battle command and how it was before. For example how important the mind is for soldiers rather than raw fitness.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Brian Thorson

    This book examines the relationship between combat effectiveness, lethality, the human psyche, and training with clear language, compelling arguments, and sound recommendations. While originally published just after WWII, this book is just as applicable today and I suspect will remain relevant into perpetuity. My only regret is that I read this on kindle and now will also be purchasing a paper version for easier referencing.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    The first half is a tough read and based on flawed data (the introduction discusses the issue of the flawed data that the author used to base some of his arguments on). However, the second half of the book raises many excellent points and makes the book worth the read for any small unit tactical leader.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jens

    This book really resonated with me as I am right now learning to act as a PL for my first military period. It's easy to understand what he means with isolation, the invisible enemy and the crucial act of information sharing to activate everyone. Loved it. This book really resonated with me as I am right now learning to act as a PL for my first military period. It's easy to understand what he means with isolation, the invisible enemy and the crucial act of information sharing to activate everyone. Loved it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dharma Agastia

    Putting aside the faulty statistics and research methods, this is a good book for understanding a form of battle "friction": the issue of morale and communications. Putting aside the faulty statistics and research methods, this is a good book for understanding a form of battle "friction": the issue of morale and communications.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kenneth Tubman

    Startling facts regarding how men in battle react once they are on the firing line. Bravado leaves the instant the enemy comes into view. It's more how to save your own skin and settling your moral conscience deciding weather to kill or be killed. This book explains why PTSD is so prevalent amongst veterans and further explains the huge cost of war especially when the last shot is fired and these "shell shocked" souls have to gather with the rest of society to attempt a normal life. Learning how Startling facts regarding how men in battle react once they are on the firing line. Bravado leaves the instant the enemy comes into view. It's more how to save your own skin and settling your moral conscience deciding weather to kill or be killed. This book explains why PTSD is so prevalent amongst veterans and further explains the huge cost of war especially when the last shot is fired and these "shell shocked" souls have to gather with the rest of society to attempt a normal life. Learning how to kill in warfare kills the soul.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Hofstetter Patrick

    S.L.A. Marshall's classic impresses with its wealth of human and military lessons, which he draws noticeably from his personal experiences and observations. In 1947 it was a novelty to analyze wars on the level of the small unit; so it is not surprising what a massive impact the book had on the leadership and training of the US Army after World War II. But even 70 years later and in other armed forces, SLAM‘s findings have lost none of their relevance. Some of them were already raised to the sta S.L.A. Marshall's classic impresses with its wealth of human and military lessons, which he draws noticeably from his personal experiences and observations. In 1947 it was a novelty to analyze wars on the level of the small unit; so it is not surprising what a massive impact the book had on the leadership and training of the US Army after World War II. But even 70 years later and in other armed forces, SLAM‘s findings have lost none of their relevance. Some of them were already raised to the standard during the Cold War. But many deserve to be read again and again.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Callum

    The second half of the book makes it worthwhile.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Richard A Lambing

    This book, not for me.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Nic Cooper

    A good overview of the challenge of leading men in war.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Richard Hanson

    Some of his statements seem to be made out of thin air, but he frames his arguement well. Weight is the infrantryman's enemy for sure. Some of his statements seem to be made out of thin air, but he frames his arguement well. Weight is the infrantryman's enemy for sure.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Tammam Aloudat

    A book about soldiers written by a soldier... SLA Marshall believed in war deeply and unwavreingly and in that he represents what soldiers are expected to be. However, this is not the value in his famous book, it is in his discovery that only a minority of soldiers in WWII in both the European and Pacific battle fields fired their weapons despite the risk to their lives. His finding lead to the adjustment in training methodologies of American soldiers that lead to a significant increase almost i A book about soldiers written by a soldier... SLA Marshall believed in war deeply and unwavreingly and in that he represents what soldiers are expected to be. However, this is not the value in his famous book, it is in his discovery that only a minority of soldiers in WWII in both the European and Pacific battle fields fired their weapons despite the risk to their lives. His finding lead to the adjustment in training methodologies of American soldiers that lead to a significant increase almost immediately in the Korean war and then to a very high percentage of weapons use in the high eighties in Vietnam war as described in the other famous book, Grossman's On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society. My take away from the book, as a non-soldier who do not believe in war, is that humans are opposed to killing and violence by their nature and that we only get them to kill by stuffing their heads with empty chauvinism and patriotic bullshit and drilling them repeatedly into killing machines. In his attempt to make war more efficient, I believe that Marshall has proven, unwittingly, how unnatural it is.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Martin Samuels

    First published in 1947, Men Against Fire is one of the most famous books in the military canon. Based on hundreds of interviews undertaken almost immediately after combat actions during the Second World War, the book sets out the key lessons derived by S L A Marshall (often known as SLAM). Central to these were two arguments: that the essence of successful infantry combat is the application of maximum fire on the enemy, and yet that only between 15 and 25% of troops actually fire their weapons First published in 1947, Men Against Fire is one of the most famous books in the military canon. Based on hundreds of interviews undertaken almost immediately after combat actions during the Second World War, the book sets out the key lessons derived by S L A Marshall (often known as SLAM). Central to these were two arguments: that the essence of successful infantry combat is the application of maximum fire on the enemy, and yet that only between 15 and 25% of troops actually fire their weapons at the enemy, though the rate for the crews of heavy weapons was much higher. Based on these observations, Marshall argued that troops failed to fire, even when to do so might save their lives, due to a combination of fear and moral reluctance to kill. His conclusion was that everything needed to be done to overcome these barriers. The key, he believed, was to remove the isolation experienced by soldiers on the modern battlefield and instead make them feel part of a larger team. This human contact would encourage them to be more active and positive about their potential impact on the course of events, and hence use their weapons. Visible leadership by commanders, explanation of how their tasks fitted into the bigger picture, constant verbal communication between the men, and explicit protection of rear and flanks, were all key means by which this would be achieved. Although Men Against Fire gave Marshall an enormous reputation, subsequent research has revealed that his study methods were seriously flawed and that his claims regarding the low rate of active participation in combat were in fact drawn from opinion rather than evidence, as he had stated. In addition, his view that combat was essentially a matter of weight of fire has also been shown to be simplistic. Yet these very real flaws in the work should not obscure the fact that Marshall was surely right to demand a focus on the human aspects of combat at the lowest organisational level, and to require that commanders take account of the actions and approaches that affect the willingness and ability of the lowliest people in the whole army - the infantry - to take an effective part in the battle. If these failings are taken fully into account, Men Against Fire remains a challenging and important work.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Okechukwu Ihenacho

    SLAM Dunk!! 5 star rating because it provides a balanced view on war, both from the human dimension of leadership and command to the mechanical aspects of war.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Phillip Manson

    This may seem to be out of date in comparison with what our troops are encountering in the Middle East but leadership in combat needs the same old skills of preparing soldiers for any kind of battlefield by allowing for deceptions, new tactics and flexible positions instead of fixed installations. Ambushes in the jungle or on the sandy hills of the desert still call for analysis of the situation in order to organize the troops for the best use of firepower instead of shooting at phantoms. The bi This may seem to be out of date in comparison with what our troops are encountering in the Middle East but leadership in combat needs the same old skills of preparing soldiers for any kind of battlefield by allowing for deceptions, new tactics and flexible positions instead of fixed installations. Ambushes in the jungle or on the sandy hills of the desert still call for analysis of the situation in order to organize the troops for the best use of firepower instead of shooting at phantoms. The biggest problem, which is hardly mentioned for a solution, is communication with squad and platoon with better radios for short distance contact as well as distant for artillery and airpower.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    This was a little dry, but the subject matter was interesting. Ended on a note which is still very applicable today as our country transitions from two wars - that we need to cultivate a civilian population that would be willing to defend our country or in a few years we will face the consequences. Definitely a worthwhile read.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Bruinrefugee

    A seminal, if controversial, book in military theory concerning the role and use of infantry. As a layman, seems that one can draw a line from the ideas in the book to the general approach of American doctrine/training.

  24. 4 out of 5

    David M. Callahan

    A very surprising look at what happens in the,field during combat. Fascinating st u dying of why men fight and why men cower in battle. An intimate look at the roots of courage and fear.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Leonard J. Kusek

    As a former combat infantryman I found many interesting insights. BUT, Marshall must have had a word count he had to meet when he wrote the book. In too many cases he took a whole chapter to cover a point that could have been made in a few paragraphs.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kai

    Men Against Fire takes awhile to hit its stride, but once it does, it becomes clear why this is one of the foundation works on combat psychology, which has been referenced in almost every book on the subject since.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Bfreese

    A good book on leadership. Yes some of the data is flawed but I enjoyed it for the leadership aspect not the military theory.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Allen

    Bogus statistics, however, Marshall was the first to conclude that in combat, soldiers fight for each other and not for patriotic causes.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ian Minielly

  30. 5 out of 5

    James

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