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Guest Post: A Must Read for All Red Teamers

Editor’s note: Last week, OODA Loop published a “top ten” list of RTJ Editor Mark Mateski’s favorite red teaming books. We subsequently received an e-mail from H. John Poole, author of several books on the Eastern way of war, suggesting that his book, Phantom Soldier, should have been on the list. We very much appreciate John’s work and offered him space here to explain why every red teamer should read not only Phantom Soldier but his other books as well. To avoid any potential confusion, we should note that John wrote the following in the third person.

      America’s foes over the years have been either Asian or heavily influenced by Asians. The German Army had advised its Japanese counterpart for decades before developing the evolutionary Stormtrooper tactics of WWI. Even Iraq had been occupied for almost 200 years by the Mongols. Unfortunately, the Asian way of thinking and solving problems is almost diametrically opposed to our own. On the battlefield, it has been most lately described as “death by a thousand razor cuts.” According to many of the reviews at Posterity Press, Phantom Soldier explains these differences in a way the average Westerner can easily assimilate. As such, it should be every red teamer’s initial primer. Communists, radical Islamists, and criminals around the world all operate this way.
      Phantom Soldier was released two months before 9/11. It had been written by a Lt. Col. who later reverted to Senior NCO. What 2000 enlisted infantry students subsequently taught him over seven years about short-range combat was considerable. During two years of Vietnam combat, this same individual had repeatedly failed to gain the momentum over his opposition. He soon realized the connection between the two experiences—the Asian and enlisted perspectives—were both “from the bottom-up.” He then began to closely study East Asian infantry operations, noting the preponderance of small (semi-autonomous) unit action.
      In effect, he had learned to think like an East Asian soldier and strategist and could now see what all the radical Islamists and Communists were up to around the world. As Chesty Puller had pointed out right before being relieved in Korea, the Communists had come up with a whole new way of overcoming any opponent’s edge in technology or firepower. It has since morphed into a way of beating the West without ever firing a shot. And even irregular Afghan militiamen know how to do it.
      All that new PRC weaponry may be nothing more than a holding attack, to divert attention from what its mostly nonmartial (first economic and then political) global strategies have been accomplishing. Therefore, at the top of every red teamer’s agenda must be understanding the Asian’s quite different thought processes and ways of operating. They are far more wholistic and decentralized than our own. All those OODA loop aficionados out there will be particularly interested in his “art of delay.”

H. John Poole is a retired USMC Lt. Col., a former FMCR Gy. Sgt., a former agent with the Illinois Bureau of Investigation, and the author of Phantom Soldier.