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One More Bridge to Cross: Lowering the Cost of War.

By John Poole. Emerald Isle, NC: Posterity Press, 1999. 142 pages. $9.50, Softbound.

One More Bridge to Cross is a second book by John Poole; the first was: The Last Hundred Yards: The NCO's Contribution to Warfare. Some may not make the association between the big red book (The Last Hundred Yards) and the little blue book (One More Bridge to Cross), but John Poole's passion for Soldiering is more than on display. It is a challenge to each and every Soldier to pick up this book, read it and learn. While "Gunny" Poole's target audience is clearly the NCO corps of both the Army and the Marine Corps, this book is a "must read" for the officer corps and new Soldiers as well.

In One More Bridge, Poole puts together the ingredients of how to fight and win in the 21st Century. Shedding the concepts and precepts by which we train today, Poole lays down the need for a new type of Soldier who can merge the concepts of physical, mental and moral warfare from the bottom up. Further, he lays down a doctrine of laissez faire for the over-managing Courtney Massengales (Once an Eagle); something the bureaucracy will not be able to abide. At the same time, Poole knows, as we all do, that the American NCO corps can and will train despite the obstacles the chain-of-command has placed in its path. The question is, will they be allowed to train for the next war or the last war? It would serve the Army and Marine Corps well if this book were placed on the respective professional reading lists for all officers.

Can this book be criticized? The answer is yes, but consider the source. Those reviewers who would criticize it on tactical grounds will only demonstrate their own tactical shortcomings, if not deficiencies. Poole is a tactician's tactician. Those who would criticize teaching infantrymen how to think will demonstrate their ignorance of the requirements of close combat. The Israelis, who understand close combat, put their most intelligent Soldiers in the Infantry. The critics of the moral element of this book will only identify the reviewers as not having studied or understood the late Colonel John Boyd, USAF, who may have been the most relevant military theorist of the past century, for understanding the nature of war and how to fight. American military professionals seldom get beyond the physical level of warfare, and then it is warfare taught to us by Napoleon using mass armies and muskets. The mental and moral aspects of war are lost on most Soldiers--with the possible exception of our Special Operations Forces, who have shown a glimmer of understanding in the campaigns in Afghanistan, the Philippines, and a hundred other unadvertised battlegrounds.

We have to learn how to fight the mental and moral wars. Maneuver warfare is a state of mind, a way of thinking. It is the way we can learn to win mentally against terrorism. Moral war is engaging the enemy on a plane quite different from either the physical or the mental, but it is a war that we have to learn how to win. The cult of worldwide terrorism has attacked us in all three planes, and we must respond in all three planes if we are to eradicate the threat to our way of life.

John Poole wants every Soldier and every Marine to understand the importance of fighting this new kind of war on all three planes. We cannot afford to have our Soldiers calling our own allies "Gooks" and treating them as subhuman. We cannot afford to have our infantry act as mere automatons and follow the overabundant supply of doctrinal manuals that tell everybody how we fight--thus making us predictable. We cannot afford to fight 19th Century linear battles of attrition against nimble, adaptive, Ninja-like enemies.

If there is a criticism to be laid at the foot of John Poole, it is that he is too defensive in regard to the predominant role of the NCO Corps in training. Poole is borne out by the recent Army War College monograph on training in the Army, "Stifled Innovation? Developing Tomorrow's Leaders Today, April 2002," by Colonel Leonard Wong, U.S. Army, Retired. Leonard Wong tells it like it is in the Army. John Poole tells it like it is in the Marine Corps. Training has become centralized to the extent that even company commanders have virtually no influence on how their own companies are trained.

The American NCO corps is the envy of every Army in the world, and we are blessed to have such men who still view service as a virtue and training as a commandment. Since the beginning, the NCO corps has been as the backbone of the American profession of arms.

It is the officer corps of the Army--and particularly the Infantry--that needs to understand Poole's message and adapt the way we think about war, the way we train for war, and the way we fight.

Follow this excellent thought-provoking book up and read Poole's newest book: Phantom Warrior. Learn how the Al Qaeda--like other fourth-generation warfighters before it--fights.
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Author:Wilcox, Greg
Publication:Infantry Magazine
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Sep 22, 2003
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