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on 23 May 1998
The first part of the book has interesting details about the Army's transition from the problems of the 1970's to the professional force of the 1990's. Once the focus turns to Desert Shield/Storm, the book moves at a slower pace; almost too slow.
Gen Franks spends too much time giving us the minute details of his planning and execution steps. Although it gives the reader a good perspective of what a general's life was like in this type of operation, I often found myself getting lost in the details (and I was there!).
This is not a Clancy-type book, as we have normally encountered in the past. Also, Gen Franks too often defends past criticisms from members of his chain-of-command (Gen Schwarzkopf, etc) that may have occurred during and after the operation.
An OK book if you're interested in the Gulf War or the Army of the 1990's. Not a thriller.
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on 12 July 2004
This book describes General Fred Franks' life and especially his experiences during Desert Storm, the war in 1991 in the Persian Gulf to kick Iraq out of Kuwait.
To really like this book you need to be a bit of a military fanatic. Fred Franks repeats so many times how wonderful it is to be a soldier, and how great the "warrior ethos" is, that you realize that for him the military is practically a religion.
The thing in this book that I found the most interesting are the descriptions of the magnitude of military might that was fielded during Desert Storm.
The American Army VII Corps (commanded by Gen. Franks) included 146,000 soldiers, 50,000 vehicles (incl. 1,600 tanks) and 800 helicopters. Not only are these numbers huge, but the logistics involved are mind-boggling: the soldiers need food and water, and the vehicles and aircraft burned an incredible 3.2 million gallons of fuel each day. When fighting the VII Corps expended 2,500 tons of ammunition every day.
And VII Corps was only part of the military forces involved. There was another Army corps, there were Marine units, there was the Air Force and the Navy, and forces from quite a few other countries. An amazing marshalling of military forces, and all under the command of General Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf (more about him later).
I found the book interesting, but it does have a lot of problems. It's way too long, mostly due to repetitiveness. With some editing it could have been cut down by at least 30% with no loss of information.
Another problem is that there are no useful maps. There are a lot of small maps, about 1/3 of a page each, but they simply don't show enough detail. Again and again you find the text referring to some town or road or river and they simply aren't on the maps.
Another major problem is the lack of a glossary with definitions for all the military acronyms and abbreviations that are used.
And then we have General Schwarzkopf, who is not thanked in the acknowledgements. Gen. Franks is very careful to thank everyone from his parents to his family to all of his subordinates, and then goes on to thank Colin Powell (then Chairman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff), Dick Cheney (then Sec. of Defense) and President George Bush Sr. But not Gen. Schwarzkopf.
It turns out that Gen. Schwarzkopf wrote an autobiography, "It Doesn't Take a Hero", and in that book he criticized Gen. Franks for the way he commanded VII Corps during Desert Storm.
Gen. Franks uses this book to return the favor. I won't go into extensive details (and Gen. Franks keeps his criticism fairly low-key), but Franks basically claims that Schwarzkopf liked having his butt kissed by his subordinates, was prone to throwing temper tantrums, wasn't competent to understand or command armored (tank) operations and made several tactical errors. In particular, not giving VII Corps more operational room to the north, not using the Air Force to prevent the Iraqi Republican Guards from escaping northwards and declaring "victory" a couple of days prematurely were big mistakes. The result was that Washington decreed a ceasefire and a large portion of the Republican Guards avoided destruction.
I actually found this dispute between Franks and Schwarzkopf to be quite interesting, and it's so very human to want to get back at someone who's done you dirt. So whether Franks or Schwarzkopf is right, the dispute does add flavor to Franks' story.
Rennie Petersen
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on 5 October 1998
Tom Clancy's editor should have been brave enough to say "you don't HAVE to write a 500-page book every time!"
This book is subtitled "A Study in Command," and it is that -- and MORE. Much, much, more. WAY too much more.
Major parts of the book are written by General Fred Franks, who was wounded in Vietnam as a major (one lower leg amputated), and who commanded a segment of the Coalition forces in Desert Storm. General Frank is a very readable, clear, educated, and persuasive writer, and could have written the book himself with appropriate editing. The book, of course, would not have sold so many copies without the Clancy name on the cover.
This book has some excellent insights contained within it -- in fact, BURIED within it. If the reader persists and digs, the reader will find a cogent analysis of what went wrong with the U.S. military during and after Vietnam, and how the military re-built itself. The reader will also gain an understanding of tactics, the various methods of command, and how orders actually come down from the top, all the way to the individual soldier -- together with a discussion of everything that can go wrong in the process.
The case study is Desert Storm -- which we hear about primarily from the viewpoint of General Franks. Here there is way too much minute-by-minute, word-by-word minutia, such as the following recitation of a radio conversation Franks had: "'JAYHAWK 6, this is JAYHAWK 3 OSCAR.' I was in my Blackhawk, and this was my TAC FWD calling. 'This is JAYHAWK 6.' 'Dragoon reports contact with RGFC, Tawalkana Division.' Dragoon was the 2nd ACR. 'Roger, location?' 'PT 528933.'"
One major failing is the lack of a glossary. Although most terms are explained the first time around, the non-military reader gets easily lost when the same term pops up 300 pages later. For instance, "Second ACR had also been active in combat. Though Don Holder had had to cancel a planned Apache attack into the Tawalkana, he had managed to launch a successful MLRS raid that night as a follow-through on my order to keep the pressure on the RGFC...." Most of us would benefit from knowing what ACR, MLRS and RGFC meant. This false assumption of the reader's familiarity with military lingo and Desert Storm in particular flows through the book: there is continual discussion of reaching Objective "Purple," but Objective Purple never shows up on any of the book's maps.
Franks also goes into way too much depth of the minutia of his Vietnam wound and recovery -- largely his decision to keep his lower leg (with its persistent infection and no hope of return to active duty) or amputation (loss of lower leg but could function and probably return to active duty). Yes, this should perhaps be mentioned as Franks sees it as one event which "lit what I still call the 'Hot Blue Flame.'" But taking pages and pages for details such as "we had a female Army medic who called herself 'Charlie'; Charlie had such gentle hands that we all asked for her for those dressing changes," in the first 100 pages, leaves the reader wondering why the books wasn't identified as an in-depth biography of General Franks instead of "a Study in Command."
Lastly, the sniping against Franks' Desert Storm commander, General Schwarzkopf, comes across badly. Yes, Schwarzkopf had a habit of blowing up and (probably wrongly) publicly accused Franks of not keeping up to schedule during Desert Storm. But in sniping back, Franks lowers himself to the same level and detracts from the book.
This is supposed to be the first in a series of four similar books. Let's hope the next three keep the good, and remove the failings, of this book.
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on 24 January 2001
An excellent, through and graphic account of life in the gulf war. Somewhat moving in parts with Clancy's usual techno info aswell. A good read.
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on 6 February 1999
This was NOT an overview of the weaponry, strategy, and tactics of Desert Storm, but one man's autobiography over 20 years. There is almost no coverage of anything that happened in that war save one general's point of view. He spends more time talking about his wife and family than he does giving a detailed comparison of the relative technical strengths of the tactics and weaponry of the two sides. This is partly because he prefers to chalk up the victory in a vague way to the virtue of the American fighting man and the American military establishment, rather than getting bogged down with little details like our tanks could shoot further than their tanks, our troops could see them when they couldn't see us.
He talks lots and lots in high level terms about strategic manuever, which makes sense because that is the level that a Corps commander like himself operates at, but this in fact is very hard to follow because there are not adequate maps in the paperback to make sense of all this abstract hand-waving. There are no maps at all with the audio, which I read, and few with the paperback, I don't know about the hardcover.
Since the book revolves around him personally and little else, we get precious little view of life at the bottom, of those actually doing the fighting. Indeed, the number one thing I was hoping to learn from the book, how on earth you cross a minefield under enemy fire, defeat that enemy, and blaze paths through it so you can move whole divisions through with SO FEW CASUALTIES went completely unanswered.
No description of a battle is complete without a comprehensive rundown on the relative capabilities of the hardware involved, along with discussion of the tactics and intentions of both sides. Such discussion is woefully absent from this very long book.
One point that General Franks did make (he wrote the book, Tom Clancy at most edited it) was that many pitched tank battles did occur, but since the military at the time was minimizing coverage of any form of death, real, imagined, or potential, all the public got to see was coverage of Iraqis surrendering in droves, so the public does not appreciate the determined resistance that was met in places, and the excellent fighting the military did. Well, my heart bleeds -- the military dug their own grave on that one, and it's up to them to climb out of it.
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on 27 December 1997
I bought the Chancy book based on his reputation for fast action and through plots. Well, I got some of that. Most of the book is not a techno thriller, but it's still a great read. Those looking for a fast action book along the lines of "The Hunt for Red October" will be definitely disappointed by this. What you find here is really three books in one. First, it's the story of the VII Corps in the Gulf War and how this man, LTG Fred Franks, commanded it. Second, it's semi-autobiographical of General Franks. Finally, it's a story of how the Army, in the years after the disaster of Vietnam, changed it doctrine, strategy, and it's entire culture to culminate into the force exhibited in 1991. For me, the development and tenants of AirLand Battle Doctrine are a bit ho-hum. I've been in the Army and Reserve for over ten years now. But the best part of this book is the detailed description of how great an effort it is to mobilize, deploy, supply, and command an army corps. Novices in the area will get a taste of the effort that goes into this endeavor. The planning factors for critical supplies (water, fuel, and ammo are of paramount importance) show why the rule of thumb is that for every man on the front lines, there are ten or so more men behind him. Overall, I'll give this effort an 8. General Franks does dwell on the dispute between himself and GEN Schwarzkopf on final battle of the ground war, and that is a dispute I believe will never be settled completely. But all in all, for a book that gives insight into a ground commander's eye view (I say that because the corps is the largest Army tactical formation), Into the Storm is well written and through.
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on 22 August 1997
I am still trying to understand why Gen. Franks,
who holds an MA in English from Columbia, chose to
let Mr. Clancy write his memoir for him.

This book is an absolute muddle. At times it is not
clear which man is doing the writing (largely
because Mr. Clancy, who never served, insists on
using first person plural pronouns when referring
to the U.S. Army). More often, it is not clear whether the thoughts belong to Mr.
Clancy, or if they are his representation of Gen.
Franks'.

The subtitle, "A Study in Command," is an absolute
misnomer. "Study" implies objectivity, and even--
dare I say it--some criticism. Clancy never bothers
to present any perspective beyond Gen. Franks' own.
Franks' ideas, decisions, and memories are never
questioned.

Finally, the writing is atrocious.
The first hundred pages or so I circled gross
grammatical errors and ugle style choices.
Until I hit exasperation saturation. Clancy's
writing talks down to his reader in a way I find
insulting.

Again, why did Gen. Franks let Mr. Clancy tell his
story? I am not sure what I am supposed to be
reading. It isn't memoir. It isn't biography.
It isn't history.

To the book's credit: it fawns on the army, and
the army's phoenix-like rise from the napalm
ashes of Vietnam. It does take a little of CNN out
of the so-dubbed "CNN-war." And Gen. Franks, when he
is allowed to write, outdoes Clancy. The general
could write better than Clancy with both hands
tied behind his back.

To those three other Desert Storm participants who
have agreed to let Clancy tell their stories:
Renege. You and your soldiers deserve better.
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on 11 June 1997
Although not as good a read as Clancy's fiction works, Into the Storm: A Study in Command accomplishes what it set out to do. It provides the reader with a case study of modern military command techniques at work in the harsh, complex environment of Desert Storm.

Through Clany, Franks, often in his own words, guides us through his thought processes in planning and executing the largest movement of armored froces since World War II. Although dry at times, it is a useful study, especially for military officers.

On a personal level, I was more than pleased that Gen Franks received his day in court in light of all the criticism laid at his feet about the pace of VII Corps during the ground war. As a VII Corps vet who was there on the ground, I certainly do not remember a lot of "down time". As a military officer, I was compelled to find out what I always assumed was true; namely, if Schwartzkopf was so concerned about VII Corps tempo, why did he not leave his bunker in the rear and fly into the Corps Area of Operations and see for himself what was going on? While the book does not answer this question for me, it does clarify that Gen Franks never received a speed up order from CENTCOM.

Overall, Into the Storm is a great book for the serious student of military art and science. If you are looking for another Red Storm Rising, this certainly isn't it. It's value lies in the insight it provides on the workings of the American Army at war, under the guidance of skilled, dedicated individuals.
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on 18 July 1997
This is a book that is written with great care;both authors love the military service and are clearly proud of their relationship with the US Army(one formal and one informal).It is quite informative with substantial detail regarding the US Army in general and the movements of VII Corps during the four days of Desert Storm.The book is most interesting on a human level,as General Franks explains his reasoning in a number of decisions and relates the emotional impact of a variety of events.General Franks comes across as a dedicated professional who is worthy of the responsibility he had during Desert Storm.

This book would be a challenge for anyone who has no past knowledge or experience with the US military.It has too much detail.Thus at times it can be more informative than entertaining.Apparently there are three more books to be written by Clancy in conjunction with other participants of Desert Storm.These books should not exceed 300 pages each,and,unless they are being written for military historians,the writers need to focus on human elements with a more generalized presentation of the events.The details should be saved for only the most readable and exciting circumstances.
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on 31 October 1997
If you are interested in what the awesome responsibilities of military comand are and what makes a great military commander, this book is a must. Granted, understanding the military's lanquage- such as acronyms, terms, and slang-helps when reading this book. I even found myself, a U.S. Army vet, skimming some portions. What struck me after reading the book however, is how it intimately llustrates Gen. Franks' thought process-how he overcame a severe leg wound in Vietnam, the lessons he learned there, his commitment to troops under his command, and more importantly, the mental abilty required to command 50,000 plus mult-national troops in combat. You come to realize just how awesome "burden of command" is. This book could also serve as a warning to our current civilian and military leadership-most notably our current commander-in-chief-as to the dire consequences of returning to a "hollow" Army and commtiting our troops to ill-defined missions abroad. After reading the book I felt tremendous respect for Gen. Franks-not only as a military commander-but as a human being as well. I am sure that he will go down in history as one of the unsung heroes of Desert Storm.
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