Book Review: Tactics of the Crescent Moon

This book, by H. John Poole (COL USMC Ret.), was written to describe the situation we face in Iraq and Afghanistan and the tactics our forces may use to counter it. While Poole has done a good job researching and analyzing the problems, I can't agree with all of his solutions.
He spends the first third of the book examining the history of the Middle East, its political movements and their military tactics. Next, he uses this historical viewpoint to gain insight into today’s movements and how they operate against us. I thought he did an excellent job with this portion of the book. Sure, it reads like a field manual, that's his target audience, it's not intended to be a scholarly work. He made some very interesting points in this portion of the book, not the least of which is the degree to which Lebanese Hezbollah and Iran are involved in Iraq.
In the final third of the book, Poole presents his solutions to the issues we face. He, correctly in my opinion, points out that we can't win this type of war using our current tactics which are heavily dependent on firepower and standoff munitions. He concludes that we must be more flexible (bottom up, not top down in structure) and that we need to develop light infantry which survives through its intimate understanding of small unit maneuver, not its dependence on firepower.
Here is where the rubber meets the road, would the Pentagon be willing to change doctrine away from a firepower heavy model, no! Our current model calls for a huge investment in equipment and technology, something that the powers that be (the defense industries) would never give up.
Another area that Poole neglects is intelligence. One of the main reasons that guerilla groups are successful is that they have very good local intelligence networks why, because they LIVE with the local population! Just how we're supposed to ameliorate this advantage, Poole doesn't say.
All in all, I thought it was a good, thought provoking read that contains useful information. His research was very good and the book is very current (events to SEP 04) but I don't believe that all of his solutions are practical or a good idea.


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