Academic journal article Military Review

HOG PILOTS, BLUE WATER GRUNTS: The American Military in the Air, at Sea, and on the Ground

Academic journal article Military Review

HOG PILOTS, BLUE WATER GRUNTS: The American Military in the Air, at Sea, and on the Ground

Article excerpt

HOG PILOTS, BLUE WATER GRUNTS: The American Military in the Air, at Sea, and on the Ground, Robert D. Kaplan, Random House, New York, 2007, $27.95, 428 pages.

In Hog Pilots, Blue Water Grunts, Robert Kaplan continues his journey as an embedded reporter that began with Imperial Grunts. With these two books Kaplan has become the premier interpreter of America's 21st-century military. A keen observer of human nature, he assures us that "as always, people are more interesting than hardware." Kaplan does not conceal his admiration for the members of today's military -especially NCOs and junior and mid-level officers who constantly adapt and improvise to "make tilings happen" on the ground, aboard ship, or in the air. Especially revealing are his observations about the larger military culture of today's volunteer armed forces and the peculiarities of the various "tribes" or subcultures that make up the military, such as the Marines, Army Special Forces, Navy submariners and surface sailors, and Air Force "stealth bombers" and "Hogwart drivers." He contrasts the military's can-do pragmatism with the ideological mentality of political appointees.

Kaplan also tackles the issues of America's continuing involvement in Afghanistan and the war in Iraq. He addresses how the intense focus on the Middle East is eroding America's military capabilities and preventing more robust engagement in areas that promise to be of greater strategic significance later in the century, such as South and Southeast Asia, South America, and SubSaharan Africa. …

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