Military Review English Edition November December 2016 - Page 131

BOOK REVIEWS the more well-known maritime theorist and historian Adm. Alfred Thayer Mahan, 21st Century Sims is an edited work that combines selected works by a naval theorist— Sims in this case—with commentary and analysis written by Armstrong. A part of the U.S. Naval Institute’s 21st Century Foundations series, the purpose of this book is to stir professional discourse on theorists of the past and how their thoughts apply to the present and future. 21st Century Sims reveals how Sims’s value transcends the Navy as an exemplar for successfully meeting the future through innovation, education, and leadership. The main six chapters of the book all address topics along these lines; however, all point back to innovation. Armstrong writes, “As one of the U.S. Navy’s greatest innovators, and as a man who is not afraid to challenge the system, he offers an example that many of us can learn from today.” This is a great point and needs to be emphasized, but Armstrong could have discussed Sims’s pro-British views in more detail. While fighting against military conservatism is indeed a worthy and necessary endeavor, Sims perhaps went too far on occasion, straying too far into policy matters. In fact, his efforts earned him a reprimand from President William Taft and later caused friction with Adm. William S. Benson, the chief of naval operations. Perhaps, like J.F.C. Fuller, Adm. Hyman Rickover, and other innovators, friction is required—the question is balance. After the main chapters of the book, Armstrong has a thought-provoking and innovative approach to the conclusion. Rather than including and analyzing another of Sims’s articles, Armstrong includes a piece by Capt. Harry Baldrige. The reason this unusual approach works so well is the relationship between Sims and Baldridge. Baldridge’s piece, essentially a eulogy to a shipmate and mentor, acts as a superb conclusion to the book, and it emphasizes the importance of mentorship. Like the other books in the 21st Century Foundations series, this book is worth reading for naval and military audiences, as well as for those who are interested in innovation, especially innovation driven from within a large, established organization. Perhaps one of Armstrong’s most MILITARY REVIEW  November-December 2016 salient points on Sims is that “true innovation and reform are about ideas and people. Reading and learning from past innovation and from reform leaders like Sims can provide both inspiration and important lessons learned for today’s officers.” Armstrong effectively combines a great selection of Sims’s works, contextualizes these works well, and provides insightful commentary. Lt. Col. Jonathan Klug, U.S. Army, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas HAMMERHEAD SIX How Green Berets Waged an Unconventional War Against the Taliban to Win in Afghanistan’s Deadly Pech Valley Capt. Ronald Fry with Tad Tuleja, Hachette Books, New York, 2016, 400 Pages R onald Fry is a former U.S. Army Special Forces officer who commanded an operational detachment alpha (ODA) code-named “Hammerhead Six” in the Pech Valley of northeastern Afghanistan’s Kunar Province in 2003 and 2004. In Hammerhead Six: How Green Berets Waged an Unconventional War Against the Taliban to Win in Afghanistan’s Deadly Pech Valley, Fry chronicles the challenges he and his highly trained twelve-man team encountered during the early stages of what has become our nation’s longest war. Fry provides an entertaining yet relevant account of his team’s exploits while undertaking a “struggle against Al Qaeda and the Taliban for the hearts and minds of the people.” He provides an interesting perspective for those unfamiliar with unconventional warfare. Hammerhead Six internalized the Special Forces motto, De Oppresso Liber (To Free the Oppressed). Fry describes his team’s effort to build bonds of friendship and mutual respect with the indigenous people of the Pech Valley. He asserts that unconventional warfare is “an emotional as well as a military investment.” 129