Blast from the past

 So I grabbed this from the library the other day. Guilty confession...I love to play 1 series of computer games called Combat it..old guy playing computer games, but everyone has to have some guilty pleasure...besides bacon. Well, I have been eagerly awaiting the new tactical simulation (ha, not a computer game like those ridiculous shoot 'em ups the under 30 crowd loves) that encompasses modern warfare in a near-future Ukraine. Or depending on Vlad the Impaler's mood...not so distant future--more on that later. 

ANYWAY, one of the so-called recommended readings for modern warfare discussed in the company's web forum was this book (yes, old guys get together on web forums to discuss military history books...color people surprised)...which I first read about 25 years ago...yup long freakin' time...when I kind of went through my Harold Coyle/Tom Clancy/Larry Bond/Dale Brown phase of reading.   
I call it the "Golden Age" of military and future war fiction--during the Cold War, before Operation Desert Storm, when your imagination could pretty much run wild as no one had any IDEA what a NATO/Warsaw Pact conflict might look like. Unless, of course, they were savvy military analysts and examined the Yom Kippur War, which offered a great deal of information to anyone smart enough to study it thoroughly, another topic for later discussion.
Well, I decided to pick this book up again and found that it really hasn't lost much in the 30 years or so since it was written.  Taut, realistic and in retrospect, pretty darn good at capturing the essence of modern combined arms warfare at the company or battalion level.  Of course like most military fiction of that time, it was long on toys and action, but short on characters, however, I have to say that this particular book did pretty well.  I think every book of that era was measured against Tom Clancy's landmark Red Storm Rising..still one of my all time favorite books, and this one did really didn't hurt that it also sought for inspiration General Sir John Hackett's The Third World War...the granddaddy of all modern military fiction...written while Tom Clancy was still selling insurance.

Of course, we now know from combat experience in Desert Storm, particularly the Battle of 73 Easting that that the M1 Abrams tank was so far superior to the Soviet/Russian T-62 and T-72 tanks that in company sized actions, the M1 would have wiped out nearly all it's opponents.  However, not really knowing how superior the M1 really was, Coyle captures a really good essence in his descriptions of the battles. 

The scale and magnitude of the slaughter of modern combat comes through really well...even if on a micro scale.  In minutes, a tank company can slice through an unprotected mechanized infantry company or a well-sited tank company can wipe out a battalion worth of enemy vehicles in short order...both concepts clearly shown in the 1973 Yom Kippur War.

All in all, it was an enjoyable trip down memory line...and a fine way of relearning that a well written story can stand the test of time.