Book Reviews

Sun Tzu, one of China's revered military strategists, is quoted, "When capable, feign incapacity; when active, feign inactivity." This theme presented as a study of Chinese activity is woven throughout the text alternately discussing their deception and then veritable capabilities. The Chinese culture views this deceit as part of a strategic game (weich'i) that continues for generations building spheres of influence, gauging responses and maneuvering their country into a favorable strategic position—a position that has fluctuated throughout history and is presently headed toward Sinocentric greatness. China decries the regional control of the United States to draw attention away from their own hegemonic ambitions.

The military value of this book stems from its well-researched and documented discussion of Chinese economic and political strategy. The authors' experience as correspondents in Beijing provide an insiders' view normally unavailable to Westerners. The conclusions they draw from the research are insightful and deserve attention, although it is apparent and disappointing that they did not consult any military experts for editing. One chapter describes the potential conflict, but contains gross errors using an outdated order of battle. However, the factual accounts of military development throughout the book are noteworthy (and perhaps, a bit frightening): building runways and installing military hardware, including early warning sites in the South China Sea (one such territory was seized from the Philippines in 1995); arms deals with nations traditionally allied against the United States; and military action in Tibet, Korea, India, Russia, Vietnam, and the Philippines.

The U.S. Navy should be particularly concerned about the military buildup discussed by the authors. The Spratley Islands and Taiwan are significant Chinese geopolitical interests—both of which require a credible naval force to exploit. Controlling Asia's major sea lanes from the East China Sea through the Taiwan Strait and into the South China Sea is of paramount importance to China. Bernstein and Munro describe how these strategic goals are within reach. A deepwater port capable of supporting an aircraft carrier is planned off Hong Kong's Stonecutters Island. Another port alliance in the Burmese Bay of Bengal could facilitate Chinese naval fleets around the Asian continent. The rapid (and indigenous) building of scores of combatant ships (nearly 100 new-construction orders this decade), hundreds of tactical aircraft, and missiles of all varieties could result in a modern military force rivaling any other within 20 years—including our own. In general, the authors present a plethora of facts that a student of military theory can use to draw many additional conclusions.

Arguing against simplistic historic analogies, Bernstein and Munro caution us not to fall into the trap of believing China will develop a political-military structure that will crumble under the democratic internal pressures that reshaped Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. In contrast, China has studied the lessons of the Soviet failure and intends to counter them at every turn. They will not relinquish control of the public at any cost nor will they build a powerful military at the expense of a weak economy. In contrast, China's grand strategy is built on controlling the people, developing an economy that supports building a world class military, and eventual control of the region.

Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Jay Johnson, recently returned from a trip to China. He reported after his visit, "One message that was delivered to me time and time again in China was, the number one priority in China is economic growth, and the military clearly stacks underneath that." Why would Chinese officials deliver such a message repeatedly to one of our nation's leading military officers? Bernstein and Munro give us cause to guard against these discourses. "China is gambling that it can prepare for the coming conflict with the United States even while publicly denying its ultimate objectives. So far the strategy has been remarkably successful."

 

The Role of Federal Military Forces in Domestic Disorders 1877-1945

Claylon D. Laurie and Ronald H. Cole. Washington, D.C.: Center of Military History, United States Army, 1997. 425 pp. Notes. Photos. Maps. Bib. $38.00 ($36.10).

Reviewed by Major General Neal Creighton, U.S. Army (Retired)

When most of us hear the name George S. Patton, Jr., we imagine a tank leader charging across Europe, not a major leading his sword-waving cavalrymen against a mob of veterans in our nation's capital. The mention of Omar N. Bradley conjures up an image of a sagacious Army group commander, not a captain leading his troops against striking miners in Butte, Montana. Civil War buffs probably do not often associate such generals as Schofield, Howard, Hancock, and Pope with keeping the country's railroads open, protecting Chinese immigrants, or breaking strikes in Idaho. This book was written by two experienced authors who tell these stories of a very important, but often neglected, aspect of military operations.

The book begins with the great railway strike of 1877, when federal troops deployed to restore operations in the East and Midwest. One year later, Congress passed the Posse Comitatus Act, which put much tighter controls on the use of federal troops in support of civil authorities. For the rest of the 19th century, successive presidents struggled with these limitations as federal forces were employed to bring law and order to the Trans-Mississippi West, protect Chinese workers in Wyoming and Washington Territory, intervene in railway strikes in the West and in Chicago, and counter violence in Idaho.

In the 20th century, the military was used to end disorder in the mining districts of Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and Arkansas. With the advent of World War I, the strict rules of the Posse Comitatus law were disregarded as the Army often was used to end labor disputes and maintain production of essential war materials. Immediately following the war, troops intervened in numerous radical-led labor strikes and in race riots in Washington, D.C.; Omaha, Nebraska; Elaine, Arkansas; and Lexington, Kentucky.

During the Harding administration, adherence to the Posse Comitatus Act returned and only two interventions by federal troops occurred until the beginning of World War II.

The authors describe the most significant uses of federal forces from 1877 to 1945, but do not try to cover all of the 125 deployments nor the thousand-plus plant seizures that occurred during the two World Wars. The narrative of the Bonus March in 1932, when thousands of World War I veterans descended on the nation's capital and were dispersed by Army troops under the command of then Chief of Staff Douglas MacArthur, is particularly interesting.

MacArthur disregarded the instructions of President Hoover, using far more force than the President authorized. That MacArthur got away with it may have emboldened him to do the same in Korea in 1951, only to find out that Truman was quite different from Hoover.

While military matters form the major portion of the book's narrative, the authors described the conditions that led to military interventions. The result is a very well-presented account of the problems brought on by the mass immigration at the turn of the century, the development of the U.S. labor movement, the excesses of industrialists, and the beginnings of racial strife.

In addition, this book offers insights into the make-up of the Army in the late 1800s, the professionalization of the Army after the reforms begun by Elihu Root in 1901, the development of the National Guard, and the extensive use of the Army's military intelligence division to gather intelligence on American civilians.

Despite its foreboding title, which might turn off all but the dedicated research academician, there is a lot in this book that will interest those who want to learn more about the history of the U.S. Army and its relationship with those that it serves, the American people.

 

Wings and Warriors: My Life as a Naval Aviator

VAdm. Donald D. Engen, USN (Ret.), Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1997. 328 pp. Gloss. Ind. Photos. $29.95 ($26.95).

Reviewed by Captain Rosario Rousa, U.S. Naval Reserve (Retired)

Don Engen's Naval Aviation career spanned three hot wars and much of a long, cold one. He rose from seaman second class to vice admiral, excelling every step of the way. At present, he is the Director of the National Air and Space Museum and before that served as President Reagan's administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration. But in wonderful, anecdotal detail this amazing account traces Engen's eventful life in the Navy.

The detail of this book is its strength. The lanky Engen tells how he was selected for the VS cadet program in mid1942, with the assistance of a "propitious toe on the scale by an obliging corpsman." He mastered Gosports and N3Ns and soon was in the fleet. Engen eloquently captures the flavor of what it was like to be very young and flying Helldivers in the Pacific during World War II. The friendships forged among fellow flyers, their fears, joys, and the inevitable tragedies unique to naval aviators are well depicted throughout the book.

Engen brings priceless images to his readers, such as when, on board the Lexington (CV-2), he "looked up at Admiral Mitscher some 25 feet to my right as I was taking off and impulsively changed hands on the stick and gave him a smile and a quick, right-handed salute. To my great surprise, he raised his head . . . smiled back, and returned my unauthorized salute."

In the 1950s Engen was flying F9F-3s from USS Valley Forge (CV-45) over Korea. The text is laced with tales of the human predicament. He tells of an ordnanceman who was killed when a high-explosive incendiary round blew up. The men of VF-51 raised $2,000 for his widow, who had just given birth to their third child. He recounts the hardships of transfers and adjusting to new duty stations balanced by the inherent satisfaction of a Navy family's peripatetic life. His beloved wife Mary and their children were unfailingly supportive. The carrier family was no less bolstering.

Engen carefully recounts the milestone developments in Naval Aviation: advent of the angled deck, night landings in jets, standardizing combat information center procedures, improved catapults, etc. Despite his modesty, it is clear that seniors recognized in Engen a special talent and he moved up the ranks accordingly.

Engen not only transitioned from props to jets, he was a pioneer, mastering the difficult and often hazardous learning curve of this promising new technology. He attended Britain's prestigious Empire Pilot School and served at the Navy's test center, Patuxent River, Maryland, where he conducted inverted spin tests in the FJ-4B Fury. He pursued climb records in the F-4H Phantom and commanded VF21 flying F-3H Demons. He flew from 23 different flattops and was the second skipper of the USS America (CV-66).

Commanding the carrier had its perilous moments. The flag on board the America was personally maneuvering the combined task group and Engen feared that a collision was imminent. Engen wrote, "Finally, unable to stand it any longer, I jumped from my chair to the voice communications box in front of me, punched the flag bridge button, and took tactical command of my own ship from the admiral. To some that might seem mutinous, but every commanding officer is responsible for the safety of his ship and crew." Engen avoided a collision but not before an unknown destroyer . . . whose commanding officer was probably as confused as I was, passed between America and Marias [AO-57] on an opposite course!"

Engen closes his account before achieving flag rank in 1969. Perhaps his experiences as an admiral will make for a follow-on volume. In the meantime, Wings and Warriors is a terrific book and a significant contribution to the archives of Naval Aviation.

 

 
 

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