The Citizen-Soldier: Moral risk and the modern military

Brookings Institution Press
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In this Brookings Essay titled “The Citizen-Soldier,” National Book Award winner, and U.S. Marine Corps veteran, Phil Klay sheds light on the tension and relationship between veterans and society. Klay is an established author and has previously received noteworthy praise for his book, Redeployment. In his first non-fiction work with Brookings, Klay valiantly explores the moral dimensions of veterans, their purpose in war, and their reintegration into the civilian world.

The Brookings Essay: In the spirit of its commitment to high-quality, independent research, the Brookings Institution has commissioned works on major topics of public policy by distinguished authors, including Brookings scholars. The Brookings Essay is a multi-platform product aimed to engage readers in open dialogue and debate. The views expressed, however, are solely those of the author. Available in ebook only.
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About the author

Phil Klay is a graduate of Dartmouth College and a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. He served in Iraq’s Anbar Province from January 2007 to February 2008 as a public affairs officer. After being discharged he received an MFA from Hunter College. In 2014 Klay’s short story collection Redeployment won the National Book Award for Fiction. Among his many other accolades, in 2015 he received the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation’s James Webb Award for fiction dealing with U.S. Marines or Marine Corps life. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, Granta, Tin House, and elsewhere. He is currently a Hodder Fellow at Princeton University. Learn more at philklay.com.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Brookings Institution Press
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Published on
May 24, 2016
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Pages
29
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ISBN
9780815729594
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Language
English
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Genres
Political Science / Public Policy / Military Policy
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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War Memories explores the patchwork formed by collective memory, public remembrance, private recollection, and the ways in which they form a complex composition of observations, initiatives, and experiences. Offering an international perspective on war commemoration, contributors consider the process of assembling historical facts and subjective experiences to show how these points of view diverge according to various social, cultural, political, and historical perspectives. Encompassing the representations of wars in the English-speaking world over the last hundred years, this collection presents an extensive, yet integrated, reflection on various types of commemoration and interpretations of events. Essays respond to common questions regarding war memory: how and why do we remember war? What does commemoration tell us about the actors in wars? How does commemoration reflect contemporary society’s culture of war? War Memories disseminates current knowledge on the performance, interpretation, and rewriting of facts and events during and after wars, while focusing on how patriotic fervour, resistance, conscientious objection, injury, trauma, and propaganda contribute to the shaping of individual and collective memory. Contributors include Joan Beaumont (Australian National University, Canberra), Gilles Chamerois (University of Brest, France), Subarno Chattarji (University of Delhi, India), Nicole Cloarec (Rennes 1 University, France), Corinne David-Ives (European University of Brittany – Rennes 2, France), Jeffrey Demsky (San Bernardino Valley College, California), Sam Edwards (Manchester Metropolitan University), Georges Fournier (Jean Moulin University, France), Annie Gagiano (University of Stellenbosch, South Africa), David Haigron (Rennes 2 University, France), Judith Keene (University of Sydney, Australia), Melissa King (San Bernardino Valley College, California), Christine Knauer (Eberhard Karls University Tübingen, Germany), Liliane Louvel (University of Poitiers), Michelle P. Moore (Canadian Army Doctrine and Training Centre, Kingston, Ontario), John Mullen (University of Rouen, France), Lorie-Anne Duech-Rainville (Caen University, France), Elizabeth Rechniewski (Australian Research Council Discovery Project), Raphaël Ricaud (University ‘Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense’, France), Laura Robinson (Royal Military College of Canada), and Isabelle Roblin (Université du Littoral-Côte d’Opale, France).
Winner of the 2014 National Book Award for Fiction · Winner of the John Leonard First Book Prize · Selected as one of the best books of the year by The New York Times Book Review, Time, Newsweek, The Washington Post Book World, Amazon, and more 

Phil Klay's Redeployment takes readers to the frontlines of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, asking us to understand what happened there, and what happened to the soldiers who returned.  Interwoven with themes of brutality and faith, guilt and fear, helplessness and survival, the characters in these stories struggle to make meaning out of chaos.

In "Redeployment", a soldier who has had to shoot dogs because they were eating human corpses must learn what it is like to return to domestic life in suburbia, surrounded by people "who have no idea where Fallujah is, where three members of your platoon died."  In "After Action Report", a Lance Corporal seeks expiation for a killing he didn't commit, in order that his best friend will be unburdened.  A Morturary Affairs Marine tells about his experiences collecting remains—of U.S. and Iraqi soldiers both.  A chaplain sees his understanding of Christianity, and his ability to provide solace through religion, tested by the actions of a ferocious Colonel.  And in the darkly comic "Money as a Weapons System", a young Foreign Service Officer is given the absurd task of helping Iraqis improve their lives by teaching them to play baseball.  These stories reveal the intricate combination of monotony, bureaucracy, comradeship and violence that make up a soldier's daily life at war, and the isolation, remorse, and despair that can accompany a soldier's homecoming.

Redeployment is poised to become a classic in the tradition of war writing.  Across nations and continents, Klay sets in devastating relief the two worlds a soldier inhabits: one of extremes and one of loss.  Written with a hard-eyed realism and stunning emotional depth, this work marks Phil Klay as one of the most talented new voices of his generation.
This is the story of a small group of soldiers from the 101st Airborne Division’s fabled 502nd Infantry Regiment—a unit known as “the Black Heart Brigade.” Deployed in late 2005 to Iraq’s so-called Triangle of Death, a veritable meat grinder just south of Baghdad, the Black Hearts found themselves in arguably the country’s most dangerous location at its most dangerous time.

Hit by near-daily mortars, gunfire, and roadside bomb attacks, suffering from a particularly heavy death toll, and enduring a chronic breakdown in leadership, members of one Black Heart platoon—1st Platoon, Bravo Company, 1st Battalion—descended, over their year-long tour of duty, into a tailspin of poor discipline, substance abuse, and brutality.

Four 1st Platoon soldiers would perpetrate one of the most heinous war crimes U.S. forces have committed during the Iraq War—the rape of a fourteen-year-old Iraqi girl and the cold-blooded execution of her and her family. Three other 1st Platoon soldiers would be overrun at a remote outpost—one killed immediately and two taken from the scene, their mutilated corpses found days later booby-trapped with explosives.

Black Hearts is an unflinching account of the epic, tragic deployment of 1st Platoon. Drawing on hundreds of hours of in-depth interviews with Black Heart soldiers and first-hand reporting from the Triangle of Death, Black Hearts is a timeless story about men in combat and the fragility of character in the savage crucible of warfare. But it is also a timely warning of new dangers emerging in the way American soldiers are led on the battlefields of the twenty-first century.
The Oscar-shortlisted documentary Command and Control, directed by Robert Kenner, finds its origins in Eric Schlosser's book and continues to explore the little-known history of the management and safety concerns of America's nuclear aresenal.

A myth-shattering exposé of America’s nuclear weapons

Famed investigative journalist Eric Schlosser digs deep to uncover secrets about the management of America’s nuclear arsenal. A groundbreaking account of accidents, near misses, extraordinary heroism, and technological breakthroughs, Command and Control explores the dilemma that has existed since the dawn of the nuclear age: How do you deploy weapons of mass destruction without being destroyed by them? That question has never been resolved—and Schlosser reveals how the combination of human fallibility and technological complexity still poses a grave risk to mankind. While the harms of global warming increasingly dominate the news, the equally dangerous yet more immediate threat of nuclear weapons has been largely forgotten.

Written with the vibrancy of a first-rate thriller, Command and Control interweaves the minute-by-minute story of an accident at a nuclear missile silo in rural Arkansas with a historical narrative that spans more than fifty years. It depicts the urgent effort by American scientists, policy makers, and military officers to ensure that nuclear weapons can’t be stolen, sabotaged, used without permission, or detonated inadvertently. Schlosser also looks at the Cold War from a new perspective, offering history from the ground up, telling the stories of bomber pilots, missile commanders, maintenance crews, and other ordinary servicemen who risked their lives to avert a nuclear holocaust. At the heart of the book lies the struggle, amid the rolling hills and small farms of Damascus, Arkansas, to prevent the explosion of a ballistic missile carrying the most powerful nuclear warhead ever built by the United States.

Drawing on recently declassified documents and interviews with people who designed and routinely handled nuclear weapons, Command and Control takes readers into a terrifying but fascinating world that, until now, has been largely hidden from view. Through the details of a single accident, Schlosser illustrates how an unlikely event can become unavoidable, how small risks can have terrible consequences, and how the most brilliant minds in the nation can only provide us with an illusion of control. Audacious, gripping, and unforgettable, Command and Control is a tour de force of investigative journalism, an eye-opening look at the dangers of America’s nuclear age.
IN combating terror, America can no longer depend on its conventional military superiority and the use of sophisticated technology. We are fighting guerrilla wars, against insurgents hidden in remote regions, often deep among the local population. In battles such as these, squadrons of billion-dollar bombers and naval fleets mean much less than on-the-ground intelligence and the ability to organize local forces. That’s why, more than ever before, we need men like those of the Army Special Forces—the legendary Green Berets.
In Chosen Soldier, Dick Couch—a former Navy SEAL widely admired for his books about SEAL training and operations—offers an unprecedented view of the training of the Army Special Forces warrior. Each year, several thousand enlisted men and several hundred officers volunteer for Special Forces training; less than a quarter of those who apply will complete the course. Chosen Soldier spells out in fascinating detail the arduous regimen these men undergo—the demanding selection process and grueling field exercises, the high-level technical training and intensive language courses, and the simulated battle problems that test everything from how well they gather operational intelligence to their skills at negotiating with volatile, often hostile, local leaders.
Green Berets are expected to be deadly in combat, yes, but their responsibilities go far beyond those of other Special Operations fighters; they’re taught to operate in foreign cultures, often behind enemy lines; to recruit, train, and lead local forces; to gather intelligence in hostile territory; to forge bonds across languages and cultures. They must not only be experts in such fields as explosives, communications, engineering, and field medicine, but also be able to teach those skills to others. Each and every Green Beret must function as tactical combat leader, negotiator, teacher, drill sergeant, and diplomat.
These tasks require more than just physical prowess; they require a unique mix of character, intelligence, language skills, and—most of all—adaptability. It’s no wonder that the Green Berets’ training regimen is known as the hardest in the world. Drawing on his unprecedented access to the closed world of Army Special Forces training, Dick Couch paints a vivid, intimate portrait of these extraordinary men and the process that forges America’s smartest, most versatile, and most valuable fighting force.
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