14 December 2011

Pat Proctor Appears on NPRs "Tell Me More"

On 15 December 2011, I was asked to appear on NPR's Tell Me More with Michel Martin to talk about the end of the Iraq War, the toll the war has taken on the military and military families, and the release of my new book, Task Force Patriot and the End of Combat Operations in Iraq

The broadcast is up on the Net right now. To hear it, click here.

This talk coincided with the release of Task Force Patriot, published by Government Institutes Press, an imprint of Rowman & Littlefield. The book is now available in stores, or you can order it on Amazon.com.

07 December 2011

"Task Force Patriot" Ships

My latest book, Task Force Patriot and the End of Combat Operations in Iraq, has shipped to retailers.  You can buy it now at Amazon.com.

Task Force Patriot tells the story of an artillery-turned-infantry battalion and its year in Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit, the last battalion to occupy the city before the end of combat operations. It is published by Government Institutes Press, an imprint of Scarecrow Press.

18 November 2011

Pat Proctor at the First Infantry Division Museum

Author Pat Proctor will appear at the First Infantry Division Museum at Cantigny Park, near Chicago, on 21 December, beginning at 7:30PM. At this event, he will discuss his new book, Task Force Patriot and the End of Combat Operations in Iraq.

To see details for the event, click here.

Task Force Patriot, is being published by Government Institutes Press, an imprint of Scarecrow Press. The book will be released on 15 December.  It is available now for pre-order from Amazon.com

08 October 2011

"Task Force Patriot" now available for pre-order at Amazon.com

My new book, Task Force Patriot and the End of Combat Operations in Iraq is now available for pre-order at Amazon.com. The book is slated for release on 15 December 2011 (Amazon erroneously lists 31 December 11).

To see the Task Force Patriot page at Amazon, click here.

Task Force Patriot will be publish by Government Institutes Press, an imprint of Scarecrow Press. The expected release date is in December 2011.

For more, click here.

25 September 2011

More Advance Praise for "Task Force Patriot and the End of Combat Operations in Iraq"

The positive reviews for Task Force Patriot and the End of Combat Operations in Iraq continue to roll in! Here is what Brig.Gen. H.R. McMaster, PhD., author of Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that Led to Vietnam had to say:

“As we approach the twilight of the war in Iraq, it is widely acknowledged that the public understands too little about the experience of soldiers who have been engaged in that conflict over the past eight years. In Task Force Patriot and the End of Combat Operations in Iraq, Pat Proctor sheds light on the political, human, and psychological dimension of that experience, recounting how he and his soldiers fought across an area the size of New Jersey to achieve an outcome consistent with our interests and worthy of the sacrifices so many have made. This is a compelling account not only because it helps explain the American military experience in Iraq, but also because it reveals the difficulties that our soldiers are likely to confront in future conflicts.”

Check back with the Task Force Patriot Review Page often to see the latest reviews as they come in!

18 September 2011

Creating the Credibility Gap

William M. Hammond, Public Affairs: The Military and the Media, 1962-1968, Washington, D.C.: Center for Military History, U.S. Army, 1988, 429 pages.

In the years since the end of the Vietnam War, both war correspondents and historians have written extensively about press coverage of the war. Very few works, however, have covered this topic from the perspective of the government and the military, particularly the US Embassy and Military Assistance Command Vietnam (MACV) personnel who fought on the front lines of the media war in Vietnam. This is the territory covered in William Hammond’s Public Affairs: The Military and the Media, 1962-1968. Hammond provides a fascinating “behind the scenes” look at the actions that shaped the official message on Vietnam throughout the Kennedy and Johnson administrations.

This book is an in-depth, “blow by blow” account of both media coverage of the war, and the efforts by both Saigon and Washington to shape that coverage. Public Affairs: The Military and the Media, 1962-1968 also covers two particularly interesting periods, both the “Americanization” of the war in 1964 and 1965 and the collapse of public support for the war after the Tet offensive. In the end, Hammond concludes, “Most of the public affairs problems that confronted the United States in South Vietnam stemmed from the contradictions implicit in Lyndon Johnson’s strategy for the war” (p. 385). Because Johnson wanted to commit the country to war without jeopardizing either America’s global commitments or his own domestic agenda, Hammond writes, Johnson placed public affairs personnel in Vietnam in an impossible position.

Public Affairs: The Military and the Media, 1962-1968 is excellent, meticulously crafted history. The rigor with which William Hammond has reconstructed the actors and decisions that shaped the government’s message in Vietnam is without equal. Yet, the book suffers for its perspective. This book was, after all, written for the US Army Center for Military History; throughout the book, Hammond is overtly sympathetic to the government/military perspective. Again and again, Hammond details the ways in which the US mission in Saigon and MACV, tried to hide, slant, or outright misrepresent the situation in South Vietnam to favor the government position. He unapologetically paints both the military and State Department as enthusiastically complicit in hiding both the scope and the nature of the war. Yet, at the same time, he paints the press as unreasonably adversarial, as if one were not connected to the other. Hammond’s underlying premise is that the role of military and embassy public affairs is not to inform, but to influence the American public--a premise roundly rejected both by other writers on the subject and modern military public affairs doctrine (largely shaped by the lessons of Vietnam).

Even if one disagrees with Hammond’s perspective, this is still very well executed history. In that respect, Public Affairs: The Military and the Media, 1962-1968 is a must read for anyone interested in media coverage of the Vietnam War.

10 September 2011

Advance Praise for "Task Force Patriot and the End of Combat Operations in Iraq"

The advance reviews are beginning to roll in for Task Force Patriot and the End of Combat Operations in Iraq. Here is just one, from Lt.Gen. William Caldwell, IV, commander of the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan (NTM-A).

"Lieutenant Colonel Pat Proctor provides valuable insight into the adaptability of the American Soldier and the versatility of tactical leaders in war. His compelling narrative provides an in-depth account of how his battalion implemented counterinsurgency theory in one corner of Iraq."

To read more reviews, click here.

Task Force Patriot and the End of Combat Operations will be released in mid-December 2011.  It is being published by Government Institutes Press, an imprint of Scarecrow Press.

28 August 2011

The American Way of War

Donald J. Mrozek, Air Power and the Ground War in Vietnam, Honolulu, HI: University Press of the Pacific, 2002, 216 pages.

Much has been written about the particulars of the air war in Vietnam, from the massive bombing campaigns over North Vietnam to the use of strategic and tactical bombers in support of ground forces in South Vietnam. But the majority of work in these areas has been focused on the technical aspects of the use of air power--tactics, types of aircraft, and types of munitions. In Air Power and the Ground War in Vietnam, Donald Mrozek goes beyond the “how” of the use of airpower in Vietnam to answer the much more interesting question of why it was used in this way.  In the process, Mrozek ends up using air power as a tool to illustrate a much larger point about the American way of war.

Air Power and the Ground War in Vietnam begins by examining the evolution of air power theory up to the start of the Vietnam War.  The book then delves into the struggle to make profoundly conventional American air power fit with the various conceptions of the nature of the Vietnam War.  Where Mrozek takes a fascinating turn is when he departs from the well-worn discussion of tactics for the use of air power and delves into the organizational pressures, both internal to the Air Force and between the services, as they fought for predominance in the control and use of various types of air assets inside the Southeast Asian theater of operations.

Mrozek concludes, among other things, that American air power was in some circumstances a poor fit for Vietnam.  For instance, helicopters used in air mobile operations were antithetical to counterinsurgency, which required a clear-and-hold methodology.  In other circumstances, Mrozek concludes that air power was misused.  The Johnson administration, in particular, repeatedly tried to use strategic bombers as a method to send political signals to the North Vietnamese--messages that were often inscrutable to the communists.  Finally, Mrozek concludes, “The starting point for all appraisals of the Vietnam War on the tactical and operational level--the realm of means and instruments--must be that it was fundamentally a failure in conception and vision on the strategic level” (p. 155).

In this final conclusion lies the only problem with an otherwise excellent book.  At the end of an in depth examination of why air power was used as it was in Vietnam, Mrozek then concludes that the strategic ends America chose for the war were fundamentally flawed.  The concluding chapter of Air Power and the Ground War in Vietnam raises a number of excellent points about the basic strategic conception of the Vietnam War that the rest of the book, because it is ultimately a book about uses of air power, is not able to explore.  One is left wishing for another book to discuss these broader conclusions in detail.

13 August 2011

The Making of a Quagmire

Jeffrey P. Kimball, To Reason Why: The Debate about the Causes of U.S. Involvement in the Vietnam War, Eugene, OR: Resource, 1990, 384 pages.

To Reason Why is a collection of answers to a single question: how did America become embroiled in the Vietnam War?  Unlike Jeffrey Record’s The Wrong War, which reviews schools of thought on a similar question (why did America lose the Vietnam War?) in order to reach its own, independent conclusion, Jeffrey Kimball simply catalogues the answers of others, with no attempt to answer the question himself.  The book begins with a very thorough historiography that organizes the arguments of scholars, politicians, and opinion leaders into schools of thought.  The remainder of the book consists of excerpts of the actual arguments as written by the people who made them.

Jeffrey Kimball groups all of the arguments in To Reason Why into seven broad categories--“the official view” (containment and the “domino theory”), “states of mind” (leaders became fixated on the Cold War context of the Vietnam War), “the process of involvement” (once escalation began, it took on a momentum all its own), “the buck stops here” (the presidents were the driving force behind escalating involvement), “the advisers” (the men closest to the president drove the country into war), “pressures and aims” (political and economic forces propelled American leaders into the war), and “ways of living” (the interaction of American and Vietnamese culture drove America into the war).
While Kimball never posits an answer of his own to the question of why the US became involved in the Vietnam War, this is not to say he does not have or express an opinion.  While he never indicates to which school of thought he subscribes, Kimball dismisses out of hand what he calls the “official view,” that America fought the Vietnam War as part of its policy to contain the expansion of communism.  Kimball writes, “Most academics would probably maintain that the official argument is on the whole false and not worthy of serious consideration. Yet others continue to use it to explain why the U.S. government intervened in Vietnam and should intervene in other ‘Vietnams’” (p. 22).

By not advocating a point of view himself, Kimball leaves the reader free to draw his own conclusions.  This might be frustrating for the more casual reader who might prefer a thesis-argument-conclusion presentation to the more open-ended form that To Reason Why provides.  Additionally, while Kimball’s historiography is very thorough, the excerpts he provides are sometimes not long enough for the reader to thoroughly evaluate the merits each argument.  However, as an exercise in cataloguing the many answers to the question of why American became trapped in the quagmire of the Vietnam War--which is, to be fair, Jeffrey Kimball’s intent--To Reason Why is beyond reproach.

06 August 2011

New Website launched for "Task Force Patriot and the End of Combat Operations in Iraq"

The website for Task Force Patriot and the End of Combat Operations in Iraq has launched .  You can see it at:


At this Website you will find additional resources related to the book, including multimedia content such as pictures and video taken during Task Force Patriot's last tour in Iraq, as the last combat force to occupy Saddam Hussein's hometown of Tikrit. You will also find the latest reviews and news related to the book and my appearances to promote it.

Task Force Patriot will be publish by Government Institutes Press, an imprint of Scarecrow Press. The expected release date is in December 2011.

For more, click here.

24 July 2011

All out in Vietnam?

Jeffrey Record, The Wrong War: Why We Lost in Vietnam, Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1998, 217 pages.

The Wrong War is not a book about the Vietnam War, but rather a book about everything that has been said about the Vietnam War since it ended. Author Jeffrey Record reviews each of the arguments that have emerged for why America failed in Vietnam, and then challenges each of them on their merits. The book is light on history of the war itself; it assumes some entry level of knowledge about the particulars of the war. Instead, it concentrates on surveying multitude of conclusions writers have drawn since the end of the war, from those who blame the anti-war movement and the press to those that feel the US never truly tried to win.

While he mentions the book only once, Jeffrey Record dwells quite extensively on the arguments in Harry Summers’ On Strategy, along with a number of other authors that, like Summers, argued that the United States did not go “all out” in Vietnam. The Wrong War also lingers on the argument, championed by H.R. McMaster and others, that Johnson’s failure to call up reserves or rally the American people behind the war doomed it to failure. It is in refuting these two, complementary arguments that The Wrong War truly shines. Record dismantles both of these arguments by placing the reader in the context of the times in which the Vietnam War was fought. In the context of the Cold War, Record concludes, limited war was the logical means to reach the limited ends sought in Vietnam.

After examining these and many other arguments, Record writes that America failed in Vietnam because it misunderstood the nature of the war on which it had embarked, the relative will of the North Vietnamese and American people, and the fundamental lack of legitimacy of the South Vietnamese regime. Record rejects the contention that the war was unwinnable, yet concludes that winning would have required massive, unrestricted bombing of the North Vietnamese populace or an invasion of North Vietnam, neither of which was politically feasible, domestically or internationally.

The Wrong War covers so much ground and so many different schools of thought that it would have been helpful to have an additional chapter just to catalogue all of the arguments and the people that have made them. Likewise, the reader could benefit from a longer, more thorough explanation of the arguments these authors make. Record does his best to describe and attribute the arguments as he goes, but the sheer number of opinions with which he deals quickly becomes overwhelming. The Wrong War, in its current form, assumes the reader comes having already read many of the cited work. However, these are minor problems with an excellent book. Jeffrey Record’s conclusion on the reasons for America’s failure in Vietnam are as sound as any yet written.

05 July 2011

On the Ground in Cambodia

John M. Shaw, The Cambodian Campaign: The 1970 Offensive and America’s Vietnam War. Lawrence, KS: University Press of Kansas, 2005, 222 pages.

Much of the history that has been written about the Cambodian incursion in 1970 examines the event through the lens of the domestic upheaval it produced in the United States. Such is not the case with The Cambodian Campaign, which largely ignores the uproar the operation caused in Congress and on college campuses across America. Instead it focuses on the operation itself and the units--both US and South Vietnamese--that executed it. Where The Cambodian Campaign does discuss strategy, it provides just enough detail to help the reader understand why operational decisions were made. The commentary on national politics the book does include is focused mostly on how it affected actions on the ground in South Vietnam and Cambodia.

While the period covered in The Cambodian Campaign begins and ends in 1970, President Lyndon Johnson is still the book’s villain. According to Shaw, because Johnson sought “to build the Great Society and secure his own place in American history, he begrudged anything that diverted attention, energy, or resources from his programs. Johnson could not ignore Vietnam, but he was unwilling to pay the necessary price to win decisively there” (p. 2). Gen. Westmoreland is excused culpability for the war because Johnson defined “victory as ‘not losing or interfering with the Great Society,’ and [tried] to do it on the cheap without forcing the Congress to choose between guns or butter, [which] set an impossible goal for his commanders” (p 7). Shaw’s Nixon, on the other hand, unleashed his commanders and allowed them to fight the war without restraint. As a result, Shaw concludes, “The Cambodian incursion was, as Nixon correctly described it, ‘the most successful military operation of the Vietnam War’” (p. 153). As for the protests that the incursion sparked back in the US, Shaw concludes that the ends justified the means. The Cambodian incursion, he writes saved lives in Vietnam and “those soldiers’ and South Vietnamese civilians’ lives were no less valuable because they were not American college students” (p. 155-6).

The Cambodian Campaign shines as a military history of the operational and tactical decisions made at the corps and division level during the Cambodian incursion. But this detailed, clinical history is sandwiched between an introduction and conclusion packed with opinionated assertions about political leaders that the body of the book does nothing to support. The efficiency with which the campaign was conducted and the losses it inflicted on North Vietnam are in no way connected to whether the incursion was the justified. Not once in over 200 pages does Shaw address the question of the Nixon’s congressional authority to prosecute the incursion, a central question in the domestic debate at the time. John Shaw’s strident political judgments seem out of place next to the otherwise well-executed campaign history in the middle of the book.

01 July 2011

"Task Force Patriot" to be published by Scarecrow Press

“Iraq in 2009 was a strange netherworld, not quite war but not yet peace. The country teetered on the threshold of great change--the impending national elections and the promised withdrawal of all US combat forces. These changes would usher in either an era of irreversible stability or a return to the sectarian carnage that nearly destroyed Iraq in 2006. It was during this period of uncertainty that Task Force Patriot arrived to take over as the last US combat force to occupy Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit.”

Government Institutes Press, an imprint of Scarecrow Press, will publish Task Force Patriot and the End of Combat Operations in Iraq. The expected release date is in November 2011.

For more, click here.

12 March 2011

"Message versus Perception" published in The Historian

Over the forty years since the beginning of the Vietnam War, a historical narrative has developed in the United States to explain the substantial support the Johnson administration enjoyed during the escalation. According to this narrative, Johnson deceived the American people into war...Virtually nothing has been written about this period from the perspective it was seen by the American people, in the media of the day. Through an examination of contemporary media, this article will clearly show that, again and again, despite aggressive administration efforts to downplay the growing American commitment, the American press had a very clear picture of the escalation and clearly communicated this picture to the American people.

Pat's article, "Message versus Perception during the Americanization of the Vietnam War". Appears in the Spring 2011 edition of, The Historian.

To see an excerpt,click here!

"Fighting to Understand" published in Military Review

The city of ad Dawr did not seem to be responding as we expected. Security was always good in the city—until U.S. forces entered. When the Proud American Soldiers entered the city of ad Dawr, they encountered uniform animosity from the populace. The unit that preceded us in ad Dawr, Bravo Company, 2d Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, received small arms fire nearly every time they entered the city. Despite Task Force Patriot’s heavy engagement with the leadership and a significant surge of Commander’s Emergency Relief Program (CERP) money, it was not long before our battalion met with the same reception. This violence finally culminated in tragedy when Corporal Tony Carrasco was shot and killed in ad Dawr on 4 November 2009.

Pat recounts his 2009-2010 deployment to Iraq in "Fighting to Understand," which appeared in the March-April 2011 edition of Military Review.

To read the full article, click here!

24 January 2011

Armchair General Review of "Media War"

The interactive history magazine, Armchair General just posted a review by Peter Suciu of my first full-length book, Media War: The Media-Enabled Insurgency in Iraq.

"A fascinating book that news junkies will appreciate deeply."

To read the full review, click here.

Media War is available for the Amazon Kindle and as a Google eBook.

19 January 2011

ProSIM announces the publication of "Media War" as a Google eBook

“In Operation Iraqi Freedom, insurgent and terrorist groups have demonstrated the capability to use small, relatively insignificant tactical attacks, amplified through the megaphone of the media, to dramatic effect on the will of the American public to prosecute the war. This capability has neutralized the overwhelming advantage the US military has in firepower in Iraq by bypassing it completely. Recent trends (including Israel’s abortive war in Lebanon in 2006) suggest that this capability is proliferating and will characterize every enemy the US military faces for the foreseeable future. Left unchecked, this capability will weaken the United States’ ability to project military power for all but the most finite, decisive future conflicts.”

ProSIM Company is now a Google Books partner! Their first entry at the Google ebookstore is my first full-length book, Media War: The Media-Enabled Insurgency in Iraq. This book is the culmination of over two and a half years of study of the US military, the insurgency, and the media in Iraq, including lessons learned from my first, six-month tour in Iraq working on the front lines of the media war.

To get Media War: The Media-Enabled Insurgency in Iraq at the Google ebookstore, click here.

08 January 2011

Approaches to the War on Terrorism

A Usenet newsgroup discussion about my latest book, Media War: The Media-Enabled Insurgency in Iraq has turned into a quite lively debate about approaches to the War on Terrorism. You can check out the conversation here:

"ProSIM Co.'s newest release"

The discussion starts to heat up around post 30.

The lines in the above discussion get kind of blurred between my role as a game developer, writer, and military professional, so I feel compelled to add the standard disclaimer:

"The views expressed on this blog and in the link above are those of the author(s) and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Department of Defense or the US Government."