Book Report Addendum: Amazon Legion

In my previous blog, I reviewed The Amazon legion, by Tom Kratman. And I owe him an apology. Once I waded through the silliness at the beginning, it actually turned into a good read. I did eventually finish reading it. I still consider it one of his inferior works (not as good as his others).

My main beef with it is that he works very hard trying to create a coherent system of people, structures and institutions that work seamlessly together. But people aren’t like that. His own characters demonstrate over and over that Kratman himself clearly understands but refuses to bow to. But, whatever. It is his alternate universe and he can make it the way he wants to. If anything, the fault is mine for trying to impose my own internal alternate universe onto his characters.

I do think he is taking too long getting the next books out and the characters are dragging their feet. The objective of the books has been the defeat of the Cosmos and old Earth, but the lead character in the series is forgetting grand strategy and is getting bogged down in Operations. Example: heavy investment in combat equipment, and training, none of which can be used in his endgame.

Kratman brings up several important ideas with regard to the employment of women in combat and coincidentally, the current armed forces are moving in that direction as quickly as possible. The central argument that i hear most people using is on skill qualification. Kratman’s training model focuses on making training differently difficult. Similarly, the Army today already grades on a curve, giving more credit to women for equal effort in physical tests. But the Army today does not increase unit manpower to offset lower physical abilities of women in the force. That would be admitting that women aren’t as good.

My own opinion is that large organizations, like the Army, have plenty of useful jobs where high demands of physical fitness are not required. Even as Kratman’s later book shows when he uses the marginal capabilities of disabled people. Kratman actually does the calculation of how much it costs his fictional country to employ women and how much they benefit from that employment. Our country does not. Our Military is just another government jobs program with set asides, promotions and dismissals carefully monitored at the highest levels to maintain the correct mix of diversity.

The fact is that it is not just a men-women dynamic. It is also a Weak man-strong man dynamic. Everyone is differently abled. Good management used the materials present in the right roles to maximize the total benefit. you don’t need to be a ranger school graduate to learn to shoot a modern combat rifle from a hotel window. You don’t need the mental toughness and endurance of a Navy SEAL to convince 3-5 other people to follow you and accomplish a limited objective. Our Armed forces are bloated cold war relics. They can not only afford to be gutted in personnel strength, they can afford to have some of that strength be composed of less-capable people.

I am intentionally ommitting all the stuff in his books that I agree with.


About No One

I am totally non-threatening
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22 Responses to Book Report Addendum: Amazon Legion

  1. heresolong says:

    Well hello, professor. You gave yourself away.


  2. Tom Kratman says:

    You don’t know where the beginning came from, do you?


  3. No One says:

    Mr. Kratman,
    We already had this discussion. Civil war black troops? I don’t expect you to remember all your minor fans, especially when they change their names and delete their old blogs to avoid a paper trail. But my apology is sincere and overdue.

    And when are you going to get around to using those ten nukes?


  4. Tom Kratman says:

    14 nukes, minus one, I think it was. Next book, sortakinda.

    Yes, 54th MVI, as in the movie, Glory. My point, though, is that if it happened it can’t be silly. Now the execution on my part may have been silly, but that’s a different issue.


  5. Tom Kratman says:

    By the way, doesn’t it occur to you that, if _my_ characters are demonstrating something, it’s at least within the realm of the plausible that I _am_ bowing to it?


  6. Tom Kratman says:

    I don’t know that you have to, but the first part, if the attack is what you think is silly, is a possibly pretty fair modernization of the 54th MVI charging Fort Wagner, outside of Charleston, July, 1863, amended to include an incident of British Army v. IJA, in 1944 or 1945, I misremember. On the other hand, if it’s the mobilization and assembly you think is silly, I wouldn’t mind if you could point out where or how. I might learn something, or you might, either of which eventualities would be a good thing.

    Nukes are for threatening, for the most part, and not – especially if the enemy can nuke you back – for actual use. A lot of folks miss that, say, in the case of Iran, their desire for nukes has little to do with our having nukes, but is intended to up the stakes to stymie the possibility of conventional invasion against which they’re probably helpless, too, based on our conventional stomping of Iraq in 03. ( I doubt we could do that again, actually, since our armed forces are ruined.)


    • No One says:

      I disagree. You of all people should realize that even ruined American formations would dominate Iranian forces.

      The part I thought was silly was the focus on the women as women with women’s issues and women’s focus on life. I an not naive about how hard life is for third world women. I simply don’t enjoy their hardship as part of my entertainment.

      We will disagree on elements of army life or focus but this was your book. If I want my fantasy team I should write my own book. That seems fair.


    • No One says:

      As we saw in dr strangelove, your enemy has to know you have a doomsday device for it to work.


  7. Tom Kratman says:

    I don’t think you know just how ruined we are. It’s so bad that even Iranians (who are better soldiers than Arabs, anyway) could probably stymie us, especially given the size of the country and the terrain. It was extremely problematic from a logistics point of view even when we were on the top of our form, 25 or so years ago. (Yes, I knew the plans in detail, then.) Now? We are screwed. We’ve forgotten how to fight a conventional war. We’ve selected against leadership that can do so, in favor of leadership that is good at power point and frightfulness reduction. We’ve dismantled or are dismantling much of the kinetic apparatus we had. And, worst of all, we’ve morally castrated the force and intelletually prostituted it. Screwed, screwed, screwed.

    It was more about observing women, women’s issues, and women’s focus on life and warping and twisting them to force them to / make them better able to deal with non-women’s issues and non-women’s focus on life. I very rarely write anything without an agenda. Also, I am often thought of as unsubtle. That latter is often true, but it isn’t always true. Sometimes I am subtle, indeed. What, for example, does it say to show a very small number of harshly raised women barely making it, when we contemplate any number of [our] softly and gently raised [read: “weak and spoiled rotten”] women trying to do the same thing?

    I do not, in any case, know how one could describe a possible way of making female combatants without dealing with women, women’s issues and outlooks, etc. Many try to do just that, of course, but they’re fantacists, whereas I am much more of a “Do it THIS way, dammit!” sort.

    However, the way I’m reading it you’ve used “silly” in lieu of “unentertaining, for me.” “Thees word you are usin’? I dunno thin’ it means….”


    • No One says:

      I often wonder if our military was ever really as good as we thought back in the golden age.

      I have seen plenty of stupid in great units and moments of elite skills in unexpected places.

      I dont believe that land invasion is needed. Focusing on the enemy’s force is the old way. Focus on his leadership instead. It takes a lot less effort and we have more than enough high quality people to do that task… then put a 100k peacekeeper fobbits there to get their bronze stars. The american way. A few carry the burden for the many, because they can.


      • Tom Kratman says:

        War by assassination? It’s a lot harder to do than that, and also leaves you open to counterattack. I am pretty sure that a) they have more people inside our society than we have inside theirs, b) bombing doesn’t work all that well, and c) their leadership is more willing to die for what they believe than ours is for anything, since ours believes in nothing but their own individual wonderfulness.

        All militaries are more or less incompetent in an objective sense. Fortunately, the objective sense matters less than the subjective and relative. We were not supermen, but nearly everyone else was military untermensch. So, yes, in a relative sense, within our limited repertoir (and ours was less limited than most), we were that good.


      • No One says:

        More like war by decapitation. Drone strikes and heavy bombs. Personally I value young infantry privates as much as I value chiefs of state. Kill 500k americans or kill Hitler and his inner circle. Easy choice. We have thd ability to “kill hitler” today.


  8. Tom Kratman says:

    By the way, the thing I think is most problematic is that not only have we forgotten how to train, we’ve pretty much forgotten _to_ train. I talk to a lot of folks who are still in – they’re a goodly chunk of my fan base, after all – and they don’t seem to understand that 18-24 days and nights a month in the field should be normal. I think what happened is that, given the deployment schedule and the divorce rate, we simply lost the heart to be harsh anymore, so training in the states became very much a nine to five thing, with an hour for PT before that.

    If you are who I think, and served in Panama a bit after me, even there you didn’t see what things are supposed to be like. Both tours I was there we pretty much lived in the jungle, sometimes for more than a month at a whack never so much as seeing a building in the distance and using more ammunition, 4.2″ and below, for each battalion down there, than the entire 82d Airborne. _That’s_ the way things are supposed to be…and no one hardly remembers it.


    • No One says:

      Thats me. I work on the army staff now. I can tell you that there is no discipline here. Senior leaders are unable to make hard choices. Anything harder than fashion choices on black female hairstyles gets bumped to the secdef. And he will just ask some lobbyist-organizer. Every budget decision is “shared pain” because no one will say “cut that to zero”.

      I remember the Carter years when Jr enlisted brought canned food in to give to married Ncos.


  9. Tom Kratman says:

    If he knew we could find him he would become much harder to find. So will they. But the point there was – forget the value of life, on which point we agree – _our_ leadership will surrender before taking on any risk themselves. A certain kind of people, throwing up a certain kind of leadership, could engage in war by assassination. We are not that people. We do not not throw up that kind of leadership. The leadership we do throw up is, in fact, just throw-up, moral vomit.


  10. Tom Kratman says:

    Hmmmm…if you can get anyone in the puzzle palace to read this – – it would be an inherently good thing.


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