Saturday, September 11, 2010

Book Review: Spys, Scouts, and Raiders


Flaherty Jr., Thomas H. Spies, Scouts, and Raiders: Irregular Operations. The Civil War. Alexandria, VA; Time-Life, Inc., 1985.

This one made you think. The only weapon the Union had against the irregulars was to throw more troops at them. That's still more or less our solution today. The only real difference between then and now is the regular forces respond faster. They get the information sooner and jump aboard helicopters to respond. You would think that in nearly a century and a half we'd have come up with something better.

When reading about the jayhawkers and bushwhackers in the west, and the atrocities they committed, it made me think that there must be something universal about how we abuse each other. If you stripped off the identifying information, the descriptions could have easily taken place in the Congo or Sudan or Cambodia.

Dealing with the media was a problem even back then. Much of what the Confederate spy network did was buy newspapers and send them via courier back to the Confederate generals. The Confederacy didn't have the same problem because the Confederacy didn't really have newspapers, due to a lack of paper, ink, and manpower to run them. (My two cents, for what it's worth, is that anything the media can discover a foreign intelligence service can too, so the media serves as a sparring partner for your counter-intelligence.)

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