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Capsule Review

Yellow Smoke: The Future of Land Warfare for America's Military

In This Review

Yellow Smoke: The Future of Land Warfare for America's Military

Yellow Smoke: The Future of Land Warfare for America's Military
By Robert H. Scales
Rowman and Littlefield, 2003 280 pp. $24.95 Purchase

Scales has played an important part in developing U.S. Army concepts, notably in the Army After Next study of the mid-1990s. His new significant contribution to current doctrinal debates argues that the vision of future war offered by the 1991 Persian Gulf War was largely misleading. The U.S. Army should instead prepare for more complex political settings as it continues to try to win wars with the minimum of fighting. The issues are explored in short, sharp examinations of recent experiences of limited war. Scales' key statistic is that infantrymen make up around 80 percent of U.S. combat deaths -- even though they account for just 4 percent of the total force. In addition, he sees the brigade rather than the division as the optimal operational ground formation for the future, traveling light to arrive quickly and gaining the full benefits of precise firepower and information dominance. Yet he does not really address the problems that arise when combatants intermingle with noncombatants, notwithstanding one intriguing scenario of a war in Kosovo in 2020 that ends with the enemy forces taking three major cities as their citadels but surrendering after a siege rather than an urban battle.

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