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USSOCOM Commander’s Reading List 2017

Leadership in Complexity
Washington’s Crossing, by David Hackett Fischer (2006)

Turn the Ship Around!: A True Story of Turning Followers into Leaders, by L. David Marquet (2013)

Six Simple Rules: How to Manage Complexity without Getting Complicated, by Yves Morieux and Peter Tollman (2014)

Adapting to Uncertainty
Antifragile: Things that Gain from Disorder, Nassim Nicholas Taleb (2014)

Learning from the Octopus: How Secrets from Nature Can Help Us Fight Terrorist Attacks, Natural Disasters, and Disease, by Rafe Sagarin (2012)

Disruptive Technology
Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War, P.W. Singer and August Cole (2016)

3D Printing Will Rock the World, by John Hornick (2015)

The Red Web: The Struggle Between Russia’s Digital Dictators and the New Online Revolutionaries, by Andrei Soldatov and Irina Borogan (2015)

Perspectives and Emergence
Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the World, by Tim Marshall (2016)

Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia, by Peter Pomerantsev (2015)

Putinism: Russia and Its Future with the West, by Walter Laqueur (2015)

The Hundred-Year Marathon: China’s Secret Strategy to Replace America as the Global Superpower, by Michael Pillsbury (2016)

The Dragon’s Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa, by Deborah Brautigam (2011)

A History of Iran: Empire of the Mind, by Michael Axworthy (2016)

Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea, by Barbara Demick (2010)

Special Operations from a Small State Perspective: Future Security Challenges, New Security Challenges, by Gunilla Eriksson and Ulrica Pettersson, editors (2017)

3 Responses to “USSOCOM Commander’s Reading List 2017”

  1. Richard Steven Hack says:

    Nothing like reinforcing the (incorrect) notions that Iran, China and Russia are sworn enemies that we have to bomb into submission…

  2. Vince says:

    You sound like one of them there Ruskie hackers!

  3. straps says:

    There’s none of that dogma in that reading list. And USSOCOM isn’t a kinetics-only asset. Pilsbury’s own note about his China book:

    “Pillsbury also explains how the U.S. government has helped – sometimes unwittingly and sometimes deliberately – to make this “China Dream” come true, and he calls for the United States to implement a new, more competitive strategy toward China as it really is, and not as we might wish it to be.”

    Feeding off Deborah Brautigam’s analysis in The Dragon’s Gift:

    I was on an op in AFRICOM where there were TWO Chinese consulates within 75 miles of each other. By itself this isn’t significant–the Chinese government integrates its business development and diplomatic efforts differently than we do. We ran into them pretty frequently. Were they hostile to us? Far from it. They loved–LOVED–the level of security we added to the area and used the freedom of movement it offered to broaden their reach. I supported a bunch of atmospherics and the most pessimistic assessment of the Chinese presence was neutral to friendly and the most optimistic assessment of our presence was neutral. Meaning neutral-to-hostile was one misstep away. Bear in mind, life in a village adjacent to a field committed to a Chinese concern was no better than one committed to an Anglo (American or European) concern. Yet the perception (perhaps influenced by history?) was different.

    Africa has oil, rare earth minerals, fissiles, big ag (food and pharma) and the Chinese are doing a better job of accessing (with the goal of dominating) these markets than the US and Western Europe. When China dominates BAD things happen. Look at what they’ve done with commercial fishing. And nuclear proliferation.

    A USSOCOM asset preparing to launch to that AOR can benefit from a grownup’s strategic assessment as they synch (or simply de-conflict) their efforts on the with USG activities.

    Far as Russia, the same KGB alum has for a decade been hopscotching among positions of power, using his influence over the Federal Assembly to ensure the position he assumes is more powerful than the one he departs. He uses his control of the judiciary to arrest oligarchic industrialists to amass more wealth than any man on this planet. While running a country that barely moves the needle using western indicators of economic development, making him a significant assymetric threat (or whatever you call someone who poisons people with POLONIUM). Again, squarely in the wheelhouse of USSOCOM assets working adjacent (at the very least) to areas he’s annexed, such as Crimea. Unless you believe his statement that the Crimea op was staged by joes on leave. Over whom he has minimal control.