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O! The damage 'Once an Eagle' has done to my Army -- and yes, it is partly my fault


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Over the post-Vietnam era, virtually every Army officer read three books. First was This Kind of War by T.R. Fehrenbach. It remains today as one of the best works on the Korean War. The enduring value of the book is that it chronicles the dangers of unpreparedness, a lesson all too familiar to the service that always suffers the most between wars. The second was Michael Shaara's The Killer Angels, a fictional portrayal of the Battle of Gettysburg. Neither Shaara nor Fehrenbach were professional soldiers or military historians, yet both of their books captured the essence of real war and each taught enduring lessons every officer needed to learn about his profession.

Of course the third and most revered was Once an Eagle. Four decades of officer readership has made it both a moral guide for comportment and an indelible cultural metaphor for the difference between unit command and service on a staff.  Yet after 10 years of war I'm beginning to question if this cultural icon might have done a generation of the Army a disservice ... and it's in part my fault.

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