The Defense of Hill 781: An Allegory of Modern Mechanized Combat

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Random House Publishing Group, Mar 3, 2010 - History - 224 pages
“Brilliant, hardhitting description of modern war on the U.S. Army’s premier training ground. A must-read tactical primer for today’s warrior.”—John C. “Doc” Bahnsen, Brigadier General, USA (Ret.)

At the turn of the century a small, humorous book on tactics was published. The Defense of Duffer’s Drift quickly became a bestseller and today is still widely read. The Defense of Hill 781 is a modem version of this classic—a tactical primer with ample funpoking, but with serious lessons to be learned.

Lt. Col. A. Tack Always Finds himself in the California high desert, alone, disheveled, confused. A guide soon appears to inform him of his situation: He has died and is now in Purgatory (his humility in the Army was somewhat lacking) where he must atone for past sins. Purgatory is, aptly, the U.S. Army’s National Training Center (NTC), and Lt. Col. Always may earn his way out by completing a successful mission. Through a series of six missions, the reader plans and fights with Lt. Col. Always, making the split-second decisions that determine victory or defeat, life or death.

Through successive difficulties, some important lessons are burned into the commander’s brain—lessons about tactics, about people, about what it takes to fight a winning battle. Like Duffer’s Drift this book is a valuable resource for all military tacticians. For the armchair general, it is a fascinating look at how the members of a military unit work together in combat.

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - jztemple - LibraryThing

Pretty good, although recommended only for military professionals or the more advanced military reader; the book is very focused on modern warfare command level issues and so may not appeal to the casual reader. Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - jcbrunner - LibraryThing

The Defense of Hill 781 adapts the technique of a scenario and action report of The Defence of Duffer's Drift (1905) to modern armored warfare. We follow LTC A. Tack Always through failure and success ... Read full review


First Impressions
Dawn Attack
Change of Mission
Defense in Sector
Deliberate Attack
Night Attack
Battle Position Defense
The Fruits of Victory

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About the author (2010)

Colonel James R. McDonough, USA (Ret.), graduated from West Point and served in Vietnam as an infantry platoon leader in the legendary 173rd Airborne Brigade. A military theorist who has helped shape the post–Cold War army’s thinking, he is also the author of The Defense of Hill 781 and The Limits of Glory. Now retired from active duty, McDonough lives with his family in Tallahassee, Florida.

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