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Dale R. Herspring

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Captain Dale R. Herspring, USN (ret.) is a “retired Foreign Service officer and 32-year veteran of the navy, is University Distinguished Professor at Kansas State University. Captain Dale R. Herspring is the author of Putin's Russia: Past Imperfect, Future Uncertain; The Pentagon and the Presidency: Civil-Military Relations from FDR to George W. Bush; Russian Civil-Military Relations; The Soviet High Command, 1967-1989: Personalities and Politics; Soldiers, Commissars, and Chaplains; East German Civil-Military Relations: The Impact of Technology, 1949-72; Rumsfeld's Wars: The Arrogance of Power; Requiem for an Army; and, The Kremlin and the High Command.


According to the book description of Rumsfeld's Wars: The Arrogance of Power, “Not since Robert McNamara has a secretary of defense been so hated by the military and derided by the public, yet played such a critical role in national security policy--with such disastrous results. Donald Rumsfeld was a natural for secretary of defense, a position he'd already occupied once before. He was smart. He worked hard. He was skeptical of the status quo in military affairs and dedicated to high-tech innovations. He seemed the right man at the right time--but history was to prove otherwise.


Now Dale Herspring, a political conservative and lifelong Republican, offers a nonpartisan assessment of Rumsfeld's impact on the U.S. military establishment from 2001 to 2006, focusing especially on the Iraq War--from the decision to invade through the development and execution of operational strategy and the enormous failures associated with the postwar reconstruction of Iraq.


Extending the critique of civil-military relations he began in The Pentagon and the Presidency, Herspring highlights the relationship between the secretary and senior military leadership, showing how Rumsfeld and a handful of advisers--notably Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith--manipulated intelligence and often ignored the military in order to implement their policies. And he demonstrates that the secretary's domineering leadership style and trademark arrogance undermined his vision for both military transformation and Iraq.


Herspring shows that, contrary to his public deference to the generals, Rumsfeld dictated strategy and operations--sometimes even tactics--to prove his transformation theories. He signed off on abolishing the Iraqi army, famously refused to see the need for a counterinsurgency plan, and seemed more than willing to tolerate the torture of prisoners. Meanwhile, the military became demoralized and junior officers left in droves.


Rumsfeld's Wars revisits and reignites the concept of "arrogance of power," once associated with our dogged failure to understand the true nature of a tragic war in Southeast Asia. It provides further evidence that success in military affairs is hard to achieve without mutual respect between civilian authorities and military leaders--and offers a definitive case study in how not to run the office of secretary of defense.”


According to the book description of The Pentagon and the Presidency: Civil-Military Relations from FDR to George W. Bush, “While presidents have always kept a watchful eye on the military, our generals have been equally vigilant in assessing the commander-in-chief. Their views, however, have been relatively neglected in the literature on civil-military relations. By taking us inside the military’s mind in this matter, Dale Herspring’s new book provides a path-breaking, utterly candid, and much-needed reassessment of a key relationship in American government and foreign policymaking.


As Herspring reminds us, that relationship has often been a very tense, even extremely antagonistic one, partly because the military has become a highly organized and very effective bureaucratic interest group. Reevaluating twelve presidents—from Franklin D. Roosevelt to George W. Bush—Herspring shows how the intensity of that conflict depends largely on the military’s perception of the president’s leadership style. Quite simply, presidents who show genuine respect for military culture are much more likely to develop effective relations with the military than those who don’t.


Each chapter focuses on one president and his key administrators—such as Robert McNamara, Henry Kissinger, and Donald Rumsfeld—and contains case studies showing how the military reacted to the president’s leadership. In the final chapter, Herspring ranks the presidents according to their degree of conflict with the military: Lyndon Johnson received exceedingly low marks for being overbearing and dismissive of the armed forces. George H. W. Bush inspired respect for not micromanaging military affairs. And Bill Clinton was savaged by military leaders for having been a “draft dodger,” cutting Pentagon spending, and giving the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” tag an unnecessarily high profile.


From World War II to Operation Iraqi Freedom, Herspring clearly shows how the nature of civilian control has changed during the past half century. He also reveals how the military has become a powerful bureaucratic interest group very much like others in Washington—increasingly politicized, media-savvy, and as much accountable to Congress as to the commander-in-chief.”


According to the book description of Putin's Russia: Past Imperfect, Future Uncertain, “This thoroughly revised and updated edition of the classic text provides the most current and authoritative assessment of Russia available. Distinguished scholars offer a full-scale assessment of Putin's leadership, exploring the daunting domestic and international problems facing Russia today. Evaluating the regime's continued efforts to rebuild a country in shambles, the contributors consider a comprehensive array of economic, political, and social issues. In addition to updated core chapters, the book includes new essays on Putin's leadership, law, foreign policy, and the decline of democracy. The book concludes that Putin will continue to address his country's problems in an incremental and centralized manner as he moves toward his goal of restoring Russia to the status of a world power. Accessible and clearly organized, this text is required reading for anyone wanting to understand Russia today.”


According to the book description of Russian Civil-Military Relations, “Dale R. Herspring analyzes three key periods of change in civil-military relations in the Soviet Union and postcommunist Russia: the 1920s, when the Bolsheviks constructed the communist Red Army; the era of perestroika, when Mikhail Gorbachev attempted to implement a more benign military doctrine and force posture; and the Yeltsin era, when a new civilian and military leadership set out to restructure civil-military relations. Herspring reevaluates the utility of Western theories and models of Soviet civil-military relations. Analysis of the debates about military doctrine and the military high command's attempt to defend its professional territory shed light on the dynamics of the failed August 1991 coup. The book concludes with a timely discussion of the problems inherent in building a post-Soviet Russian army, and the relationship of the military to the current political struggle in Russia.”

The Kremlin & the High Command: Presidential Impact on the Russian Military from Gorbachev to Putin (Modern War Studies)
Dale R. Herspring  More Info

Soldiers, Commissars, and Chaplains
Dale R. Herspring  More Info

Russian Civil-Military Relations
Dale R. Herspring  More Info

Rumsfeld's Wars: The Arrogance of Power (Modern War Studies)
Dale R. Herspring  More Info

Putin's Russia: Past Imperfect, Future Uncertain
Dale R. Herspring  More Info

The Pentagon And the Presidency: Civil-military Relations from FDR to George W. Bush (Modern War Studies)
Dale R. Herspring  More Info

Requiem for an Army
Dale R. Herspring  More Info
The Soviet High Command, 1967-1989: Personalities and Politics
Dale R. Herspring  More Info
East German Civil-Military Relations: The Impact of Technology, 1949-72 (Praeger Special Studies in International Politics and Government)
Dale R. Herspring  More Info

According to the book description of The Soviet High Command, 1967-1989: Personalities and Politics, “The recent transformations in the USSR are nowhere more evident than in the Soviet military. Top-level military officers have been relieved of their positions, Gorbachev has warned of lean times for the military, the symbolic role of the armed forces has been downgraded, and the concept of "military sufficiency" points to major modifications in Soviet force structure. Contrary to some who see Gorbachev as a Sir Galahad out to slay the evil military high command, Dale Herspring concludes that the relationship between the highest Soviet political and military leaders is at the moment more symbiotic than conflictual. In this first in-depth study of the evolution of civil-military relations in the Soviet Union from 1967 to the present, he shows how the views of senior military officers have varied over time: currently, even if the members of the high command do not like all Gorbachev's changes, they understand the need for them and are prepared to live with them. As Herspring looks at the personalities and politics of eight top military figures, he reveals that the most important of them, Ogarkov, was the first senior Soviet military officer to understand the value of working with the political leadership. Ogarkov believed that the arms control and dtente processes, if carefully managed, could enhance the national security of the USSR. In Gorbachev, the Soviet military has found the type of individual that Ogarkov was seeking.”


According to the book description of Requiem for an Army, “Building on a strong foundation of primary sources, this unique study traces the role of East Germany's military (NVA) in the country's unification with West Germany. Utilizing interviews with and questionnaires from NVA officers, Herspring unravels the puzzle of the NVA's decision against using force to save the political system it was sworn to serve. The author also examines the integration of a select minority of officers and NCOs into the Bundeswehr. Illuminating the problems encountered by the Bundeswehr as it incorporated these individuals, Herspring constructs an ideal type of officer in one of the most politicized and tightly controlled of all communist militaries. His findings will be invaluable for all military-political specialists and for anyone interested in the process of transition from authoritarian/totalitarian to democratic systems.”


According to the book description of Soldiers, Commissars, and Chaplains, “This innovative study offers the first-ever comparison of the military roles played by commissars, political officers, and chaplains in military settings ranging from the armies of Cromwell, the Jacobins, the Nazis, the Soviets, and the United States. Despite the stark differences in the political systems of the countries of these disparate armed forces, Dale R. Herspring argues that there are certain critical functions that must be fulfilled in every military, regardless of its ideological orientation. Most vital are motivation, morale boosting, and political socialization. In addition, Herspring's comparative historical analysis decisively demonstrates that the roles of commissars, political officers, and chaplains alike have evolved in ways that are crucial yet rarely understood either by policymakers or scholars.”

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