Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Dissertation: Dhofar Rebellion Part 7

I've been making slow progress on my dissertation, but it's been progress just the same. I'm in a really tedious phase, as I'm going through a number of different sources to pull information out in snippets and tidbits to illustrate one section or another. A few days ago, on my way to Paris, I read The Jebel Akhdar War Oman 1954-1959 by John B. Meagher. Next on the agenda are Victory in Hades: The Forgotten Wars of the Oman, 1957-1959 and 1970-1976; The Insurgency In Oman, 1962-1976; Irregular Warfare and the Two Minds of the Venture Capital Green Beret; Language, Culture, and Army Culture: Failing Transformation; Irregular Warfare, Village Stability Operations and the Venture Capital Green Beret; Cultural Awareness and Language Proficiency: Critical for Regionally Aligned Forces; and The Third Way of COIN: Defeating the Taliban in Sangin. There's a lot of material.

My goal is to compare and contrast the campaign in Dhofar with the campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. I'm leaning more toward Afghanistan on that effort, since Afghanistan is the campaign that's still going, and it's the one that's a closer corollary to the austere conditions of Dhofar in the 1970's. I've been trying to keep abreast of the situation in Afghanistan for years, so I have a lot of material to draw from. Some of the items I've found most informative over the years have been Michael Yon's Online Magazine, The Texan Who Would Be King by 1LT W.M. Treadway, and In These Deserts: War Stories From Afghanistan by Nathan Bradley. There have also been some great documentaries over the years: Ross Kemp in Afghanistan, Ross Kemp: Back on the Frontline, Restrepo, Young Soldiers, Commando: On the Front Line, and John D. McHugh in Afghanistan. I've been reviewing a number of these sources for one purpose or another.

I'm pleased to have had a few excellent teachers in high school, and a few excellent professors in college, and a couple of fantastic bosses in the real world, and they've made me pretty damn good at this - and given me an unorthodox toolkit compared to many of my peers. I'm just young enough to have learned how to write a research paper the old-fashioned way. I've been spending less time in the SOC lately, though the home stretch will be spent in there. What I've been doing lately is sitting in Starbucks, using my Kindle and my two secret weapons: 3'x5" note cards, and a Moleskine squared classic journal. What I've been doing lately is picking a topic - for example, field conditions for deployed troops - and writing it into the journal for later transcription. I type much faster than I write by hand, so this is actually advantageous because it's enforcing brevity on a project that's already going to run way past the maximum word count. For example, those Thesiger quotes were transcribed into the journal. Between the Kindle, the Moleskine, and the note cards, it's kind of nice not to be chained to a desk as I work on this beast.

More to come.

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