Essential to Success

Essential to Success Historical Case Studies in the Art of Command at Echelons Above Brigade

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Essential to Success

Historical Case Studies in the Art of Command at Echelons Above Brigade

By Kelvin Crow and Joe R. Bailey, PhD

372 Pages

Published: 2017

Essential to Success: Historical Case Studies in the Art of Command at Echelons Above Brigade was commissioned as a companion to the Army’s 2017 version of FM 3-0, Operations. It contains twenty engaging and thought-provoking chapters by scholars and former large unit commanders who analyze key decisions, enabling factors, and limiting factors in large unit combat operations from the Second World War to current conflicts. Each section begins with a history of the division, corps, or army followed by chapters presenting actions at that level famous and obscure, successful or not.

The U.S. Army’s recent history of small-unit operations, combined with increased potential for large-scale combat against peer or near-peer rivals and advances in technology and social media call for a reassessment of command at senior levels. Essential to Success highlights situations faced by commanders of the past, explains and contextualizes the problems they faced, the decisions they made, and the outcomes of those decisions. The book invites readers, commanders, and their staffs to think critically and apply historical experience to large-scale ground combat of the future in an attempt to preserve American lives and valuable national resources.

Video Commentaries

Lt. Gen. Mike Lundy, US Army

Contributing Author

Foreword & Conclusion

As the operational environment continues to evolve, so must the Army and the Joint Force. Peer and near peer adversaries are aggressively modernizing, adapting their methods of warfighting, and can now contest us in domains where we’ve enjoyed superiority for decades. Coupled with the speed of human interaction, rapidly evolving technological trends, and significant shifts in the geo-political landscape, large-scale land combat is more likely today, than it has been in a generation.


General (Ret) Frederick M. Franks, US Army

Contributing Author

Chapter 12 - Desert Jayhawk

Forming Teams and Getting in Place to Fight

General Frederick Franks commanded the victorious VII Corps in OPERATION DESERT STORM and was subsequently commander of the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). He combines those elements of personal history to bring the experience of corps command in combat to readers through the soul of a mentor and the heart of a warrior. A remarkable first person account.


Joe R. Bailey, PhD

Contributing Author

Chapter 5 - The Siege of Fire Support Base Ripcord

The Failure of a Division’s Strategy July 1970

Dr. Joe R. Bailey is the Assistant Command Historian for the US Army Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth. He holds a BS in History and an MA in Military History from Austin Peay State University and a 2015 PhD in American History from Kansas State University. His research areas included American Military History and History and Memory.


Chris M. Rein, PhD

Contributing Author

Chapter 10 - Major General Lloyd R. Fredendall and II Corps at the Battle of Kasserine Pass

Dr. Christopher Rein is a Historian with the Combat Studies Institute, Army University Press, Fort Leavenworth, KS. He earned his doctorate in History in 2011 from the University of Kansas and is the author of one book, The North African Air Campaign, published by the University Press of Kansas in 2012, and several articles. He is a retired Air Force Lt Colonel and served as a Navigator aboard the E-8C Joint STARS during Operation Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom.


James H. Willbanks, PhD

Contributing Author

Chapter 11 - Operation Junction City

Finding, Fixing and Finishing an Elusive Enemy in a Counterinsurgency Environment, Vietnam, 1967

Dr. James H. Willbanks (LTC, Retired) is the former director of the Department of Military History and the George C. Marshall Chair of Military History at the Command and General Staff College. He has published widely on the Vietnam War, which he experienced on active duty, and was featured in the 2017 PBS/ Ken Burns series The Vietnam War. He brings his scholarship to bear on the conundrum faced by LTG Johnathan Seaman and the II Field Force, Vietnam as they tried to find, fix, and finish an enemy that used a mix of conventional and guerrilla forces and had sanctuary across an international boundary.


Colonel (Ret) Kevin C.M. Benson

Contributing Author

Chapter 13 - V Corps Command Decisions

Colonel (Ret) Kevin C.M. Benson served in Armor and Cavalry units in the United States and Europe, as well as serving in general staff positions at the corps and field army level. He was the C/J-5 of the Combined Force Land Component Command/Third US Army for the invasion of Iraq in 2003. He also served as the director, School of Advanced Military Studies. He holds a BS from the United States Military Academy, an MS from The Catholic University of America, and a PhD in American History for the University of Kansas.


Thomas Hanson, PhD, Colonel (Ret), US Army

Contributing Author

Chapter 17 - Mission Command In Extremis

Lieutenant General Walton Walker’s “Stand or Die” Order

Dr. Tom Hanson, Colonel (Ret), US Army, assumed duties as Director of the Department of Military History for the Command and General Staff College in January, 2017. His book Combat Ready? The Eighth US Army on the Eve of the Korean War was recently placed on the Army Chief of Staff’s Recommended Reading List. He holds a BA in history from the University of Minnesota and an MA and PhD from The Ohio State University.