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|Hell & Gone by Henry Brown
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(Call it men's fiction, action-adventure, military thriller or even a war novel...but Hell and Gone is not about Iraq or Afghanistan.)
ABOUT ELITE FORCES
Wars are fought for political, economic, or even religious reasons. But whatever the cause, when you boil it down, conventional warfare is a struggle to control key terrain and resources. To do this, you need "boots on the ground"--men with rifles, or spears, swords, or clubs, depending on geo-historic context. In other words: Infantry--the oldest military specialty. To this day, you can't win a conventional war without infantry.
Armies of antiquity suplemented their infantry formations with units of archers and cavalry. By Medieval times, artillery and engineers were essential specialties, as well. Study any depiction of a castle siege, and both will figure prominently. (The most famous specialty from the Medieval period is arguably an elite force--the knights. The tradition of saluting comes from them, by the way.)
More military specialties were added as technology advanced, and existing specialties were upgraded. Cannons replaced catapults; muskets replaced bows, and so forth. Knights were rendered obsolete by newer elite forces: pikemen; musketeers; grenadiers... In the Eastern world there were samurai, ninjas, Cossacks, and Scythian horse-archers, all arguably elite forces.
Napoleon had his Imperial Guard. Wellington had his flanking companies. Even before that, the American colonists had Rogers' Rangers.
The First World War was such a flat-footed slugfest that elite forces were seldom deployed correctly, and seldom made a difference, at least in Europe where the whole catastrophe started, finished, and wreaked the most destruction. It was the Second World War which saw widespread, effective use of elite forces. Most of these elite forces were designed to carry out "commando" missions; and most present-day commando units can trace their origins back to the Big One.
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