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Professional Reading


You’re not going to learn to fight and win from a book, but they serve as a useful reference for developing a training program, as well as keeping your mind in the game.

SH21-75 The Ranger Handbook. I grew up with the 1992 edition, and still have my old, stained, dog-eared copy that I carried as a Ranger private, through Suck School, and as an NCO. I just don’t know what box it’s packed away in. I currently run a 2006 edition, and while there were some changes, they’re really not that big a deal. I also saw the other day that they have a 2010 edition out.

Any edition should suffice. This is the BIBLE of small-unit tactics. Learn it, know it, live it.

FM 7-8 The Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad. The non-Ranger Bible of SUT. Get the 1992 edition. The new, differently numbered one from 2003 is ridiculously long and focuses as much on vehicle convoy operations in Strykers as it does on SUT. While it’s certainly useful to have, and know, the 1992 edition, if you don’t have a Ranger Handbook, is more user-friendly and will fit in the cargo pocket of a pair of BDU or ACU trousers.

Nagl, John, LTC; Eating Soup with a Knife. This is a discussion of the counter-insurgency efforts of the British Army in Malaysia and the U.S. Army in Vietnam. I have the newer, paperback edition, which discusses some of the efforts that the author’s unit made in Iraq to transition from a conventional force armor unit to performing unconventional, COIN operations. Good read.
Mao Tse-Tung on Guerrilla Warfare; Samuel Griffith translation. Mao is, in most circles, considered the quintessential resource on successful guerrilla operations. While, like much Oriental literature, it can talk around a subject in a very obtuse manner, it’s worth reading several times, slowly, and contemplating what he is saying, to fully grasp the understanding.
Howarth, David; We Die Alone; This is the story of a single operator escaping and evading Nazi forces in Norway during WW2. Essential reading for understanding the reality of E&E. It’s not some Hollywood adventure epic.
Howe, Paul MSG; Training for the Fight, and The Tactical Trainer; MSG Howe was a SFOD-D gunslinger. He’s a horrendous writer, God bless him, and needs a seriously talented editor. That having been said, despite my background, and having attended many of the same schools, I managed to learn quite a bit from both of these books. There is now a second edition of Training For the Fight available, that combines both titles into one volume and is readily available through mainstream booksellers like Barnes and Nobles.
Lundin, Cody; 98.6 Degrees, and When All Hell Breaks Loose; A long-haired, back-to-nature kind of guy, it’s pretty apparent that Lundin knows his shit. I’ve taught these skills, in different venues, and I don’t disagree with anything the guy says. I really appreciate the humorous, irreverent attitude he takes, even though I probably couldn’t pull it off. Essential reading for the time you need to dump everything and hit the tree line on the run, with nothing but a pocket knife.
Anderson, Steve; Refinement and Repetition: Dry Fire Drills for Dramatic Improvement; A book of dry-fire pistol training drills, written for the gamer crowd, this is nevertheless, a spectacular book on developing fundamental shooting skill with dry-fire.
Seeklander, Michael Ross; Your Competition Handgun Training Program; Mike is a close friend of some close friends of mine. He is a spectacularly good coach, by all accounts. I also like that he uses the same “end goal, performing goals, enabling goals” model that I was taught. It’s also focused on gaming pistol craft, but again, it will do a lot for improving your shooting abilities. It’s also easy to modify his program for your carbine/rifle.
Starr, Bill; The Strongest Shall Survive; Bill was one of the first professional strength and conditioning coaches in the NFL (if not THE first). He focuses on multi-joint, compound movement strength training exercises; the kind that builds the strength you want to win fights. This, and Rippetoe’s book are my primary references when I develop strength training programs for people.
Gallagher, Marty; The Purposeful Primitive; Gallagher is the same kind of power-lifting/O-lifting advocate as Rippetoe and Starr. This is an interesting compilation of articles on legendary stars of the strength game and how they train. (Once, watching a special operations unit perform CQC, I saw an operator enter the room, following the breach, and have his MP5SD malfunction. With a “bad guy” role player directly in front of him, on the other side of a couch, I watched said operator hurl the couch at the BG—one-handed! The couch hit the role-player so hard, it knocked him out, as his head got bounced off the wall. I’m a BIG advocate of serious strength for combat. It certainly seldom hurts.)

Rippetoe, Mark; Starting Strength; This is THE quintessential beginner’s guide to getting seriously strong in a hurry. Focusing on developing proper form on the most important, multiple-joint, compound movement exercises of strength training, and solid exercise programming, you will NOT go wrong following the strength training advice of Rip.

Stanford, Andy; Combat Rifle Marksmanship Exercises and Surgical Speed Shooting; I’m 100% sold on the “Modern Isosceles” pistol shooting method. Stanford’s Surgical Speed Shooting is the reference I hand to people when I am trying to describe the value and benefits to die-hard Weaver Stance advocates. I don’t agree with the value of all the exercises in CRME, but I do use some of them. If I didn’t have the background and experience I do, I feel confident that training the drills in this book would put me light years beyond most gun owners, including military and law-enforcement veterans.
STP 31-18-SM-TG Soldier’s Manual and Trainer’s Guide, MOS 18, Special Forces Common Tasks; This is the “bible” of individual skills training for all SF soldiers. While not all the skills will apply to the actual guerrilla, developing the useful ones will go a long way towards making you an effective guerrilla/unconventional warfare fighter. I doubt you’ll find a copy, since it’s a restricted document. I happened to keep mine when I ETS’d.
FM3-05.222 Special Forces Sniper Training and Employment; I got my hard copy from a buddy who is still at Group. I’ve since found that this is—strangely—pretty commonly available online in PDF form. I say strangely, since it’s also a restricted document. Apparently, someone didn’t appreciate OPSEC. Bad on them, good for you, right?
FM21-75 Scouting, Patrolling, and Sniping, 1944; My father picked up this hard copy somewhere, several decades ago. Initially, I held on to it because I kind of aspire to collecting old books. I think in some ways however, these older tactical manuals will have more value for inexperienced guerrillas. They were written for draftees, not professional soldiers, so they are much more plainly written. I’ve also found this one available as a PDF recently, as I was looking for downloadable resources I can point right-minded people towards.
Chittum, Thomas; Civil War Two: The Coming Break-Up of America; While I don’t agree with Chittum that Balkanization will be strictly along racial lines, I do think he gets a lot of the ideas right. I don’t see all other ethnic groups as my enemy, any more than I expect a Black man to see me as his enemy solely on account of my race. Unfortunately, too many people in influential positions are busy leveraging this bullshit into creating fractures in the social network.
Wade, Paul; Convict Conditioning; A look at serious, bodyweight-only strength conditioning, as opposed to the typical calisthenics bullshit. Good shit for the guerrilla who won’t have ready access to a weight room. While it’s certainly not the equal of a solid iron-game based strength training program, it’s far superior to the old-school calisthenics for building endurance type of PT program.
FM3-25.150 Combatives; The Army’s combative doctrine. A well-written manual on utilizing grappling-based combatives system, and a training program. SFC Matt Larsen, the primary author, was one of my instructors at RIP. I remember him being a seriously scary dude. Available on-line in PDF form.
Lamb, Kyle, SGM; Green Eyes, Black Rifles and Stay in the Fight! A former SFOD-D shooter as well, SGM Lamb currently owns Viking Tactics. While I don’t agree with the focus on 25M and closer CQM that USASOC has, at least for the guerrilla, these are spectacular beginner references. We need to be able to shoot BETTER than Federal forces, so we need to master these skills, but at a more extreme level. Study these manuals and check out the SGM’s YouTube channel for specific drills. Then, practice the drills at longer distances (out to 50 meters is my standard).
Poole, H. John; Tactics of the Crescent Moon, The Last Hundred Yards, and The Tiger’s Way; While Poole is, in some circles, considered persona non grata within the special operations community and the conventional force as well, this is unfortunate, since the man has a lot of value to add to the conversation. While he has a disturbingly gay fascination with the “ninja” mythology, I can overlook his apparent love of bad 1980s action movies. Poole does a good job at pointing out not only the tactical lessons that are to be learned from the enemy, but also ways to improve the training of western forces. His belief that the U.S. military lacks any true light infantry capability is certainly spot-on in my experience. When we’ve got “light infantry” guys packing 120-130 lbs loads up the mountains, trying to chase down experienced mountain guerrillas who are carrying twenty pounds, at the maximum, we need to seriously re-think the fieldcraft we are teaching (actually, we don’t really teach fieldcraft in the conventional force anymore, do we….?)

Diaz, David; Tracking: Signs of Man, Signs of Hope; Written by a former SF soldier, who is a little bit of a legend in some SF circles for his tracking abilities, this is one of two absolute, must-have manuals on tracking that should be in the library of every UW student-practitioner.

Kearney, Jack; Tracking: A Blueprint for Learning How; Kearney was a Border Patrol agent for decades, and is THE godfather of USBP tracking. This is THE first book on tracking skills development that the UW S-P should have on his shelf. More importantly, between this and Diaz’s book, if you actually get off your ass and go practice it, and LEARN the material, you will end up as a damned good journeyman man-tracker, at the least.

Hurth, John; Combat Tracking Guide; Written by another former SF soldier, from 1SFG(A), president of TYR Tactical. A solid manual not only on learning to man-track, but the tactical implications of the task, as well as battle drills and collective skills training issues specific to Tactical Tracking. Highly recommended and should definitely be on the top of the list. Additionally, for those of you on FB, he puts out a lot of instructional material on his company FB page.

GuerrillAmerica website;; A solid repository of skills from various authors, including yours truly. Most importantly, check out the information on Intelligence Collection and Analysis. The editor is a former military intelligence guy with a lot of extremely useful information to share.


  1. Castor Pollux permalink

    The series from “The Resister” of reprints from British Home Guard training materials is available at a Yahoo group called ThePartisanResister. They are still under copyright, for private use only.

    Given the current situation, the one covering the defense of houses might be worth reading.

  2. Brian permalink

    If you’re interested in learning to track you could look up Tom Brown Jr.’s Tracker School. Classes are pricey.

    • If you wanted to learn from a fucking douchecanoe fraud who couldn’t track a muddy dog through a hospital, by all means, attend Brown’s clown school.

  3. Clay Daniel Jones permalink

    I Concur.If you want to learn tracking go to the best instructor I know of: a Coyote.

  4. joe permalink

    Im not a fan of convict conditioning, too much marketing bs and questionable routines. What would be some other recomended reading on pt? Specifically functional fitness for “prepared citezens”. How would you rate fm 7-22? Or Ross Enamaits stuff? or tactical fitness by stew smith? Its hard to find info on this specific type of fitness ,everythings geared towards pure strength or general fitness.

    • Convict Conditioning is simply limit strength training without weights. There are good insights in it for those that could use the information. The point being, just as mentioned here, you don’t need a whole bunch of shit to get truly strong. It isn’t about met-con, or endurance, but limit strength, period. I good piece of knowledge to have when you need to rehab or during times when time, space, and training gear may be in short supply.

      If you want comprehensive plans with the guesswork removed, go to Rob Shaul at Strong, Swift, Durable aka Mountain Athlete) He has a ridiculously detailed plan for as broad or specific a goal as you might have in mind. My first exposure was his Afghanistan pre-deployment program, and it was murder. If you can’t find what you need on his downloadable programs, then I really don’t know what to tell you. He has a scientific approach and produces real world results.

  5. Jon permalink

    Are there any other US military manuals that should be in ones private library?

  6. Good list; if I may shine a light on another good book (exactly how it is spelled)…

    “The Defence of Duffer’s Drift”.

    It helped me to better appreciate the battle space from perspectives other than my own.

  7. Joe permalink

    Im not sure of the relationship between Max Velocity and John fMosby so my bad if this is a bad question but Whats the general consensus on “Contact” by Max Velocity?

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Mosby: Professional Reading | Western Rifle Shooters Association
  2. Professional Reading | Reality Check
  3. Supplementary Materials – 1 June Small Unit Tactics Class | Georgia Force On Force
  4. Material To Be Covered During Upcoming Exams | Western Rifle Shooters Association

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