Training for the High-End Fight

The Strategic Shift of the 2020s

Non-Fiction - Military
218 Pages
Reviewed on 04/30/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by K.C. Finn for Readers' Favorite

Training for the High-End Fight: The Strategic Shift of the 2020s is a work of non-fiction in the military and global issues sub-genres, and was penned by author Robbin F. Laird. The work is intended for the general adult reading audience and contains an intelligently penned exploration of modern military strategies. As its title suggests, the work has a particular focus on what needs to shift and change in the higher strategic thinking of US warfare in order to correctly combat 21st-century authoritarian powers. The work is deeply researched alongside and influenced by those working at US warfighting training centers across the country.

Author Robbin F. Laird has crafted a very informative work of non-fiction with plenty of accurate data and clear exposition to offer its readers. As a newcomer to the workings of the modern US military, I was pleased to discover the narrative style of the book was most accessible, maintaining a complex and intelligent discussion but in terms that any new student of the field would be able to understand. In terms of organization, the work was well-formatted to convey information in a logical manner and allow easy reference to find essential topics again, which would make it a fantastic reference book for those looking to move into tactics and strategies as a career path. Overall, I would highly recommend Training for the High-End Fight: The Strategic Shift of the 2020s to fans of accurate and engrossing military non-fiction which also perfectly balances academia and authenticity with accessibility.

Foluso Falaye

With the return of great power conflict and the coming of a second nuclear age, a strategic shift is ongoing for the military establishments of the United States and allied forces. There's an entire generation of military officers with little experience in dealing with the direct threat from peer competitors or operating in contested air and maritime space. Therefore, a significant reset of efforts is needed. As the opposition builds to mass and expand their strike capabilities, the kind of force that's best for western interests and capabilities—as explained by Robbin F. Laird—is a distributed one. Backed up by information gained from interviews and discussions at warfighting centers in the United States, Robbin F. Laird's Training for the High-End Fight exposes the strategic shift needed to defend liberal democracies against 21st-century authoritarian powers.

Jack Welch states, "Change before you have to." To maintain peace and protect liberal democracies against illiberal forces, the United States and allied forces cannot afford to stick to old practices when the opposition is developing higher-end capabilities to improve their global diplomacy. Training for the High-End Fight—with discussions with the Ground Combat Department Head at MAWTS-1, the oldest Captain in the USN, an F-35 pilot, and more military personnel—informs readers about the changes needed to stay ahead of the metamorphosizing opposition forces. Readers should expect impressively thorough and highly detailed explanations about things like how the evolution of 21st-century weapons technologies and the new multidomain, fifth-generation aircraft are changing the patterns of warfare. If you are interested in learning about the new technology and war strategies needed for combat in the 21st century, you should read Robbin F. Laird's book.

Pikasho Deka

Training for the High-End Fight: The Strategic Shift of the 2020s by Robbin F. Laird encapsulates the new age technologies and strategic power moves employed by the United States and its allies to mitigate the potential threat posed by authoritarian regimes and dictatorships. Complemented by interviews with key players positioned in high-ranking offices of various defense departments of the US and its allies, Robbin F. Laird's book provides a thorough overview of the behind-the-scenes work necessary to maintain the power, freedom, and rights of the people living in liberal western democracies. He also briefly summarizes new-age combat strategies, which is about creating a foundation to allow group commanders to employ combat assets in conjunction with relevant joint or coalition assets, rather than just relying on what they organically own.

Training for the High-End Fight: The Strategic Shift of the 2020s is an informative take on the prowess and defensive capabilities of the United States and its allies. Author Robbin F. Laird utilizes his experiences to provide a balanced overview of the new-age defensive strategies of the western democracies. Due to his connections, he gains access to some high-profile personalities who offer valuable insight and perspectives on modern-day warfare. I found myself highly impressed by the technological advancements of the US Airforce and couldn't help but be intrigued by the strategic power plays employed by the world powers. Anyone interested in military books should definitely check out Training for the High-End Fight: The Strategic Shift of the 2020s.

Tom Gauthier

Robbin Laird’s book, Training for the High-End Fight, is for readers interested in the need and the actions taken for transforming the United States military into a 21st-century effective fighting force. It is professionally written and well researched. Dr. Laird makes complex interactions understandable to anyone with basic knowledge or experience with the military. For nearly two decades the military has been focused on counter-insurgencies brought on by the rise of radical Islam (al-Qaeda). An entire generation of military officers has little to no experience with the direct threat from peer fighters like Russia and China who are remerging to contest air and maritime space. Even the nuclear questions are reappearing. Force structures and changing operational needs require modern, relevant, and effective crisis management strategies. Dr. Laird explains this in detail with running examples of real life, conversations with core people, and a wealth of experience. In the challenges to world peace we hear every day in the news, this is a recommended reading for the involved citizen.

There is one academic study called Transformation Theory that models what Dr. Laird is dealing with. Breakpoints are the moments in time when the rules of survival change. There are Breakpoints in the rules of conflict. The introduction of machine guns and tanks in WWI is an example. The Manhattan Project output is a glaring example. Then the advent of asymmetric warfare against radical terrorists today. Where did we miss the breakpoints? The three phases of Transformation Theory begin with experimentation where the system attempts to find a connection with its environment. The Goldwater-Nichols Act triggered a similar event horizon. Phase two works to normalize the process. Write the manual. Replicate. An old adage, "nothing fails like success," seems to keep our generals fighting the last war when “planning” for the next. They like success but miss the changing environments in all their forms. Dr. Laird treats this with professional alacrity and clarity.

At the second breakpoint, the successful system must rethink and break off for a new beginning built on experience in the first two phases. It must accept innovative changes, adapting to information or resources that were explicitly rejected. It simultaneously reinvents itself. Desert Storm under General Schwarzkopf and General Chuck Horner for the Air Arm is a fine example of lessons learned and applied – even against the “last war” mentality of higher-ups. How do we know when the rules of survival have changed? That is what Dr. Robbin F. Laird deals with so beautifully in this fine book. As a reviewer with some broad-based and tangential experience and knowledge of Dr. Laird’s subject, I wish to commend him on his coalescing of a wide and interlocking body knowledge into a cogent challenge for the 21st century in the defense of our country.

Romuald Dzemo

Training for the High-End Fight: The Strategic Shift of the 2020s by Robbin F. Laird is a book that explores the strategic shift for military wars involving the US and its allies in the Middle East. The book focuses on the adaptation and evolution of the US forces in preparing for conflict in contested zones and in situations that have been described as the “return of Great Power Competition, peer conflict, or the high-end fight.” The author bases insights and strategy suggestions on the knowledge gained from numerous visits and interviews at warfighting centers in the United States, including Norfolk, Virginia, Jacksonville, and others. In this book, the author discusses the meaning of the high-end fight and the process of ensuring that capabilities are put in place for effective training and execution.

Robbin F. Laird’s book is well-researched and one that provides valuable information to policymakers. It features a new approach to training for the high-end fight. The book outlines a strategy when it comes to making an integrated distributed force able to deliver effective outcomes for political leaders. The interviews with officers at US warfighting training centers provide a clear picture to readers of the future of military combat and how it is being prepared. Robbin F. Laird is a great writer and he demonstrates a wide and deep understanding of contemporary conflict amidst the dynamics of rapidly changing geopolitical dynamics. The writing is fluid and the voice confident. While Training for the High-End Fight: The Strategic Shift of the 2020s features a lot of military jargon, it is a comprehensive book that is accessible to ordinary readers and provides insights and information about high-end fights.