Writer's Guide to Government Information

Resources to inject real life detail into your fiction

Archive for the tag “21st Century-Military”

Office of Medical History (Army)

Office of Medical History (Army) – http://history.amedd.army.mil

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What were some preventative measures taken by the US Army in the American Revolution?
  • When were US soldiers first vaccinated for smallpox?
  • What was considered typical care during the Civil War?
  • What were World War I base camp hospitals like?


This site is divided into a number of sections, but the most helpful will be:

Books and Documents – materials from Revolutionary times to the the Iraq War. Some representative titles are:

  • The Evolution of Preventive Medicine in the United States Army, 1607-1939
  • Medical Men in the American Revolution, 1775-1783 by Louis C. Duncun
  • Thesis: A Study of the Medical Support to the Union and Confederate Armies During the Battle of Chickamauga: Lessons and Implications for Today’s U.S. Army Medical Department Leaders by David A. Rubenstein
  • The U.S. Army Medical Department in the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906
  • Women in the Army Medical Department in World War II
  • Battle Casualties in Korea: Studies of the Surgical Research Team, Volume II, Tools for Resuscitation
  • In Their Own Words: The 498th Air Ambulance Company in Iraq, 2003

Historical Art Work – Captioned images and photographs from WWI through the Iraq War. The Office of Medical History discourages the use of this imagery for commercial or partisan publications, but does not disclose their authority for prohibiting these uses.

Medal of Honor recipients – Short citations of medical personnel awarded the Medal of Honor.

AMEDD Unit Patches and Lineage – Patches and organization histories from Army Medical units.

As you might gather from the title of this resource, it will be most helpful in determining what level of field medicine is available to your military characters in a given period of time.


Marines in Iraq 2004-2008: An Anthology and Annotated Bibliography

Marines in Iraq 2004-2008: An Anthology and Annotated Bibliography

(Paper – http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/670246464)


Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What challenges did US Marines find in Iraq?
  • What Marines units participated in the early occupation of Iraq?
  • When did Grand Ayatollah al-Sistani negotiate a truce in Najaf?


From the introduction:

This anthology presents a collection of 21 articles describing the full range of U.S. Marine Corps operations in Iraq from 2004 to 2008. During this period, the Marines conducted a wide variety of kinetic and non-kinetic operations as they fought to defeat the Iraq insurgency, build stability, and lay the groundwork for democratic governance.

The selections in this collection include journalistic accounts, scholarly essays, and Marine Corps summaries of action. Our intent is to provide a general overview to educate Marines and the general public about this critical period in the history of the U.S. Marine Corps, the United States, and Iraq. Many of the conclusions are provisional and are being updated and revised as new information and archival resources become available.

The accompanying annotated bibliography provides a detailed overview of where current scholarship on this period currently stands.

The annotated bibliography runs from page 269 through page 294 and includes primary and secondary sources. The articles and bibliographies offer many differing viewpoints. Between the essays and the bibliography, you ought to be reasonably informed about many aspects of the Iraq War from 2004-2008.

In addition to the articles and annotated bibliography there is a useful “Chronology of Events” starting at page 261.

The web version of the book is presented in seven PDF files. If you’d like a paper copy try interlibrary loan through your local public library.

Iraq And Vietnam: Differences, Similarities, And Insights

Iraq And Vietnam: Differences, Similarities, And Insights (2004) – http://www.strategicstudiesinstitute.army.mil/pdffiles/00367.pdf

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • How did the scale of the Vietnam War compare to that of the Occupation of Iraq?
  • What tactics did the US use under the pacification of Vietnam?
  • Who were allies of North and South Vietnam?


This 76 page study from the Strategic Studies Institute is a compare and contrast to the wars in Iraq and Vietnam and provides a useful background to each conflict. From the introduction:

The authors conclude that the military dimensions of the two conflicts bear little comparison. Among other things, the sheer scale of the Vietnam War in terms of forces committed and losses incurred dwarfs that of the Iraq War. They also conclude, however, that failed U.S. state-building in Vietnam and the impact of declining domestic political support for U.S. war aims in Vietnam are issues pertinent to current U.S. policy in Iraq.

Pages 64-76 of this volume consists of endnotes and references to other works.

Insurgency In Iraq: An Historical Perspective

Insurgency In Iraq: An Historical Perspective (2005)

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What tactics did Menachem Begin’s resistance group, Lohamei Herut Yisrael use in the 1940s?
  • What were the main causes of death among US soliders in Iraq 2003-2004?
  • What were some earlier examples of IEDs used against Western soldiers?


This 27 page work offers a sketch of insurgent movements from around the world from the 1920s forward with particular emphasis on the Middle East. There is significant coverage of the tactics used by the Stern Gang in British Palestine prior to the formation of Israel. There is also some coverage of Iraq’s 1920s insurgency against the British Empire.

Pages 18-21 of this work consists of endnotes and references to other works.

Improvised Explosive Devices in Iraq, 2003-09: A Case of Operational Surprise and Institutional Response

Improvised Explosive Devices in Iraq, 2003-09: A Case of Operational Surprise and Institutional Response – http://ssi.armywarcollege.edu/pdffiles/pub1064.pdf

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • When was the first IED causality in Iraq?
  • What is “hillbilly armor?”
  • Were ways to defend against IEDs available prior to 2003 and who pioneered them?


The bulk of deaths and injuries to US forces in Iraq came from Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs). This book provides a high level overview of the responses of the United States and Australia to this reality. The section dealing with the American response provides some detail on the armor and vehicles that were offered to try and reduce the casualties from IEDs. It also offers thoughts on how slowly institutional militaries react to surprise changes in tactics.

In addition to having some value in stories dealing with the Iraq War, this book might have some value in illustrating institutional reactions in science fiction or other military situations.

A bibliography on pages 50-57 has articles on a number of topics, mostly about damage from IEDs and efforts to reduce damage from them, but also about other surprises in US history like submarine warfare.

This book is available in PDF, ePub and Kindle formats for free.

Battleground Iraq : journal of a company commander

Battleground Iraq : journal of a company commander by Todd S Brown; United States. Dept. of the Army – http://www.history.army.mil/html/books/070/70-107-1/index.html

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What was a night raid like in Iraq?
  • What was the routine of an occupying force?
  • How did some Americans see the Iraqis they encoutered?
  • How did US servicemembers pass the time in the field between assignments?


This book is the journal of company commander (then Captain) Todd S. Brown who led an army company in Iraq from April 2003 through March 2004. From the editor’s introduction:

There is a lot that Todd Brown’s journal is not. It is not an official account, nor does it purport to be. It is not consistent. Todd experiments with his writing style–he was a civil engineering major at the US Military Academy–and bounces around with respect to structure, organization, and delivery. He also bounces through mood swings reflecting good days and bad days. Reading a paragraph in isolation might cause one to believe that the war was winnable or hopeless depending on the exigencies of the moment rather than upon some overarching theory of campaign progression. Sometimes he speaks casually of breathtaking courage, and other times he seems almost whiny.

Captain Brown’s account is supplemented by editor supplied background material at the beginning of each monthly chapter. The work has a glossary and an index as well as five appendices, all of which will be helpful to the writer of stories set in this period:

  • A. Command and Control at the Brigade and Below
  • B. The Samarra Paper
  • C. Civil Samarra
  • D. Countermortar Operations around the LSA
  • E. Life Aboard the Bradley

Some of the relations with the Iraqis might be helpful in occupation stories set on other worlds.

U.S. Marines in Afghanistan, 2001-2002: From the Sea

U.S. Marines in Afghanistan, 2001-2002: From the Sea. Col Nathan S. Lowrey, USMCR. 2011. 410 pp.

(Paper: http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/778362271) – Links to online copies

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • What were some of the Marine operations in Jalalabad?
  • How did the Navy treat American and Afghani wounded in the early phases of the campaign in Afghanistan?
  • How was al-Qaeda officially viewed by the US prior to 2001?
  • How were seized airfields maintained in the early phases of the war?
  • Description:

From the foreward:

This monograph is more than the story of Marine expeditionary operations in Afghanistan. It describes who our nation’s enemies are; how America became involved in the Global War on Terrorism; and how the Marine Corps struggled to acquire a major role in Operation Enduring Freedom, as well as the actions of Marines and sailors who helped prosecute the air and ground campaigns against Taliban and al-Qaeda forces.

The work is arranged chronologically, with some chapters named after operations or areas of special interest. For example, Chapter 12 is titled Tora Bora (p. 221 of PDF file) and contains analysis, criticism and defense of the way the search for Osama bin Laden was handled. Interestingly, while this chapter carries maps of the area, there are no photos of the caves area.

There are a large number of color photos in this book and the index is of some use in locating them. Between the narrative text and the index are five appendices. While all of them look useful to writers, two stand out:

  • Appendix D: Chronology of events
  • Appendix E: Unit awards and messages

The chronology of events is interesting not only as a useful scaffold for stories set during the war, but because it starts in 1992 when “Al-Qaeda affiliates target U.S. Marines during hotel bombing in Aden, Yemen.”

The Unit awards and messages are communications from the Secretary of the Navy and other high ranking officials and set the tone for the justification of the war and how each of the commended units contributed to the mission. These might make useful templates for similar communications in fictitious wars here and on other worlds.

Medal of Honor Recipients (Afghanistan)

Medal of Honor Recipients (Afghanistan) – http://www.history.army.mil/html/moh/afghanistan.html

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • Where can I find an account of someone who faced live fire in Afghanistan to render medical aid?
  • Where can I find an account of Americans fighting outnumbered more than 7 to 1?
  • Where can I find an account of an Army Ranger using the enemy’s grenades against him?


Nine stories of heroism in capsule form. Each entry lists the soldier, branch of service, date of action and a few paragraphs description.

Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2009

Instances of Use of United States Armed Forces Abroad, 1798-2009

Representative questions that can be answered with this resource:

  • When did American forces occupy Vladivostok?
  • How many times have US forces set foot on Chinese soil?
  • How many times did the US send forces to a specific country?
  • What official reasons were given for specific conflict?
  • What deployments specifically targeted pirates?


This is a Congressional Research Service report posted by the Air University, a professional military educational institute run by the United States Air Force.

From the report’s introduction:

This report lists hundreds of instances in which the United States has used its armed forces abroad in situations of military conflict or potential conflict or for other than normal peacetime purposes. It was compiled in part from various older lists and is intended primarily to provide a rough survey of past U.S. military ventures abroad, without reference to the magnitude of the given instance noted. The listing often contains references, especially from 1980 forward, to continuing military deployments especially U.S. military participation in multinational operations associated with NATO or the United Nations. Most of these post-1980 instances are summaries based on Presidential reports to Congress related to the War Powers Resolution.

Each conflict is described in entries varying from a sentence to a long paragraph. The country of deployment is always mentioned and sometimes specific cities are as well.

The introduction the report also lists the eleven formally declared wars of the United States.

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