Book Review: The Soldier's Guide by the Department of the Army

The Soldier's Guide (published by Skyhorse Publishing) is a compilation of numerous Army regulations and manuals. LTC Charles C. Hagemeister (retired) compiled this edition of the manual and injects his own insight and numerous inspirational stories into the text to put a human aspect to what can be dry material. This book is styled very much like other US military documents with chapter and paragraph numbering and black and white images. In that way, it isn't only the content familiarizing the reader with the US Army way, but the very method that information is passed along is done is very much like an official manual - just a tad more casual in tone.

The Breakdown of The Soldier's Guide

Chapter 1 focuses on the character of a soldier and how soldiers work together. Much of the chapter is spent discussing Army values and principles. These aren't just listed and defined, the author does a good job of explaining these traits and then providing practical examples of how one lives the values as an Army soldier. The examples used are both hypotheticals and historical anecdotes.

Ever doze off in social studies or civics class? Maybe you weren't all that attentive in American history class. Chapter 2 captures the important details. The vast majority of this chapter is dedicated to summaries of every military engagement over the entire history of our great nation. It starts with the initial militias during Colonial Era America. It comes to the present - as close as operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.

After the history lesson, the chapter discusses the operational environment of the US Army. What are the key points of focus for the army - what type of fighting force is it trying to be? The author discusses how the military is transforming to meet future expectations.

Finally, it closes with an explanation of the US Constitution and how the government operates. When you enlist, soldiers pledge to defend the US Constitution. In order to do that, it is helpful to understand why that document is so important.

The Soldier's Guide then presents a whole variety of topics that probably fit under the category of "the how's of being in the Army." This is an explanation of the kinds of duties, responsibilities, and authorities. Wear and appearance regulations are listed. The author gives a brief summary of the "important" aspects of the Uniform Code of Military Justice and standards of conduct. Then, many of the customs and traditions are explained.

The fifth chapter discusses the philosophy, strategies, and procedures that guide training and ensuring readiness in the US Army. Next is a rundown on how the military works to better you as a person with developmental counseling and professional training. The author draws to a close with a lengthy chapter on the various benefits soldiers and their dependents receive as part of their military service.

All of this is wrapped up with a thick appendix that compiles all other details that aren't conducive to narrative text. There are lots of lists, tables, and even scripts for some common ceremonies.

The Verdict on The Soldier's Guide

The Soldier's Guide is helpful to those looking to join the US Army and those that are still in their first few years of service. While a person COULD read this book from front to back, it will spend most of its life as your go-to source for answers. The book is very efficient for making it pretty easy to quickly find whatever info you need. For any organized soldier, your copy of The Soldier's Guide will likely be highlighted with some pages dog-earred or marked with small Post-Its. Don't be the doofus in the platoon; buy and keep The Soldier's Guide close by.

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