In Hog Pilots, Blue Water Grunts, acclaimed journalist Robert D. Kaplan continues his exploration of the American military's challenging and varied commitments around the world. From protecting sea lanes, to providing disaster relief, to preparing for potential military confrontation with North Korea and Iran, Kaplan describes the astonishing, vital, and often unacknowledged operations regularly performed by American military personnel in the air, at sea, and on the ground. Vivid and illuminating, this book takes us deep into the highly technical and exotic cultures of the armed forces, telling soldiers' stories from the perspective of the troops on the ground.
After 9/11, Atlantic Monthly correspondent and bestselling author Kaplan (Balkan Ghosts) spent five years living with U.S. troops deployed across the globe. He first reported on his travels in 2005's Imperial Grunts, an incisive and valuable primer on the military's role in maintaining an informal American empire. In this shrewd and often provocative sequel, Kaplan introduces readers to more of the soldiers, marines, sailors and airmen who staff the empire's forward outposts. Although the author's travels take him to Iraq, he spends most of his time with "imperial maintenance" units that are training indigenous troops, protecting sea lanes and providing humanitarian relief from Timbuktu to the Straits of Malacca. Kaplan clearly admires the American troops he meets, though he sometimes questions their civilian masters. He saves his harshest judgment for his fellow journalists, whose relentless criticism of anything less than perfection amounts to media tyranny, in his view. Kaplan sees the war on terror and "the re-emergence of China" as the U.S.'s two abiding challenges in the 21st century and argues that, after Iraq, the military will seek a smaller, less noticeable footprint overseas. Kaplan combines the travel writer's keen eye for detail and the foreign correspondent's analytical skill to produce an account of America's military worthy of its subject.