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Dragon Days: Time for “Unconventional” Tactics


This book shows how to control a contested region with squad-sized outposts. North Vietnam and Iran have done it.  Now, North Korea may try to consolidate the South with such a strategy.  Scores of tiny Western outposts could do this too.  After a short threat assessment, Dragon Days  describes what a single U.S. rifle squad must do to safely accomplish such a mission in Asia.  It will need the following  Unconventional Warfare (UW) skills:  (1) some police procedure; (2) obscurely defending; (3) finding an enemy weakness; (4) making a secret approach; (5) disguising the attack; (6) precluding a counterstroke; (7) rural E&E; (8) enhancing rural terrain; (9) urban E&E; and (10) enhancing urban terrain. Because of Asia's bottom-up culture, the little picture is where such an ability originates. This heavily illustrated book contains more small-unit perspective than any U.S. govt. publication. In fact, it may still constitute America's only UW tactical-technique manual.

What people are saying:

“Marines, Soldiers, and other personnel who directly face 4GW threats will benefit from reading Dragon Days. The author has researched and developed an impressive book on unconventional warfare tactics and techniques that should not be ignored.”
(Naval) Proceedings Magazine, July 2008

“John Poole has written another brilliant manual that superbly captures the tactics and techniques necessary to . . . succeed on the complicated battlefields facing our military today. His expertise in unconventional warfare makes [this book] . . . a valuable addition to the considerable collection of insightful works he has [already] produced on this complex challenge.”
—Gen. A.C. Zinni USMC (Ret.), former CENTCOM head

“War is about diplomacy and violence as well as deceit and manipulation. In Dragon Days, John Poole provides [a] thought-provoking analysis of the political, ideological, economic, and information domains of war today. He also postulates as to which nations are practicing what strategies in their quest for recognition and dominance.”
— Maj.Gen. John H. Admire, USMC (Ret.), former commander of 1st Marine Division

“Probably the most important book [so far]. . . . Part One is a most valuable historical review of the growth and spread of PRC and Muslim terrorism. To read it is to reveal what may transpire in our very uncertain future. . . . [The] research is not only thorough but magnificent in detail. . . . [An] outstanding piece of work!”
—Vice Adm. Thomas R. Sargent, USCG (Ret.), ship commander at the Battle of Leyte Gulf

“Poole brings us . . . [the foe’s] identity: China and militant Islam. . . . [W]e need true light infantry trained in . . . unconventional warfare. . . . This is . . . a great departure from . . . reliance on . . . firepower, already proving ineffective in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Dragon Days should be studied by our military professionals and its lessons incorporated into infantry training.”
—Col. Robert V. Kane U.S. Army (Ret.), publisher emeritus, Presidio Press

“Sherlock Holmes [said] . . . to solve a crime look to see who profits by it. When 9/11 happened, few Americans . . . knew that the . . . [veiled] proposal to use jet passenger liners to attack high rise buildings . . . had been [already] written by two Chinese Army colonels. . . . [Poole’s] continuing research . . . on the threat posed to Western Civilization by Islamic terrorists.”
— Kim B. Holien, professional military historian

“A perfect . . . gift for the counterinsurgent in your life: . . . ‘Dragon Days.’  Part Two of this book shows what U.S. infantrymen must know about criminal investigative procedure.  Part Three contains the unconventional warfare tactics they must practice. . . . [An entire] collection of . . . [the author’s] supplements to official manuals would be helpful to most deployed soldiers.” — Columbus Ledger-Enquirer (GA), 19 December 2007

“Poole, who is an undisputed expert in both 4th Generation Warfare and the Asian culture . . . teaches [the] tactics and techniques . . . [of] unconventional warfare. . . . If you are a leader, at any level, you need to read this book and utilize it to train your warriors for the ongoing global war on terrorism.”
 — Leatherneck, December 2007

“Fighting the terrorist in Iraq, Poole points out is more like police work than a military operation. . . . Poole [also] stresses the United States military has to be more unconventional in its tactics. . . . I highly recommend the book.”
  — Quantico Sentry, 7 March 2008

“Dragon Days explains how to successfully counter terrorist groups. . . . Fighting terrorists in Iraq, Poole points out, is more like police work than a military operation.  I highly recommend this book.
 — Ft. Knox Turret, 6 March 2008

“Dragon Days:  Time for ‘Unconventional’ Tactics, . . . details the need for such units [squads with enough tactical skill to survive on their own] in the current 4th Generation Warfare being waged by terrorists to the benefit . . . of China.”
 — Aerospace Daily and Defense Report, 4 January 2008

“Part One of Dragon Days shows how China has been hiding Maoist expansion behind Islamic insurgency.  DoD must deploy foreign-aid workers in the law enforcement sector to help indigenous police and soldiers reestablish local security. Part Two contains their criminal investigative procedures, while Part Three has their unconventional warfare techniques.”
 — Military Officer, February 2008

Table of Contents
List of Illustrations
Part One: Return of the Dragon
Chapter 1: The Sino-Islamist Connection
Chapter 2: Burma, Thailand, and Malaysia
Chapter 3: Southern Philippines and Indonesia
Chapter 4: Cambodia and Laos
Chapter 5: Nepal and Bangladesh
Chapter 6: India and Sri Lanka
Chapter 7: Pakistan and Afghanistan
Part Two: A Viable Containment Strategy
Chapter 8: What Hasn’t Worked in the Past
Chapter 9: The Law Enforcement Dimension
Chapter 10: A Thorough Investigation
Chapter 11: Pursuit and Arrest
Chapter 12: The Sting
Chapter 13: The Only Defense Is Unconventional
Part Three: Prerequisite Unconventional Warfare Skills
Chapter 14: Finding an Enemy Weakness
Chapter 15: Obscure Approach
Chapter 16: Disguising the Attack
Chapter 17: Precluding a Counterstroke
Chapter 18: Rural Escape and Evasion
Chapter 19: Enhancing Rural Terrain
Chapter 20: Urban Escape and Evasion
Chapter 21: Enhancing Urban Terrain
About the Author
Name Index

Excerpt from the Foreword: 

In Dragon Days, John Poole attempts two seemingly disjointed studies back to back. The first is to see what, if any, strategic link may exist between the Peoples Republic of China (PRC) and the most prominent Muslim militant movements. The second is to show how tactically to limit the expansionist progress of either. Strategy and tactics are seldom discussed in the same breath. Yet, Poole has discovered evidence of a PRC strategy that is only visible through easily ignored details. This strategy involves the destabilization of free nations to garner not only their natural resources, but also the shipping lanes back to China. Whether or not this hypothesis is adequately supported, Poole’s solution to it has tremendous applicability to the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and wherever else U.S. troops may find themselves in future years. Just as Iraq and Afghanistan have become 4th Generation Warfare (4GW) counterguerrilla exercises, so too will most 21st Century deployments. That’s the enemy’s best, and perhaps only, way to win. Poole reasons that to beat guerrillas, U.S. infantrymen and special operators must learn to fight like guerrillas. All will additionally need advanced Escape and Evasion (E&E) training. Those two skill sets comprise a full two-thirds of what is generally considered to be “unconventional warfare” (UW). GIs trained in UW could simply “slip away” whenever surrounded. This would give them the capability of anchoring isolated Combined Action Platoons (those with one squad each of U.S. troops, local police, and indigenous soldiers). Presently, a detachment of Americans in such a predicament would have to be saved through heavy bombardment. With that bombardment would unavoidably come collateral damage and the “loss of hearts and minds” that has so often led to defeat in the past. If its members were additionally trained in police procedure, they could function as foreign aid workers in the law enforcement sector instead of unwelcome occupiers. Though the new threat is most visible through a strategic assessment, its solution lies in good enough small-unit tactics to counter the expansionists’ local effort. Overt power projection by the United States will only make things worse. This is the lesson of Vietnam, Beirut, and Somalia. Standoff surveillance and firepower may still appear to preserve U.S. lives, but they no longer suffice to win wars. U.S. service personnel know their job to be risky. What they demand in return for their sacrifice is the assurance that their lives will not be spent on a losing effort. With UW and police training, Americas finest could easily weather the additional danger of a tactics-oriented strategy. More importantly, they might collectively manage a reversal to the downward trend in world stability that more conventional, “centralized” approaches have so far failed to achieve.

I therefore recommend this book highly to all U.S. infantrymen and special operators. The “tactical techniques” of UW are new to the literature and not covered by any government manual. They should serve as a welcome supplement to the mostly conventional skills that those who must ultimately win the War on Terror already have.

—Maj.Gen. Ray L. Smith USMC (Ret.)


ISBN 096386954X & 9780963869548

Paperback: 484 pages, 163 illustrations