This one came to me as a review copy from the author since I favorably reviewed the first two parts of the trilogy.
Review: The Surge: Operation Enduring Unity 3, R. A. Peters, 2015.
Same black humor. Same look at the total complexities of modern war – the politics, economics, morale, logistics, and technology. More new and plausible weaponry. More plans going awry with first contact with enemy. More plans succeeding but not having the intended effect.
The gloves come off in the final installment when the breakaway United Republics of America use sarin gas in Baton Rouge. The USA responds by carrying the war to civilians. More than one combat veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq (which Peters is) comments on their disgust at being in a civil war complete with civilian insurgents.
We see more of the shadowy cabal of the rich supporting the URA.
While the main characters are Freedom Brigade member Sophie Kampbell and Command Sergeant Brown, each who will end up attempting oddly symmetrical and fanatical missions, Peters manages to generate some empathy for all those characters we just meet for a chapter, who are there to show what new horrific turn the war has taken.
This is a satire on American politics gone really bad and, as satires are supposed to do, Peters even offers his political solutions to some of the troubles of American politics.
Definitely recommended, and soon I’ll be reviewing Peters’ newest release.
Additional Thoughts and Criticisms (with Spoilers)
Even though America held every conceivable race, ethnicity, religious group and political nut this fractious world could come up with, sectarian violence was rarely seen in this war. Brothers fought one another. Friends blew each other apart. Neighbors shot each other over razor wire borders. All manner of horrific violence threatened to plunge America back into the Dark Ages they once missed out on, but through it all, America remained the land of equal opportunity.
Both the URA and USA recruit immigrants into their armies (a long standing American tradition). The depiction of Muslim soldiers is ambiguous. In the scene quoted above, they are depicted as effective. But the main baddie backing the URA, a banker from JP Stanley, uses three Muslim suicide bombers to take out her fellow rich when they want to give up supporting the URA.
When the USA introduces an autonomous version of the A-10 into combat:
For the first time in history, robots were pulling the trigger. The US had outsourced every aspect of the process, from target acquisition to engagement, to the machines. The only thing they hadn’t automated was the burial detail.
The aftermath of a US drone strike:
“Looks like you had a malfunction. The warehouse is unscathed.”
“What warehouse? Negative, sir. Number 16. The office park.”
The officer tore off his headset and stormed over. “What grid do you have for that target, sailor?”
“Let’s see, 931…”
“Shit! That’s supposed to be 937, dumbass!” The officer punched the top of the weapon console.
“I’m sorry, sir. I just shoot at what the NSA sends me.” The officer cracked his neck and counted to ten. “I know, I know. This shit happens, not your fault. At least it wasn’t a school or something. Carry on.”
He sat back down and waved over the senior watch officer. Fucking collateral damage. He snatched up the appropriate paperwork and a pen. These forms could take hours to fill out.
When the URA institutes the draft, things are not easy for the drill sergeants:
Live fire training was the worst. You had to watch your back closer than in Baghdad, or even that hellhole called Denver.
Sophie Kampbell realizing that’s she’s been lied to about whose idea it was to use nerve gas in Louisiana:
Sophie spent all of five seconds adjusting to her collapsing world. She had no broad plan yet, but knew how to fix this one issue. She whipped up her assault rifle and blew the convoy leader’s head inside out.
“They’re Fed saboteurs! Waste ‘em all!”
Peters makes plenty of allusions to America’s first civil war. One battle takes place near Vicksburg. Some of the URA officers share last names with Confederate generals. The philosophy of General William Tecumseh Sherman comes to be adopted by the USA president:
It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, more vengeance, and more desolation. War is hell.