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Connected Soldiers

Life, Leadership, and Social Connections in Modern War

John Spencer

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: Potomac Books
Published: 07/2022
Pages: 272
Subject: Biography and Autobiography
eBook ISBN: 9781640125162


John Spencer was a new second lieutenant in 2003 when he parachuted into Iraq leading a platoon of infantry soldiers into battle. During that combat tour he learned how important unit cohesion was to surviving a war, both physically and mentally. He observed that this cohesion developed as the soldiers experienced the horrors of combat as a group, spending their downtime together and processing their shared experiences. When Spencer returned to Iraq five years later to take command of a troubled company, he found that his lessons on how to build unit cohesion were no longer as applicable. Rather than bonding and processing trauma as a group, soldiers now spent their downtime separately, on computers communicating with family back home. Spencer came to see the internet as a threat to unit cohesion, but when he returned home and his wife was deployed, the internet connected him and his children to his wife on a daily basis. In Connected Soldiers Spencer delivers lessons learned about effective methods for building teams in a way that overcomes the distractions of home and the outside world, without reducing the benefits gained from connections to family.


John Spencer is the chair of Urban Warfare Studies with the Modern War Institute, United States Military Academy. He also serves as a colonel in the California State Guard with assignment to the 40th Infantry Division, California Army National Guard, as the director of Urban Warfare Training. He served twenty-five years on active duty in the U.S. Army as an infantry soldier and is a highly decorated combat veteran.?


"A wonderfully stimulating, thoughtful, and thought-provoking examination of how the increase in connectivity between those on the front lines and those on the home front affects the all-important bonds between our soldiers carrying out tough missions overseas."?Gen. David Petraeus, U.S. Army (Ret.), former commander of the surge in Iraq, U.S. Central Command, and Coalition Forces in Afghanistan

"An original and invaluable book on modern war, as well as a frank and unflinchingly honest portrait of leadership and family life in the current military."?Phil Klay, National Book Award?winning author of Redeployment and Missionaries

"John Spencer's story is valuable for leaders in military organizations and beyond. Connected Soldiers provides unique insight into the experiences of a military family in which both parents served their nation, one another, and their fellow soldiers."?Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, U.S. Army (Ret.), former national security advisor