Army historians should use either standard cassette recorders or digital recorders when conducting interviews. Adherence to this policy will facilitate the transcription process and the exchange of interviews between Army historical offices. The use of proprietary software for digital recorders, as well as the use of microcassettes, is discouraged. The Center of Military History will transcribe only standard cassettes.

Cassette Recorders
Although most Army historians will want to use digital recorders, standard cassette recorders remain widely available, relatively inexpensive, and portable. If using a cassette recorder, be sure to:
a. Purchase a recorder that has a jack for an external microphone, in addition to a built-in microphone. An external microphone can help cut background noise, and the jack can be used to connect two recorders in order to duplicate tapes.
b. Use a recorder that operates with both direct current and batteries. Remember that most batteries will only power a recorder between four and six hours. Monitor the usage of batteries. Develop a system for tracking battery usage.
c. Use a cassette cleaner on the recorder heads and tape drive mechanisms after every 20 hours of recording or playback time. This procedure helps maintain the recording quality of your recorder.

Cassette Tapes
Use 90-minute cassettes (C-90). An advantage of cassettes is that, if properly treated and stored under good conditions, they should last for at least twenty years. Use only new tapes. Purchase quality tapes made by reputable companies. Do not erase and reuse cassettes for your interviews. After completing the interview, break in both tabs at the top of the cassette in order to prevent accidental erasures of an interview. Clearly label cassettes after each interview. If clearly labeled, a cassette is much less likely to go missing. Do not rewind tapes after each use. Store cassettes in their plastic boxes at a constant temperature away from high heat, humidity, and magnetic fields. Duplicate interviews onto other cassettes and then use the duplicate copy for transcribing and editing and for researchers to use. The original can remain protected in storage.

Digital Recorders
There is a profusion of high quality digital recorders available to Army historians, and their use is encouraged. How historians choose to record interviews will be determined partly by their equipment and, especially in the field, partly by memory constraints. The following guidelines are provided as minimal recommended recording standards:
PCM: sampling rate: 48,000, 44.1 kHz
MP3: bitrate: mono, 32 kbps*
sampling rate: 48,000, 44.1 kHz
(* Consider recording at a higher rate if it is possible that the sound file might be used in the future in ways that would benefit from greater fidelity, such as on a website, in a documentary, and on the radio.)

Transcription Machines
If you decide to transcribe your own interviews you will need a transcription machine. Most are equipped with headphones and foot pedals that allow transcribers to play or rewind the tape while keeping their hands free for typing. Some transcription machines also allow the operator to lower the playback speed and reduce background noises on the tape. A comfortable set of headphones is a necessity when transcribing in a noisy work environment. There are commercially available software packages that, together with the foot pedals, will allow you to turn your personal computer into a transcription machine for audio files. They are relatively inexpensive and easy to use.

Dear ---------,
I am writing to request an End-of-Tour (EOT) interview with you regarding your time as-----.
The purpose of the U.S. Army Center of Military History's EOT interview program is to capture the personal perspectives of senior leaders in key Headquarters, Department of the Army (HQDA), positions in order to supplement the sometimes sparse documentary record. To give you an idea of how the process generally works, we contact your office beforehand to obtain information about your tenure in the position. We customarily receive a certain amount of documentary material-ranging from email and internal reports to PowerPoint briefings-after which we discuss the material with the point of contact for your office. Subsequently, we produce a topic-question list to serve as a rough game-plan for the interview; at the same time we try to schedule one or more interview sessions, depending on how much material there is to cover and the time you are able to devote to the interview.
Clearly you served in a key position in HQDA at a significant moment in U.S. Army history. I believe that you can provide a unique perspective on ----------------. I hope that you will consider sitting for an interview at a time that is convenient for you.
Attached is an information paper that describes the EOT interview program. I, of course, would be glad to answer any questions that you might have. Thank you.


27 September 2004

SUBJECT: End-of-Tour Interview Program
1. Purpose. To provide an overview of the End-of-Tour (EOT) Interview Program.
2. Facts.

a. Program. Since the EOT program began in 1989, Army historians have interviewed more than 300 senior Army leaders. The requirements of the EOT program are set forth in AR 870-5, Military History: Responsibilities, Policies, and Procedures (29 Jan 99), chapter 8.

b. Purpose. The goal of the EOT program is to help document important events and to capture the perspective of individuals in key positions on major issues. Interviews supplement the written record, which all too often slights the role of individuals in important decisions and events. Nor can PowerPoint briefings, information papers, and press releases adequately chronicle the complexities and nuances inherent in senior leader decision-making-particularly in this period of sweeping change for the Army. Interviews help clarify the background of important events and place decisions in context. Additionally, interviews that explain how previous ARSTAF and Secretariat principals dealt with problems and issues also can provide insights for current and future Army leaders confronting similar challenges.

c. Process. Each interviewee's office designates a point of contact (POC) to handle administrative details and to assist in gathering background materials for the historian. Drawing on these background materials, CMH historians draft interview questions, which then are submitted to the POC and the interviewee prior to the interview. The interview itself is taped and then transcribed and edited by CMH. The interviewee subsequently has the opportunity to review the edited transcript to ensure factual accuracy and, if desired, to provide additional commentary. Interviews have varied in length and been classified or unclassified.

d. Point of contact. To submit the name of your office POC, or for additional information, please contact Mr. Stephen Lofgren, Chief, Oral History Activity, tel. 202-685-2315/DSN 325-2315, email:
Mr. Stephen J. Lofgren/202-685-2315
Approved by: Dr. Brown

C. DA 7273-R, Access Agreement
SUBJECT: Access to Oral History Materials
1. I, --------------- , am voluntarily participating in an oral history conducted by _________ of the _______ on the following date(s): ---------------.
2. I understand that the recording(s), transcript(s), and photograph(s), and any materials resulting from this oral history will belong to the U.S. Government to be used in any manner, consistent with federal law, deemed in the best interests of the U.S. Army, as determined by the Chief of Military History or his/her designee.
3. I understand that the recording(s), transcript(s), photograph(s), any other materials, and information and material derived from them, may be made available to members of the public, subject to the Freedom of Information Act, Privacy Act, and DA Information Security Program.
4. I hereby expressly and voluntarily relinquish all rights and interests in the recording(s), transcript(s), photograph(s), and any other materials resulting from the oral history to the U.S. Army. This grant, release, and discharge of rights to the U.S. Army is made without the expectation of recompense of any kind. This voluntary grant and release will not be made the basis of a future claim of any kind against the U.S. Government. Finally, I understand that this does not preclude my personal use of these materials, subject to security restrictions.

(Name of Interviewee)

Accepted on behalf of the U.S. Army by  -----------------

Privacy Act Statement
Authority: Title 10, USC 3013, Secretary of the Army; Army Regulation 870-5, Military History: Responsibilities, Policies, and Procedures.
Principal Purpose: To obtain historical information that focuses on persons, events, and topics of historical interest to the U.S. Army.
Routine Uses: This information may be used by Department of Defense as source material for publications or other historical works.
Disclosure: Voluntary; however, failure to provide the requested information may preclude participation in the Army oral history program.

DA 7273-R, XXX 05

There is no set length for an abstract. The length of the interview and the amount of information it contains will determine the length of the abstract. Each historian will have to decide what the proper length should be. The abstract is intended to be neither a substitute for reading the interview nor a condensed version of the interview. Rather, the abstract should be a descriptive summary of the interview that allows a researcher to quickly gain an idea of its contents and to decide whether the interview seems worth reading. To that end, include a commentary on the quality of the interview when it is appropriate. (Try to avoid comments that would make the interviewee feel uncomfortable if he or she were to read the abstract.)
Describe only the major contents of the interview. Summarize what the interviewee said; do not repeat all the details. Lines such as "SGT Jones provides substantial information about x, y, and z" will allow the abstract author to cover a lot of ground with just a few words. Include brief quotes if they are striking or memorable. If the interviewee made a lot of quotable statements, mention that in the abstract!
The following are abstracts of interviews at CMH. They were randomly selected from several collections: Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, Operation JUST CAUSE, Operation JOINT ENDEAVOR, and Operation NOBLE EAGLE.
IFIT-l 02-049:

Abstract: CSM Robert Gallagher describes the training his brigade underwent in the United States and in Kuwait before the invasion of Iraq in March 2003. He stresses the importance of rigorous training and the ability of lower-echelon soldiers to make decisions in combat. CSM Gallagher, a veteran of Task Force Ranger and former light infantry soldier, discusses his personal conception of leadership, his role as a brigade CSM, and the value of mechanized infantry to the Army. The interview focuses heavily upon pre-combat training rather than combat operations, which are treated in a sketchy and non-chronological fashion. The interviewer asks questions about the initial thrust into Iraq, the battle at Objective Curly in downtown Baghdad, and the transition from maneuver warfare to occupation. The brigade suffered chronic problems in maintenance and logistical re-supply even during training, and these intensified, after crossing the line of departure. The discussion of Objective Curly centers upon CSM Gallagher's slight wounding in the battle, the importance of first aid training, CSM Gallagher's praise for selected soldiers in his task force, and his defense of the actions of the brigade chaplain, who armed himself and fired back at the objective. The interview ends with a discussion of presence patrols and attempts to restart public works in Baghdad after the city was taken. The interviewer's reliance upon pre-planned questions and lack of adequate follow-up questions limits the value of this interview.

Abstract: This is an interview with the operations sergeant (83 NCOIC) from the 5th Battalion, 87th Infantry (193d Infantry Brigade), conducted by the 49th Military History Detachment. The interview begins with background information about the rising tensions leading up to the final crisis. He relates about the preparations for the operations including creating improvised facilities for training in military operations on urban terrain (MOUT), and the reconnoitering of targeted sites. When the hostilities began the battalion had the mission of seizing four locations in the Alcon vicinity: three were Panamanian police activities and the fourth was an Engineer Battalion. The initial objectives were seized by 0200 hours during the first night. Thereafter members performed sweeps of the populated areas of the city, establishing a presence and searching for PDF members. He also discusses the function of the battalion tactical operations center (TOC) and the jump TOC used by the commander to be more mobile. He also discusses the communications and intelligence capabilities of the organization. Families living in Panama were especially heroic, in that they were near the fighting and the children knew that their parents were leaving home to go to war. The interview concludes with him crediting the improvised MOUT training during the fall of 1989 with teaching the soldiers the skills they needed to survive without any fatalities.

Abstract: MAJ Vincent Fields, Special Troop Battalion (STB), V Corps, discusses the mission of the pre-deployment site selection survey team he led and lessons learned from the mission. MAJ Fields was on the initial site survey group sent to Hungary. The group was divided into four teams, each with a specific survey mission: airfields, railheads, bridges, or billeting. The initial survey was completed in five days. The teams returned to Heidelberg to review the information and make recommendations on which sites to use. After the recommendations were reviewed, the teams returned to Hungary to verify the initial information and make the final site selection. The senior US representative, a brigadier general, had no authority to sign contracts or to commit funds to have the selected facilities prepared for occupation before US troops arrived. He noted that Morale, Welfare, and Recreation funds were adequate and were important for maintaining troop morale. Soldiers were under stress, however, due to being "locked down" (Le. restricted to the base camps) without being told why. The STB is the administrative cell for USAREUR-FWD. It does all of the administrative duties and life support for the headquarters. MAJ Fields' concludes the interview by stating that it would be cheaper and quicker to establish a traditional rear area logistic base by renting an open field and putting everything and everyone in tents instead of renting vacant buildings. He also recommends using Army assets instead of civilian contractors for those mission requirements for which the Army has trained soldiers and units.
NEIT - 504

Abstract: Mr. Joel B. Hudson, the Administrative Assistant to the Secretary of the Army, is in charge of all administrative offices that support the Army Secretariat and General Staff. He was on leave in Florida when he heard about the attack on the World Trade Center. He called his deputy, Ms. Riley, at 0915 to ask about the protective status of the Pentagon. After hearing about the attack on the Pentagon, he drove back from Florida and arrived at the Army Operation Center (AOC) around midnight on 12 September. His immediate focus was on re-establishing telephone and computer connections in the building. Secretary of the Army White's guidance was "do what needs to be done." Forty-five of the Army personnel who were killed worked for him in the Resource Management Directorate (RS-W) and IMCEN. His biggest challenge became taking care of his people. Other significant challenges were finding space, furniture, computers, communications equipment, and re-staffing RS-W. The re-staffing of RS-W was especially critical because the attack occurred only nineteen days before the end of the fiscal year. Many retired RSW personnel came back to work and other offices loaned people to help.
He praises the initiative shown by his people on the both the 11th and in the weeks afterward and mentions SGT Chris Braman who pulled three people out of the rubble. He also mentions Eric Jones, a student at Georgetown University and EMT, who helped that day and after, and later went to New York City to work at ground zero. He mentioned several other people who were killed. Mr. Hudson also discusses his responsibility for the Defense Post Office that services the building. With the office shut down because of the anthrax letters, he had to devise measures to deal with the threat of anthrax and other hazardous materials. He discusses the decision to create a central facility to for all Pentagon mail and the special equipment designed for it. Additionally, he covers how the improvements in Wedge One saved lives, his decision to move his organization into the Taylor Building, and how the attack has affected the Pentagon renovation plan.


Abstract: BG Eikenberry was in his E-ring office receiving a briefing from MAJ Andrew Mueller (NEIT-544) when the plane hit the Pentagon on 11 September. He had not heard about the attack on the World Trade Center. The plane hit the building near his office, throwing both him and MAJ Mueller against the wall. He remembers seeing a fireball outside his window. They left his office and saw MG Wood's secretary, Ms. Linda Moore, who told them that General Wood was trapped in his office. BG Eikenberry told her to get out of the area, and then he broke open the door to Wood's office and got him out. They entered the E-ring corridor, which was filled with smoke, and could see flames. They headed away from the flames toward the 4th corridor, crossing over broken fractures in the floor. He said that these fractures were the break points where the floor collapsed. He joined LTC Mark Volk and searched for people in the E-ring. He remembers hearing a rumbling ten to fifteen minutes after the impact and thinks that it might have been the area near the fractures collapsing. After finding no one he went to the Pentagon courtyard and then to South Parking. Once in South Parking he began accounting for the people in his division. He accounted for 95% of his 120 people and sent them home about 1230. He got home to his quarters at Ft. Belvoir, VA about 1400. On September 12th he went to work at the Army Operations Center (AOC) in the Pentagon. In the AOC he helped organized the night shift and headed it through the 15th when he returned to his normal duty as the Deputy for War Plans and assisting MG Wood develop the Army strategic campaign plan for the war on terrorism.

The following questions provide a basic core or structure for devising a topic-question list. Each topic-question list, however, should be unique as a result of the background research performed prior to the interview. The core questions must be modified or tailored to fit the particular circumstances of each interview and the duties, responsibilities, and achievements of each interviewee. Additionally, each of these questions will logically lead to additional questions as the historian reacts to the interviewee's answers.
(Note: While many of the questions that follow are presented here in groups, the historian should ask them individually during an interview.)
1. When you assumed your duties, what guidance did you receive from your superiors? Were you charged with accomplishing specific objectives? If so, what were they? Did you have the opportunity to discuss your duties with your predecessor? How was the transition handled? How could the transition be improved?

2. Looking back at your career, which assignment best prepared you for this position?
3. What issues, events, or responsibilities consumed most of your time? Why? Did you anticipate this would be the case when you began this position?
4. Please explain the operations of your office (or agency). With which other offices or agencies did you work on a regular basis?
5. Please describe your style of management. What were your techniques for handling the vast spectrum of information and ideas that you needed to understand in order to carry out your duties? What criteria did you use for making tough decisions? (Note: If one is not volunteered, ask for an example.)
6. What issues or events occupied your time? What were your major initiatives during this assignment? What were the major problems you faced in getting these initiatives accepted?
7. What was your greatest challenge? What were your most significant accomplishments?
8. Did you make any major organizational changes? If so, why? Do you see a need to change the organization, staffing, budget, or responsibilities of your office?
9. As you leave for your next position (or retire), what areas still cause you concern and what things did time not allow you to complete? How has your own perception of your duties changed since assuming this position?
10. What major issues will your successor face?
11. What advice would you like to pass on to your successor?
12. What do you see as the course of the Army in the future? What will be the major challenges in your area of responsibility [that is, the interviewee's current position] over the next five to fifteen years?
13. If you were "king for a day," what would you change?
14. Is there a topic that I should have asked you about, but did not?

Historians conducting operations-focused interviews face many challenges. These will include finding the time-and a suitable location-to interview individuals who, in all likelihood, will be tired and very busy. If an individual recently has been involved in combat, or any other stressful situation, be aware that the person is probably dealing with a range of extreme emotions. Additionally, some issues may be sensitive, so the historian must pay attention to how questions are phrased. Pointed or leading questions about, for example, command decisions (and the reasoning behind them), the specific actions of individuals, or the influence of personalities can be interpreted by the interviewee as evidence that the historian already has formed an opinion. The historian must remember that the course of any interview can be influenced by how the interviewee "reads" and responds to the Interviewer, so the historian's demeanor should emphasize the task-and the responsibility-of objectively gathering information. Any opinions expressed during the interview should come from the interviewee.

As for all interviews, the historian should begin preparations for an interview in the field by formulating an interview plan. One way to develop an interview plan is to answer the following series of questions. While more time for preparation and research is always preferable, even a short period of focused thinking about these questions will pay dividends. With time and experience, this technique will become second-nature.

1. "Why is this person being interviewed?" That is, what is the objective of the interview? Is the historian trying to document a platoon-level combat action or the history of a unit for a period of time (to include its mobilization, training, and deployment)? Is the purpose to learn how a tactical operations center functioned during a battle, or how a transportation company operated during several months in a combat theater? Is the intention to learn about the experiences of senior commander and the environment in which he or she operated?
2. 'Who is the interviewee?" What does the historian know about him or her? (If the answer is, "Nothing," then the next question should be, whom can the historian ask for information?) What sort of firsthand information is this person most likely to possess? What is the interviewee's rank or grade and position? For how long? Does this person have twenty years of Army experience, or is this the soldier's first enlistment? Is this the interviewee's first deployment? What information would another historian want to know about this individual in order to give broader context to the information contained in the interview?
3. "What sort of information do I hope to obtain?" Answering this question after thinking about the first two questions should serve as an azimuth check for the historian. How does this interview fit into the historian's plan and purpose? Where is this interviewee's firsthand knowledge likely to overlap with what the historian is seeking?
Because the "right' question list rarely will be the same for more than one interview, answering the foregoing questions before the interview will enable the historian to develop a line of questioning appropriate to each interview. By bringing into focus the three issues of the historian's objective, the individual to be interviewed, and the germane information that individual mayor should have, the historian will have identified many of the questions to ask. If, by chance, the historian finds it necessary to start an interview before having the chance to answer some of these questions, then it makes sense to begin the interview with questions designed to elicit those answers. Indeed, questions about the interviewee-history, position, experience-should be asked to get the information on the record and because the historian never can really know what an interviewee will say. Each interview, in essence, is a request for an individual to tell his or her story; the historian wants to capture that story while keeping in mind the larger purpose for the interview.
From this point, conducting the interview is a relatively straight-forward process. Start with the customary introductory questions to get the interviewee talking and to record basic information about the individual. Then, set the stage. Ask appropriate questions about the individual's environment: the unit or command, the mission, the people with whom the interviewee worked, the challenges encountered. Ask about routine procedures or SOPs, specialized equipment and training, and how the individual lived day-to-day. This last category, that of life in the field, is perishable information that is easy to overlook. If the focus is a headquarters, ask about policies and guidance that were in place. (For many interviews with commanders and staff officers, the EOT questions in Appendix E will be a useful starting point.) If the focus of the interview is a particular activity or action, lead the interviewee to that point, and then have the interviewee recount what transpired. 'What happened next?" will keep the interviewee speaking. Focus on the individual: what did the interviewee see or think? Ask for specific details and evidence as follow-up questions: how does the interviewee know something? Who made the decision? What time did an action begin? What was the interviewee thinking at a particular moment? Ask about reasoning or motivation if it is unclear. If the story becomes confused or the historian does not understand something, ask the interviewee to elaborate. Remember, if the historian does not understand the story being told in the interview, later readers of the interview transcript probably will not understand, either. At the end of the interview, ask the interviewee who else should be interviewed on this subject. Then thank the interviewee for his or her time and for helping to document the history of the U.S. Army.

Even when a solid question list exists, the historian should seek to tailor the list for each interview. Not all questions will be appropriate for each interview. As field historians conduct interviews and observe events, their knowledge will grow, and they should confidently use that knowledge to modify their question lists in order to ask questions that are personalized for the individual interviewee. Any question list is only a starting point; the interviewer must "develop the situation" based on what he or she encounters and learns during the interview.
Regardless of the specific questions, however, the interviewer should focus on the experiences of the interviewee what he or she actually did or witnessed. Additionally, the interviewer should be alert to cues from the interviewee that follow-up questions, perhaps departing from the original list, should be asked. As a safeguard against missing potentially important information, always give the interviewee an opportunity to offer information. One method of accomplishing this is to remind the interviewee that he or she is the real subject-matter expert on the topic and then to ask an open-ended question. This often works best toward the end of an interview. One such question is, 'What is something I should have asked you, but have not?" Another is, "If you were a historian writing about X [that is, whatever has been the main subject of the interview], what would you emphasize?" Or, 'What can you tell me about your experience that will not appear in the official reports?" Asking such questions shows the interviewee both that the historian is not merely following a pre-determined agenda and that the historian is genuinely interested in what the interviewee has to offer. The resulting responses often can be pleasantly surprising.

Finally, remember that interviewing in the field is a learned skill. As with any skill, performance will improve with practice. Practice developing question lists beforehand. After an interview, engage in self-critique. Which questions worked? Which questions did not? Why? Review interviews that have been conducted, particularly those conducted by other historians. Borrow questions and techniques that appear worthwhile, and ask, "What would I have done differently?"

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Brownlee, Romie L., and Mullen, William J., III. Changing an Army: An Oral History of General William E. DePuy, USA Retired. [Carlisle Barracks], Pa., and Washington, D.C.: U.S. Army Military History Institute and U.S. Army Center of Military History, [1988].
Dunaway, David K., and Baum, Willa K., ads. Oral History: An Interdisciplinary Anthology. Second edition. Walnut Grove, Calif.: AltaMira Press, 1996.
Gravis, Martha, and Andreson, Martin W. "The Senior Officer Oral History Program: There's More to It Than 'Have Tape Recorder, Will Travel.'" International Journal of Oral History 9 (November 1988): 227-33.
Grele, Ronald J. "On Using Oral History Collections: An Introduction." Journal of American History 74 (September 1987): 570-78.
Handlin, Oscar. Truth in History. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1979.
Hoopes, James. Oral History: An Introduction for Students. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1979.
Lofgren, Stephen ~: "The Status of Oral History in the Army: Expanding a Tradition, Oral History Review 30 (Summer/Fall 2003): 81-98.
McMahan, Eva M., and Rogers, Kim Lacy, eds. Interactive Oral History Interviewing. Hillsdale, N.J.: L. Erlbaum Associates, 1994.
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Mentzer, Raymond A., Jr. "Research from the Battlefield: Military History Detachments in Wartime Korea." Army History (Summer 1991): 13-19.
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Moss, William W. "Oral History: An Appreciation." American Archivist 40 (October 1987): 429-39.
Neuenschwander, John N. Oral History and the Law. Second edition. Waco, Tex.: Oral History Association, 1993.
Neuenschwander, John. "Remembrance of Things Past: Oral Historians and Long-Term Memory." Oral History Review 6 (1978): 45-53.
Ritchie, Donald A. Doing Oral History. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1995.
Rosenthal, Robert. "The Interview and Beyond: Some Methodological Questions for Oral Historians." Public Historian 1 (Spring 1978): 58-67.
Shrader, Charles R. "Oral History Resources for the Study of the U.S. Army in Vietnam." Army Historian (Issue 11): 13-17.
Thomson, Alistair. "Fifty Years On: An International Perspective on Oral History." Journal of American History 85 (September 1998): 581-95.
Thompson, Paul. The Voice of the Past: Oral History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1988.
--,. "Public Historians and Oral History: Problems of Concept and Methods." Public Historian 2 (Winter 1980): 22-29.
Williams, F.D.G., and Robert K. Wright. 'When Clio Marries Mars: The Combat Historian." In The Writing of Official History, ed.
Robin Higham. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1999, pp. 135-50.
Wright, Robert K., Jr. "Clio in Combat: The Evolution of the Military History Detachment." Army Historian 6 (Winter 1985): 3-6.

By: Stephen J. Lofgren
Center of Military History, United States Army
Washington, D.C, 2006

Number of Visits: 5785


Full Name:

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