University News

U.S. Army Doctrine Topic of New Book by Western Illinois University History Professor

March 19, 2012

Share |
Printer friendly version

MACOMB, IL – Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Walter E. Kretchik recently wrote the book, "U.S. Army Doctrine: From the American Revolution to the War on Terror" (University Press of Kansas, September 2011), in which he analyzes the evolution of Army doctrine over three centuries.

In his book, Kretchik, who joined the Western Illinois University history department in 2003 as the specialist in U.S. and transnational military and diplomatic history, "…fully explores the principles that have shaped the Army's approach to warfare. From ‘Regulations For the Order and Discipline of the Troops of the United States' in 1779 to modern-day field manuals, it reflects the fashioning of doctrine to incorporate the lessons of past wars and minimize the uncertainty and dangers of battle," wrote the University of Kansas Press in its advance material.

The author stated in the introduction that the primary focus of his book was how service leadership perceived the conduct of military operations over three centuries, which he found to be generally consistent throughout the manuals while attempting to grapple with the vagaries of future wars.

He reviews the chronology of U.S. Army keystone doctrinal manuals and sets the historical perspective of Army doctrine in the introduction. Kretchik then devotes one chapter each to Army doctrine by era, encompassing General George Washington's army to today's post-Cold War world, multinational operations. His conclusion is titled, "Regulating Chaos."

He is currently researching a study of U.S. Army peacekeeping operations during the early post-Cold War era, 1990-1997, which is based on declassified primary source material and oral history tapes he made. Kretchik also has numerous book chapters, journal articles, and book reviews to his credit; and he was the lead author in the 1998 book: "Invasion, Intervention, ‘Intervasion': A Concise History of the U.S. Army in Operation Uphold Democracy (Haiti 1994) (U.S. Army Command and General Staff College Press, 1998), as well as a study on peacekeeping in the Balkans (2007).

Kretchik spoke to the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College (Fort Leavenworth, KS) faculty and staff in November 2011. "He told the instructors that it is their job to teach future Army leaders ‘the box,' or current thinking and doctrine, but it is also the students' job to know how to adapt and think outside that box," the Ft. Leavenworth Lamp reported.

He also makes presentations at conferences locally, nationally, and internationally. In Fall 2005, Kretchik was a consultant to the U.S. Secretary of Defense at the National Defense University Center of Hemispheric Defense Studies in Washington, D.C. He was a project member, working with representatives of the U.S. government and nine northern hemisphere countries to develop and publish peacekeeping methodologies for regional crises in Latin America and the Caribbean.

He has received a WIU University Research Council grant, was presented the College of Arts and Sciences' Outstanding Faculty Award for Internationalizing the Campus; received a faculty Summer Research Stipend from the WIU Foundation; was presented the Student Alumni Council Golden Apple Award; and received a two-year grant from the United States Institute of Peace. Kretchik is also active on numerous departmental, college and University committees.

During his 22-year year Army career (1976-1999), Kretchik was an instructor of U.S. military and diplomatic history at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College Combat Studies Institute from 1994-1999. He was named the Military Instructor of the Year in 1997-1998.

Kretchik graduated from the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College (1991) and the School of Advanced Military Studies (1992), where he earned a master's degree in Military Arts and Sciences (MMAS). He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in history from the University of Arizona (1976), a Master of Arts degree in political science from the University of Louisville (1988) and a Ph.D. in history from the University of Kansas (2001).

Posted By: University Communications (
Office of University Communications & Marketing