Lessons to Learned: An Analysis of When the Tempest Gathers

by William Treuting

To a civilian, Andrew Milburn’s When the Tempest Gathers offers a unique insight into conflicts that which many Americans know little of. Milburn vividly narrates his experiences, allowing one to better comprehend how the United States, and the Marine Corps in particular, conducted itself throughout the many conflicts of the past few decades. While Milburn is the protagonist of his own story, the depth of his perspective and illuminate the personal costs, violent consequences, and unintended results of U.S. military action over the previous decades. Many Americans could not locate the places where Milburn and other American servicemembers fought on a map, let alone understand the nuances of fighting the Global War on Terror in one of the most tumultuous and confusing socio-political regions on Earth. However, having written this book in a colloquial tone, Milburn combines emotion with acute detail to synthesize how his personal experiences are part of a larger collective experience, which underlines his intent: “to provide some insight into what it’s like the fight America’s wars.” It is the personal experiences of individuals such as Milburn which puts a face to the thousands of individuals who serve their country—regardless of the circumstances.

To those serving in America’s armed forces, Milburn provides a litany of applicable lessons from which all servicemembers can learn from—especially on cooperating with the armed forces of partner nations.  Milburn’s experiences in working alongside foreign soldiers is indicative of the difficulties that our servicemembers face when cooperating with allies and partners. Milburn, who benefited from his global upbringing, demonstrated a significant amount of cultural understanding and patience when working with foreign forces. The issue of how to properly work with allied and partner nations is a frequently reoccurring problem addressed by authors in the Marine Corps Gazette. As the Marine Corps reorients itself to face current threats—Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea—there is an understanding that America will not face these threats alone, which will require cooperation with foreign soldiers. 

Below, I offer a small sample of histories and films of nations which with we may one day have to work with in a major military conflict.  For each country, I chose two books—a general overarching history and a military history—as well a popular military-related film produced by that country.  For the larger, overarching histories, I tried to find the most recent and reputable works which analyze the internal narrative of each country.  For military histories, I endeavored to find histories which either analyze conflicts these counties had with Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea, or were indicative of that country’s military experiences.  My reasoning for including films is to demonstrate how many of these nations self-perceive their military and to determine the cultural values, beliefs, and mores that exist within these nations’ military narratives. This list is not meant to be exhaustive, and although I researched each work to ensure its reputability by the scholarly community, they only offer one perspective.  Rather, my intent was to initiate a starting point for those who wish to better understand the nations and militaries with whom we might have to cooperate in future conflicts.  Analyzing the history and perspective of potential allies and partner nations may help give Marines an edge in creating a productive and cooperative relationship with foreign soldiers.


The Gates of Europe: A History of Ukraine by Serhii Plokhy

The Conflict in Ukraine: What Everyone Needs to Know by Serhy Yekelchyk

Breaking Point: The War for Democracy in Ukraine directed by Mark Jonathan Harris and Oles Sanin


A Concise History of Finland by David Kirby

Finland at War: The Winter War 1939–40 by Vesa Nenye, Peter Munter, Toni Wirtanen, and Chris Birks

The Unknown Soldier 1955 film directed by Edvin Lane or the 2017 version directed by Aku Louhimies

Republic of Korea:

Korea Old and New: A History by Carter J. Eckert, Ki-Baik Lee, Young Ick Lew, Michael Robinson, and Edward W. Wagner

Taegukgi directed by Kang Je-gyu


Vietnam: A New History by Christopher Goscha

Deng Xiaoping’s Long War: The Military Conflict between China and Vietnam, 1979-1991 by Xiaoming Zhang

The Abandoned Field: Free Fire Zone directed by Nguyễn Hồng Sến


India: A History by John Keay

China’s India War: Collision Course on the Roof of the World by Bertil Lintner

72 Hours: Martyr Who Never Died directed by Avinash Dhyani


Forbidden Nation: A History of Taiwan by Jonathan Manthorpe

The Trouble with Taiwan: History, the United States and a Rising China by Kerry Brown and Kalley Wu Tzu Hui


History of the Philippines: From Indios Bravos to Filipinos by Luis H. Francia

Frustrated Ambition: General Vicente Lim and the Philippine Military Experience, 1910–1944 by Richard Bruce Meixsel

Manila, Open City directed by Eddie Romero


Turkey: A Short History by Norman Stone

A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East by David Fromkin

Breath directed by Levent Semerci


A History of Japan: Revised Edition by R. H. P. Mason

The Battle for China: Essays on the Military History of the Sino-Japanese War of 1937-1945 edited by Mark Peattie

Battle of Okinawa directed by Kihachi Okamoto


A Brief History of Indonesia: Sultans, Spices, and Tsunamis: The Incredible Story of Southeast Asia’s Largest Nation by Tim Hannigan

Confrontation the War with Indonesia, 1962–1966 by Nicholas van der Bijl

Merah Putih directed by Yadi Sugandi