A very personal account
I had the honour to serve under John Akehurst when he was Commander of 4th Armoured Division in Germany in the early eighties. He had a unique approach to his leadership, taking the time to understand the values of both those under his command and his enemy. He totally understood the huge advantage that detailed analysis of the terrain gives to any land commander. There are passages in We Won a War that demonstrate how he exploited this in Oman, and his plans for defence against the Threat of the Warsaw Pact in northern Germany, also used the terrain to full advantage.
His descriptions of how he turned the possible weakness of the unreliability of the Omani forces under his command, especially those who had defected from his communist enemy, into a strength are quite remarkable. Most commanders would have missed the opportunity, but Akehurst realised why his men were disappearing back to their lands from time to time, and helped them and supported them. This showed these Omanis that their Sultan had good intentions and life under his rule would be good.
Eventually, at the Sultan's birthday party in November 1975, Akehurst was asked how the war was going. "Well, Your Majesty," Akehurst replied, "I reckon you have won it."
This is a really great account of how a war can be won by truly "winning hearts and minds" on top of excellent military strategy and tactics.
I have to own up to having a personal interest. Although I did not serve in Oman, I was so privileged to be able to sit in General Akehurst's office as he talked with many of his comrades from that campaign as they recalled their experiences. The respect that they had for the General, as we all had, was so solid that it was almost touchable. The reason for my privileged position? I provided the illustrations for the book (probably the worst part of it!).
Read it if you can get hold of a copy.