Michael, you stated "You do not need to have served in the military to write good history, but it helps." Does it? I ask this not to be antagonistic but I have heard this agrued during my studies and for a time thought along the same lines myself. What is it about military history that differs from any other area of historical study that there is an assumptin one on the inside has the potential to have better insight? I have never heard anyone argue that to be a better labour historian one had to work in the mines or stand in solidarity on the strike line, or that doctors make better medical historians.
I have read good military histories by individuals who have and have not served, just as I have read poor military histories by such individuals. Is it service in the organiztion or a sound acidemic mind that lends to the writing of good military history? John Keegan engaged in such an exploration in The Face of Battle. He questiond how one such as himself could understand battle having never served in the military, let alone experienced battle first hand. By writing such a work he was also addressing how one could write military history without having done so.
To produce a solid work the historian who served in the military has to synthesize both primary and secondary information within the discource of the subject area, in just the same way as the historian without a military background. Service in the militray can provide insight but it also runs the risk of colouring ones perspective in the same way as it can a politician writing political history, or a labour historian who feels a strong personal connection with the worker of their study. Everyone has a bias, no one is objective and the good historian, regardless of background, recognizes this. I believe it is solid acidemic process and thought that produces good historica work, the background of the individual is irrelivent. To that I should add that the individual does not have to be univirisity trained as Martin Middlebrook showed with his study of the Somme.