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In this unprecedented account of the intensive air and ground operations in Iraq, two of America's most distinguished military historians bring clarity and depth to the first major war of the new millennium. Reaching beyond the blaring headlines, embedded videophone reports, and daily Centcom briefings, Williamson Murray and Robert Scales analyze events in light of past military experiences, present battleground realities, and future expectations.
The Iraq War puts the recent conflict into context. Drawing on their extensive military expertise, the authors assess the opposing aims of the Coalition forces and the Iraqi regime and explain the day-to-day tactical and logistical decisions of infantry and air command, as British and American troops moved into Basra and Baghdad. They simultaneously step back to examine long-running debates within the U.S. Defense Department about the proper uses of military power and probe the strategic implications of those debates for America's buildup to this war. Surveying the immense changes that have occurred in America's armed forces between the Gulf conflicts of 1991 and 2003--changes in doctrine as well as weapons--this volume reveals critical meanings and lessons about the new "American way of war" as it has unfolded in Iraq.
In their coverage of Operation Iraqi Freedom...embedded reporters provided vertical depth but little horizontal scope. Profound portraits of individual soldiers and units were rarely complemented by competent narratives placing the various military operations in the context of a grand strategic view. That is the job not of war correspondents but of military historians. Williamson Murray, a senior fellow at the Institute of Defense Analysis, and Major General Robert H. Scales Jr., a former commandant of the Army War College, fill the void.
— Robert D. Kaplan
For those wanting a detailed analysis of the strategic and operational dimensions of the recent war, this is the book.
— Tim Dunne
The academic depth of Williamson Murray and the professional experience of Major General Robert Scales ensure that their lively account of the war against Iraq is a superior, authoritative product. Its focus is operational (neither Donald Rumsfeld nor Paul Wolfowitz appears in the index), but the authors acknowledge the importance of political context, especially the 'sustaining power of tyranny' even in the face of a 'shock and awe' air assault.
— Lawrence D. Freedman
Murray and Scales offer plenty of detailed combat accounts. But largely, their book seeks to step back and put the war in a larger frame.
— Harry Levins
Military historians Murray and Scales have written an enormously detailed description and analysis of the U.S.-led campaign to overthrow Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq in March-April 2003. Their book's value lies in its step-by-step report on the invasion.
— W. Spencer
The authors clearly had access to major military decision-makers and after-action reports. But as seasoned military historians, they go far beyond mere reportage, offering concise judgements about both the planning and the conduct of the campaign...Mr. Murray and Mr. Scales provide an illuminating look at the ground campaign that culminated in the capture of Baghdad...The authors' discussion of the war's ramifications is excellent and alone is worth the price of the book...More detailed analyses of the war will follow this book. By all means, read them. But the insights and judgments of Williamson Murray and Robert Scales make The Iraq War a book that will stand the test of time.
— Mackubin Thomas Owens
Murray and Scales are serious military historians [and] have a knack for integrating tactical vignettes into their operational narrative . . . Details like these give the reader a bit of the taste and smell of the fighting. More important, [the authors] use them adroitly to highlight factors that shaped the thinking of American military commanders at key stages and to point out critical lessons about the conduct of modern war . . . What emerges from their book is a far more comprehensive view of a far more complicated war than the vast majority of readers may have gleaned from the snapshots provided by the news media during the 23 days of major combat operations.
— Kenneth M. Pollack
Thus, a number of obvious factors help explain the success of Coalition
arms: technological superiority, complete air supremacy, the
incompetence of Saddam and his military commanders when confronted
with an external enemy, and, not least, the unwillingness of
most Iraqis to fight and die for a regime they feared and despised in
equal measure. But the most important reason for the Coalition's victory
lies in the secret of Western military effectiveness first discovered
by the Romans and then rediscovered by the Europeans in the seventeenth
century: the disciplining of young men into combat formations
characterized by cohesion, interdependency, and trust in one another
and in commanding officers. The result is a military unit that is obedient
and responsive not only to its commanders but to civil authorities
as well. Of all the revolutions that have taken place in Western
warfare, this was undoubtedly the most important, for on those disciplined
formations-disciplined in both a civil and a military sense-the
Western state was created. In that sense, the ground formations
that drove through ill-disciplined armed mobs of Iraqis were the direct
lineal descendants of Roman legionnaires and the pike men and musketeers
of Gustavus Adolphus's Swedish armies.
Since World War I the modern battlefield has increasingly isolated
the soldier and marine as well as his combat leaders. Thus, the initiative
of individuals and junior leaders has become an important component
of success, because it allows the soldier or marine to take advantage
of fleeting opportunities. From the outset of their military
careers, the British and American soldiers and marines who fought in
Iraq had received an intensive and effective regimen of combat training
that instilled in them not only the discipline to obey orders under
extraordinarily difficult and dangerous situations but also the willingness
to take the initiative and act on their own in the absence of
orders. That combination of discipline and initiative allowed Coalition
soldiers and marines to fight as teams and to do the grim business
their nation paid them to do. The Coalition victory in Iraq had little
to do with any advantage American and British soldiers may have enjoyed
in bravery over their Iraqi opponents. It had everything to do
with their cohesion and discipline on the battlefield. The Iraqi military,
however brave individuals might have been-and many were extraordinarily
brave-had none of these qualities.
That difference was something Saddam's military with its Baathist
stooges at the top could not begin to comprehend. What is astonishing
is that virtually none of the senior Iraqi leadership, especially
Saddam, appears to have recognized the danger they were confronting
as the Americans and British began deploying to the Middle East.
The corruption of absolute power within his own realm ensured that
Saddam would not understand the forces gathering outside its borders.
Iraqi resistance would prove short-lived and largely ineffective,
and the Iraqis would quickly throw away what few advantages they actually
Excerpted from The Iraq War: A Military History
by Williamson Murray Robert H. Scales
Copyright © 2003 by Harvard University Press.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
|Prologue: The Gulf War, 1991||1|
|1||The Origins of War||15|
|2||The Opposing Sides||45|
|3||The Ground Campaign in Southern Iraq||88|
|4||The British War in the South||129|
|5||The Air War||154|
|6||The End of the Campaign||184|
|7||Military and Political Implications||234|
|Weapons of War||259|
|Acknowledgments and Sources||298|
This recounting of the Gulf War conflicts, along with an interesting history of the region leading up to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, is informative and provides perspective on the causes and timeline leading up to war. On the other hand, it's a bit dry and the recounts of battles are done at a distance. Other books do a better job of conveying what these conflicts sound, feel, and look like. That's not the intent here.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 11, 2003
Posted September 3, 2009
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