The Iraq War: A Military History / Edition 1

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Overview

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.

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times
The Iraq War is an excellent overview of the American military campaign itself. Operation Iraqi Freedom was an extremely complicated and fast-moving campaign -- one that did not lend itself to being understood in bite-size pieces, as most Americans experienced it from television news reports. For this reason, while the embedded journalists provided a wealth of tactical color that helped the average American understand certain aspects of the war, they did little to help the viewer comprehend the operational maneuvering of American forces and the rationale behind those actions. Murray and Scales make sense of the various events of the war and put them in their proper context -- spatially, chronologically and thematically. In a way that the disconnected reports of the embedded journalists could not, they are able to convey just how remarkable this military campaign was -- and why. — Kenneth M. Pollack
Publishers Weekly
The practice of "embedding" journalists in combat units provided a good deal of spectacular, timely footage, but tended to restrict insight to the frontline perspective of riflemen and vehicle crews. Murray and Scales provide a lucid and leavened look at the larger-scale forces shaping the war. Murray (A War to Be Won), currently a fellow at the Institute of Defense Analysis, is an eminent military historian, and Scales (Yellow Smoke), a retired major general and former commandant of the Army War College, is a familiar commentator on security issues. In this operational history, they eschew discussion of such abstractions as whether the war was a "revolution in military affairs." Instead, they show how, since the Gulf War of 1991, each of the services (army, air force, navy and marines) improved its mastery of the craft of war: individually integrating technology, training, and doctrine while at the same time cultivating a "jointness" that eroded, if it did not quite eliminate, traditional rivalries at the operational level. The result, they argue, was a virtuoso performance in 2003 that did not depend on Iraqi ineffectiveness, a model exercise in maneuver warfare at the operational level that stands comparison with any large-scale operation in terms of effectiveness and economy. The authors complement their work with competent surveys of Iraq's history and of how the U.S. armed forces recovered from the Vietnam debacle, and with an excellent appendix describing the weapons systems that dominated America's television screens. While the short duration of the war's main push-three weeks from start to finish-works against systematic analysis, and there will be much more material to surface and be sifted in the coming years, Murray and Scales set the standard for future works. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
The Atlantic

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

The Economist
Williamson Murray and Robert Scales, both American military academics, have produced a superlative record of the invasion--part history, part critique and part doctrinal template for the future. Technical and operational aspects are explained clearly without losing the depth required to make this a serious study.
Times Higher Education Supplement

For those wanting a detailed analysis of the strategic and operational dimensions of the recent war, this is the book.
— Tim Dunne

Foreign Affairs

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

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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

Choice

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

Washington Times

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

New York Times Book Review

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

The Atlantic - Robert D. Kaplan
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.
Times Higher Education Supplement - Tim Dunne
For those wanting a detailed analysis of the strategic and operational dimensions of the recent war, this is the book.
Foreign Affairs - Lawrence D. Freedman
Murrayand Scales, both American military academics, have produced a superlative record of the invasion--part history, part critique and part doctrinal template for the future
St. Louis Post-Dispatch - Harry Levins
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.
Choice - W. Spencer
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.
Washington Times - Mackubin Thomas Owens
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.
New York Times Book Review - Kenneth M. Pollack
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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780674012806
  • Publisher: Harvard University Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 5.82 (w) x 8.46 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Williamson Murray is Senior Fellow at the Institute for Defense Analysis, Washington, D.C.

Major General Robert H. Scales, Jr., U.S. Army (Retired), brings perspective as head of the army's team of Gulf War historians and chief author of Certain Victory, the army's official postwar analysis of that conflict. He has also served as Commandant of the Army War College and, most recently, is author of Yellow Smoke: The Future of Land Warfare for America's Military.

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Read an Excerpt



The Iraq War: A Military History




By Williamson Murray Robert H. Scales


Harvard University Press



Copyright © 2003

Harvard University Press
All right reserved.



ISBN: 0-674-01280-1






Chapter One


In retrospect, the Iraqis were in a hopeless position before the first
shot was fired. The military forces of the United States and the United
Kingdom operated according to a professional military ethos that it
had taken the West five centuries to develop. The technologies that
those forces deployed were frighteningly effective in their lethality and
precision, but the chief factor in the victory that occurred in spring
2003 was a combination of training, discipline, and mental preparation
at every level that Coalition forces brought to the battlefield.

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
possessed.

(Continues...)




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.

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Table of Contents

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
Notes 294
Acknowledgments and Sources 298
Index 301
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 29, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    Thorough, but not exactly a page-turner

    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  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2003

    Bravo!

    I like the detail, as well as the bakground information on Hussein in the first chapter. What a good way to grab the reader!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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