Cover image for The Iraq war : a military history
The Iraq war : a military history
Murray, Williamson.
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Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, [2003]

Physical Description:
312 pages, 48 unnumbered pages of plates : color illustrations, color maps ; 22 cm
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DS79.76 .M87 2003 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

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Two of America's most distinguished military historians go beyond the blaring headlines, embedded videophone reports and Centcom briefings to analyze events in light of past military experience, present battleground realities and future expectations. 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 US 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. volume of the Gulf War Air Power Survey, commissioned after the 1991 conflict in Kuwait. Major General Robert H. Scales, Jr., US Army retired, brings perspective as head of the Army's team of Gulf War historians. He also served as Commandant of the Army War College.

Reviews 2

Publisher's Weekly Review

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.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice Review

Military historians Murray (Institute for Defense Analysis) and Scales (former commandant of the Army War College) have written an enormously detailed description and analysis of the US-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. Profiting from lessons learned in earlier wars, notably Vietnam and the 1991 Gulf War, coalition forces used superior weaponry and technology combined with effective interservice cooperation to overcome a hostile environment, overwhelming the Iraqi army in six weeks. Although Saddam himself escaped capture, his forces either surrendered or simply melted away. To nonspecialists, the book's real value lies in its analysis of Saddam's policies, internal and foreign, that brought on the invasion, and its consideration of war as a political instrument. The authors draw on sources from Clausewitz to Thucydides to explain war's limitations. The book was completed in August 2003, well after the war's "ending." But as they observe, it is only entering a new phase, with no end in sight. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Specialists. W. Spencer Flagler College

Table of Contents

Prologue: The Gulf War, 1991
1 The Origins of War
2 The Opposing Sides
3 The Ground Campaign in Southern Iraq
4 The British War in the South
5 The Air War
6 The End of the Campaign
7 Military and Political Implications
Weapons of War
Acknowledgments and Sources