The war started with a brilliant series of pre-emptive bangs that shattered Iraqi leadership and seized the most valuable areas of Iraq. How did the US military machine, assumed to have insufficient air power, too few troops, and little momentum take a country the size of California within three weeks?
In the 1991 victory in the Gulf War, the United States lead a much larger coalition force into a heavy air campaign followed by a lightening quick ground campaign. In the years that followed, the United States military experienced a continuing series of reductions in the national defense budget.
What was left unrecorded was the incredible degree of competence with which the US military leadership managed the reduction in resources, balancing force structures against personnel requirements against procurement needs and logistic realities.
Any one considering the great military victory achieved in Iraq must ask the following questions: Who was bright enough to plan to have the weapons systems in the right place at the right time? Who orchestrated this vast complex array of sophisticated military machinery-ships, submarines, missiles, armor, and soldiers-all needing fuel, ammunition and water?
The answer is the much-maligned civil and military leaders of the American defense establishment, working in concert with the most advanced defense-based corporations in the world. While there were those anxious to parade the iniquities of a two-billion dollar bomber, most often failed to appreciated the genius required to conceive of, much less create a system which can use a satellite to send signals to a B-1B to program a precision guided missile to take out a Soviet T-72 tank parked in a mosque-without damaging the mosque!
Admittedly, there were lapses in the Iraqi war, such as the looting of museums by members of the Ba'ath party just a day after many had declared Baghdad liberated and the raids on hospitals, another problem that could have easily been remedied by a show of U.S. presence and force. And there were technological complications as well, including the aching misfortune of death by friendly fire. The author deals with these shortcomings in a straightforward manner.
Operation Iraqi Freedom: What Went Right and Why; What Went Wrong and Why gives intimate insight into the way in which the armed services, particularly the United States Air Force, managed to overcome genuine budgetary, political, and military difficulties to create the finest military force in the world, one that operated with the most extreme care to avoid collateral damage and to prevent loss of life.
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A stunning work of investigative journalism, Cobra II describes in riveting detail how the American rush to Baghdad provided the opportunity for the virulent insurgency that followed. As Gordon and Trainor show, the brutal aftermath was not inevitable and was a surprise to the generals on both sides. Based on access to unseen documents and exclusive interviews with the men and women at the heart of the war, Cobra II provides firsthand accounts of the fighting on the ground and the high-level planning behind the scenes. Now with a new afterword that addresses what transpired after the fateful events of the summer of 2003, this is a peerless re-creation and analysis of the central event of our times.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Airpower in Action presents a spectrum of aerospace achievements, limitations, and potential that demonstrates how warfare has changed over the last few decades and why airpower has become a dominant factor in war. The case studies emphasize the importance of connecting policy and airpower: strategic effectiveness cannot substitute for poor statecraft. As the United States, its allies, and Israel have seen in their most recent applications of airpower, even the most robust and capable air weapon can never be more effective than the strategy and policy it is intended to support. By analyzing the operational history of the world’s most battle-tested air forces, the case studies can help military professionals understand the political context in which air operations must be assessed—beyond technological and statistical data—and develop an appreciation of the strategic value of airpower, rather than follow the tactical land-centric line of reasoning that still dominates military thinking.
As a whole, this study is intended to encourage military professionals to combine the insights gained from these historical events with their specific fields of expertise, and ultimately to incorporate their enhanced airpower competence into their discussions with political decision makers, nongovernmental organizations, and fellow officers of all services. The focus on lessons and prospects allows officers to reflect on their calling and to articulate military principles more effectively in the councils of defense planning. Thus, while the historical chapters are relevant in their own right, the potential lessons must become integral to both the theoretical and applied dimensions of the airpower profession. The real value of airpower does not depend on promises of tactical and technological excellence, but on airpower’s relevance to statecraft proper and its ability to secure strategic and political objectives at a cost acceptable to governments and the public. The future of airpower lies in the ability of its practitioners to connect it to national policy and to view airpower in its political-strategic rather than tactical-technological domains.
In sum, the U.S. and Israeli experiences show how and why airpower has become the political leaders’ “instrument of choice” for demonstrating national resolve. Airpower has become a symbol of American and Israeli strength, the supreme political muscle and ultimate trump card. This book should therefore be of interest to any nation that aspires to develop and operate airpower, or seeks to defend itself against it.