Military Operations in the 2000s

Operation Iraqi Freedom


A - J

Briscoe, Charles H., et al. All Roads Lead to Baghdad: Army Special Operations Forces in Iraq. Fort Bragg, NC: USASOC History Office, 2006.

Dugat, Air & Space Power Journal 21.4 (Winter 2007), calls this "an eye-opening account" of Operation Iraqi Freedom. This is "a superb picture of th[e] war and its aftermath.... Written chronologically, the study covers details down to the hour when the planning stage began.... Some portions seem repetitive, however, and several times the authors' clear recounting of operations makes the summaries unnecessary."

Cordesman, Anthony H. The Iraq War: Strategy, Tactics, and Military Lessons. Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2003. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2003.

Freedman, FA 83.1 (Jan.-Feb. 2004), comments that the author's "extraordinary industry and productivity, along with his clear and independent analytical judgment, command attention.... He addresses not only the course of the war, but also a range of related issues.... By taking the story up to July 2003, Cordesman also addresses the problems of transition to a type of operation in which U.S. military advantages have little effect."

For Warner, Studies 48.1, Cordesman's "book is more of an encyclopedia than a unified study.... [T]his volume was produced too swiftly for [the author] to deploy his full analytical skills." Nevertheless, he "does good service in gathering so much information between two covers." Cordesman's is the only book among those first published on the war "to reflect on the intelligence aspects of the conflict."

Reese, DIJ 14.1 (2005), opines that the author "has perfected the art of collecting, integrating, commenting upon official reports, interviews, and other open-source resources, and making all this information available in an accessible format." He notes, however, that some readers "will probably find the chapter on 'Lessons Related to Intelligence and Weapons of Mass Destruction' slightly dated."

Drogin, Bob. CURVEBALL: Spies, Lies and the Man Behind Them -- How America Went to War in Iraq. New York: Random House, 2007.

A particularly knowledgeable reviewer, Zebatto, Intelligencer 16.1 (Spring 2008), calls this a "readable and generally accurate depiction of the problematic reporting" from the source known as Curveball. However, the author "overstates [the source's] importance in terms of the U.S. decision to invade Iraq." In addition, Drogin does not appear to have had access to either the lead analyst on Curveball or to analysts in other agencies and the NIOs familiar with Curveball's information.

Drumheller, Tyler, with Elaine Monaghan. On the Brink: An Insider's Account of How the White House Compromised American Intelligence. New York: Carroll & Graf, 2006.

According to Bamford, Washington Post, 12 Dec. 2006, the author "describes his frustrating -- and ultimately unsuccessful -- efforts to warn senior CIA and White House officials that they were on the road to disaster" in Iraq. "[T]his is the first time the CIA official at the center of the ["Curveball"] controversy has told his story." Despite the CIA's censors, the book "shows how easy it was for a small cadre of senior intelligence officials, intent on war, to send the country into a bloody quagmire."

Peake, Studies 51.1 (Mar. 2007), comments that this work "is a firsthand account by a respected former CIA officer and thus should be taken seriously. The story he tells is sourced in the text." For West, IJI&C 20.3 (Fall 2007), the author's "account is a thoughtful, considered stilleto blade delivered into the heart" of the CIA's Directorate of Operations. Drumheller's "narrative is important, both in terms of intelligence history ... and in terms of the role played by professionals in seeking to offer politicians unbiased and accurate advice."

In his autobiography, George Tenet [At the Center of the Storm: My Years at the CIA (2007), pp. 376-383] takes pointed exception to Drumheller's assertions regarding his concerns about Curveball. Tenet stops short of accusing Drumheller of lying, but certainly makes it clear that multiple opportunities to raise concerns about Curveball, to the extent they existed at the time, were not acted upon.

Feith, Douglas J. War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism. New York: HarperCollins, 2008.

In a prepublication report, Ricks and DeYoung, Washington Post, 9 Mar. 2008, call this book "a massive score-settling work" in which the author "blasts former secretary of state Colin Powell, the CIA, retired Gen. Tommy R. Franks and former Iraq occupation chief L. Paul Bremer for mishandling the run-up to the invasion and the subsequent occupation of the country."

Reporting on a book-launch event on 24 April 2008 at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Milbank, Washington Post, 25 Apr. 2008, notes that Feith's book is "designed to settle the score with his many opponents in the administration." With regard to the "campaign waged by Feith and his section of the Pentagon against the CIA when the agency argued that there was no evidence of al-Qaeda having ties to Saddam Hussein," Feith argued that "'[t]he CIA and the intelligence community should not be shading intelligence.' ... But the self-justification missed the obvious point: The CIA was correct."

Gordon, Michael R., and Bernard E. Trainor [LTGEN/USMC (Ret.)]. Cobra II: The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq. New York: Pantheon, 2006.

Peake, Studies 50.4 (2006) and Intelligencer 15.2 (Fall-Winter 2006-2007), notes that the majority of this book focuses on the "successful thrust that took Baghdad in 2003." However, "significant portions are devoted to the invasion planning and follow-up, which the authors find deeply flawed. They name names, describe incredible bureaucratic infighting, identify errors in strategic guidance, and conclude that civilian decision making has no place in deciding the details involved in executing tactical military operations."

To Prados, I&NS 21.6 (Dec. 2006), this is "not really a book about intelligence." The treatment of prewar weapons of mass destruction is "brief," and the authors "provide no significant coverage of the deception and psychological operations carried out before the war." In addition, the authors do not appear to know much about how the CIA is organized. Hutchinson, IJI&C 20.1 (Spring 2007), says that this "is an excellent book" in which the authors lay "a sound basis for analysis and conclusions that are forthrightly stated.... The authors' interviews with former CENTCOM planners document the many frustrations and anxieties accompanying" the two years of planning that preceded the Iraq invasion.

Brooks, NIPQ 30.3 (Jul.-Sep. 2006), calls this work "a remarkable piece of research." It provides "an excellent appreciation of what went on prior to and during the assault on Iraq.... It also makes abundantly clear that there was an almost total lack of planning for the occupation phase." For Freedman, FA 85.5 (Sep.-Oct. 2006), "[t]he research is meticulous and properly sourced, the narrative authoritative, the human aspects of conflict never forgotten.... The one disappointment here is that the post-2003 story is only sketched."

"If you read one book on the war in Iraq, let it be Cobra II" is the advice offered by Laslie, Air & Space Power Journal 21.1 (Spring 2007). The reviewer finds that the book "pulls no punches. If someone made a mistake in the planning or execution of the Iraq campaign, this book reveals it. No one is spared the authors' scrutiny, whether former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld or lieutenant colonels at the tactical level of execution. That said, Gordon and Trainor do an excellent balancing act as they trace the origins of the war through buildup and execution. One finds enough strategic-/operational-/tactical-level discussion to gain an overall view of the war from multiple levels and satisfy the desires of amateur tacticians and strategic thinkers alike."

Haass, Richard N. War of Necessity, War of Choice: A Memoir of Two Iraq Wars. New York: Simon and Schuster, 2009.

Hammes, Prism 1.3 (Jun. 2010), notes that Haass sees Operation Desert Storm as a war of necessity and Operation Iraqi Freedom as a war of choice. However, he "is not totally convincing in calling the 2003 invasion ... a war of choice." In fact, both Presidents Bush "used some of the same reasons ... to justify action against Iraq." This book is "both useful and relevant. [Haass] focuses on the idea that a nation should know whether it is embarking on a war of necessity or of choice. However, he also highlights how ... difficult it is to determine to which category a conflict belongs."

Hooker, Gregory. Shaping the Plan for Operation Iraqi Freedom: The Role of Military Intelligence Assessments. Washington, DC: Washington Institute for Near East Policy, 2005.

From advertisement: "U.S. Central Command's senior intelligence analyst for Iraq offers a thoroughly detailed examination of pre-Iraq war planning. Covers the military's initial attempts to refocus on regime change and Washington's ineffective preparation for the postwar environment."

Isikoff, Michael, and David Corn. Hubris: The Inside Story of Spin, Scandal, and the Selling of the Iraq War. New York: Crown, 2006.

Kettle, Washington Post, 15 Oct. 2006, calls this an "exhaustive reconstruction of the formulation and selling of the Iraq War." The book "pulls together with unusually shocking clarity the multiple failures of process and statecraft that led so many people to persuade themselves that the evidence pointed to an active Iraqi program to develop weapons of mass destruction."

According to Peake, Studies 51.1 (Mar. 2007), this book "largely ignores the fighting and focuses on domestic controversies..., many of which involve the Intelligence Community and the CIA.... The narrative is based largely on interviews and newspaper articles, and, while the topics lend themselves to the temptations of sensationalism, the account tends to avoid this approach and is relatively balanced."

Hutchinson, IJI&C 21.1 (Spring 2008), says that "this is a good summary of an unfolding tragedy.... The authors portray the Intelligence Community, especially the CIA, as hopelessly confused and 'at war with itself.'" They "demonstrate clearly ... the results of the failure to adequately coordinate accurate intelligence and well-thought out foreign and military policies." To Weissman, I&NS 23.5 (Oct. 2008), Hubris provides "a succinct and compelling narrative," one of the strengths of which is the "dissection of the media's failure to test the administration's case."

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