Military Operations in the 2000s

Operation Iraqi Freedom


K - S

Keegan, John. The Iraq War. New York: Knopf, 2004.

Reese, DIJ 14.1 (2005), is impressed with the author's "picture of grand (coalition) strategy and the conflict's place in the global war on terrorism.... [H]e helps us appreciate the coalition aspects of the war." However, Keegan "is not impressed with the clumsy American transition to stability operations."

Kusnetz, Marc, with William M. Arkin, Montgomery Meigs, and Neal Shapiro. Operation Iraqi Freedom: 22 Historic Days in Words and Pictures. Kansas City, MO: Andrews McMeel, 2003.

Warner, Studies 48.1, comments that "[f]or a brief summary of the war's events and drama, this [NBC News] volume is hard to beat." However, there is a tendency to "overemphasize the triumphs and sacrifices of the embedded NBC reporters, cameramen, and producers."

Mockaitis, Thomas R. Iraq and the Challenge of Counterinsurgency. Westport, CT: Praeger Security International, 2008.

Keiser, Proceedings 134.10 (Oct. 2008), notes that the author believes that behind the mistakes made in Iraq "are longer term structural deficiencies." Mockaitis' "recommendations regarding the absolute need for our Services to greatly strengthen COIN training and organization make good sense."

Murray, Williamson, and Robert H. Scales, Jr. The Iraq War: A Military History. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2003.

Freedman, FA 83.1 (Jan.-Feb. 2004), says that "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." Reese, DIJ 14.1 (2005), calls this a "good old-fashioned campaign study." The authors "craft a smooth narrative portraying tactics, operations, and strategy in a manner friendly to both serious and casual students of warfare."

For Warner, Studies 48.1, the authors "offer a clear and readable text ... that covers all phases of the war effort. They tell us relatively little about decisions made in Washington and London, or even at Central Command Forward in Doha, Qatar, but they nevertheless present some thoughtful observations in a chapter entitled 'Military and Political Implications.'"

O'Hern, Steven K. The Intelligence Wars: Lessons from Baghdad. Amherst, NY: Prometheus, 2009.

Hanley, Proceedings 135.6 (Jun. 2009), finds that this work's "governing idea ... is that our obsessive faith in gadgets and, collaterally, our view of intelligence as principally a technical activity justify a reckless under-appreciation of human intelligence." The book has some flaws, "among them a willingness to assume that current strategic priorities will remain so.... Nevertheless, O'Hern is on target in regard to the specific reforms that will make our intelligence agencies perform their invaluable services with greater skill."

The author's contention that HUMINT is underutilized and underresourced resonates with Bebber, NIPQ 26.2 (Jun. 2010). However, "there are several factors ... that make HUMINT less reliable than [O'Hern] would have us believe." Beyond that, he "has done a great service by providing the perspective of an intelligence officer recently returned from the field." Peake, Studies 54.4 (Dec. 2010), and Intelligencer 18.2 (Winter-Spring 2011), notes that O'Hern makes "a very strong case for an improved HUMINT counterinsurgency program."

Price, A&SPJ 26.3 (Fall 2011), notes the author's background in the Air Force's Office of Special Investigations and his 6 months in 2005 leading the Strategic Counterintelligence Directorate (SCID) of Multi-National Force-Iraq. "When the book discusses HUMINT tradecraft and demonstrates such techniques via personal experiences or anecdotes, it is an engaging, often educational, read." Unfortunately, O'Hern "wastes too many pages either regurgitating 'generational warfare' myths or railing against issues often better addressed in professional journals."

Prince, Erik. Civilian Warriors: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror. New York: Portfolio/Penguin, 2013.

Carter, Washington Post, 27 Dec. 2013, notes that at times "contractor personnel outnumbered troops" in Iraq and Afghanistan. The former Blackwater CEO "presents a well-written, credible defense of Blackwater and [his] role in building it." But he "does not answer the important questions surrounding contractors and their performance in Iraq and Afghanistan." Nonetheless, "we need Prince's story to understand the history of the post-9/11 wars and the myriad roles contractors played" in them. For Peake, Studies 58.2 (Jun. 2014), and Intelligencer 20.3 (Spring-Summer), this "is an interesting book, with many lessons to be learned."

Record, Jeffrey. Dark Victory: America's Second War against Iraq. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2005.

Cordesman, NWCR 59.1 (Winter 2006), finds that this critique of the Iraq war "provides many important insights into the reasons for the war and for its successes and failures." However, this book "is a policy argument, not a dispassionate analysis, and needs to be read as such. There are also times when his focus on the argument gets in the way of his analysis." Nevertheless, "this is a remarkably insightful book, one that raises precisely the issues that need to be resolved when assessing the Iraq war and shaping an American strategic posture for the future."

Ricks, Thomas E. Fiasco: The American Military Adventure in Iraq. New York: Penguin, 2006.

Freedman, FA 85.5 (Sep.-Oct. 2006), calls this a "thorough look at the inability of the U.S. forces to adjust quickly and sensitively after the invasion to the reality of an insurgency." However, "[t]he book suffers from its narrow focus," and "there is little on the enemy and the nature of the insurgency." In addition, "[t]he British experiences in southern Iraq are not chronicled at all."

For Little, Proceedings 132.9 (Sep. 2006), this book includes "a brutal assault on the White House and Pentagon." However, it "is much more than simply a blunt condemnation of the war's military and civilian leaders, and its depth of reporting and detailed reconstruction of recent history should make it hard to ignore.... [T]he book offers a sober and enlightened account that deserves to be taken seriously."

Peake, Studies 51.1 (Mar. 2007), sees Fiasco as "a critical, although not antagonistic, depiction of the war in Iraq.... Ricks covers the Washington side of events to some extent, but his main emphasis is on the situation in Iraq, how it came about, and the ignored lessons of history.... No element of the national secuity community escapes blame" for the fiasco that is Iraq.

Ricks, Thomas E. The Gamble: General David Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq, 2006–2008. New York: Penguin, 2009.

Logel, NCWR 62.3 (Summer 2009), notes that the author "begins his latest chronicle of the American strategic experience in Iraq where he left off in Fiasco (2006).... Ricks's new book appears to be more even in its treatment of the leaders and the new strategy than was Fiasco, with its prosecutorial tone. In spite of his upbeat assessment of the American leaders, however, Ricks ends this volume with measured, if not pessimistic, projections for the future of Iraq."

Robinson, Linda. Tell Me How This Ends: General David Petraeus and the Search for a Way Out of Iraq. New York: PublicAffairs, 2008.

Freedman, FA 88.1 (Jan.-Feb. 2009), comments that while the author's "attention is set on the high-achieving general and his steely focus on the task at hand," she also "does a good job of setting the scene and explaining the many factors that let the first glimmers of light into what had been unremitting gloom."

Russell, James A. Innovation, Transformation, and War: Counterinsurgency Operations in Anbar and Ninewah Provinces, Iraq, 2005-2007. Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2010.

From publisher: "Between 2005 and 2007,... some U.S. units [began] integrating counterinsurgency tactics and full-spectrum operations to great effect." The author "outlines how this change was spearheaded by the innovative actions of brigade and company commanders in Anbar and Ninewah."

Scahill, Jeremy. Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army. New York: Nation Books, 2007.

Bracknell, NWCR 61.4 (Autumn 2008), finds that the author brings "fervor and intensity" to his subject. However, he allows his book to "degenerate[] into an attack on the Bush administration's Iraq war policy," and to "regress[] into an assault on the Bush administration generally, political conservatism, and the Christian right." Given Scahill's "meticulous research," this is a shame. "Coupled with untidy organization and the author's tendency to repeat himself, this renders his work less constructive and credible than it otherwise might have been."

Seliktar, Ofira. The Politics of Intelligence and American Wars with Iraq. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008.

Skelly, IJI&C 23.3 (Fall 2010), quotes the author's description of her work as "the first attempt to present a longitudinal, integrated chronological-thematic analysis of the highly complex process that shaped American views of the Iraqi regime, the various attempts to modify its behavior and ultimately to depose the regime."

Shultz, Richard H., Jr. The Marines Take Anbar: The Four-Year Fight against al Qaeda. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2013.

Moir, Proceedings 139.8 (Aug. 2013), finds that the author "enables his readers to better recognize a more holistic perspective of a transformative endeavor."

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