Cobra II

Cobra II

The Inside Story of the Invasion and Occupation of Iraq

Book - 2006
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Informed by unparalleled access to still--secret documents, interviews with top field commanders, and a review of the military's own internal after--action reports,Cobra IIis the definitive chronicle of America's invasion and occupation of Iraq--a conflict that could not be lost but one that the United States failed to win decisively. From the Pentagon to the White House to the American command centers in the field, the book reveals the inside story of how the war was actually planned and fought. Drawing on classified United States government intelligence, it also provides a unique account of how Saddam Hussein and his high command developed and prosecuted their war strategy. Written by Michael R. Gordon, the chief military correspondent forThe New York Times, who spent the war with the Allied land command, and Bernard E. Trainor, a retired Marine Corps lieutenant general and former director of the National Security Program at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government,Cobra IItraces the interactions among the generals, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, and President George W. Bush. It dramatically reconstructs the principal battles from interviews with those who fought them, providing reliable accounts of the clashes waged by conventional and Special Operations forces. It documents with precision the failures of American intelligence and the mistakes in administering postwar Iraq. Unimpeachably sourced,Cobra IIdescribes how the American rush to Baghdad provided the opportunity for the virulent insurgency that followed. The brutal aftermath in Iraq was not inevitable and was a surprise to the generals on both sides;Cobra IIprovides the first authoritative account as to why. It is a book of enduring importance and incisive analysis--a comprehensive account of the most reported yet least understood war in American history.
Publisher: New York : Pantheon Books, 2006.
Edition: 1st ed. --
ISBN: 9780375422621
0375422625
Characteristics: xxxii, 603 p. :,ill., maps.
Additional Contributors: Trainor, Bernard E. 1928-
Alternative Title: Cobra 2
Cobra two

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l
LisaintheLibrary
Sep 02, 2017

As poorly positioned to keep order as the Americans were, many Iraqis at first were thankful for the removal of Saddam's regime or simply too numbed by the rapid turn of events and display of American power to complain. But when order and essential services were not immediately restored, American prestige eroded quickly. There was a chink in the victor's armor. As local Iraqis were quick to note, the Americans could put a man on the moon but could not provide electricity.

l
LisaintheLibrary
Sep 02, 2017

The problem was not just one of numbers. The United States also lacked the right sort of troops for the postwar phase: it needed to have more civil affairs units, military police, and interpreters. The result was that Anbar Province became the seat of much of the resistance to the U.S. occupation and Fallujah became a metaphor for postcombat failure in Iraq.

l
LisaintheLibrary
Sep 02, 2017

"But after the fall of Baghdad in April 2003, the requirements were reversed: mass, not speed, was requisite for sealing the victory. Military technology was less decisive against an opponent that faded away into Iraqi cities only to fight another day. Nor were SOF efforts and CIA operations generally effective against an elusive adversary. To gain control of the Sunni Triangle and pursue the Fedayeen, Baath Party militia, and enemy formations before they had a chance to catch their breath, rearm, and regroup, the United States needed more boots on the ground. As a result of a deficit of forces, Anbar Province in western Iraq, the heartland of Sunnism and Baathist support, was treated as an 'economy of force' operation and only sparsely covered by American troops. There were not sufficient troops to seal the borders, guard the copious arms caches, and dominate the terrain, all of which allowed the province to become a sanctuary for insurgents.”

l
LisaintheLibrary
Sep 02, 2017

"Asked about the lessons of the still unfinished war, the defense secretary [Donald Rumsfeld] was quick to tout the virtues of military transformation. 'I think if I had to pull out one lesson that we've learned over the past four or five years, it would be that in the twenty-first century we're going to have to stop thinking about things, numbers of things, and mass, and think also and maybe even first about speed and agility and precision.'"

l
LisaintheLibrary
Sep 02, 2017

"The doctrine on peacekeeping operations is that the initial month or so is critical."

l
LisaintheLibrary
Sep 02, 2017

"'Blue Force Tracker drives the CINC.'"

l
LisaintheLibrary
Sep 02, 2017

"With so many suspected [WMD] sites there did not seem to be enough troops to go around."

l
LisaintheLibrary
Sep 02, 2017

"The Anbar province, which includes the towns of Ramadi, Falluja, and Haditha ... remained an 'economy of force' operation. Every time the Americans massed force to put out one fire they created a vacuum elsewhere that the insurgents rushed to fill."

l
LisaintheLibrary
Sep 02, 2017

"The briefing made the point that however many forces might be required to defeat the foe, maintaining security afterward was determined by an entirely different set of calculations, including the population of the occupied nation, its geographic size and terrain, and degree of urbanization. There was no single troop-to-population ratio that governed all cases. For example, if the United States wanted to maintain the same ratio of troops to population that it had in Kosovo, where there were 40,000 peacekeepers and two million citizens, it would have to station 480,000 troops in Iraq. If Bosnia was used as a benchmark, 364,000 troops would be needed .... But if the Bush administration used Afghanistan as a template, then only 13,900 would be required. The implicit question was whether Iraq would be more like the Balkans or Afghanistan."

l
LisaintheLibrary
Sep 02, 2017

"Unless Saddam's regime cracked at the start of the war, the Hybrid [plan], in effect, would be akin to sprinting around a track and stopping to catch your breath before resuming the race."

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l
LisaintheLibrary
Sep 02, 2017

Realizing that I really wasn’t reading as much as I could and having so many fond memories of participating in my local library’s summer reading program as a child, I decided to spend part of this summer reviewing a variety of reading lists and making selections according to my own personal tastes. Some lists were created here via the website for the Tacoma Public Library (TPL) and focus on those selections that can be borrowed through this library. (For my lists, visit: https://tacoma.bibliocommons.com/lists/show/604650727). Other lists were created over at Amazon. Incredibly enough, this book wasn’t on any of the reading lists I looked at this summer (or if it was, I must have passed by it initially).

It is, however, on Major General H.R. McMaster’s suggested reading list for military professionals (published in 2013). In case you don’t have a television or read the news, he is currently our nation’s National Security Advisor, a position previously held by Marine General Michael Flynn (under president Donald Trump); Susan Rice and Marine General James Jones (under President Barack Obama); and Condoleeza Rice (under President George W. Bush). If H.R. McMaster’s endorsement of the book isn’t enough for you, the book is also required reading for the U.S. Marine Corps staff college.

Since this was an audiobook and I am much more of a visual learner, my comments will be briefer than they might have been for a print version of the same.

The book probably sums everything up in one of its first lines which is that this — the Iraq War — or Operation Iraqi Freedom — as some prefer to refer to it, was a “war of choice, not necessity.” I’m not here to defend or attack that statement. Read (or listen to) this book and one or two others before drawing your own conclusions. Nor am I here to give a summary or all encompassing review of the book. The book has been out since 2006 and 128 others over at Amazon have already posted a review, some of which are rather detailed, comprehensive, and even, dare I say it, opinionated. There’s even a Wikipedia page for the book. Instead, I just have a few comments to make that I didn’t see in any of the reviews I read at Amazon (though I did not read all 128 of them). Those comments are as follows:

-The book’s discussion on the thinking and research that went into deciding troop levels was quite interesting

-The book is full of acronyms that even a servicemember who participated in some of the invasion and occupation of Iraq may not have heard of before

-It critically points out that more time was spent planning for the invasion than planning for what was to develop afterward

-Though not without criticism throughout the book, most of it is told in a fairly matter-of-fact way and will provide you with some interesting details you likely weren’t aware of before

-The epilogue is a stark departure from the rest of the book, but worth listening to even if it ends the book on a stern, dour, cautionary note

Unless you are attending the U.S. Marine staff college, or need this book for some other academic pursuit, I would recommend the audio version of this book. I recommend the audio version but not because of Craig Wasson’s delivery, although he does a decent job of it. (For a good review of it, visit this link here: https://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-7393-2516-2.) I recommend it because the print version of the book is 784 pages long and I sense that the audio version will be adequate for most people’s purposes. But the choice is yours and both versions of Cobra II can be borrowed through the TPL.

s
StarGladiator
Aug 15, 2013

Publishers Weekly said: "... fog of war and war planning..." Huh? All one need mention: Blackwater USA, USIS, Dyncorp, Halliburton, KBR, et al. What fog? Seems like a raging hail storm of corruption, graft and thievery in any manner possible, as the final SIGIR report would verify.

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l
LisaintheLibrary
Sep 02, 2017

LisaintheLibrary thinks this title is suitable for 18 years and over

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l
LisaintheLibrary
Sep 02, 2017

Over at Amazon, you'll find 128 reviews of this book, of which, some are summaries, so I'm not going to recreate the wheel.

Plus, the publisher description you can link to from the details tab (or via this link here: https://goo.gl/oVwd9t) does a very good (and brief) job of it. It's straight from the Library of Congress, so the quality is good and the tone is objective.

If you're looking for something that goes into a bit more detail, one of the most objective positive reviews I read over at Amazon was this one here:

"Must Read," by Steven Peterson, a top reviewer for Amazon:

https://goo.gl/RmsNFS

And one of the best critical reviews of this book (and one I agreed with on many points) is here:

"A Mixed Bag -- Flawed, but with Good Information," by TigerTC

https://goo.gl/KPLj7H

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