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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: June 2012

1 - Military Revolutions and the Iraq Wars

Summary

1991, A New Kind of War?

The conduct and outcome of the first Iraq War in 1991 came as something of a revelation to the majority of Americans who had little reason to follow the previous decade's advances in military technologies and innovations in war-fighting doctrine. It was, in the words of Colin Gray, “a flash in the sky of strategic consciousness.” The war's conduct was unusual in that weeks of relentless bombing preceded engagement with Iraqi ground forces, leaving many wondering when the real war would begin. In the absence of actual ground combat by the coalition, pressure mounted to let the American people know exactly how Kuwait was going to be liberated. Generals Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf agreed on the need to provide more information about the war's progress and the plan for victory. At a news conference a week into the war, they explained the coalition's actions and strategy. Powell described the plan to defeat the Iraqi army in vivid terms: “Our strategy to go after the enemy is very, very simple. First we're going to cut it off and then we are going to kill it.” Powell and Schwarzkopf arrived at the press conference armed with visual aids. After showing footage of a lone car crossing a bridge through crosshairs, Schwarzkopf declared the driver the “luckiest person in Iraq” as a guided bomb raced toward the bridge, hitting it dead-on just as the car appeared to reach safety on the other side.

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