Price and stock to confirme
Ed. Random House, 2009. Size 23 x 15,5 cm. With 33 photographs in color. State: Used, very good. 444 pages

By Bing West

Iraq was my second insurgency. As a grunt in Vietnam, I patrolled with a Marine squad and Vietnamese farmers in a Combined Action Platoon, or CAP, in a remote village. Later, as a counterinsurgency analyst at’the RAND Corporation, I visited Malaysia and Northern Ireland to look at British techniques and wrote a book, The Village, about fighting in combined units in Vietnam.

In Iraq, over a span of six years I accompanied, or embedded with, over sixty American and Iraqi battalions. In the course of hundreds of patrols and operations, I interviewed more than 2,000 soldiers, as well as generals and senior officials. In this book I also cite campaign plans, because they illustrate how senior staffs assessed the war, and how difficult it was for senior officials in Iraq, let alone the White House, to understand what was going on.

In conventional war, the locations of the battlefields change as the armies move on. In counterinsurgency war, the goal is to control a population that does not move. The adversaries fight on fixed battlefields— the same cities and villages. What changes is time rather than location. To describe the war, I bring the reader back again and again to the same cities in Anbar Province—the stronghold of the insurgency—and the same neighborhoods in Baghdad, the heart of Iraq. These two locales accounted for most of the fighting and most of our casualties.

This narrative describes how the war was fought by our soldiers, managed by our generals, and debated at home. The tone is not gentle toward those at the top, military and civilian, supporters and detractors of the war alike. After Vietnam, I never envisioned that I would again know so many who died so young. What angered me after six years of reporting from the lines was how so many at the top talked mainly to one another and did not take the time to study the war. The same was true of the war’s critics. The turnaround in the war went largely unacknowledged.

The generals, ambassadors, and senators will write their own books. The intent of this book is to deepen the reader’s understanding : f the performance of our soldiers and the war’s complexity. It lays out the mistakes and the learning, drawing conclusions and lessons. Our society imposed restraints and expectations that can lead to failure on a future battlefield. At the same time, no reasonable observer could watch hcAv our military adapted without being impressed by the resilience and learning up and down the chain of command. It was a remarkable turnaround.

The confused fighting in Iraq has been distant from our lives at home. Only the families of our soldiers sacrificed. The rest of us stood on the sidelines, applauding the soldiers—whom few of us knew—while criticizing their leadership and their mission. Our domestic politics became ever more divisive and impervious to progress on the battlefield.

Our soldiers deserved better. No nation ever fought a more restrained and honorable war. Having changed its strategy, our military has merited a fresh hearing. Al Qaeda in Iraq has been shattered. The Sunni tribes have aligned with the Americans. Iraqi forces have taken the lead against rogue militias. In 2008, the battlefield is under control and violence has subsided.

Iraq remains a long-term project about which reasonable people disagree. Whether critics of the war can acknowledge the gains as well as the defeats is problematical. Political attitudes have hardened into articles of faith. In an election year, Iraq will be an incendiary topic, with politicians making assertions that aren’t true. I hope this book will inform the reader. Understanding the war is the best antidote to demagoguery.

Shortly before he was killed, Doug Zembiec wrote to his family, “I honestly believe we can win this one now.”

Our soldiers fought to give us a reasonable choice. We can persist in Iraq at reduced cost or we can leave altogether. Regardless of what we decide, we owe it to the Doug Zembiecs to give a fair hearing to what they accomplished.

Map of Iraq
Map of Baghdad
1- How to Create a Mess
Summer 2003
2- Descent into Chaos
September-December 2003
3- A Near Collapse
January-June 2004
4- War
July-December 2004
5- Inadequate Means
6- Widescale Fighting
7- Contradictory Goals
8- The Second War Begins .
9- The Islamic Caliphate
10- Haditha: Explosion on the Home Front
11- A Flawed Assessment
12- Al Qaeda: Murder and Intimidation
Fall 2006
13- The Turnaround Begins
Fall 2006
14- The Civil War
Fall 2006
15- Bush Weighs His Options
Fall 2006
16- The War Turns
November 2006
17- Washington Turns
December 2006
18- The Sunnis Change Sides
Winter 2007
19- Momentum
Spring 2007
20- Overview
Summer 2007
21- Victory in Anbar
Fall 2007
22- Baghdad: The Surge Takes Hold
Fall 2007
23- Washington Assesses the Surge
Fall 2007
24- progress and Uncertainty
The Strongest Tribe
Afterword: «How the War in Iraq Will End»
Appendix A: Insurgency and Unity of Command in Vietnam
Appendix B: Memo to Gen. George W. Casey, USA
Appendix C: Bing West’s Counterinsurgency Lessons