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The Eagle in the Desert: Looking Back on U.S. Involvement in the Persian Gulf War.

Reviewed by Vassilios Damiras

In The Eagle in the Desert: Looking Back on U.S. Involvement in the Persian Gulf War, editors William Head and Earl H. Tilford, Jr. have compiled an anthology which addresses and examines the role of the United States in the Persian Gulf War. The book is organized into six parts: Part I: Politics, Alliances, and Regional Views; Part II: Bringing the Eagle to the Gulf Desert: Airlift, Supplies, and Logistics; Part III: The Air War: Planning and Combat; Part IV: The Ground War: The Army and the Marines; Part V: The Navy's Role in the Gulf War, and Part VI: Reexamining the Allied "Victory" in the Gulf War. Obviously, the editors have selected a majority of essays dealing with the American military campaign against Iraq during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm from August 1990 to March 1991. According to Head, the purpose of this collection of essays is to explore the implications of the "history and scope of this conflict" (p. 9). Thus, the book progresses from background information, to military operations, and finally, to historical perspective.

The two essays which comprise Part I deal with the perspectives of the conflict. In "The Gulf War Coalition: The Politics and Economics of a Most Unusual Alliance," Daniel S. Papp examines President Bush's role in developing the coalition against Iraq. He also indicates how the Bush administration manipulated the international arena to create anti-Iraqi sentiment and to gain U.N. support for the American military campaign. In contrast, in "But Was It Jihad?: Islam and the Ethics of the Persian Gulf War," Sohail H. Hashmi analyzes how the sociopolitical, cultural, and religious aspects of the region influenced the reaction of the Arab leadership to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.

Parts II through V, consisting of nine essays, deal with the logistics and the execution of the American military machine. Part II which includes John W. Leland's "Air Mobility in Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm: An Assessment," and William Suit's "Sustaining the War Machine: U.S. Air Force Logistics Support during the Gulf War" deals with the effectiveness of the American-Western Coalition movement of troops, equipment, and supplies. Parts III through Part V deal with the effectiveness of the various aspects of the American-Western Coalition military machine including air, ground, and navy strategy and tactics. Of particular interest is Mark D. Mandeles' "Command and Control in the Gulf War: A Military Revolution in Airpower?" Mandeles argues against the occurrence of a military or technological revolution during the Gulf War. Furthermore, he argues that the Gulf War gives an indication that significant organizational changes are necessary before the U.S. Air Force will be capable of exploiting new technologies and evolving operational concepts. Overall, these essays provide very detailed technological and military information. Thus, they give a comprehensive analysis of the role of the military in the execution of Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

The two essays in Part VI attempt to give an historical perspective of the Persian Gulf War. Michael T. Corgan's "Clausewitz's On War and the Gulf War," analyzes the Gulf War in Clausewitzian terms. Caroline F. Ziernke's "A New Covenant?" argues that the effectiveness of airpower needs to be reevaluated in terms of its effectiveness in the Gulf War and in its potential to future conflicts. She posits that subsequent events have diminished the supposed supremacy of airpower and that, consequently, its role and capabilities need to be reexamined. Both authors attempt to examine the Gulf War and place it in historical perspective through these particular theoretical viewpoints.

Owing to the advanced technological nature of some of the essays, this book will be of use generally to graduate students and Middle East military experts. It is well-organized, well-articulated, and well-researched. The majority of the authors are active in military and government posts and the authors support their arguments with fulsome use of maps and statistics. Although a brief chronology of the American involvement in the Persian Gulf War events would be a welcome addition to the book, this book is recommended to those primarily interested in the military aspects of the Gulf War.

Vassilios Damiras is a Ph.D. Candidate at the University of Loyola, Chicago, and an instructor in the Political Science Department, Elgin Community College, Illinois.
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Author:Damiras, Vassilios
Publication:Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ)
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Mar 22, 1997
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