Iraq 2003 (Part 1) : the road to war

Scholtz, Leopold (2004)

CITATION: Scoltz, L. 2004. Iraq 2003 (Part 1) : the road to war. Scientia Militaria, South African Journal of Military Studies, 32(1):1-31, doi:10.5787/32-1-124.

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Most wars in the post-Second World War era, Vietnam included, have been pretty controversial. This has especially been regarding the motivation for the wars. But also the conduct of the conflicts – the strategy, operations and tactics – have been thoroughly debated and second-guessed. Although it was fought only recently, the Iraq War has been no exception. In most countries, public opinion was set squarely against the war. And although there was widespread support for the war in America and Britain, a vocal minority made itself loudly heard. As far as the conduct of the war was concerned, every arm-chair general (including several retired military officers) pronounced away on whether the operational plan was adequate, if enough troops were involved, whether it was based on the right premises, etc. Now that the fog of war has cleared somewhat, it may be possible to offer a first military analysis of the war. The purpose of this analysis will, therefore, be to look at the coalition security strategy which preceded the war, to compare the opposing armed forces and the operational plans, as well as the operations themselves. It will also be relevant to ask whether the war would have been as successful against a better armed, trained and led enemy. Finally, the purpose is to identify and analyse the main strategic and operational decisions on both sides, and to provisionally assess the military lessons emanating from the war, including those which may be of particular relevance to the South African National Defence Force.

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