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Showing 1-10 of 45 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 128 reviews
on December 25, 2012
Like the authors' "Endgame" sequel, "Cobra II" represents tons of information and is well worth the read. However, it is presented in what I would call the "raw intel" form, just loads and loads of anecdotal information with very little effort at putting it in context or analysis. Also, while they make an effort at objectivity, a certain liberal bias is evident. Notably, they find it necessary to say that a "Republican-dominated" Congress passed the "Iraq Liberation Act" of 1999 that Clinton signed but had no intention of implementing. They do not mention that the act was supported by a large number of Democratic Senators (like John Kerry and Joe Biden) who voted against both the original Gulf War under Bush I and the 2003 invasion of Iraq under Bush II. They also failed to mention that the act was signed on the eve of the House voting articles of impeachment for Clinton, that Clinton then tried to claim that as a "war-time president" he could not be impeached, and that, once the articles were passed anyway, he simply ordered a stop to military operations without explanation. Since the book is filled with gossipy little tidbits about Republicans, this one might have been worthwhile.
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VINE VOICEon June 13, 2006
Psychologists would have a field day analyzing the motives and actions of the people who planned and executed the 2003 Iraqi invasion. Standing above them all was Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, a classic case of Narcissism, hubris or perhaps an over inflated ego. To Rumsfeld, even more important than the Iraqi invasion was the demonstration of strength and the transformation of the military into a leaner, faster, more mobile force ready to deploy at unprecedented speed and God help anyone who disagreed with him. It would be his legacy to have been the architect of an historical event, the evolution of war. Rumsfeld had no interest in historical precedent or war games in fact ignorance was seen as a virtue. His Defense Department would oversee the invasion AND reconstruction of Iraq cutting out the State Department. Between the Defense Department and the Pentagon there existed an echo chamber of ideas reverberating between Rumsfeld and the `civilians in the Pentagon' including Douglas Feith, Paul Wolfowitz and Richard Perle, each one vying to give the rosiest projection of the war's aftermath. Meanwhile the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Richard Myers was, according to John McCain, "incapable of expressing an independent view". The author quotes Iraqi Deputy PM Tariq Aziz on challenging Saddam's wisdom in Iraq saying, "It was not allowed to raise your hand above anyone around you; it was dangerous" Ironically this same thinking was going on in the U.S. where Rumsfeld and the White House were busy purging dissenters and loading up on like minded individuals.

Ultimately the problem was that Rumsfeld's plan was contingent on everything turning out precisely as the Pentagon planners anticipated and the flexibility of the military was hamstrung by the low troop level. The plan included the absurd assumption that the low number of American forces would be augmented by Iraqi defectors. Rumsfeld's transformation plan was also at odds with the White House's rational for war which was disarming Iraq and locating WMD. These tasks, along with maintaining security demanded a much larger force. Perhaps the most telling chapter in the book was `Everyone Loves a Parade' where commanding officers where telling troops that they may well expect to find Iraqi citizens waving American flags as they marched north. Instead they found fierce fighters who were willing to lay down their lives to repel the invading troops.

Cobra II is an extremely complete and well written account of the lead-up and aftermath of the U.S. Iraqi invasion. It's a pretty huge book at over 500 pages and the subject matter could easily be insufferably boring but I found the book engaging throughout. In the end Rumsfeld's `transformed' military defeated Saddam's hapless, ill equipped army brilliantly but the failure in the aftermath was inevitable. In the words of President Bush it was a `Catastrophic Success' yet the chief architect of this disaster still has his position along with a Medal of Freedom that he received for his efforts. After the fall of Baghdad, Paul Bremer was brought in to lead reconstruction project despite a complete lack of experience in the Middle East. His ignorance was seen as an asset with predictable results. At one point Bremer ordered looters to be shot on sight, an order which the military commanders refused to enforce. The book hammers Rumsfeld pretty good but there's a lot of blame to go around and Cobra II gives an excellent picture of who did what and why. In the end the civilian leadership at the Pentagon seemed less like rationalists and more like children playing with toys. The author tells how these Pentagon planners told Gen Tommy Franks that they wanted him to drop a few new 21,700 pound "Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb". Problem was the military didn't have any appropriate targets. The bombs were never used but there is a serious creepiness in the desire to test out the world's largest conventional bomb on people.
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on September 16, 2014
I want to give the book a review without adding a bunch of feelings concerning the subject matter. It's incredibility relevant given the rise of ISIS. It also caused me to get angry while on a beach. I had to stop reading while on vacation because it sparks so much anger.

I would have like to have known more of the names of the American casualties and not simply read the numbers at times. Otherwise it was very enlightening to learn about battles I had never heard of prior. For example the Thunder Run chapter had a ton of info that I hadn't been aware about.

I will say that this book helped me save some time too. I have zero desire to read Tommy Frank's book now.
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This is a must read book on the military strategy and tactics in the invasion of Iraq. One can only be impressed with the swift victory and the valor of American troops. The use of information direct from the front gives this book a genuine sense of authenticity regarding the war. For details about the invasion of Iraq, this is a "must read."

Equally important, though, is the brief concluding analysis by the authors of what happened after the successful capture of Baghdad. And this, of course, is the rub. Poor postwar planning has clearly undermined the original military success. The authors note the following problematic factors affecting post-invasion events:

1. Misreading the enemy and the structure of political

power in Iraq;

2. Overreliance on technological advancement;

3. Failure to adapt to developments on the battlefield;

4. Dysfunction of American military structures;

5. The Administration's disdain for nation-building.

Again, a key work on the actual details of the invasion with some useful lessons as to what went wrong afterwards. . . .
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on May 6, 2017
Provides a good case study of how a wrong headed SECDEF can isolate the advisement community set in place by Goldwater/Nichols Act and lead and lead the Armed Forces into a quagmire. This is all too reminiscent of Vietnam and Robert McNamara. A even better written example of this is Dereliction of Duty by HR McMaster.
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on December 10, 2014
As a veteran of Operation Desert Spring in the months before the invasion, and as a participant of the invasion, this book helped to piece together some of the events that I experienced, but didn't understand. This is a very well-balanced and well-written book that seems to fly. It's hard to find a military history book that's a page-turner, but this is one of them. If you have any interest in the Middle East, this is a must-read.
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on September 24, 2012
Mind and eye opener to the extreme hardship and the ultimate sacrifice of all US forces in foreign wars.
Simple men/women becoming heroes when exposed to the horror of wars. Young men/women coming home wounded and mutilated not only physically but also mentally. I realized how much I owed my own freedom to many of these heroes.
The unsung heroes, the ultimate sacrifice with their life, the family they left behind, etc... make me wonder and constantly ask why. Good Lord, why? And, for certain, I am not one of those so-called liberals crying anti-war.
I grew up during war time and fully understand the force of Evil.
This book helps me realizing the dirty politics behind the war and also the bitterness that US men and women are sent to the killing zone without enough tools and support they are in needs. I feel angry when I read how some higher ups are making decisions without consulting the forces on the front, how some very ambitious and aggressive high rankings decide to send their soldiers to danger.
I am writing these lines because American soldiers are sacrificing for this freedom. Please read this book, it's worth your time. Warning: very emotional.
Thank you soldiers. Please know that I am deeply grateful to all of you.
God bless America and bless our soldiers.
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on April 4, 2006
"Cobra II", the recently-released book by Michael Gordon and General Bernard Trainor, tells the Iraq war story from a unique perspective. Concentrating almost entirely on the planning, invasion and occupation of Iraq, the authors relate a war strategy and deployment fraught with compound errors in judgment and administration. It is an amazingly well-told work.

As in any story of conflict there are good guys and not so good ones. Gordon and Trainor are unsparingly critical of Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and CENTCOM commander Tommy Franks. While Rumsfeld's views and applications have been roundly criticized before, Franks gets a harsh review in this book. The two made mistake after mistake, much of it due to their own unwillingness to hear views of others and their own self-assurance that their ways were the right ways. "Cobra II" does much to unravel their positions.

If it seems early on that one easily gets bogged down by the book's heavy use of acronyms, (the military loves them and so do the authors) staying with this book is worth it. The narrative begins to unfold in a classic crescendo from the time the first U.S. troops entered Iraq and continues through a breathtaking couple of chapters describing "Thunder Run", led in part by the courageous, risk-taking Colonel Dave Perkins, with the solid overall support of Lieutenant General David McKiernan....two of the really good guys portrayed here. It's the best part of "Cobra II". What appears so new to me is that this story is a ground story (the events of the invasion, as most Americans remember them, came from reporting of air attacks). Gordon and Trainor don't just describe the plights of those who made it through... they tell also of the final moments of many soldiers who didn't come home safely.

Making not much more than cameo appearances in "Cobra II" are President Bush and Vice-President Cheney, although their collective presence is channeled through Rumsfeld. The authors have, rightly I think, kept their focus on the men and women who actually were part of the invasion and occupation. The many maps (included in the front of the book) are a help in putting the invasion's movements into context.

I highly recommend "Cobra II" for its sobering look at the war in Iraq. While the authors take strong positions they give a balanced account of the war, and ultimately, what went wrong with the aftermath.
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on April 10, 2014
It's a required book for U.S. Marine Corps staff college, so I had to get it. Really should have read this book long ago. Very enlightening 'behind the scenes' narrative of the bureaucratic foolishness our military folks endure and/or bring upon themselves due to political agendas and short-sighted personalities.
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on September 28, 2006
This is the most definitive military study of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It vividly records the planning and execution of the war plan, acquaints the reader with the view of military commanders on the ground, and records the battles they fought.

The civilian Pentagon leadership is profiled with a unique (chronological) record of independent advice (eg. troop levels) received from outside sources. Perhaps the best example is Doug Macgregor (sponsored by Newt Gingrich), who thought 5,500 troops could win victory (an additional 15,000 would subsequently be needed to secure peace).

The only rival for this volume is Rick's `Fiasco." Both are well worth reading.
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