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Thunder Run: The Armored Strike to Capture Baghdad Paperback – November 29, 2004
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The military had planned to besiege Baghdad, surrounding the city with the 3rd Infantry Division (Mech.) while cordoning off sections of the city piece by piece via air assaults from the 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions. Everyone thought and planned the siege would be a lengthy and potentially very bloody process, including the Iraqis - they had correctly discerned the American strategy and had prepared well for it.
Once the coalition reached Baghdad, commanders decided that a military demonstration into, instead of in front of, the city was in order. The highways into the city were practically unobstructed; the route chosen was a pure concrete and asphalt highway that arced from the southern to western ends of the city, ending with Saddam Airport, which was already in 3rd Infantry Division hands. The intention of the first run was to be the first of many, a risky armored thrust into enemy-held urban territory where tanks were supposedly wholly vulnerable. The second would quickly follow-up the apparent success of the first, two days later - and this time the Americans had come to stay.
Mr. Zucchino writes the physical and emotional peaks and troughs of combat in a powerful yet readable way.Read more ›
The first Thunder Run was through the suburbs of Baghdad to the main airport. Zucchino does a superlative job of describing the mishaps, mistakes, lost opportunities and fear attendant to any military operation. One can only marvel at the courage and resourcefulness of the men assigned this task.
The second Thunder Run was to be to the center of Baghdad just to broadcast to the Iraqis that, indeed, American forces could drive right into the heart of the government center, sweeping aside any opposition.
The commander of the operation felt it could go further: that the armored column could not only penetrate to the heart of Baghdad - but stay there as well. This would, it was argued, end the war.
Zucchino distinguishes himself as one of the finest narrators of war in this generation. His descriptions of the frantic Iraqi counter-attacks, the confusion, the almost random nature of death in combat run right to the heart.
Happily, Zuchhino leave politics at the doorstep. He describes combat, not the polemics and politics of this particular war. I am certain that I will be re-reading Thunder Run: the detail is just too vast to grasp in a single reading.
Prior to these battle, US doctrine was that tanks could not be effective in an urban environment: there was no room to maneuver and tanks were too imprecise a weapon to use amongst hordes of civilians. Someone (and the book doesn't say whose idea the Thunder Runs were) decided to change that doctrine. Rather than the direct approach, laying seige to the city, the planners decided to bypass the defenders and simply thrust into the heart of the city. Once everyone could see US troops in the middle of the city, the psychological blow had been struck and the US was considered victorious without actually engaging in any set battles. Thousands of Iraqi civilians and soldiers were spared by this unprecidented move.
In the history of warfare, I doubt there are any other examples of so few (only 1,000 troops were involved in the Thunder Runs) taking a so large a city defended by so many, so quickly, with so little loss of life. Some Americans were killed and Iraqi soldiers were killed by the hundreds, but this result pales in comparison to what might have happend had the city been taken block by block, the "direct" way.
Zucchino deserves great praise for bringing the story to light, but even more praise for telling the tale so selflessly. His personality and opinions simply never show up in the narrative. There are no politics in the book at all, other than a few comments from the soldiers themselves.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Fantastic!! Liberals everywhere should read this so they know what REAL Americans do to protect this great country that they are trying to tear down.Published 9 months ago by Amazon Customer
Exactly what was advertised. Item was delivered in a timely manner.Published 13 months ago by mbfirefighter
Good read. Well organized although a little challenging to keep track of all the combat elements. The personal aspects of combat come thru without being over dramatic.Published 17 months ago by Ron Hawkins
Great book gives a whole new view on the war that you don't see on the news. A must read for anyone who likes military history especially recent history.Published on June 14, 2014 by Jeffrey Edge