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Arabs at War Military Effectiveness, 1948-1991 (Studies in War, Society, and the Military) Book

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Arabs at War Military Effectiveness, 1948-1991 (Studies in War, Society, and the Military) Read Book Online And Download

Overview: Kenneth M. Pollack, formerly a Persian Gulf military analyst at the CIA and Director for Persian Gulf Affairs at the National Security Council, describes and analyzes the military history of the six key Arab states—Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Syria—during the post–World War II era. He shows in detail how each Arab military grew and learned from its own experiences in response to the specific objectives set for it and within often constrained political, economic, and social circumstances. This first-ever overview of the modern Arab approach to warfare provides a better understanding of the capabilities and limitations of the Arab militaries, some of which are the United States’ most likely adversaries, and some of which are our most important allies.


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Arabs at War Military Effectiveness, 1948-1991 (Studies in War, Society, and the Military) Book







Arabs at War Military Effectiveness, 1948-1991 (Studies in War, Society, and the Military) Book Read Online Chapter One


what extent did Arab armies and air forces suffer from each of the problems claimed to be the cause of their difficulties in battle? And second, which of these problems was most detrimental to their fortunes in war? After all, it may well be that while the Arabs experienced a range of problems that all contributed to their poor military effectiveness, some problems may have been more harmful than others. By answering these two questions, one can determine both the problems the Arabs experienced in battle since 1945 and the true causes of their defeats and costly victories.


To accomplish this task, this book recounts the post-World War II military history of Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Syria in some detail to allow the reader to observe how each of these armed forces performed a broad range of operations. These six states encompass the lion's share of Arab experience in war since 1945. Moreover, plumbing their military history allows one to examine a range of battles that pitted Arab forces against a variety of different opponents, in a variety of different kinds of terrain, and in a variety of different missions. This spectrum is important to ensure that any conclusions do not depend on who the Arab armies fought, or where they battled, or what they were trying to accomplish.


Warfare is a competitive activity. Consequently, in any particular conflict an army's effectiveness can be measured only in relation to that of its opponent. It may be that against certain adversaries an army will conduct one type of mission well, but against another opponent it will conduct the same type of mission poorly because of unique features of that adversary's forces. To ensure that any conclusions about a military's effectiveness are not warped by who they are fighting, it is important whenever possible to measure them against a number of different opponents. By examining the full military histories of Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Syria since 1945, one can observe these Arab powers in combat against Israelis, Europeans, Americans, Kurds, Persians, Africans, and each other - a wide enough range to ensure that any conclusions do not simply reflect the interaction of Arab forces with one particular adversary.


By the same token, it is important to observe an army in different geo graphic settings to properly assess its effectiveness. Land warfare is highly dependent on the terrain in which it is conducted. Deserts, mountains, jungles, forests, rivers, swamps, farmland, grassland, and cities all shape military operations in very different ways. Each constrains some types of operations and aids others. For instance, forests impede the movement of armored vehicles and greatly hinder aircraft attempting to locate and attack ground targets. But forests also can conceal the build-up of forces and hamstring a defender from rapidly shifting reserves to a threatened sector. Because of the tremendous effect of topography on ground combat and on the ability of air forces to contribute to the ground battle, it is important to examine military performance in a range of environments. The Egyptians, Iraqis, Jordanians, Libyans, Saudis, and Syrians have fought in almost every kind of terrain imaginable - except for triple-canopy jungle. Arab armies have fought in the mountains of Lebanon, the deserts of the Sinai, the marshes of Khuzestan, the fields of central Iraq, the savannah of East Africa, the hills of the West Bank, and the streets of Khorramshahr, Port Suez, Port Sa'id, and Jerusalem.



Finally, when attempting to assess the effectiveness of a country's military, it is important to examine its execution of a range of different missions. Different political goals and different military strategies tend to demand certain military skills over others. For instance, a purely defensive strategy probably will test an army's ability to perform tactical defensive operations, counterattacks, and defensive counterair missions more than its ability to conduct large-scale assaults and offensive counterair missions. Thus, the performance of the military in such a role will tell somewhat more about its abilities in defensive operations than in offensive operations. Consequently, it is useful to examine the forces in question while attempting to perform various missions. The history of the six Arab armies investigated here includes all-out offensives, limited attacks intended to serve narrow political objectives, protracted attrition battles, border skirmishes, counterinsurgency campaigns, and defensive operations of every stripe.


The History of Arab Military Effectiveness


Each of the following chapters contains a description of the course of the wars fought by Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and Syria. These accounts are not so much meticulous lists of details so much as broader analyses of how well the Arab armies and air forces prosecuted their missions in each campaign. Consequently, I have left out much extraneous material - peacetime operations, the army's relationship to its broader society, and even some minor military operations - that might be important for a pure history of the armed forces but is irrelevant to the development of its effectiveness. In addition, in several cases I have glanced over or left out altogether certain minor skirmishes and peripheral operations that shed little light on the question of military effectiveness. For instance, I do not address the remarkable Israeli drive along the eastern coast of the Sinai toward Sharm ash-Shaykh during the Six Day War because this operation offers no insight into Egyptian military effectiveness.



Another important consideration in writing this book was to present the development of Arab military effectiveness in the proper political and strategic setting. As Clausewitz admonished over 150 years ago, war is a political action fought within a political context. It is impossible to judge the competence of an army if one does not know what it is trying to accomplish. Therefore, for each Middle Eastern war examined, I also outline the strategy and goals of both the Arab militaries and their adversaries to provide the political yardstick against which their military performance must be judged. This is particularly important when attempting to assess generalship because the crucial measure of a strategic plan is its ability to translate political objectives into military operations. The overall mission is less important when assessing tactical performance because a battalion can fight just as well trying to secure what ultimately may prove to be a meaningless objective as it can trying to secure what turns out to be a vital one.


Each chapter also addresses the question of why the Arab militaries won or lost each campaign in which they participated. It is critical to know not only the patterns of military effectiveness evinced by Arab militaries but also the importance of each pattern. Since I am attempting to identify the greatest problems afflicting the Arab armies since 1945, their patterns of poor performance are only important to the extent that they influenced the outcome of the conflict. For this reason, each chapter not only describes the course of each war but also includes an assessment of the various factors that resulted in victory or defeat.


For the same reason, each chapter also considers a number of other factors that often are important in deciding the outcome of a conflict. It is important to keep these other influences in mind so that the effect of the different aspects of military effectiveness can be placed in the right context. For instance, it may be that an army not only had awful strategic leadership in a given campaign but also was surprised by an enemy with superior weaponry and a huge advantage in numbers. In this case, the army's poor generalship would not loom as large as a source of defeat as it otherwise might. After all, given the huge disparity in numbers and weaponry, as well as the disadvantage of having been surprised, the army might still have lost the battle even if its generals had been more competent. Therefore, for each campaign, I note the quantitative balance of forces, the effect of the terrain, any weapons superiority, and any advantage of surprise. Another factor I consider is which side was on the defensive. In the modern era, there is an inherent advantage to the defense and therefore the attacker must have some kind of an advantage - quantitative or qualitative - to allow him to prevail.23 In Clausewitz's words, "The defensive form of warfare is intrinsically stronger than the offensive."24 Finally, for every engagement, I address the capability of the opponent, even if only implicitly, because warfare is always a competitive activity, and one side's skill level can only be judged relative to that of its adversary.



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