Sunday, June 30, 2013

Review of New Dawn: The Battles for Fallujah

Title:  New Dawn - The Battles for Fallujah
Author:  Richard S. Lowry
Publisher:  Savas Beatie
Date Published:  2010
Price:  $29.95

New Dawn was one of those impulse purchases I made when Borders, Inc. went through its bankruptcy liquidation in 2011.  I bought this book at 80% off retail.  I didn't get around reading it until this year.  I hadn't read any operational accounts of the war in Iraq.  It's probably too fresh for an objective appraisal.  I wasn't impressed with some of the tag lines people were using to sell it.  I don't think the US won the Iraq campaign.  And I was never a supporter of the military campaign to overthrow Saddam Hussein.  I could go on with why I think the whole theater was botched from the onset.

But those are my views.  I wanted to read something about the actual fighting that happened in Iraq.  New Dawn covers two months of fighting in Fallujah from November to December 2004.  It was a combined operation of US Marines, Army, and Air Force personal.  The fighting was up close and personal.  Lots of house to close and clearing actions.  It was hard to read because the numerous casualties the Marines took clearing out the insurgents.  The whole operation to bypass insurgent strongholds and then go back and clear out each building block by block was gruelling.  It reminded of the house-to-house fighting that happened at the end of WWII on the Eastern Front. 

The soldiers involved knew what they were doing and carried themselves in a professional manner.  The author made sure the reader also knew the insurgents wanted to kill as many Americans as possible.  The jihadist ideal seemed to only surfaces when Al Queda in Iraq were winning their firefights against the the hated infidels.  The insurgents also fought with a fatalism they were going to die no matter what the outcome of the campaign.

The list of casualties the Marines took clearing out Fallujah is horrendous.  But that is the price of urban warfare.  It's never neat and tidy.  Urban combat is one of the worst operational theaters to be in.  You need heavy infantry to do the job of clearing city blocks.  Urban combat is also where an attacking force will take heavy losses despite whatever technological advantage they might have. 

If you want a detailed account of the campaign for Fallujah, New Dawn is good for that.  But I'm not jumping on the apologist bandwagon for the Iraq War.  I don't see the point of sending in young people into a dubious conflict with no exit strategy once we're involved.  That is folly bordering on criminal.

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