Heart of the Storm: The Genesis of the Air Campaign Against Iraq
By Richard T. Reynolds
Air University Press, 1995, 147 pp
Lucky War: Third Army in Desert Storm
U.S. Army Command and General Staff College Press, 1994, 369 pp
Reynolds and his colleagues convincingly (though at times luridly) contend that the Air Force was far from united behind Colonel John Warden's concept of independent strategic operations in the Persian Gulf War. Reynolds opens with an apologetic note by the commander of Air University, who expresses deep concern about the way the author characterizes people. And rightly so: the product of an extensive interview project conducted by several Air Force officers, this monograph has heroes and villains. Leading the heroes is air power zealot Warden, whose small cell of planners in the late summer of 1990 laid the conceptual groundwork for the air attack on Iraq. The villains are various senior officers, many from the Air Force's own Tactical Air Command. A flawed study this, one that scorns the written record, makes liberal and implausible use of quotation marks and exclamation points, and is clearly partisan.
An altogether superior work, Swain's book contends that this was a war won, in many respects, well before it started, and that if the plan and its execution were not, despite some postwar mythmaking, overly elegant, they did not need to be. A sober and scholarly study of the Third Army--the army component of Central Command's forces in the Persian Gulf--it is written primarily for military officers but deserves a wider audience. Swain was in Saudi Arabia during the war, but he draws primarily on written sources and brings to bear the trained judgment of both warrior and scholar. Although its tone is more guarded, the book is astringent in its judgment of some top people. Swain examines the weaknesses as well as the strengths of army planning, including what he describes as staff officers' occasionally scholastic preoccupations with operational pauses and the culminating point of victory. Two very different books, each calculated to make generals mad.