Desert Battle: Comparative Perspectives

Desert Battle: Comparative Perspectives

Desert Battle: Comparative Perspectives

Desert Battle: Comparative Perspectives

Synopsis

Desert Battle is a study of the nature of desert warfare with special attention to the evolution of weaponry, the organization of forces, the impact of the desert environment on the ability of those forces to sustain battle, and the influences of the desert on battle tactics. The work concentrates on seven campaigns, from Bonaparte's adventure in Egypt in 1798-1799 to the 1991 Gulf War. Each campaign is discussed in relation to its political-military background, with focus on leadership, the forces available, and the weapons at their disposal. A narration of each campaign follows, ending with an evaluation in relative degrees of the leadership, weapons, and tactics and the long-run consequences of the campaign.

Excerpt

I watched the television coverage of the 1991 Gulf War, appropriately impressed by the coalition's domination over the Iraqi Army, a domination attributable--so it seemed--to high technology weapons. My impression soon waned, however, replaced by a concern that the war was isolated, sanitized, and offered as a paean to the future. the explications of the war emphasized its unique qualities but largely ignored those that made it ordinary--in short, they lacked historical context. I offer this study of the development of desert battle as a means to fill the void and, simultaneously and in a curmudgeonly spirit, throw down the historical gauntlet before those who think desert battle a great romance.

My central question is simple enough: What connects desert battles regardless of time or place? To answer the question I review seven desert campaigns, beginning out of chronological order with Erwin Rommel's entry into North Africa. Rommel is familiar ground and what he did, in reality and as legend, conditioned much of our thinking about desert battles. Next is a chapter on deserts-- unfamiliar ground to most of us--as the physical context of battle. I then explore Bonaparte's Egyptian adventure, British operations on India's Northwest Frontier, 1850-1852, the 1917 British Tigris River . . .

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