Marine Corps Tank Battles in the Middle East, Oscar E. Gilbert

Marine Corps Tank Battles in the Middle East, Oscar E. Gilbert

The book covers quite a wide range of types of armoured warfare, ranging from the conventional tank battles of the two Gulf Wars, through the battles to stabilize post-war Iraq to counter insurgency work in Afghanistan. Iraq takes up most of the text, although the Afghan section is perhaps the most thought provoking, suggesting as it does that the tank can actually be rather useful in counter-insurgency work, providing a secure and mobile observation post, as well as being rather intimidating.

One does get the impression that the Marine Corps tends to plan for the campaigns it believes it should be fighting - short landing operations to seize a beachhead before being replaced by the army - rather than the campaigns it ends up fighting - long commitments fighting alongside the army for the full duration of any American campaign (this is hardly surprising - it would take an immense amount of willpower on the part of the US government to allow a large and expensive part of its military to spend most of each campaign on the sidelines!). Likewise the desire for a specific Marine-corps only tank, preferably one with amphibious capability, seems to ignore the tendency for most campaigns to involve borrowing parts and supplies from the more numerous Army armoured units.

These problems are quickly overcome at the start of each campaign, and the impressive one gets is of a flexible, adaptable and competent armoured force, capable of fighting a regular armoured battle, but also of adapting to the more complex problems that followed in Afghanistan and Iraq, where the tank was almost never used against other armoured vehicles, but still proved to have a role to play.

1 - A Brutally Complex World
2 - Operation Desert Shield
3 - The Storm Breaks
4 - Intervallum
5 - Into Iraq
6 - Bridges in the Desert - An-Nasiriyah
7 - The Low Road to Baghdad
8 - The Prize
9 - Return to Iraq
10 - Tipping Point: The Second Battle of Fallujah
11 - Harrying the Insurgency
12 - Afghanistan - Winding Down

Author: Oscar E. Gilbert
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 288
Publisher: Casemate
Year: 2015

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