Sunday, March 23
Why 'Shock and Awe'?
New York Times, March 23, 2003
The Pentagon's "shock and awe" strategy of quickly overwhelming Iraq was the inspiration of a military analyst guided by the 2,500-year-old writings of Sun Tzu, the Chinese strategist; Pizarro's defeat of the Incas in the 16th century; the German blitzkrieg of World War II; and the atomic bombing of Japan.
In 1996, Harlan K. Ullman, a former Navy commander, helped write "Shock and Awe: Achieving Rapid Dominance" for the National Defense University. He argued that precise, overwhelming attacks would destroy an adversary's will, prompt quick capitulation and reduce casualties.
Concerned that the American military relied too much on "the slow destruction of enemy forces," he argued instead: "We want them to quit, not to fight, so that you have this simultaneous effect — rather like the nuclear weapons at Hiroshima — not taking days or weeks but minutes."