Marine Corps Tank Battles in the Middle East
By Oscar E. Gilbert
Hardcover in dustjacket, 312 pages, photographs, references, and index
Published by Casemate February 2015
Dimensions: 6.1 x 0.9 x 9.1 inches
Like so many of the modern world’s current political problems, the on-going turmoil in the Middle East can be traced back to diplomatic missteps in the aftermath of the First World War. Those decisions remain with us and are still costing lives on a daily basis over a century later. In the first twenty pages of this book Oscar E. Gilbert traces the modern history of the Middle East which imparts on the reader an understanding of the basis for the conflicts which have plagued the region. This chapter is concise and exceptionally well-written, it alone warrants the purchase of the book and is worthy of periodic re-reading.
The bulk of the book focusses on the use of Marine armor in Iraq and Afghanistan, both the M60 and M1 Abrams main battle tanks along with the lighter LAV-25. The dominance of the better trained and equipped Marines during the conflicts with the Iraqi Army, even when outnumbered, are well described. The use of armor in the drawn-out counter insurgency operations also offers many insights, such as the use of the vehicle’s impressive array of sensors. Tactics used during the Battle of Fallujah illustrates the value of armor in clearing an urban environment, an arena where tanks are generally considered to be at a disadvantage.
The book is well researched and interspaced with first-hand accounts taken from interviews with the participants. This is an engaging read, made somewhat more poignant by the recent decision to eliminate tanks from the Marine Corp’s inventory. This is the second of Gilbert’s Marine tanks histories which I have read, and I can recommend them without hesitation.