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Old 12-20-2016   #1
CrowBat
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Default Few 'Small Wars' in the Middle East

Slightly late for Christmas, but nevertheless, Helion Publishing (UK) released three new volumes from its 'Middle East@War' series in these days, as follows:

The Iran-Iraq War. Volume 1: The Battle For Khuzestan, September 1980-May 1982

The Iran-Iraq War. Volume 2: Iran Strikes Back, June 1982-December 1986

Yes, sure, there are meanwhile about 20 or so histories of this war in English language (plus some three times as many in different other languages). So, what's making these two volumes 'special', why should one buy or at least read them?

Sure, as one of co-authors, I'm biased. But, this project is the first time ever that really excellent sources - including loads of official documentation - from all involved parties were available. We could not only count on help from a number of former Iraqi Army generals, or gentlemen involved in Project Harmony and similar, but also on a number of well-placed sources in Iran (although far more 'clandestine'). If nothing else, several gentlemen from the latter country helped through provision of write-ups summarizing operational history of major Army units, plus the IRGC, of course.

Ted Hooton went to immense extensions to extract new materials from official archives in the USA, the UK, and Israel, rounding up the story.

Result of all the help we've got during this project is unprecedentedly detailed info on planning and conduct of combat operations: these two 'thiny' books (DIN A4 format, but only 112 pages) are so stuffed full with info and details, so full of exclusive information, that they read like one of 'usual' books about some WWII campaigns (say, '...commander XY then turned his Brigade around and assaulted in direction...').

Content-wise, both volumes are organized in chronological fashion, i.e. chapters by major phases or offensives. Of course, Volume 1 has a lots of 'introduction', detailing pre-war build-ups on both sides.

Overall, I'm sure they are still going to contain plenty of 'news' even for readers with lots of knowledge about this conflict. From my POV, these are likely to become best books to this topic for a while longer (and yes, I wouldn't go for anything less, but even my first reaction upon seeing the first draft for manuscripts of Volumes 1 and 2 was that they are certainly far better than anything else I've ever seen anywhere else - or ever expected we could manage).

BTW, volumes 3 and 4 are already half-way through preparation, too.

Volume 1:
- Background to a Bloody War (geo-political backgrounds)
- Two Armies (military build-up in Iran and Iraq)
- From Border War to Invasion ('skirmishing' along the frontier in August and September)
- The Invasion of Khuzestan (first phase of Iraqi invasion)
- The Iranians Strike Back (Iranian counteroffensives of late 1980 and early 1981)
- The Writing on the Wall (Iranian counteroffensives of 1981)
- Disaster for Iraq (Iranian offensive in 1982)

Volume 2:
- An Unholy Bloodbath (campaigns of 1983)
- First Battle in the Marshes (Operation Khaiber, 1984)
- The Slough of Despond (Iranian offensive in 1985)
- The Thriving Armourers (re-supply efforts of both sides mid through the war)
- The Brilliant Blow (Faw Offensive of 1986)

***

The third volume is at least as 'special', although not covering a comparatively 'important' story: Hawker Hunters at War, Iraq And Jordan, 1958-1967

This one came into being as an 'offshot' of the Arab MiGs book-series (a six-volume operational history of Arab air forces at war with Israel, 1955-1973), and in cooperation with Mrs Patricia Salti, leading historian of the Royal Jordanian Force.

The story is 'limited' to this specific period because this was so distinct in development of both the Iraqi and Jordanian air forces: both were dominated by Hunters, and indeed: one could say that the history of Iraq as a country was dominated by 'British-trained Hunter pilots' for much of the 1960s. Iraqis were the first to fly Hunters in combat: not during some war with Israel, but during one of about 20 coups that completely destabilised the country during that period.

In that sense, particularly interesting to research and reconstruct was the story of Capt Munthir al-Windawi, who played a crucial role during (at least) two of coups in question - and that while flying Hunters.

Nearly half of the book is related to reconstructing Iraqi and Jordanian ops against Israel during the June 1967 War. This resulted in lots of new details and conclusions - many of which are not necessarily 'in line' with stories published to this topic until now.

Content:

Chapter 1: Special Relationship
Backgrounds about Iraqi and Jordanian air force, their cooperation with the UK etc., spanning times from the 1920s until 1958.

Chapter 2: Crisis of 1958
This chapter describes repercussions of the Suez War of 1956 upon Iraq and Jordan, and then continues with description of Hunter-acquisition process by Iraq, followed by Jordan, i.e. spanning times 1956-1958.

Chapter 3: New Start in Iraq
Centrepiece is the story of successive coups in Iraq - all of which saw intensive involvement of IrAF Hunters - and Iraq's repeated orders for Hunters, from 1963-1965 period.

Chapter 4: First Battles with Mirages
Similar chapter covering operational history of Hunters in Jordan of the early 1960s; that is, training, training, training, some maintenance problems, and then more training, followed by first clash with Israelis, in December 1964. It is concluding with the Air Battle of Samu, on 13 November 1966, in the course of which co-author Salti lost her husband.

Chapter 5: June 1967 War
In essence, 'IrAF and RJAF at war with Israel, June 1967'.

Chapter 6: Battle for H-3
Aerial clashes over western Iraq, on 6 and 7 June 1967, followed by a summary of operational history of Hunters in Iraq and Jordan, in period 1958-1967.

There's a total of 8 tables, including those listing all of Iraqi and Jordanian Hunters (and their fates), all the known attrition, all known COs of Iraqi Hunter Squadrons in that period etc.

Colour section is including a 'full pictorial walk-around' of the Hunter F.Mk.59A found at the junkyard of former Habbaniyah AB, in Iraq, and 16 artworks.

As always, any questions and/or commentary are most welcome.
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