21 Days to Baghdad

21 Days to Baghdad by Heather Marie Stur


ISBN
9781472853639
Published
Binding
Hardcover
Pages
320
Dimensions
153 x 234mm

21 Days to Baghdad chronicles the U.S. Army’s 3rd Infantry Division in the 2003 siege of Baghdad and subsequent nation-building mission in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Upon arrival in Baghdad in early April 2003, the 3rd Infantry Division began a complex security mission that required the soldiers and their commanders to convince Iraqi citizens that the U.S. was there to help them. At the same time, they continued fighting Saddam Hussein’s elite Republican Guard, paramilitary forces, and terrorists. The “front lines” were everywhere in the city, and battle space included hospitals, mosques, and schools where Iraqi troops stationed themselves to avoid American fire. U.S. soldiers who had fought in violent desert conflicts for three weeks on the way to Baghdad now had to shift their thinking and action in order to conduct humanitarian assistance operations for Iraqi citizens whose homes, businesses, and families had been destroyed by the fighting. They also had to remain alert to the random violence of urban warfare.
At the center of the story is General Buford “Buff” Blount, the U.S. Army two-star general who led the 3rd Infantry Division from its training base in Kuwait to capture Baghdad and dismantle the government of Saddam Hussein. Blount’s commitment to understanding local viewpoints shaped his attitude toward Baghdad and how he would instruct his troops to interact with Iraqi civilians. His years working in the Middle East had taught him that deep knowledge of the local scene was essential to a successful security mission, and so he was surprised when the 3rd Infantry Division, which had spent months in Baghdad, was recalled from Iraq at the end of 2003 and replaced by another Army unit whose members had no knowledge of the local situation, no language skills, and no cultural understanding of Iraqi attitudes and concerns. President George W. Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld did not believe that peacekeeping and humanitarian assistance were worthwhile uses of a conventional combat force like the 3rd Infantry Division. The division had destroyed Hussein’s government. Mission accomplished, or so Bush and Rumsfeld thought.
The story of Blount and the 3rd Infantry Division will take readers on a winding journey following U.S. diplomatic and military interventions in the Middle East from the late Cold War into the Global War on Terror. The story illustrates the long reach of the U.S. military, the limitations of nation building in the wake of war, and the tensions between policymakers in Washington, DC, and troops on the ground over the purpose and conduct of the U.S. invasion of Iraq
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