In 1991 in Operation Desert Storm (the first Persian Gulf war), neither the US Air Force nor the Army destroyed the single most important prop to Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. That prop was the Republican Guard, which suffered only light to moderate damage from the 39 day air campaign and that, while sharply engaged on the ground by American armored units, managed to escape to Iraq sufficiently intact to brutally suppress a Shi'ite rebellion in Basra, thereby deterring further Iraqi revolt and ensuring the survival of Saddam's regime.
Why was the Republican Guard permitted to escape? Had it been destroyed, it is entirely possible that the Hussein regime would have collapsed, obviating the need for Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003, and the subsequent - disastrous - occupation thereafter.
Col. Douglas Macgregor tells his story of the key engagement in Operation Desert Storm in his new book, "Warrior's Rage: The Great Tank Battle of 73 Easting." In it, Doug Macgregor (who is an adviser to the Straus Military Reform Project) describes his personal experience in the largest American armored engagement since World War II and the failure of senior American military command to exploit the success handed to it by fighting units at the tactical level.
Macgregor was interviewed by NPR's Guy Raz on "All Things Considered." Find a short summary of the book and the complete seven minute interview at http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=113903772 .
Find a link to "Warrior's Rage" at Amazon.com at
Macgregor is also the author of the highly influential "Breaking the Phalanx: A New Design for Landpower in the 21st Century" and of an important chapter in the anthology "America's Defense Meltdown." In his chapter, "Maneuver Forces: The Army and Marine Corps after Iraq," Macgregor addresses the strategic and operational necessities for future success, rather than quagmire, for American ground forces for the future.