Home > Reviews > Modern > Special Ops Volume 29, Coalition Forces in Iraq, Pt. 1


Special Ops Volume 29: Coalition Forces in Iraq, Pt. 1

by Carl Schulze and Yves Debay



Published by Concord Publications. Soft covers, 8.5 x 11-inches, 64 pages, 203 color photographs and two Order-of-Battle charts. Price: unavailable.

This latest of a two-part mini-series (I’ll report on part two when I receive it) covers the operations in Iraq during the last parts of the year 2003. It is broken up into four segments. Three of these segments (listed separately, below) were photographed by Mr. Schulze, while the fourth was photographed by Mr. Debay. Each segment has excellent full-color images of many of the major and minor vehicles associated with the on-going “Operation Iraqi Freedom”, as well as photographs of the men who crew them. There is also a pair of listings of units and sub-units in-country at the time the authors were reporting on these events, which is very handy indeed.

The following four articles comprise this book:

1. Combined Joint Task Force 7 (Schulze).
2. Screaming Eagles in Northern Iraq (Schulze).
3. Multinational Division (Central South) (Debay).
4. Iraq’s New Armed Forces (Schulze).

The article on CJTF-7 contains photos of most of the main vehicles in US service in Iraq, including the ubiquitous HUMMVEE, the Abrams in the A1 and A2 versions, Bradley IFVs with and without the applique armor boxes, M113 APCs, M1117 Guardian, various trucks, and Blackhawk and Kiowa Warrior helicopters. Other coalition forces are also briefly mentioned here with vehicles such as BRDM-2, Honker 4x4 and Sokol helicopter (Poland); ASLAV (Australia); VEC APCs (Spain); BRDM-2 and BTR-80 (Ukraine), T-55 mine clearance vehicle (Slovakia), and HUMMVEEs from various other nations.

The next article on the “Screaming Eagles”, is confined to various HUMMVEEs (including the Avenger ADV system), helicopters such as the Blackhawk, Apache Longbow, Kiowa Warrior and finally, the M119 105mm light gun (later misidentified as the M198, which is the 155mm piece, in the text), as well as loads of photos of troops in various gear.

The next article covers the Polish-commanded Multinational Division. Photos depict modified Polish BRDM-2s in the so-called Model 97 configuration, Honker 4x4 patrol vehicles, as well as Mi-8 and Sokol W3W helicopters. Other nations in this unit are represented such as: Mongolia (BRDM-2 and UAZ 4x4s); Spain (BMR-2, VEC, URO VAMTAC, Nissan 4x4s and Iveco trucks, as well as Super Puma helicopters); Ukraine (BTR-80 and BRDM-2).

Finally, several smaller nations are represented such as El Salavdor, Honduras, Slovakia, Thailand and Romania. They are mostly equipped with HUMMVEEs, although the Slovakian T-55 mine clearing tank is given further coverage, as is the Romanian SSM heavy engineering truck. The final article deals with the new Iraqi Army. Photos depict mostly derelict AFVs such as 155mm AUF-1 and 122mm 2S1 SPGs, plus the odd destroyed T-72 and T-55 MBT. Personnel in various permutations of the new uniforms are shown in action and during training.

Overall, the text is quite informative, being made up partly from the direct observations of the two photo-journalists involved. The remainder consists of news briefs from the various commands. These consist of reports that detail such things as Coalition casualties, weapons and prisoners seized, attacks on Coalition and the new Iraqi government’s forces, as well as various kinds of “clear and sweep” operations. These are arranged in a chronological fashion.

There are also details of the various nations’ units that were in-country within the time frame of this book. I was most surprised to note that not a single US Marine Corps unit was listed. Either this is an oversight by the book’s authors, the authors were not with those units, or (given the intensity of the conflict and the US government’s determination to prevail) the unthinkable has indeed occurred: the US is at war and the Marines were not a constant presence! One must assume that when one USMC unit rotates out of the country, another would replace it, not so?

There are occasional glitches in the text. For instance, the Latin American nation of El Salvador is constantly misnamed San Salvador, which may offend our southern neighbors. There are also some typos and odd turns of the English language, some of which may be the result of this being a “second language” for both authors. This is no big deal, but I felt that I had to mention it. The other thing that I also feel is worthy of mention is this: there are no personal political statements, which were characteristic of some earlier books in this series, present between these covers. The reader is correctly left to his own private thoughts on the matter.

So, yet again, here is an inexpensive reference on current operations, presented in a straightforward manner, by those who have a justly-earned reputation for going into harm’s way and delivering the goods to those of us who stay at home.

Highly recommended.

Concord Publications are available from retail and mail order shops, or from the publisher at: www.concord-publications.com.