Over time the impression has grown that the 2003 invasion of Iraq met with little resistance and that, with few exceptions, the Iraqi army simply melted away. As this book clearly shows, nothing could be further from the truth. In its drive to capture Baghdad, the U.S. Army's 3rd Infantry Division was in nearly constant combat for twenty-one days. While Americans were watching Saddam's statue being torn down on TV, a brigade of the 3rd ID was on the verge of being overrun by Iraqi Republican Guard units trying to escape north. Told to hold two bridges in his sector, a brigade commander had to blow up one of them because he did not have the combat power to hold it. The company commander holding the other bridge was so hard pressed that he called on the artillery to fire their final protective fires—a command made only when a unit is in mortal danger and one that had not been given since Vietnam. Every one of the division's armored vehicles was hit by rockets—some taking more than a dozen hits—and the fighting was so fierce at times that entire battalions ran out of ammunition. Nevertheless, when the fighting was finally over, the 3rd ID had destroyed two Iraqi Regular Army divisions and three divisions of the much-vaunted Republican Guard.
Takedown tells the little-known story of what happened to the 3rd ID during its struggle to win Baghdad, a campaign that some call one of the most vicious in American military history. To offer this firsthand account, Jim Lacey, a former Time magazine reporter embedded with the 1st Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division, draws on wide-ranging interviews that he conducted with the American soldiers involved as well as access to their personal papers and war memoirs. This story is also enriched through his extensive use of interview transcripts of senior Iraqi army officers along with their personal written recollections. From the Kuwaiti border to the streets of Baghdad, these dramatic eyewitness descriptions of what went on give readers an accurate look at the brutal engagements in which the division fought for its life.
In making use of such a wealth of primary source material, Lacey has succeeded in writing a fast-paced narrative of the conflict, backed up by verifiable facts, that shows how modern wars are really fought.
Jim Lacey is a retired U.S. Army infantry officer who works as a military analyst for the Institute for Defense Analyses. He is coauthor of The Iraqi Perspectives Report: Saddam's Senior Leadership on Operation Iraqi Freedom from the Official U.S. Joint Forces Command Report, published by the Naval Institute Press in 2006, and editor of the book Fresh from the Fight, a collection of essays on the war in Iraq.
During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Lacey worked for Time magazine as an embedded journalist and was with the 101st Airborne Division during the march to Baghdad. He has been published in more than a dozen major magazines and has written numerous articles and editorials on international and military affairs in many of the nation's leading newspapers. He lives in northern Virginia.
"Perhaps the only fact beyond dispute about America's current engagement in Iraq is that the campaigns of March 2003 were executed with a brilliance seldom seen in the annals of war. Jim Lacey gives us an unforgettable account of those weeks as experienced by the officers and soldiers of the Third Infantry Division—the very tip of the spear that pierced the heart of Saddam's regime. By turns harrowing and heroic, their story is one that we dare not forget as we struggle to come to terms with the unanticipated consequences of victory." —Fred Anderson, author of Crucible of War: The Seven Years' War and the Fate of Empire in British North America, 1754-1766
"Jim Lacey and Takedown represents a major and successful effort to fill in one of the major blank spots in our knowledge of Operation Iraqi Freedom. This is a superb examination of the combat operations of the 3rd Infantry Division, as it conducted one of the most spectacular operations in American military history in late March and early April 2003. Takedown is a brilliant account of modern combat and battle leadership." —Williamson Murray, Professor Emeritus, Ohio State University author of The Past and Prologue: The Importance of History to the Military Profession
Jim Lacey combines the skills of a journalist with the insight of a soldier to produce a first class narrative of the 3rd Infantry Division's assault up the Euphrates Valley and into Baghdad. Takedown
illustrates the superb leadership shown at all echelons of the Marne Division and will be used for years as a study of effective combat leadership." —Col. Gregory Fontenot, USA (Ret.), author of On Point: The United States Army in Operation Iraqi Freedom