The Marines Take Anbar

The Four Year Fight Against al Qaeda

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“The Marines’ campaign to secure Anbar Province in Iraq will rank as one of the Corps’ historic battle achievements. Dick Shultz's brilliant account of that campaign is rich in lessons learned and examples of adaptability. The Marines Take Anbar will be a classic study in counter insurgency." -- Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, USMC (Ret.)

The U.S. Marine Corps’ four-year campaign against al Qaeda in Anbar is a fight certain to take its place next to such legendary clashes as Belleau Wood, Guadalcanal, Peleliu, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Chosin, and Khe Sanh. Its success, the author contends, constituted a major turning point in the Iraq War and helped alter the course of events and set the stage for the Surge in Baghdad a year later. This book brings to light all the decisive details of how the Marines, between 2004 and 2008, adapted and improvised as they applied the hard lessons of past mistakes.

In March 2004, when part of the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF) was deployed to Anbar Province in the heart of the Sunni triangle, the Marines quickly found themselves locked in a bloody test of wills with al Qaeda, and a burgeoning violent insurgency. By the spring of 2006, according to all accounts, enemy violence was skyrocketing, while predictions for any U.S. success were plummeting. But at that same time new counterinsurgency initiatives were put in place when I MEF returned for its second tour in Anbar, and the Marines began to gain control. By September 2008 the fight was over. Richard Shultz, a well-known author and international security studies expert, has thoroughly researched this subject. His book effectively argues the case for the Marines changing the course of the war at Anbar, which is contrary to the conventional wisdom that the Surge was the turning point.

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Editorial Reviews

"The Marines Take Anbar is a good read on the struggles the Marine Corps went through in Anbar from 2004-2008.... It provides plenty of detail on how Anbar went from a lost cause to the first major area of Iraq where the tables were turned on AQI" — Musings on Iraq: Iraq News, Politics, Economics, and Society
"Dr. Richard H. Shultz, Jr., Professor of International Politics at The Fletcher School, Tufts University, recounts with thoroughness how Marines have confronted Middle Eastern insurgency in his The Marines Take Anbar: The Four Year Fight Against Al Qaeda, a truly inspiring account of how Marines have been, once again, first in coming to grips with new nuances of warfare. These are the new Bernard Fall and Frederick Charles Schwarz whose works must be read and studied as we prepare for what's next." — Marine Corps Gazette
"The generals, the sheikhs, the battles, and the details of a four-year campaign against an insurgent foe are well and thoroughly described in The Marines Take Anbar. In a summary format, the book interweaves those details into the larger narrative of the flow of power from Iraqi insurgents, including AQI, to the coalition forces and their developing allies, the Iraqi tribal and local leaders. At least as important as the battles and their dates is the larger battle for the hearts and minds of Al Anbar Province between 2003 and 2007." — Army History
"Mr. Schulz is absolutely correct in describing the Anbar campaign as a textbook example of how Marines - true to their organizational culture - learned, adapted, and prevailed over a murderous, cold-blooded foe. This victory was impossible to imagine when I was fighting in Anbar nine years ago, but today Drill Instructors at Parris Island are already shouting marching cadences to Marine recruits that celebrate those who led the fight in Anbar. It thus joins a long list of tough battles in which the Marine Corps demonstrated not just its legendary faithfulness but also its flexibility." — John Nagl, The Wall Street Journal
"This book is an excellent primer for counterinsurgency warfare at the regimental and division levels. Key leaders were interviewed, and these officers candidly explained what did and did not work. The author is able to explain both military and political situations in easily understandable terms, and his level of detail is commendable. Anyone who wants a greater understanding of the Iraq War can benefit from reading it." — Military Heritage
"More than just a military tactic book, this well-researched study documents the reasons for the debacle in Iraq after Saddam Hussein's fall and how the Marines changed the tide of war. Shultz thoughtfully explains the Iraqi culture of which Americans were woefully ignorant: the supreme importance of tribes, honor, centuries-old antagonisms between Sunnis and Shias....[This] even-handed treatise highlights the war's needless suffering and praises Marines who can list Anbar alongside Iwo Jima and Okinawa in their pantheon of heroism." — Publishers Weekly
"...A richly detailed book..." — San Diego Union-Tribune
"...A first-rate, step-by-step account of military adaptation and improvisation under often horrific circumstances that match any campaigns in the annals of Corps history. The lessons learned from the Anbar story are not only for Marines to study but also for everyone in U.S. military and civilian security institutions...Certainly a must-read for all military personnel." — Leatherneck
"Finally, a bold narrative that captures the truth of the four-year struggle in the Anbar Province. Shultz so effectively chronicles the historic interaction amongst the tribes, the strategic mistakes, and the brutality of the fighting that it seems almost as if he were there. Marines, sailors, and soldiers who fought in Anbar will rejoice that the story of their sacrifices and successes—which created conditions for winning the war in Iraq--has been told." — Gen. James T. Conway, USMC (Ret.), 34th Commandant of the Marine Corps
"The Iraq War may have been a debacle, but the story of United States Marines in Anbar Province constitutes a triumph of innovation and practicality over adversity. Richard Shultz has given us the glorious, comprehensive history of Marines in Anbar. In doing so, he has shown why counterinsurgency, while thankless and controversial, will remain relevant as long as ground forces encounter civilian populations."   —  Robert D. Kaplan, author of Imperial Grunts and The Revenge of Geography"The Marines' campaign to secure Anbar Province in Iraq will rank as one of the Corps' historic battle achievements. Dick Shultz's brilliant account of that campaign is rich in lessons learned and examples of adaptability. The Marines Take Anbar will be a classic study in counterinsurgency." — Gen. Anthony C. Zinni, USMC (Ret.)
"While there are many who might prefer to forget about America's troubled involvement in Iraq, Shultz masterfully provides the best reason to study and learn from it: the experience of the U.S. Marines in Anbar Province between 2004 and 2008. It is a story of doctrinal and operational innovation and persistence leading to a triumph as important and memorable as any in the Marines' long and battle-honored history. The Marines Take Anbar is required reading for anyone trying to understand the security complications and challenges of irregular warfare in the twenty-first century." — Bruce Hoffman, Director for Security Studies, Georgetown University
"Richard Shultz has written a gripping account of the Anbar Awakening and of the role of the Marines in taking that province back from Al Qaeda. It teaches two large lessons: that all counterinsurgency campaigns are unique and that no matter how much is done to win over a population and enable it to defend itself, hard fighting needs to be done. An invaluable contribution to the literature on the Iraq War." — Eliot A. Cohen, Robert E. Osgood Professor of Strategic Studies, Johns Hopkins SAIS