Thursday, February 8, 2024

Review The 2008 Battle of Sadr City

Johnson, David, Markel, M. Wade, Shannon, Brian, The 2008 Battle of Sadr City, Santa Monica, Arlington, Pittsburgh: RAND Corporation, 2011


The 2008 Battle of Sadr City by David Johnson, M. Wade Markel and Brian Shannon is a disappointing read. It was published by the RAND Corporation as a review of the fighting in Baghdad to stop the Mahdi Army militia from firing rockets and mortars at the Green Zone which is the seat of the Iraqi government and where the U.S. embassy is. Instead of going through the fighting it turned out to just be an exposition on weapons and assets the U.S. military used.


The authors begin with some background on what caused the Battle for Sadr City. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki launched an offensive against Muqtada al-Sadr’s militia the Mahdi Army in Basra in March 2008. Sadr’s men retaliated by launching dozens of rockets and mortars at the Green Zone in Baghdad while attacking police checkpoints around Sadr City. The premier then called on the American and Iraqi forces to stop the violence. This led to two operations. The first was to take out the launching sites for the rockets and mortars and the second was to build a wall so that the Mahdi Army couldn’t take back those places.


The vast majority of The 2008 Battle of Sadr City turns out to be just a review of all the military assets the U.S. used in the battle. It talks about the tanks, the radars, the drones, the helicopters, etc. There are also plenty of maps of Sadr City and pictures which are actually more interesting than most of the text. Spending more time on the actual fighting would’ve been much better as the battle was some very intense fighting in a rather small area over a short period of time.


In the end, Johnson, Markel and Shannon provide little of interest to the reader. Going over all the equipment the U.S. had isn’t even of much worth to Iraqi analysts or historians which is what most of The 2008 Battle of Sadr City devolves into. RAND was trying to provide some lessons learned on a tough urban battle but the only people it would likely appeal to were military officers.


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