General Scales and his team wrote Certain Victory to provide both the public and the military a clear picture of the Army's role in the Gulf War. The breadth and speed of Desert Storm operations left many participants unaware of the larger context in which they acted. This book is for them. To capture their story, General Scales essentially interweaves three distinct themes, each of which stands apart. First, Certain Victory tells the story of the young men and women who, in the heat and blowing sand of Iraq and Kuwait, took the fight to the enemy and won a compelling victory. Second, that victory vindicates the tireless and often unheralded work of a generation of Army leaders who forged a new Army from the dispirited institution that emerged from Vietnam. Third, Certain Victory provides a window on the future as well as a chronicle of the past. The reader, reflecting on the overarching sinews that General Scales extracts from the story, will gain insight into how future American wars might be fought.
Certain Victory is a unique report of the Army's performance during Desert Shield and Desert Storm. It was researched and written under my direction by a group of eight officers drawn from many different combat specialties and backgrounds. Most are veterans of the Gulf War.
Our only instructions from the Army leadership as we did our research for this book were to uncover what soldiers term "ground truth." As such, Certain Victory is the first depiction of the war built exclusively on combat interviews and reports from units returning from the theater. The frankness and candor, as well as the color, derived from these sources have been carefully preserved.
In order to reach the widest possible audience, the study group went to extraordinary lengths to declassify intelligence and after-action reports as well as operations orders and overhead photography. We have also expunged as much of the Army jargon and acronyms from the book as possible. Many observations and insights are presented as part of personal stories or combat narratives. We hope this will help readers to better understand the issues and draw their own informed conclusions.
The focus of Certain Victory is the operational and tactical level of war. The political and diplomatic decision making that resulted in the Army's deployment to Southwest Asia is mentioned incidentally and only to the degree that it sets the stage for the war-fighting aspects of the conflict. Certain Victory's treatment of other Services and other nations' contributions to the defeat of Saddam Hussein intentionally focuses on those Services and countries that most directly and immediately impacted on the Army's mission. Regrettably, time and space did not permit us to include all units and key personalities. For example, Colonel John Sylvester's 1st Brigade of the 2d Armored Division, the "Tiger" Brigade, receives very little coverage for its outstanding exploits, although its place in history is no less important than the other units we have covered. I hope to see the joint warfare aspects of Desert Storm taken up more thoroughly in another work.
No single Service or nation won the Gulf War on its own. The Army recognizes its dependence on the other Services and other nations in this and any future conflict. As early as 1958, President Dwight D. Eisenhower, explaining that separate ground, sea, and air warfare is gone forever, stated, "...we will fight with all Services, as one single, concentrated effort. Strategic and tactical planning must be completely unified, combat forces organized into unified commands, and each equipped with the most efficient weapons systems science can develop, singly led and prepared to fight as one...." Eisenhower's vision, vindicated in the Gulf, continues to be an important historical legacy.