The Gulf War, 1990–1
DOI link for The Gulf War, 1990–1
The Gulf War, 1990–1 book
One of the key questions underpinning this collection of essays is whether colonial campaigns and counter-insurgency operations aided the Army’s ability to fight major wars, or undermined it.1 This essay addresses the 1990-1 Gulf War and specifically whether the two decades prior to 1990-1 – a period of relative inactivity regarding major war, but one where the small war2 of the Falklands and counter-terrorist operations in Northern Ireland loomed large – prepared the Army for its first use of an armoured division in war since 1945. It is, however, worth noting that behind this question is an assumption about the nature of war which held sway during this period, and indeed throughout the period after the Second World War. That assumption is that ‘small wars’, and in particular counter-insurgency and counterterrorist operations, require different skills and present different challenges to armed forces than the problem of major war. For the post-war Army, the conduct, strategy and tactics of these wars was fundamentally different, and a failure to recognise this flirted with disaster. Even the nomenclature was different, few if any being dignified with the term ‘war’ – Malaya, the Falklands and Northern Ireland being amongst the more obvious examples. This assumption is not always shared by other armed forces, but is a leitmotif of British military thinking in the post-war era.