The Most Extraordinary Battle of the Iraq War
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March 23, 2003: U.S. Marines from the Task Force Tarawa are caught up in one of the most unexpected battles of the Iraq War. What started off as a routine maneuver to secure two key bridges in the town of Nasiriyah in southern Iraq degenerated into a nightmarish twenty-four-hour urban clash in which eighteen young Marines lost their lives and more than thirty-five others were wounded. It was the single heaviest loss suffered by the U.S. military during the initial combat phase of the war.
On that fateful day, Marines came across the burned-out remains of a U.S. Army convoy that had been ambushed by Saddam Hussein’s forces outside Nasiriyah. In an attempt to rescue the missing soldiers and seize the bridges before the Iraqis could destroy them, the Marines decided to advance their attack on the city by twenty-four hours. What happened next is a gripping and gruesome tale of military blunders, tragedy, and heroism.
Huge M1 tanks leading the attack were rendered ineffective when they became mired in an open sewer. Then a company of Marines took a wrong turn and ended up on a deadly stretch of road where their armored personal carriers were hit by devastating rocket-propelled grenade fire. USAF planes called in for fire support play their own part in the unfolding cataclysm when they accidentally strafed the vehicles. The attempt to rescue the dead and dying stranded in “ambush alley” only drew more Marines into the slaughter.
This was not a battle of modern technology, but a brutal close-quarter urban knife fight that tested the Marines’ resolve and training to the limit. At the heart of the drama were the fifty or so young Marines, most of whom had never been to war, who were embroiled in a battle of epic proportions from which neither their commanders nor the technological might of the U.S. military could save them.
With a novelist’s gift for pace and tension, Tim Pritchard brilliantly captures the chaos, panic, and courage of the fight for Nasiriyah, bringing back in full force the day that a perfunctory task turned into a battle for survival.
"Ambush Alley" is a gut-wrenching account of unadulterated terror that's hard to read yet impossible to put down. London-based journalist and filmmaker Tim Pritchard, who was embedded with US troops during the initial stages of the American-led invasion of Iraq, paints a compelling picture of one of the costliest battles of the Iraq war that will at turns anger, horrify, and sadden, regardless of one's political views."
--The Boston Globe
From the Hardcover edition.
This book really got in to the weeds about what happened on 23 March of 2003...I was part of TF Tarawa and saw first hand the blunders and hard lessons learned. It's easy to armchair QB this battle. Lead with Tanks, prep the battle field with air strikes, train your support troops to be war fighters because the front lines a everywhere. It was noted that intel was nonexistent, this is true to an extent, and also the first failure. We asked locals why they didn't help, they answered that the last time they stood up to help us we left them hanging (Desert Storm) and were slaughtered after the Shia Rebellion. We under estimated our enemy and paid dearly for it, we learned that a white flag meant nothing and that we were fighting people that exploited our rules of war. Although the war fighters have learned and adapted unfortunately those that make the decision to send us into harms way have not, they should be required to read this book. I hope the A-10 pilots and whomever lost the gun camera footage read it also.
Read this book and take away that no matter how hard you train and how much you plan it all goes to hell and that it comes down to who has the will to win. War is ugly, it smells and there is no glory. We will be back in the Middle East again, hopefully the ghosts of "The Nas" will be there to guide us and help us not make the mistakes we made last time.
God bless the Marines of 1/2 and the "Dirty Birds" of 2/8 they are my heroes.
After reading over fifteen books on the recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, it was getting difficult for me to find books that had user reviews. I took a chance and purchased Ambush Alley. I can now tell you that I wasn't disappointed. I like to read about battle action and this book delivered. To say that our guys found themselves in a world of hurt is an understatement. I sacrificed sleep in order to keep reading and even snuck in some time at work. Tim Pritchard did a good job of writing the story of this historic battle told to him by the Marines themselves, capturing the many emotions of our soldiers who were caught in the middle of one of the most intense firefights in the war of Iraq.
This book is brutally honest. Very good read, written in third person so there is no over- machismo bs. Gives good personal details of the men that were there. God bless the Marine Corps.