shock and awe

The phrase shock and awe came to the fore during the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. It was used as a descriptive phrase for the short, but intense precision bombing campaign that accompanied the ground attack. The phrase comes from a 1996 book, Shock and Awe: Achieving Rapid Dominance by Harlan Ullman and James Wade and published by the US National Defense University. The book advocates the overwhelming application of military force to suddenly and completely destroy the enemy’s will to fight, achieving the military objectives with comparatively few casualties on either side:

To affect the will of the adversary, Rapid Dominance will apply a variety of approaches and techniques to achieve the necessary level of Shock and Awe at the appropriate strategic and military leverage points. This means that psychological and intangible, as well as physical and concrete effects beyond the destruction of enemy forces and supporting military infrastructure, will have to be achieved.

The book was very influential among American military planners and formed the conceptual basis for the US war plan.

(Source: Project Gutenberg)

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