Tuskers: An Armor Battalion in the Gulf War by David S. Pierson, Kindle Edition 2011, 231 pages, $4.99.

Since our nation has been at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the era in which Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm occurred rings of a time long past. A time when the United States was able to whip up its military might, garner the support of the Free World and deliver justice. A time when Soldiers made year-long combat deployments, many with multiple tours. In 2001, our military might was at its Cold War heights from the Reagan-era build-up. The Wall had just come down, and the East-West confrontation was ending. The New World Order was taking shape, and the United States was clearly in the lead.

Our police action in Panama in December 1989 had demonstrated the precision with which we could strike without warning. Operation Desert Shield/Desert Storm then validated the transformation from the Vietnam draft-era Army to the all-volunteer force. It proved the principles of Airland Battle doctrine and the revolutionary concepts underpinning “train as you fight.” We witnessed the United Nations-mandated coalition force of 750,000 go toe to toe against the fourth-largest army in the world, meeting them on battlefields in Kuwait and southern Iraq and, in the end, winning a swift and decisive victory. The largest military action since Vietnam lasted just over seven weeks, with 100 hours of ground combat.

From this war have come relatively few historical accounts, and those have been limited to the strategic and operational level, which makes Tuskers a welcome addition to its annals. Dave Pierson tells his story as a seasoned captain on the battalion staff in 4th Battalion, 64th Armor, a unit that deployed in the first wave and stayed the duration. He does not overanalyze or attempt to correlate it to “grand strategy.” Conversely, he calls it like he saw it and, more importantly, he describes the emotion of readying a tank battalion for battle.

Pierson recounts the entire eight months from the “Victory Thunder” alert call in early August … to the seemingly endless preparation, training and rehearsal for combat leading up to the air war in January 1991 … to the lightning-fast ground war … and finally redeployment. The reader gets a sense of the slowness in daily activities during the months leading up to the air war’s beginning and then the chaos as the ground war launched. The reader is taken into a tank company – how it dealt with the deployment but, more significantly, how it handled the tough combat missions it was assigned.

The book is further enhanced with photographs chronicling the deployment – many of the author at various times in preparation and in battle. Also, several maps and illustrations add to the narrative of the battalion and company combat actions.

After 13 years of war, with a continuous flow of troops into combat environments, Tuskers: An Armor Battalion in the Gulf War may first appear as a simple venture, but with Iraq in the rearview mirror and Afghanistan rapidly winding down, this account closely resembles how combat power will be projected and employed in the future from home stations within the United States. Along with its good historical recounting of a significant military operation that helped shaped the post-Cold War, Tuskers will benefit Soldiers and leaders alike with information on what it is like to prepare and execute a kinetic operation, and it adds a chapter in the evolution of desert combat.

LTC, U.S. Army (retired)