The Oxford Biblical Studies Online and Oxford Islamic Studies Online have retired. Content you previously purchased on Oxford Biblical Studies Online or Oxford Islamic Studies Online has now moved to Oxford Reference, Oxford Handbooks Online, Oxford Scholarship Online, or What Everyone Needs to Know®. For information on how to continue to view articles visit the subscriber services page.

Related Content

Show Summary Details


shock and awe

Quick Reference

Term for a military strategy based on achieving rapid dominance over an adversary by the initial imposition of overwhelming force and firepower. The concept was formulated by the American strategic analysts Harlan K. Ullman and James P. Wade in a Pentagon briefing document of 1996, and came to wider prominence during the campaign in Iraq in 2003. In a briefing in Qatar in March 2003, the American general Tommy Franks said, ‘This will be a campaign unlike any other in history. A campaign characterized by shock, by surprise, by flexibility, but the employment of precise munitions on a scale never before seen, and by the application of overwhelming force.’

Reference entries