By Harold Lee Wise. Naval Institute Press 2006. $32.95. ISBN 9781591149705. Hardcover. 288 pages.
In May 1987, an Iraqi plane fired two missiles into USS Stark, a lone U.S. Navy frigate on patrol in the Gulf. The missiles severely damaged the ship and killed thirty-seven sailors. This deadly attack, which Iraq claimed was accidental, brought heightened attention to the Persian Gulf and heralded the beginning of a new era in U.S. Middle Eastern policy. From then until the end of the Iran-Iraq War, American forces carried out an unprecedented series of military operations in the Gulf. A planned tanker protection mission evolved into a naval quasi-war with Iran and culminated in the largest sea-air battle since World War II.
Inside the Danger Zone is a history of U.S. military involvement in the Persian Gulf in 1987 and 1988—a time of burning ships, air strikes, and secret missions—the prelude to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, Desert Storm, and the most recent U.S. invasion of Iraq. Based largely on first-hand accounts from veterans of that era, it is an up-close, detailed report from the front lines of “a guerrilla war at sea.” Many of the dramatic incidents of this period are told in depth, with new information and details never before seen in print. This book focuses in some depth US naval operations in the Persian Gulf region in 1987 & 1988.
Covered are events such the Iraqi attack on USS Stark, Iranian mining, nuisance and arming of offshore oilrigs.
The book suffers somewhat from either a lack of sharp editing or faulty research. Some examples are:
CAG 5 is from Japan not the Philippines
FFG 14 was USS Sides not John H Sides
AWACS aircraft are E-3 and not E-2
Towing hawsers can be attached to anchor chains
One item I was very disappointed in was the lack of coverage of operations of battleship Missouri such as the attempt to simulate a tanker in the Strait of Hormuz at night to flush out Iranian Silkworm missiles without success.
The book did bring to light a heretofore-unknown fact by this reviewer; pumps on Charles F Adams-class DDGs were incompatible with Oliver Hazard Perry-class FFGs. This almost proved disastrous in the mining of USS Samuel B Roberts and missile attack on USS Stark.
While a valiant attempt, the book cannot be recommended due to the number of errors.