shock and awe
n. A military strategy in which massive amounts of firepower are unleashed early in a conflict in an effort to force the enemy's regime to collapse or surrender.

Example Citations:
"The attack to kill Saddam and his leadership is a classic case of shock and awe," said Harlan Ullman, a chief architect of the strategy and co-author of the 1996 book "Shock and Awe." "Cut off the head of the emperor and the empire goes. Even if it misses, it sends a signal."

Ullman says he invented the term "shock and awe" but that the concept draws on military strategists from Sun Tzu to the Prussian military thinker Carl von Clausewitz.

"The whole notion here is, is there an alternative way of using military force and all tools of power to achieve an outcome as rapidly, as decisively and inexpensively as possible?" he said. "We looked back in history and said, OK, what are the mechanisms that really cause massive changes of views? And when you think about it, the mechanisms are shock and awe, broadly defined."
—George Edmonson, "U.S. has many arrows in 'shock and awe' quiver," The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, March 22, 2003

The phrase Shock and Awe has been trademarked by the Japanese electronics giant Sony for use in computer games. Sony registered Shock and Awe just one day after the US and British forces started the war in Iraq. The Americans coined the phrase to describe the heavy bombing of Iraq during the first few days of the conflict.

Sony plans to have a Shock and Awe PlayStation game on sale in the US, but may decide not to ship the game in Europe due to political sensitivities on this side of the Atlantic about the invasion of Iraq.
—Paul O'Kane, "Sony banks on war game," Sunday Tribune (Ireland), April 13, 2003

Earliest Citation:
We're not going to dominate the battlefield of larger forces. We're going to be rapid in our domination of the battlefield using precision, using Stealth, and using the information that's available about the enemy. And, we saw it in the opening night of the war. We took control of the air over Iraq. That was the fundamental thing that lead to the Desert Storm victories.

I said, what is the system that can do that? And, the very first speech I gave after the Gulf War, I talked about the B-2 and I did it right over here at a luncheon on this side of the hill. And I talked about the need for being able to induce shock and awe against a future enemy rather than just beating them into the dirt, and killing all their soldiers, and destroying their cities.
—General Charles Horner, "Hearing Of The Military Procurement Subcommittee Of The House National Security Committee; Subject: Military Modernization And B-2 Bomber," Federal News Service, September 12, 1996

First Use:
The aim of Rapid Dominance is to affect the will, perception, and understanding of the adversary to fit or respond to our strategic policy ends through imposing a regime of Shock and Awe. Clearly, the traditional military aim of destroying, defeating, or neutralizing the adversary's military capability is a fundamental and necessary component of Rapid Dominance. Our intent, however, is to field a range of capabilities to induce sufficient Shock and Awe to render the adversary impotent.
—Harlan Ullman, James P. Wade, L. A. Edney, "Shock and Awe: Achieving Rapid Dominance," National Defense University Press, June 1996

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