Skip to main content

shock and awe

shock and awe 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.’

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"shock and awe." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . 21 Oct. 2016 <>.

"shock and awe." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . (October 21, 2016).

"shock and awe." The Oxford Dictionary of Phrase and Fable. . Retrieved October 21, 2016 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.