Originally published by the U.S. Army to provide an overview of the country's terrain, ethnic groups, and history for American troops and now updated and expanded for the general public, Afghanistan Declassified fills in these gaps. Historian Brian Glyn Williams, who has traveled to Afghanistan frequently over the past decade, provides essential background to the war, tracing the rise, fall, and reemergence of the Taliban. Special sections deal with topics such as the CIA's Predator drone campaign in the Pakistani tribal zones, the spread of suicide bombing from Iraq to the Afghan theater of operations, and comparisons between the Soviet and U.S. experiences in Afghanistan.
To Williams, a historian of Central Asia, Afghanistan is not merely a theater in the war on terror. It is a primeval, exciting, and beautiful land; not only a place of danger and turmoil but also one of hospitable villagers and stunning landscapes, of great cultural diversity and richness. Williams brings the country to life through his own travel experiences—from living with Northern Alliance Uzbek warlords to working on a major NATO base. National heroes are introduced, Afghanistan's varied ethnic groups are explored, key battles—both ancient and current—are retold, and this land that many see as only a frightening setting for prolonged war emerges in three dimensions.
Having traveled extensively in the Pashtun tribal areas while working for the U.S. military and the CIA, Williams explores in detail of the new technology of airborne assassinations. From miniature Scorpion missiles designed to kill terrorists while avoiding civilian "collateral damage" to prathrais, the cigarette lighter-size homing beacons spies plant on their unsuspecting targets to direct drone missiles to them, the author describes the drone arsenal in full.
Evaluating the ethics of targeted killings and drone technology, Williams covers more than a hundred drone strikes, analyzing the number of slain civilians versus the number of terrorists killed to address the claims of antidrone activists. In examining the future of drone warfare, he reveals that the U.S. military is already building more unmanned than manned aerial vehicles. Predators helps us weigh the pros and cons of the drone program so that we can decide whether it is a vital strategic asset, a "frenemy," or a little of both.
Counter Jihad is the first history of America's military operations against radical Islamists, from the Taliban-controlled Hindu Kush Mountains of Afghanistan, to the Sunni Triangle of Iraq, to ISIS's headquarters in the deserts of central Syria, giving both generalists and specialists an overview of events that were followed by millions but understood by few. Williams provides the missing historical context for the rise of the terror group ISIS out of the ashes of Saddam Hussein's secular Baathist Iraq, arguing that it is only by carefully exploring the recent past can we understand how this jihadist group came to conquer an area larger than Britain and spread havoc from Syria to Paris to San Bernardino.