Why We Lost: A General's Inside Account of the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars

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A commander’s “compelling” behind-the-scenes view of the United States at war after 9/11, from high-level strategy to combat on the ground (The Wall Street Journal).
 
Over his thirty-five year career, Daniel P. Bolger rose through the ranks of the army infantry to become a three-star general, commanding in both Afghanistan and Iraq. Perhaps more than anyone else, he was witness to the full extent of these wars, from September 11th to withdrawal from the region. Not only did Bolger participate in top-level planning and strategy meetings, he also regularly carried a rifle alongside soldiers in combat actions.
 
Writing with hard-won experience and unflinching honesty, Bolger argues that while we lost in Iraq and Afghanistan, we did not have to. Intelligence was garbled. Key decision makers were blinded by spreadsheets or theories. And we never really understood our enemy. Why We Lost is a timely, forceful, and compulsively readable account from a fresh and authoritative perspective, “filled with heartfelt stories of soldiers and Marines in firefights and close combat. It weighs in mightily to the ongoing debate over how the United States should wage war” (The Washington Post).
 
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About the author

Daniel P. Bolger completed thirty-five years in the US Army, retiring as a lieutenant general in 2013. He graduated from The Citadel and earned his master’s degree and doctorate from the University of Chicago. He commanded the Coalition Military Assistance Training Team in Iraq in 2005–06, 1st Cavalry Division in Baghdad in 2009–10, and NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan in 2011–13. His military awards include five Bronze Star medals (one for valor) and the Combat Action Badge.
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3.6
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Additional Information

Publisher
HMH
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Published on
Nov 11, 2014
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Pages
400
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ISBN
9780544438347
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Military / Afghan War (2001-)
History / Military / Iraq War (2003-2011)
Political Science / Terrorism
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This content is DRM protected.
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Decorated US Navy SEAL lieutenant Jason Redman served his country courageously and with distinction in Colombia, Peru, Afghanistan, and Iraq, where he commanded mobility and assault forces. He conducted over forty capture/kill missions with his men in Iraq, locating more than 120 al-Qaida insurgents. But his journey was not without supreme challenges—both emotional and physical. Redman is brutally honest about his struggles to learn how to be an effective leader, yet that effort pales beside the story of his critical wounding in 2007 while leading a mission against a key al-Qaida commander. On that mission his team was ambushed and he was struck by machine-gun fire at point-blank range.

During the intense recovery period that followed, Redman gained national attention when he posted a sign on his door at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, warning all who entered not to "feel sorry for [his] wounds." His sign became both a statement and a symbol for wounded warriors everywhere.

From his grueling SEAL training to his search for a balance between arrogance and humility, Redman shares it all in this inspiring and unforgettable account. He speaks candidly of the grit that sustained him despite grievous wounds, and of the extraordinary love and devotion of his wife, Erica, and his family, without whom he would not have survived.

Vivid and powerful, emotionally resonant and illuminating, The Trident traces the evolution of a modern warrior, husband, and father, a man who has come to embody the never-say-die spirit that defines the SEALs, one of America's elite fighting forces.

This paper is a comparative analysis of the British campaign in Mesopotamia during the First World War, 1914-18 and the current campaign in Iraq, 2003-4. The study focuses on an examination of Phase III decisive operations and Phase IV reconstruction operations, including strategic imperatives, operational planning, and the impact of changes during operations. The British had no campaign plan for Mesopotamia upon the outbreak of war in 1914. Deployment to this theater began as a peripheral operation. Overriding politico-strategic requirements spurred further exploitation to reach Baghdad. Failure to match ends and means resulted in the disastrous surrender of a division at Kut on 29 April 1916. Sweeping reorganization and large-scale reinforcements resumed the advance; Baghdad fell on 11 March 1917. The British conducted ad-hoc reconstruction operations throughout this period, beginning in the Basra vilayet and expanding their scope with the capture of Baghdad. The British established viable civil institutions, to include police forces, a functioning legal system, Revenue and Customs Departments, a banking system, and even domestic mail.
Conversely, the recent U.S. strategy of pre-emption in Iraq was a policy decision based upon the wider strategic perspective and benefited from exhaustive operational planning. However, the rolling start campaign utilized minimal forces. They had the capability to win the decisive operations phase rapidly, but this same troop level was woefully inadequate to conduct incompletely-planned, sorely under-estimated, post-conflict operations.
Both campaigns suffered from a serious mismatch of ends and means at certain stages, especially for post-war reconstruction operations. They achieved significant success due to herculean efforts in theater. The study concludes with recommendations for strategic leaders related to planning and force structure.
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