Ashley's War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield

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In 2010, the Army created Cultural Support Teams, a secret pilot program to insert women alongside Special Operations soldiers battling in Afghanistan. The Army reasoned that women could play a unique role on Special Ops teams: accompanying their male colleagues on raids and, while those soldiers were searching for insurgents, questioning the mothers, sisters, daughters and wives living at the compound. Their presence had a calming effect on enemy households, but more importantly, the CSTs were able to search adult women for weapons and gather crucial intelligence. They could build relationships—woman to woman—in ways that male soldiers in an Islamic country never could.

In Ashley's War, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon uses on-the-ground reporting and a finely tuned understanding of the complexities of war to tell the story of CST-2, a unit of women hand-picked from the Army to serve in this highly specialized and challenging role. The pioneers of CST-2 proved for the first time, at least to some grizzled Special Operations soldiers, that women might be physically and mentally tough enough to become one of them.

The price of this professional acceptance came in personal loss and social isolation: the only people who really understand the women of CST-2 are each other. At the center of this story is a friendship cemented by "Glee," video games, and the shared perils and seductive powers of up-close combat. At the heart of the team is the tale of a beloved and effective soldier, Ashley White.

Much as she did in her bestselling The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, Lemmon transports readers to a world they previously had no idea existed: a community of women called to fulfill the military's mission to "win hearts and minds" and bound together by danger, valor, and determination. Ashley's War is a gripping combat narrative and a moving story of friendship—a book that will change the way readers think about war and the meaning of service.

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About the author

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon is a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a contributor to Atlantic Media’s Defense One, writing on national security and foreign policy issues. She is the bestselling author of The Dressmaker of Khair Khana and has written for Newsweek, the Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, Christian Science Monitor,, and the Daily Beast, as well as for the World Bank and Harvard Business School.

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Published on
Apr 21, 2015
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Biography & Autobiography / Military
Biography & Autobiography / Women
History / Military / Afghan War (2001-)
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Eligible for Family Library

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A Navy SEAL's firsthand account of American heroism during a secret military operation in Afghanistan.
Inspiration for a major motion picture by Mark Wahlberg.
On a clear night in late June 2005, four U.S. Navy SEALs left their base in northern Afghanistan for the mountainous Pakistani border. Their mission was to capture or kill a notorious al Qaeda leader known to be ensconced in a Taliban stronghold surrounded by a small but heavily armed force. Less then twenty-four hours later, only one of those Navy SEALs remained alive.

This is the story of fire team leader Marcus Luttrell, the sole survivor of Operation Redwing, and the desperate battle in the mountains that led, ultimately, to the largest loss of life in Navy SEAL history. But it is also, more than anything, the story of his teammates, who fought ferociously beside him until he was the last one left-blasted unconscious by a rocket grenade, blown over a cliff, but still armed and still breathing. Over the next four days, badly injured and presumed dead, Luttrell fought off six al Qaeda assassins who were sent to finish him, then crawled for seven miles through the mountains before he was taken in by a Pashtun tribe, who risked everything to protect him from the encircling Taliban killers.

A six-foot-five-inch Texan, Leading Petty Officer Luttrell takes us, blow-by-blow, through the brutal training of America's warrior elite and the relentless rites of passage required by the Navy SEALs. He transports us to a monstrous battle fought in the desolate peaks of Afghanistan, where the beleaguered American team plummeted headlong a thousand feet down a mountain as they fought back through flying shale and rocks. In this rich , moving chronicle of courage, honor, and patriotism, Marcus Luttrell delivers one of the most powerful narratives ever written about modern warfare-and a tribute to his teammates, who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
Cinco hermanas, una familia respetable y una mujer que lo arriesgó todo por mantenerlas a salvo.

La vida de Kamila Sidiqi cambia de la noche a la mañana cuando los talibanes toman el poder en Kabul. A pesar de haber conseguido una diplomatura en Educación durante la guerra Kamila es despojada de este grado superior, destituida de la escuela donde enseña y relegada a su hogar. Por desgracia su padre y su hermano deben huir de la ciudad y Kamila se enfrenta sola a la supervivencia de la familia, pues tiene que hacerse cargo de sus hermanos menores. Armada sólo de valor y de una férrea determinación, utilizará la aguja y el hilo para crear una floreciente empresa sin la ayuda de nadie.

La costurera de Khair Khana reconstruye la historia de una mujer que gracias a la fuerza y al amor por su familia logró crear de la nada un negocio de éxito bajo los férreos preceptos del régimen talibán. La ex reportera de ABC News Gayle Tzemach Lemmon ha seguido a Kamila durante años y el resultado es un retrato íntimo y real del día a día de las mujeres en Afganistán.

Una historia conmovedora e inspiracional que no es sólo la valentía empresarial de una mujer, sino que pone de manifiesto el poder de las mujeres por mantener unidas a sus familias a pesar de la guerra, del poder político y del miedo.

«Contra todo pronóstico, estas mujeres crearon esperanza y comunidad y no abandonaron el proyecto. Te garantizo que este libro no te dejará indiferente y te mostrará una parte de Afganistán que muy pocos ven.»
Angelina Jolie

«Una historia inspiracional que muestra el coraje en la construcción de un proyecto para la comunidad. Resultado de varios años de investigación, seguimiento periodístico y de conmovedoras entrevistas... la pluma de Lemmon presta especial atención a los detalles y recrea de manera magistral la ambientación de Kabul en la era de los talibanes.»
Kirkus Reviews

«Éste es uno de los libros más inspiradores que he leído. La inolvidable historia de Kamila Sidiqi nos muestra hasta dónde estamos dispuestos a llegar por aquellos a quienes amamos.»
Greg Mortenson, autor de Tres tazas de té

«Escrito con gracia, pasión y elegancia, el fascinante retrato que Gayle Lemmon hace de Kamila refleja el extraordinario tesón y la ingenuidad de una mujer que consiguió triunfar a escondidas del régimen talibán por la supervivencia de su familia. Una lectura imprescindible que nos recuerda que Afganistán nunca podrá prosperar hasta que comprenda el papel de las mujeres -su ingenio, su espíritu, su resiliencia en los negocios y en el futuro»
Tina Brown

«La costurera de Khair Khana se lee como una gran obra de ficción cuando todo lo que se cuenta en ella es real. Este libro te enganchará desde la primera frase y te llevará de la mano en un viaje apasionante que traspasa varios límites:el cultural, el geográfico, el intelectual y, por encima de todos, el emocional. Tienes que leerla.»
Mohamed El-Erian, autor de When Markets Collide

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