Stanley A. McChrystal
"Michael O'Hanlon and Hassina Sherjan have written a superb analysis of the current strategy in Afghanistan. It is an insightful work by two authors with exceptional knowledge and experience. It is a must-read for those who want a clear understanding of the situation, the strategy, and the path ahead in this crucial conflict."
--General Anthony C. Zinni, USMC (Retired)
In this unique collaboration between an American scholar and an Afghan American entrepreneur, "Toughing It Out in Afghanistan" provides a succinct look at the current situation in Afghanistan with policy prescriptions for the future.
Drawing partly on personal experiences, O'Hanlon and Sherjan outline the tactics being used to protect the Afghan population and defeat the insurgents. They discuss ongoing efforts to reform the Afghan police, to run a better prison system for detainees, to enlist the help of more of Afghanistan's tribes, and to attack corruption. They also discuss the Afghan resistance, including an explanation of how the Taliban mounted a comeback and what it will take to defeat them.
The authors also seek to demolish common myths about Afghanistan, such as the notion that somehow its people hate foreigners. And they explain how to use metrics, such as those in the Brookings Afghanistan Index, to determine if the new strategy is succeeding in the course of 2010 and 2011. Included are policy suggestions to further increase the size and capabilities of the Afghan army and police, to facilitate Afghan businesses' involvement in economic recovery, to expand the role of other Muslim nations in the effort, and to create a strong international aid coordinator as a civilian counterpart to NATO's military leader.
In this timely and important book, Tim Bird and Alex Marshall offer a panoramic view of international involvement in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2011. Tackling the subject matter as a whole, Bird and Marshall weave together analysis of military strategy, regional context, aid policy, the Afghan government, and the many disagreements between and within the Western powers involved in the intervention. Given the complicating factors of the heroin trade, unwelcoming terrain, and precarious relations with Pakistan, the authors acknowledge the ways in which Afghanistan has presented unique challenges for its foreign invaders. Ultimately, however, they argue that the international community has failed in its self-imposed effort to solve Afghanistan's problems and that there are broader lessons to be learned from their struggle, particularly in terms of counterinsurgency and the ever-complicated work of "nation-building." The overarching feature of the intervention, they argue, has been an absence of strategic clarity and coherence.
“How we got to where we are in Afghanistan.”—Matthew Kaminski, Wall Street JournalThis definitive account of the American experience in Afghanistan “[zeroes] in on what went awry after America’s successful routing of the Taliban in late 2001” (Michiko Kakutani, New York Times) to explain how a growing sanctuary for insurgents in Pakistan and a collapsing government in Kabul catalyzed the Taliban resurgence. Examining what has worked thus far—and what hasn’t—Jones lays out “a blueprint for winning in a region that has historically brought mighty armies to their knees” (Doug Childers, Richmond Times-Dispatch).
A high-ranking general’s gripping insider account of the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and how it all went wrong.
Over a thirty-five-year career, Daniel Bolger rose through the army infantry to become a three-star general, commanding in both theaters of the U.S. campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. He participated in meetings with top-level military and civilian players, where strategy was made and managed. At the same time, he regularly carried a rifle alongside rank-and-file soldiers in combat actions, unusual for a general. Now, as a witness to all levels of military command, Bolger offers a unique assessment of these wars, from 9/11 to the final withdrawal from the region. Writing with hard-won experience and unflinching honesty, Bolger makes the firm case that in Iraq and in Afghanistan, we lost — but we didn’t have to. Intelligence was garbled. Key decision makers were blinded by spreadsheets or theories. And, at the root of our failure, we never really understood our enemy. Why We Lost is a timely, forceful, and compulsively readable account of these wars from a fresh and authoritative perspective.
When President Barack Obama ordered the surge of troops and aid to Afghanistan, Washington Post correspondent Rajiv Chandrasekaran followed. He found the effort sabotaged not only by Afghan and Pakistani malfeasance but by infighting and incompetence within the American government: a war cabinet arrested by vicious bickering among top national security aides; diplomats and aid workers who failed to deliver on their grand promises; generals who dispatched troops to the wrong places; and headstrong military leaders who sought a far more expansive campaign than the White House wanted. Through their bungling and quarreling, they wound up squandering the first year of the surge.
Chandrasekaran explains how the United States has never understood Afghanistan—and probably never will. During the Cold War, American engineers undertook a massive development project across southern Afghanistan in an attempt to woo the country from Soviet influence. They built dams and irrigation canals, and they established a comfortable residential community known as Little America, with a Western-style school, a coed community pool, and a plush clubhouse—all of which embodied American and Afghan hopes for a bright future and a close relationship. But in the late 1970s—after growing Afghan resistance and a Communist coup—the Americans abandoned the region to warlords and poppy farmers.
In one revelatory scene after another, Chandrasekaran follows American efforts to reclaim the very same territory from the Taliban. Along the way, we meet an Army general whose experience as the top military officer in charge of Iraq’s Green Zone couldn’t prepare him for the bureaucratic knots of Afghanistan, a Marine commander whose desire to charge into remote hamlets conflicted with civilian priorities, and a war-seasoned diplomat frustrated in his push for a scaled-down but long-term American commitment. Their struggles show how Obama’s hope of a good war, and the Pentagon’s desire for a resounding victory, shriveled on the arid plains of southern Afghanistan.
Meticulously reported, hugely revealing, Little America is an unprecedented examination of a failing war—and an eye-opening look at the complex relationship between America and Afghanistan.
From the Hardcover edition.
A New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post best seller, now available with a new chapter on events in Afghanistan plus an exclusive onlineÊaccessÊcode for three downloadable episodes of War Stories!
What is a hero? Oliver North says, ÒReal heroes are selfless. Those who serve America in harmÕs way in the war against radical Islam have that quality in abundance. And so do their families and loved ones at home. Yet, they rarely get the attention or coverage they deserve . . . I never cease to be amazed at the self-discipline of these brave young Americans. They can endure the adrenaline-pumping violence of enemy engagement, and then, just minutes later, help school children get safely to their classes . . . No nationÑours includedÑhas ever had a military force better than the one we have today.Ó
In American Heroes, North offers an inspiring, first-hand account of the extraordinary men and women defending America against radical Islamic terror from his perspective as a forty year member of the United States military, a member of the National Security Council staff and serving as the U.S. counter-terrorism coordinator from 1983-1986. This patriotic book also pulls in the very latest reports and exclusive full-color photographs from War Stories, the award-winning FOX News Channel series hosted by North.
The Insurgents is the inside story of the small group of soldier-scholars, led by General David Petraeus, who plotted to revolutionize one of the largest, oldest, and most hidebound institutions—the United States military. Their aim was to build a new Army that could fight the new kind of war in the post–Cold War age: not massive wars on vast battlefields, but “small wars” in cities and villages, against insurgents and terrorists. These would be wars not only of fighting but of “nation building,” often not of necessity but of choice.
Based on secret documents, private emails, and interviews with more than one hundred key characters, including Petraeus, the tale unfolds against the backdrop of the wars against insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. But the main insurgency is the one mounted at home by ambitious, self-consciously intellectual officers—Petraeus, John Nagl, H. R. McMaster, and others—many of them classmates or colleagues in West Point’s Social Science Department who rose through the ranks, seized with an idea of how to fight these wars better. Amid the crisis, they forged a community (some of them called it a cabal or mafia) and adapted their enemies’ techniques to overhaul the culture and institutions of their own Army.
Fred Kaplan describes how these men and women maneuvered the idea through the bureaucracy and made it official policy. This is a story of power, politics, ideas, and personalities—and how they converged to reshape the twenty-first-century American military. But it is also a cautionary tale about how creative doctrine can harden into dogma, how smart strategists—today’s “best and brightest”—can win the battles at home but not the wars abroad. Petraeus and his fellow insurgents made the US military more adaptive to the conflicts of the modern era, but they also created the tools—and made it more tempting—for political leaders to wade into wars that they would be wise to avoid.
"Surge" is an insider's view of the most decisive phase of the Iraq War. After exploring the dynamics of the war during its first three years, the book takes the reader on a journey to Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, where the controversial new U.S. Army and Marine Corps counterinsurgency doctrine was developed; to Washington, D.C., and the halls of the Pentagon, where the Joint Chiefs of Staff struggled to understand the conflict; to the streets of Baghdad, where soldiers worked to implement the surge and reenergize the flagging war effort before the Iraqi state splintered; and to the halls of Congress, where Ambassador Ryan Crocker and General David Petraeus testified in some of the most contentious hearings in recent memory.
Using newly declassified documents, unpublished manuscripts, interviews, author notes, and published sources, "Surge" explains how President George W. Bush, Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, Ambassador Crocker, General Petraeus, and other U.S. and Iraqi political and military leaders shaped the surge from the center of the maelstrom in Baghdad and Washington.