Military Operations in Afghanistan

(Operation Enduring Freedom and Follow-on)


A - G

Barzilai, Yaniv. 102 Days of War: How Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda. and the Taliban Survived 2001. Dulles, VA: Potomac Books, 2014.

From publisher: "Barzilai concludes that the failure to kill bin Laden and destroy al Qaeda at the Battle of Tora Bora was not only the result of a failure in tactics but, more importantly, the product of failures in policy and leadership." Freedman, FA 93.5 (Sep.-Octr. 2014), says the author "has done a good job pulling together the basic sources on this set of events."

Berntsen, Gary, and Ralph Pezzullo. Jawbreaker: The Attack on Bin Laden and Al Qaeda: A Personal Account by the CIA's Key Field Commander. New York: Crown, 2005.

Click for reviews.

Camp, Dick. Boots on the Ground: The Fight to Liberate Afghanistan from Al-Qaeda and the Taliban 2001–2002. Minneapolis, MN: Zenith, 2011.

Peake, Studies 57.2 (Jun. 2013), finds that the author "tells an important story well and adds essential perspective to the current situation in Afghanistan."

Cordesman, Anthony H.  The Lessons of Afghanistan:  Warfighting, Intelligence, Force Transformation, Counterproliferation, and Arms Control.  Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and International Studies, 2002. []

Flynn, Michael T. [MGEN/USA], Matt Pottinger [CAPT/USMC], and Paul D. Batchelor. Fixing Intel: A Blueprint for Making Intelligence Relevant in Afghanistan. Washington, DC: Center for a New American Security, Jan. 2010. []

Richard Allen Greene, Pam Benson, and Mike Mount, "Top Intel Officer Slams Work of U.S. Spies in Afghanistan," CNN, 5 Jan. 2010.

Maj. Gen. Michael Flynn, the top U.S. military intelligence officer in Afghanistan, said in a report published on 4 January 2010 that "U.S. military intelligence officers in Afghanistan spend too much time focusing on enemy groups and tactics and not enough on trying to understand Afghanistan's culture, people and networks." Flynn co-wrote the report for a Washington think tank, the Center for a New American Security.

Walter Pincus, "Coalition Urged to Revamp Intelligence Gathering, Distribution in Afghanistan," Washington Post, 6 Jan. 2010, A8.

See Leo Blanken and Justin Overbaugh, "Looking for Intel? … or Looking for Answers? Reforming Military Intelligence for a Counterinsurgency Environment," Intelligence and National Security 27, no. 4 (Aug. 2012): 559-575.

Blanken and Overbaugh caution that implementation of the reforms proposed in the report by Maj. Gen. Michael Flynn and his colleagues (Fixing Intel) "would constitute a poor fit with the realities of the human resources currently available to the military.... [R]ather than focus on reforming the military intelligence system, we would rather place the onus on the political-strategic leadership to provide better guidance to the existing apparatus. More specifically, we note the lack of leadership in identifying coherent grand strategic goals and how operational tasks fit within the military's operational mandate in Afghanistan."

Fury, Dalton [Pseud.]. Kill Bin Laden: A Delta Force Commander's Account of the Hunt for the World's Most Wanted Man. New York: St. Martin's, 2008.

Morgan, Parameters 39.2 (Summer 2009), says that this "book is engaging, a well-written and readable 'page turner,'" that also has "strong research.... The entire book is poignant and compelling. Fury and his team are a real band of brothers-in-arms." The "fast-paced description of the battle and realistic portrayal of the allied Afghan warlords General Hazret Ali and Haji Zaman Ghamshareek are additional virtues of the book. Finally, the candid discussion of the operational failures and poor interoperability of American forces will make the volume a valuable contribution to lessons learned."

Gall, Carlotta. The Wrong Enemy: America in Afghanistan, 2001–2014. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014.

Kavanagh, Studies 59.1 (Mar. 2015), sess this as "a fast-paced, consistently readable take on Afghan developments from 9/11 to today.... Her condemnation of the army, ISI, and their works is heartfelt."

Grenier, Robert L. 88 Days to Kandahar: A CIA Diary. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015.

Finn, Washington Post, 20 Feb. 2015, calls this "an admirably frank addition to the bookshelf" of CIA memoirs. The author was "CIA station chief in Islamabad, Pakistan, before and after 9/11." He tells "a sweeping story ... in a sharp, straightforward style while pausing to let us in on the ad-hoc decision-making of the sometimes absurd world he inhabited.... The centerpiece of the book, the evolution of the improvised, chaotic assault on southern Afghanistan by teams of CIA officers and Special Operations forces alongside hastily mustered Afghans, is vividly told."

For Rubin, New York Times, 11 Feb. 2015, what this book "chiefly offers are details of the role of both the C.I.A. and the Pakistanis in the Pashtun areas of Afghanistan in the months after 9/11.... Hampering the account, however, is a sometimes brash and even self-congratulatory tone that raises questions about his reliability as a narrator.... Those looking for insight into Pakistan's willingness to give the Taliban a safe haven and for America to tolerate it will find Grenier's account illuminating."

Mazzafro, Proceedings 141.7 (Ju. 2015), believes this book "will be useful to anyone interested in better understanding Afghanistan's place in the global war on terror, but scholars will be frustrated by the ... lack of footnotes and biblography." He also implies but does not overtly say that he is somewhat bothered by a self-centeredness to the author's narrative. To Freedman, FA 94.3 (May-Jun. 2015), this "book illuminates the intricacy of the area's politics and provides some interesting characterizations of players on both sides of the porous Afghan-Pakistani border."

Peake, Studies 59.2 (Jun. 2015), says that "88 Days To Kandahar is first a stimulating, provocative, and forthright account of America's First Afghan War. Second, it is an assessment of national security policy since 2001 in South Asia and the resurgence of the Taliban that led to the Second American Afghan War.... Third, and more broadly, it is also an insightful appraisal of the challenges we face today in South Asia. A fine contribution, it deserves a place on the  bookshelf -- virtual or traditional -- of every officer, but only after reading."

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