Military Operations in Afghanistan

(Operation Enduring Freedom and Follow-on)


H - R

Kaplan, Fred. The Insurgents: David Petraeus and the Plot to Change the American Way of War. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2013.

Freedman, FA 92.3 (May-Jun. 2013), finds that the author "has a gift for bringing to life what might otherwise seem like arcane strategic debates by linking them to the personalities and biographies of the main participants." This is "a tale of hubris. Buoyed by their relative success in Iraq, Petraeus and his allies believed that the surge there offered a model for Afghanistan, despite being well aware that the two situations were very different."

Lambeth, Benjamin S. Air Power against Terror: America’s Conduct of Operation Enduring Freedom. Santa Monica, CA: Rand, 2005. []

Dunlap, Air & Space Power Journal 20.4 (Winter 2006), sees this as "one of the few accounts that properly approaches [Enduring Freedom] as fundamentally an air operation, not a special-forces action supported by air.... [T]he reader is treated to a detailed account of how newly fielded technologies, including unmanned Global Hawk reconnaissance aircraft and unmanned (but armed) Predators, made their battlespace appearances to give the Air Force's intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) assets unprecedented persistence and, in the case of the Predator, lethality." The book has "tremendous overall value."

Luttrell, Marcus, with Patrick Robinson. Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10. New York: Little, Brown, 2007.

According to Longino, Proceedings 134.5 (May 2008), this is the harrowing story of a special operation "mission that went awry." The author was the sole survivor of a four-man SEAL Team deployed into northeastern Afghanistan in June 2005. See Sean D. Naylor, "Surviving SEAL Tells Story of Deadly Mission," Navy Times, 16 Jun. 2007.

Mackey, Chris [?pseud.], and Greg Miller. The Interrogators: Inside the Secret War against Al Qaeda. New York: Little, Brown, 2004.

According to Marisa, DIJ 14.1 (2005), Mackey "documents his firsthand experiences as a U.S. Army tactical interrogator," including as "senior Army interrogator in Afghansistan ... at Kandahar and Bagram" until the fall of 2002.... [F]or those ... interested in learning more about operational military HUMINT, particularly about military interrogation, debriefing, and counterintelligence operations[,] ... this book will be of high interest."

Moore, Robin. The Hunt for Bin Laden: Task Force Dagger. New York: Random House, 2003.

Stein, Washington Post, 16 Mar. 2003, says that this book "is fast-paced and immensely entertaining, in a ... cartoon-strippy way. Page after page, Moore's prose reads like a defiant country-and-western anthem.... (It should be noted ...that ... Moore was hardly 'on the ground with the Special Forces in Afghanistan,' except in the loosest sense of the phrase. This is the barroom version of the war, as told by their balladeer.) Nevertheless, it often rings true.... Moore does reach a kind of ground truth in his narrative of Special Forces at war: the dangerous, sometimes thrilling but unpredictable nature of combat."

For Clemens, MI 30.4 (Oct.-Dec. 2004), this "book's strength is the chapters on operations with the NA [Northern Alliance], based on interviews with SF soldiers." However, "some chapters are more fully developed and better written than others." Moore's "analysis is unquestionably subjective.... This book is strictly a heroic portrayal of a military victory." In addition, the "sections covering operations after December 2001 relied on ... a source [who] proved dubious" and whose "fraudulent past casts doubt on parts of the book."

Naylor, Sean. Not a Good Day to Die: The Untold Story of Operation Anaconda. New York: Penguin Putnam, 2005.

From publisher: "At dawn on March 2, 2002,... [o]ver 200 soldiers of the 101st Airborne and 10th Mountain Divisions flew into Afghanistan's Shahikot valley-and into the mouth of a buzz saw. They were about to pay a bloody price for strategic, higher-level miscalculations that underestimated the enemy's strength and willingness to fight."

Prince, Erik. Civilian Warriors: The Inside Story of Blackwater and the Unsung Heroes of the War on Terror. New York: Portfolio/Penguin, 2013.

Carter, Washington Post, 27 Dec. 2013, notes that at times "contractor personnel outnumbered troops" in Iraq and Afghanistan. The former Blackwater CEO "presents a well-written, credible defense of Blackwater and [his] role in building it." But he "does not answer the important questions surrounding contractors and their performance in Iraq and Afghanistan." Nonetheless, "we need Prince's story to understand the history of the post-9/11 wars and the myriad roles contractors played" in them. For Peake, Studies 58.2 (Jun. 2014), and Intelligencer 20.3 (Spring-Summer), this "is an interesting book, with many lessons to be learned."

Rothstein, Hy S. Afghanistan and the Troubled Future of Unconventional Warfare. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2006.

Maitre, Air & Space Power Journal 21.3 (Fall 2007), notes that the author is "a retired career special-forces officer with 30 years' active duty." His "concise, well-documented review of the literature, which defines the context of special operations and the arena of unconventional warfare, transforms several vague definitions into clear terminology." Rothstein "argues that despite significant investment in developing special operations, the military lacks the institutional capability of engaging opponents with irregular methods. Employing SOF in a mission does not automatically constitute a special operation."

For Berger, et al, I&NS 22.6 (Dec. 2007), "Rothstein does an excellent job of laying out the requirements for conducting unconventional warfare and uses his analysis of operations in Afghanistan to expose the failures of the US military, more specifically, of US special operations forces.... The only major shortcoming of the book is that it focuses primarily on the infrastructure requirements of an unconventional capability." Moir, Military Intelligence 35.2 (Apr.-Jun. 2009), says that this work "poses important questions that may guide decision making and organizational structure for conflicts, in Afghanistan and elsewhere, that require UW capabilities."

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