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Includes a new Afterword by the authors One of the most critical battles of the Afghan War is now revealed as never before. Lions of Kandahar is an inside account from the unique perspective of an active-duty U.S. Army Special Forces commander, an unparalled warrior with multiple deployments to the theater who has only recently returned from combat there. Southern Afghanistan was slipping away. That was clear to then-Captain Rusty Bradley as he began his third tour of duty there in 2006. The Taliban and their allies were infiltrating everywhere, poised to reclaim Kandahar Province, their strategically vital onetime capital. To stop them, the NATO coalition launched Operation Medusa, the largest offensive in its history. The battlefield was the Panjwayi Valley, a densely packed warren of walled compounds that doubled neatly as enemy bunkers, lush orchards, and towering marijuana stands, all laced with treacherous irrigation ditches. A mass exodus of civilians heralded the carnage to come. Dispatched as a diversionary force in support of the main coalition attack, Bradley’s Special Forces A-team and two others, along with their longtime Afghan Army allies, watched from across the valley as the NATO force was quickly engulfed in a vicious counterattack. Key to relieving it and calling in effective air strikes was possession of a modest patch of high ground called Sperwan Ghar. Bradley’s small detachment assaulted the hill and, in the midst of a savage and unforgettable firefight, soon learned they were facing nearly a thousand seasoned fighters—from whom they seized an impossible victory. Now Bradley recounts the whole remarkable story as it actually happened. The blistering trek across Afghanistan’s infamous Red Desert. The eerie traces of the elusive Taliban. The close relations with the Afghan people and army, a primary mission focus. Sperwan Ghar itself: unremitting waves of fire from machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades; a targeted truck turned into an inferno; the death trap of a cut-off compound. Most important: the men, Americans and Afghans alike—the “shaky” medic with nerves of steel and a surgeon’s hands in battle; the tireless sergeant who seems to be everywhere at once; the soft-spoken intelligence officer with laser-sharp insight; the diminutive Afghan commander with a Goliath-sized heart; the cool maverick who risks all to rescue a grievously wounded comrade—each unique, all indelible in their everyday exercise of extraordinary heroism. Praise for Lions of Kandahar “A raw and authentic war story about untamed Green Berets in action.”—Dalton Fury, New York Times bestselling author of Kill Bin Laden “A powerful and gripping account of a battle that helped shape the war in Afghanistan . . . With crisp writing and page-turning action, Lions of Kandahar is one of the best books written about the conflict.”—Mitch Weiss, Pulitzer Prize–winning investigative journalist and co-author of Tiger Force: A True Story of Men and War “One of the most important documents to emerge from the war in Afghanistan.”—The Seattle Times “Powerful . . . a riveting account of a strategic battle that doesn’t glorify war or focus on heroic deeds . . . Make room on your military bookshelf for Lions of Kandahar.”—San Antonio Express-News “Bradley takes the reader into battle.”—Time From the Trade Paperback edition.
From the Canadian in charge of the joint military command in Kandahar Province in Afghanistan, this is the real on-the-ground story of one of NATO's bloodiest, most decisive and misunderstood operations: The battle of Panjwayi, the defining moment of "Operation Medusa." In 2006, David Fraser was the Canadian general in charge of the joint military command in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. Like the troops under his command, he was in no way ready for what happened on Friday, September 1st of that year. He had been woken the night before by his intelligence officers who informed him that the Taliban were amassing on all fronts for an all-out battle. The NATO Alliance was about to engage the enemy in the greatest and bloodiest battle of their 70-year history. And they were grossly outnumbered. At first the facts of Operation Medusa were deliberately withheld as classified, then muddied by imprecise and isolated personal accounts, exaggerated by rumour, misstated by ambition, or just rejected outright as irrelevant, the details of these events are still unknown by citizens of Canada and her allies. And yet the truth about those 15 agonizing days between September 2 and 17 is astounding. The secret agreements made in those two weeks, the expected death toll of Canadian soldiers, the wholesale changes to tactics made after the first engagement, the strafing of Charles Company by an American A-10, the contribution of the Afghan police, the discovery of drugs, the extent of unreported civilian casualties, and even Canadian and Allied reliance on the insights of village elders were classified and kept from public knowledge. And yet in international military circles, the Battle of Panjwayi was quickly hailed as the defining moment of Operation Medusa. Canadians were credited with nothing less than saving Afghanistan from falling under Taliban rule. Our military's strategy and tactics were soon studied in warfare colleges in the U.S., and practiced by Nato troops in exercises around the world. There is no one architect of Operation Medusa, but if anyone really had to point to the one person who could tell this incredible story, it is the Canadian General in charge of the joint military command.
From covert actions against insurgent groups and daring sabotage missions to precision strikes against fortified positions and reconnaissance deep behind enemy lines, the special forces units deployed by many nations are the spearhead of modern combat operations. Classified, the latest companion volume for Force on Force, allows wargamers to recreate any and all of them. With detailed background information, extensive orders of battle for the world's preeminent special forces units, and a range of scenarios, Classified gives Force on Force players a detailed and realistic experience of modern special operations missions across the globe.
Winner of the 2018 National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction Longlisted for the 2018 National Book Award for Nonfiction From the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Ghost Wars, the epic and enthralling story of America's intelligence, military, and diplomatic efforts to defeat Al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan since 9/11 Prior to 9/11, the United States had been carrying out small-scale covert operations in Afghanistan, ostensibly in cooperation, although often in direct opposition, with I.S.I., the Pakistani intelligence agency. While the US was trying to quell extremists, a highly secretive and compartmentalized wing of I.S.I., known as "Directorate S," was covertly training, arming, and seeking to legitimize the Taliban, in order to enlarge Pakistan's sphere of influence. After 9/11, when fifty-nine countries, led by the U. S., deployed troops or provided aid to Afghanistan in an effort to flush out the Taliban and Al Qaeda, the U.S. was set on an invisible slow-motion collision course with Pakistan. Today we know that the war in Afghanistan would falter badly because of military hubris at the highest levels of the Pentagon, the drain on resources and provocation in the Muslim world caused by the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, and corruption. But more than anything, as Coll makes painfully clear, the war in Afghanistan was doomed because of the failure of the United States to apprehend the motivations and intentions of I.S.I.'s "Directorate S". This was a swirling and shadowy struggle of historic proportions, which endured over a decade and across both the Bush and Obama administrations, involving multiple secret intelligence agencies, a litany of incongruous strategies and tactics, and dozens of players, including some of the most prominent military and political figures. A sprawling American tragedy, the war was an open clash of arms but also a covert melee of ideas, secrets, and subterranean violence. Coll excavates this grand battle, which took place away from the gaze of the American public. With unsurpassed expertise, original research, and attention to detail, he brings to life a narrative at once vast and intricate, local and global, propulsive and painstaking. This is the definitive explanation of how America came to be so badly ensnared in an elaborate, factional, and seemingly interminable conflict in South Asia. Nothing less than a forensic examination of the personal and political forces that shape world history, Directorate S is a complete masterpiece of both investigative and narrative journalism.

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