After a brief visit to his childhood Kasal's story quickly gathers steam, introducing the reader to his early Marine career; adventure filled years that earned him the name Robo-Grunt from men who don't offer accolades easily. Kasal uses his experience climbing the ranks to illustrate how Marines grow, and how they are shaped by the uncompromising attitudes of the officers and non-coms charged with turning young Marines into tigers.
Kasal's adventures culminate in Iraq. By now he is 1st Sergeant Kasal, ramrodding Kilo Company, 3/1, a rifle company in 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, the mighty Thunder Third that would cover itself with glory in 2004. Two days into Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003 Kilo is ordered to hold open a critical road between two bridges that Saddam's fierce Fedayeen Saddam were just as determined to take away. Kasal makes in his stand on that road, literally standing tall amidst fierce gunfire, demonstrating the kind of leadership Kilo Company needed to get the job done. Kilo's fight was part of the first big test of Marine Corps combat capabilities in the second Iraqi War and the only major engagement the Marine Corps fought during the heady days of the Drive Up to Baghdad. When it was over the so-called Ninjas of the Fedayeen Saddam were smashed. A week later Kasal was in Baghdad, welcomed with open arms by the exuberant population.
A year later 3/1 was back to Iraq, in Anbar Province, the epicenter of the brutal war now raging in the former tribal stronghold of Saddam and his henchmen. The smiling faces that had greeted 3/1 the year before were gone. Kasal is the 1st Sergeant of Weapons Company, 3/1, the armored fist of a light infantry battalion. After four months of ambushes, IEDs, and deadly skirmishes 3/1 is ordered into Fallujah, to take the ancient city back from Al Qaeda and the foreign fighters who had turned the ancient City of Mosques into a fortress. It is there, in November, 2004 that the Thundering Third entered into Marine Corps legend and Kasal into the Pantheon of Heroes for his actions during the most savage battle the Marines fought in the Iraq War.
At a non-descript house in a walled neighborhood in Fallujah Kasal, at the time accompanying a squad of Kilo's riflemen into a contested house, becomes involved in a close-quarter duel with fanatical Chechen fighters. The fight rages throughout the house, at times Marines and the foreign fighters were exchanging rifle fire and grenades at ranges of less than 10 feet. For almost two hours the squad is trapped inside the house. During the brawl Kasal is shot seven times, almost loses his leg when it is nearly severed from his body, and sustains 47shrapnel wounds when he used his body to shield a wounded Marine laying next to him from an enemy grenade. In the skirmish, forever known as the Hell House fight, Kasal was awarded the Navy Cross, the nation's second highest award for heroism.
An unprecedented account of life in Baghdad s Green Zone, a walled-off enclave of towering plants, posh villas, and sparkling swimming pools that was the headquarters for the American occupation of Iraq.
"The Washington Post" s former Baghdad bureau chief Rajiv Chandrasekaran takes us with him into the Zone: into a bubble, cut off from wartime realities, where the task of reconstructing a devastated nation competed with the distractions of a Little America a half-dozen bars stocked with cold beer, a disco where women showed up in hot pants, a movie theater that screened shoot- em-up films, an all-you-could-eat buffet piled high with pork, a shopping mall that sold pornographic movies, a parking lot filled with shiny new SUVs, and a snappy dry-cleaning service much of it run by Halliburton. Most Iraqis were barred from entering the Emerald City for fear they would blow it up.
Drawing on hundreds of interviews and internal documents, Chandrasekaran tells the story of the people and ideas that inhabited the Green Zone during the occupation, from the imperial viceroy L. Paul Bremer III to the fleet of twentysomethings hired to implement the idea that Americans could build a Jeffersonian democracy in an embattled Middle Eastern country.
In the vacuum of postwar planning, Bremer ignores what Iraqis tell him they want or need and instead pursues irrelevant neoconservative solutions a flat tax, a sell-off of Iraqi government assets, and an end to food rationing. His underlings spend their days drawing up pie-in-the-sky policies, among them a new traffic code and a law protecting microchip designs, instead of rebuilding looted buildings and restoring electricity production. His almost comic initiatives anger the locals and help fuel the insurgency.
Chandrasekaran details Bernard Kerik s ludicrous attempt to train the Iraqi police and brings to light lesser known but typical travesties: the case of the twenty-four-year-old who had never worked in finance put in charge of reestablishing Baghdad s stock exchange; a contractor with no previous experience paid millions to guard a closed airport; a State Department employee forced to bribe Americans to enlist their help in preventing Iraqi weapons scientists from defecting to Iran; Americans willing to serve in Iraq screened by White House officials for their views on "Roe v. Wade; "people" "with prior expertise in the Middle East excluded in favor of lesser-qualified Republican Party loyalists. Finally, he describes Bremer s ignominious departure in 2004, fleeing secretly in a helicopter two days ahead of schedule.
This is a startling portrait of an Oz-like place where a vital aspect of our government s folly in Iraq played out. It is a book certain to be talked about for years to come."
The Prequel to the Bestselling Thank You for Your Service, Now a Major Motion Picture
With The Good Soldiers, Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter David Finkel has produced an eternal story -- not just of the Iraq War, but of all wars, for all time.
It was the last-chance moment of the war. In January 2007, President George W. Bush announced a new strategy for Iraq. It became known as "the surge." Among those called to carry it out were the young, optimistic army infantry soldiers of the 2-16, the battalion nicknamed the Rangers. About to head to a vicious area of Baghdad, they decided the difference would be them.
Fifteen months later, the soldiers returned home -- forever changed. The chronicle of their tour is gripping, devastating, and deeply illuminating for anyone with an interest in human conflict.
A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR FOR:
THE NEW YORK TIMES
THE BOSTON GLOBE
THE KANSAS CITY STAR
THE PLAIN DEALER (CLEVELAND)
THE CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR
WINNER OF THE HELEN BERNSTEIN BOOK AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN JOURNALISM
Though not so well known as the land and air campaigns, the campaign at sea in the 1991 Gulf War was vital in subduing Saddam Hussein's invasion forces and driving them out of Kuwait. U.S. Navy surface ships and submarines launched hundreds of cruise missile attacks against Iraqi targets throughout the war, and carriers sent air strikes deep into enemy territory. The battleships Missouri and Wisconsin bombarded hostile targets while U.S. sailors joined U.S. Army and Royal Navy helicopter crews in additional actions. SEAL missions, global sealift actions, mine countermeasures, and operations in support of the economic embargo were still more contributing factors to the complex joint warfare effort.
Details of these naval operations are thoroughly documented and analyzed in this authoritative study, conducted by the Naval Historical Center and published in limited numbers in 1999. It is based on previously classified action and lessons-learned reports, interviews with participants, and studies conducted by the Center for Naval Analyses and the Department of Defense. The book includes candid evaluations of leadership effectiveness, interservice relations, and methods of command and control. It also analyses the effectiveness of various weapons and sensors, including the Tomahawk land-attack missile, the EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare aircraft, the Aegis battle management system, and unmanned aerial vehicles. Winner of the Navy League's Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt Naval History Prize and favorably reviewed by military scholars and foreign affairs journals, this credible historical account captures the drama as well as the detail of a modern victory at sea.
Named One of the 10 Best Books of the Year by The New York Times Book ReviewNamed one of the Best Books of the Year by The Washington Post Book World, The Boston Globe, Chicago Tribune, The San Francisco Chronicle Book Review, Los Angeles Times Book Review, USA Today, Time, and New York magazine. Winner of the Overseas Press Club's Cornelius Ryan Award for Best Nonfiction Book on International Affairs Winner of the New York Public Library Helen Bernstein Book Award for Excellence in Journalism
The Assassins' Gate: America in Iraq recounts how the United States set about changing the history of the Middle East and became ensnared in a guerrilla war in Iraq. It brings to life the people and ideas that created the Bush administration's war policy and led America to the Assassins' Gate--the main point of entry into the American zone in Baghdad. The Assassins' Gate also describes the place of the war in American life: the ideological battles in Washington that led to chaos in Iraq, the ordeal of a fallen soldier's family, and the political culture of a country too bitterly polarized to realize such a vast and morally complex undertaking. George Packer's best-selling first-person narrative combines the scope of an epic history with the depth and intimacy of a novel, creating a masterful account of America's most controversial foreign venture since Vietnam.
Apart from its tragic human toll, the Iraq War will be staggeringly expensive in financial terms. This sobering study by Nobel Prize winner Joseph E. Stiglitz and Harvard professor Linda J. Bilmes casts a spotlight on expense items that have been hidden from the U.S. taxpayer, including not only big-ticket items like replacing military equipment (being used up at six times the peacetime rate) but also the cost of caring for thousands of wounded veterans--for the rest of their lives. Shifting to a global focus, the authors investigate the cost in lives and economic damage within Iraq and the region. Finally, with the chilling precision of an actuary, the authors measure what the U.S. taxpayer's money would have produced if instead it had been invested in the further growth of the U.S. economy. Written in language as simple as the details are disturbing, this book will forever change the way we think about the war.
Why did George W. Bush invade Iraq? What were the real motives, the overarching policy decisions that drove events from September 11 until the war began?To a large extent, we still don t know. But by now we do know in some detail, as Thomas Powers carefully explains in the essays collected here, how the administration made its case for war, using faulty intelligence to argue that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction and posed a mounting threat to the Middle East. Once Iraq was occupied and the weapons turned out not to exist, the case for war seemed to disappear as well. Bit by bit the evidence the documents suggesting that Iraq was trying to buy yellowcake uranium in Niger, the aluminum tubes that the United States claimed were meant for uranium enrichment, the Iraqi defector code-named Curveball who claimed Saddam had mobile biological weapons labs has been exposed as unreliable, misinterpreted, cherry-picked, exaggerated, or just fake.But as faulty as the intelligence was, it was always only a pretext, a way of persuading Congress, America, and the world to support a war that President Bush had already decided to wage. The real question remains: Why did Bush insist on a war of choice, refusing to accept any solution short of an American occupation of Iraq? The answers Powers proposes to that question, which assess the Iraq invasion as an insistence on responding to political and cultural conflicts with military action, suggest an overarching failure of American policy in the region that, as long as it remains insufficiently understood and publicly debated, will make it difficult for any president to change course.No one is better prepared than Powers to evaluate the way the Bush administration used intelligence to make its case for war, used the CIA for political ends, and used arguments of secrecy to advance both its geopolitical agenda and its claims for executive power. But beyond the now-familiar stories of nonexistent WMDs, The Military Error proposes a new, deeper analysis of the error of using military force, which has succeeded primarily in generating opposition and increasing resistance to American aims. America went into Iraq full of bright hopes and confident ideas, but Powers argues that those ideas, based on the ability of force to solve problems, defeat opponents, and make friends, were largely illusions. Such illusions, as we learned at great cost in Vietnam, die hard, but we can make decisions about our future role in Iraq only by understanding the errors that got us embroiled there in the first place."
When Gore Vidal's recent New York Times bestseller Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace was published, the Los Angeles Times described Vidal as the last defender of the American republic. In Dreaming War, Vidal continues this defense by confronting the Cheney-Bush junta head on in a series of devastating essays that demolish the lies American Empire lives by, unveiling a counter-history that traces the origins of America's current imperial ambitions to the experience of World War Two and the post-war Truman doctrine. And now, with the Cheney-Bush leading us into permanent war, Vidal asks whose interests are served by this doctrine of pre-emptive war? Was Afghanistan turned to rubble to avenge the 3,000 slaughtered on September 11? Or was "the unlovely Osama chosen on aesthetic grounds to be the frightening logo for our long contemplated invasion and conquest of Afghanistan?" After all he was abruptly replaced with Saddam Hussein once the Taliban were overthrown. And while "evidence" is now being invented to connect Saddam with 9/11, the current administration are not helped by "stories in the U.S. press about the vast oil wealth of Iraq which must- for the sake of the free world- be reassigned to U.S. consortiums."
A Military Times Best Book of the Year A powerfully written firsthand account of the human costs of conflict. J. Kael Weston spent seven years on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan working for the U.S. State Department in some of the most dangerous frontline locations. Upon his return home, while traveling the country to pay respect to the dead and wounded, he asked himself: When will these wars end? How will they be remembered and memorialized? What lessons can we learn from them? These are questions with no quick answers, but perhaps ones that might lead to a shared reckoning worthy of the sacrifices of those--troops and civilians alike--whose lives have been changed by more than a decade and a half of war. Weston takes us from Twentynine Palms in California to Fallujah in Iraq, Khost and Helmand in Afghanistan, Maryland, Colorado, Wyoming, and New York City, as well as to out-of-the-way places in Iowa and Texas. We meet generals, corporals and captains, senators and ambassadors, NATO allies, Iraqi truck drivers, city councils, imams and mullahs, Afghan schoolteachers, madrassa and college students, former Taliban fighters and ex-Guant namo prison detainees, a torture victim, SEAL and Delta Force teams, and many Marines. The overall frame for the book, from which the title is taken, centers on soldiers who have received a grievous wound to the face. There is a moment during their recovery when they must look upon their reconstructed appearance for the first time. This is known as "the mirror test." From an intricate tapestry of voices and stories--Iraqi, Afghan, and American--Weston delivers a larger mirror test for our nation in its global role. An unflinching and deep examination of the interplay between warfare and diplomacy, this is an essential book--a crucial look at America now, how it is viewed in the world and how the nation views itself.
America's second war against Iraq differed notably from its first. Operation Desert Storm was a limited effort by coalition forces to drive out those Iraqi troops who had seized Kuwait six months before. In contrast, the major combat phase of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 was a more ambitious undertaking aimed at decisively ending Saddam Hussein's rule.
After several days of intense air strikes against fixed enemy targets, allied air operations began concentrating on Iraqi ground troops. The intended effect was to destroy Iraqi resistance and allow coalition land forces to maneuver without pausing in response to enemy actions. Iraqi tank concentrations were struck with consistently lethal effect, paving the way for an allied entrance into Baghdad that was largely unopposed. Hussein's regime finally collapsed on April 9. Viewed in hindsight, it was the combination of allied air power as an indispensable enabler and the unexpected rapidity of the allied ground advance that allowed coalition forces to overrun Baghdad before Iraq could mount a coherent defense.
In achieving this unprecedented level of performance, allied air power was indispensable in setting the conditions for the campaign's end. Freedom from attack and freedom to attack prevailed for allied ground forces. The intended effect of allied air operations was to facilitate the quickest capture of Baghdad without the occurrence of any major head-to-head battles on the ground.
This impressive short-term achievement, however, was soon overshadowed by the ensuing insurgency that continued for four years thereafter in Iraq. The mounting costs of that turmoil tended, for a time, to render the campaign's initial successes all but forgotten. Only more recently did the war begin showing signs of reaching an agreeable end when the coalition's commander put into effect a new counterinsurgency strategy in 2007 aimed at providing genuine security for Iraqi citizens.
The toppling of Hussein's regime ended the iron rule of an odious dictator who had brutalized his people for more than 30 years. Yet the inadequate resourcing with which that goal was pursued showed that any effective plan for a regime takedown must include due hedging against the campaign's likely aftermath in addition to simply seeing to the needs of major combat. That said, despite the failure of the campaign's planners to underwrite the first need adequately, those who conducted the three-week offensive in pursuit of regime change performed all but flawlessly, thanks in considerable part to the mostly unobserved but crucial enabling contributions of allied air power.