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Lions of Kandahar: The Story of a Fight Against All Odds (2011)

by Rusty Bradley

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Lions of Kandahar is a first-person account of an 8-day battle in southern Afghanistan during 2006. It's notable because the battle centered on a small team of about 30 Green Berets (including the author) who ended up playing a decisive role in defeating an enemy nearly 50 times in number. This battle was part of a sea change in strategic thinking about the role of Special Forces, they are now one of the primary forces in Afghanistan. Through this book you get a first hand view of how they operate, which is an important perspective as the military changes from the monolithic Soviet threat to small and fast teams with lots of skills and firepower. ( )
  Stbalbach | Jun 6, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0553807579, Hardcover)

A Letter from the Author
President Obama announced that 10,000 U.S. troops from Afghanistan will return home this year and another 23,000 will redeploy by summer 2012.

For me, it wasn't an announcement. It was an order by my commander-in-chief and a decision well above my pay grade. Debates over troop levels and strategy are left to the men who wear stars on their uniforms or suits in Washington.

My war is one that is fought every day like it is Sept. 12, 2001, whether I am in Afghanistan or not. As an Army officer, I watched, initially horrified, as the planes hit the World Trade Center and knew that I was going to war. I've done so five times. But my view has always been from the ground floor. I am the action arm of my commander-in-chief, not a policy maker.

In the summer of 2006, my orders were simple: partner with the Afghan army and assist the Canadians as they launched a major NATO offensive through the Panjwayi Valley in southern Afghanistan during Operation Medusa. The mission didn't go as planned, and my fellow Green Berets and I, with our Afghan allies, seized a key hill--Sperwan Ghar--from Taliban and foreign fighters, taking the pressure off our Canadian allies trapped in the valley. Over the next eleven days, we held off wave after wave of Taliban fighters before we finally broke them. I spent the rest of that rotation building a base and establishing a series of checkpoints that attempted to secure the valley.

We did the best we could to keep the lid on things in Afghanistan until the cavalry arrived. And they arrived last year. With the help of the U.S. troop surge, we were able to establish new footholds, consolidate our gains, and expand Afghan Security control while driving the Taliban from several of their critical sanctuaries, including the Panjwayi Valley.

I returned to the valley last summer to assist in establishing security, development, and governance in the valley's villages. As part of a program focused on building up one village at a time, I helped coordinate aid and the training of local police from the district level with the goal of creating a stable local government that could eventually link in with the national one in Kabul.

What our units did in 2006 is still a very critical part of the narrative there. Afghans know of the battle for Sperwan Ghar, still remember it, and still know me because of my thick gray beard. The outcome of the battle changed the way the Taliban operates. Where once they fought brazenly in the open, they now hide like cowards in among the Afghan people and fight with IEDs and suicide bombers. And they clearly know the difference between the Special Forces and conventional soldiers and give the "bearded ones" a wider berth.

While the other parts of country are now under control of Afghan security forces, there is still very much a fight in the south. The Panjwayi and Zhari districts are key territory because many of the Taliban's leaders are landowners there. This is their center of gravity and the birthplace of their movement. So they are essentially fighting for their homeland in every sense of the word. It is here that the extra troops matter the most. This summer, the key battles and in some way the fate of the war will be decided on this same battlefield.

I am often asked what I think we should do in Afghanistan. I have my opinions. But when I put on my uniform every morning, that opinion doesn't matter. I know only one thing: my mission was to go to southern Afghanistan, disrupt the Taliban, and assist the Afghan people in building a country.

And I did that.

Do troop levels matter? Absolutely. Every soldier, every commander, wants the best equipment and the most men. But I'll worry about troop levels when I have stars on my uniform. Right now my job is to execute the orders of those who do.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:52:36 -0400)

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. As then-Captain Rusty Bradley he began his third tour of duty in southern Afghanistan in 2006, the Taliban were 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. This is the story of a two-week battle that raged in scorching heat over a territory the size of Rhode Island.--From publisher description.… (more)

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