Stacks Image 85

"Enduring Freedom, Enduring Voices: U.S. Military Operations in Afghanistan"
by Mike Walling

Using the voices of the men and women who have fought in America's longest, sustained war entailing combat operations The Hand of War for the first time weaves together the documented history of U.S. military operations in Afghanistan with their experiences.

The war in Afghanistan has transformed not only the U.S. military's structure, but the lives of every soldier, sailor, marine, coast guardsman, and airman who served there, many for multiple tours. The personnel include Regulars, Reservists, and National Guard thrust into a hostile country where Death can strike at any moment.

Tens of books and hundreds of articles have been written about this most recent Afghan war. However, no single work includes not only the view seen from high level commanders, but also through the soldier's gun sight, truck driver's window or airman's targeting reticular. This ground level view is often obscured by swirling dust, freezing rain, fatigue, and the constant flow of adrenalin which sharpens all the senses to the need to protect your buddies from harm while completing your mission.

The book begins with the background of the Soviet-Afghanistan War (December 1979- January 1980) and U.S. actions (or inactions) preceding the September 11, 2001 attacks. This context of what transpired sets the stage for U.S. invasion. Based on previous conflicts fought in this land Cain a war different from any yet emerged into one of the defining military actions in history for the U.S.

The book will be narrative nonfiction structured chronologically. Among the oral histories will be those of theater commanders, Special Operations Forces groups, Provincial Reconstruction Teams, and others whose contributions have never been heard. Each chapter will include all aspects of the war as it evolved in that time period. These aspects include combat operations, covert ops, infrastructure rebuilding and enhancement, training of Afghanistan armed and police forces, internal politics, the evolution of U.S. military structure adjust to asymmetrical threats from Taliban, al-Qaida, and criminal organizations. Included with the oral histories and documented political/military history will be descriptions of aircraft, weapons, tactics, and intelligence and counter intelligence operations.

Enduring Freedom, Enduring Voices's Epilogue will include information about some of the veterans mentioned in the book and price they paid for having sworn to "protect and defend" the rest of us from harm. It will also take a look at the current regional geopolitical situation.

These stories resonate across gender, age, nationality, and ethnicity: they are timeless tales of determination, heroism, sacrifice and the strength of the human spirit. Lastly, the work is part of "Keeping the Faith" with my fellow veterans who can't speak for themselves.

Afghanistan has been a battleground for almost 3,000 years. Since the late 20th century it has endured two major invasions and constant internecine warfare. The Introduction discusses the Soviet-Afghan War from December 1979 until its calamitous conclusion in 1989. The years following Soviet withdrawal and the rise of the Taliban to power are examined along with the contemporary U.S., Pakistan, and European diplomacy in the region. During this period the Taliban gave sanctuary and support Osama bin Laden's el-Qaida organization. This provided al Qaeda the freedom of operation to function internationally culminating with the September 11, 2001 attacks in the U.S.

Chapter 1 Reckoning: Opertaion Enduring Freedom
2001 - 2002 Operations

Chapter 1 examines what happened in Afghanistan during the first fateful months of the war. Included will be interviews with members of Special Forces units, other combat personnel, and members of the support units as well as senior theater commanders.

Chapter 2 Out of the Ashes: Renewed Taliban Insurgency
2003 - 2005 Operations

In 2003 resurgent Taliban/al Qaeda forces, allied with Haqqani network and Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hezb-i Islami, started an insurgency campaign against the democratic Islamic Republic and the presence of ISAF-troops in Afghanistan. The inability of Coalition forces to counter the rising violence from the summer of 2003 through the end of the campaign season in 2005. What transpired in the intervening two years is also detailed.
Chapter 7 - Drawdown: Risking a Failed State
2011 Operations

The death of Osama bin Laden on May 1 was, seemingly, the only high point in a year marked by U.S., Coalition, and Afghan forces to growing inability to contain, let a alone defeat, the Taliban. On May 7, Taliban forces launched their Spring Offensive in Kandahar, the largest of its kind since 2001. It amply demonstrated the organization's growing strength and high morale despite bin Laden's removal. There was also a growing body of evidence that elements within the Pakistan government actively supported Taliban in efforts to bring down the Afghan government. Extensive corruption, illiteracy, stolen supplies, drug use, and desertions within Afghan military and police forces exacerbated the deteriorating situation. Many ANA troops either refused to fight or actively aided insurgents. Some Afghan officers proved to be incompetent, corrupt or both. In addition, there were an increasing number of attacks by ANA personnel on U.S. and NATO troops. The combination of these factors led to increasing distrust of ANA forces. President Barak Obama announced the withdrawal of 10,000 U.S. troops by the end of 2011 with additional troop withdrawals over the next two years. Other NATO countries followed suit, announcing their own plans for exiting Afghanistan by 2014. This chapter looks at all of the above in detail as well as the regionally strategic military buildup by Russia, China, and India.

Chapter 8 - Now Easy Way Out: Planning an End Game
2012 Operations

On May 2, U.S. President Barak Obama and Afghan President Hamid Karzai signed the Enduring Strategic Partnership Agreement providing a long-term framework for relations between the two countries. This was followed by the Tokyo Conference on Afghanistan in July. During the conference the alliance confirmed its commitment to withdraw its combat troops by the end of 2014. The alliance also pledged $16 billion in financial support over the next four years. The diplomat efforts were overshadowed a series of highly publicized negative incidents by U.S. military personnel. The chapter covers these events as well as unreported incidents committed by insurgent groups against Afghan civilians, humanitarian workers, and NATO combat and support personnel.