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Osama bin Laden was the most wanted man in American history--an enemy who brought the United States what President George W. Bush called "a day of fire," and ushered in a new era of terrorism. It took a decade of blood and sacrifice, of determination and frustration, but finally, in a nighttime raid at the end of a dirt road in Pakistan, the hunt for Bin Laden ended with a gunshot. It was a dramatic climax to a long and painful chapter. But now what? The terrorist threat that has defined American policy since the attacks of 9/11 did not die with Bin Laden in his walled compound near Islamabad. Radicals still wish us harm, and we must fight on. In this provocative collection of essays edited and introduced by Pulitzer Prize winner Jon Meacham, a group of penetrating analysts and leaders look ahead to the world after Bin Laden--to the future of Al Qaeda, of Afghanistan, of Pakistan. We explore the political, military, and cultural implications of the post-Bin Laden war on terror. From Richard N. Haass of the Council on Foreign Relations to former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, from historian and journalist Evan Thomas to former U.S. Army officer Andrew Exum, Beyond Bin Laden gives readers intelligent, deeply informed, and urgent glimpses of what comes next. Contributors include: * Jon Meacham, executive editor, Random House * James A. Baker III, former Secretary of State * Karen Hughes, former counselor to President George W. Bush and former Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy * Richard N. Haass, president, Council on Foreign Relations * Bing West, author, The Wrong War, and former Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs * Andrew Exum, fellow, Center for a New American Security * Daniel Markey, senior fellow for India, Pakistan, and South Asia, Council on Foreign Relations * Evan Thomas, award-winning historian and former editor-at-large, Newsweek.
BONUS: This edition contains excerpts from Bing West's The Strongest Tribe and The March Up."This is the face of war as only those who have fought it can describe it."-Senator John McCain Fallujah: Iraq's most dangerous city unexpectedly emerged as the major battleground of the Iraqi insurgency. For twenty months, one American battalion after another tried to quell the violence, culminating in a bloody, full-scale assault. Victory came at a terrible price: 151 Americans and thousands of Iraqis were left dead. The epic battle for Fallujah revealed the startling connections between policy and combat that are a part of the new reality of war. The Marines had planned to slip into Fallujah "as soft as fog." But after four American contractors were brutally murdered, President Bush ordered an attack on the city-against the advice of the Marines. The assault sparked a political firestorm, and the Marines were forced to withdraw amid controversy and confusion-only to be ordered a second time to take a city that had become an inferno of hate and the lair of the archterrorist al-Zarqawi. Based on months spent with the battalions in Fallujah and hundreds of interviews at every level-senior policymakers, negotiators, generals, and soldiers and Marines on the front lines-No True Glory is a testament to the bravery of the American soldier and a cautionary tale about the complex-and often costly-interconnected roles of policy, politics, and battle in the twenty-first century.NOTE: This version does not include the photo insert.
"This is the face of war as only those who have fought it can describe it."--Senator John McCain. Fallujah: Iraq's most dangerous city unexpectedly emerged as the major battleground of the Iraqi insurgency. For twenty months, one American battalion after another tried to quell the violence, culminating in a bloody, full-scale assault. Victory came at a terrible price: 151 Americans and thousands of Iraqis were left dead.The epic battle for Fallujah revealed the startling connections between policy and combat that are a part of the new reality of war.The Marines had planned to slip into Fallujah "as soft as fog." But after four American contractors were brutally murdered, President Bush ordered an attack on the city-against the advice of the Marines. The assault sparked a political firestorm, and the Marines were forced to withdraw amid controversy and confusion-only to be ordered a second time to take a city that had become an inferno of hate and the lair of the archterrorist al-Zarqawi. Based on months spent with the battalions in Fallujah and hundreds of interviews at every level--senior policymakers, negotiators, generals, and soldiers and Marines on the front lines--No True Glory is a testament to the bravery of the American soldier and a cautionary tale about the complex--and often costly--interconnected roles of policy, politics, and battle in the twenty-first century.
Battalion 3/5 suffered the highest number of casualties in the war in Afghanistan. This is the story of one platoon in that distinguished battalion. Aware of U.S. plans to withdraw from the country, knowing their efforts were only a footprint in the sand, the fifty Marines of 3rd Platoon fought in Sangin, the most dangerous district in all of Afghanistan. So heavy were the casualties that the Secretary of Defense offered to pull the Marines out. Instead, they pushed forward. Each Marine in 3rd Platoon patrolled two and a half miles a day for six months--a total of one million steps--in search of a ghostlike enemy that struck without warning. Why did the Marines attack and attack, day after day? Every day brought a new skirmish. Each footfall might trigger an IED. Half the Marines in 3rd Platoon didn't make it intact to the end of the tour. One Million Steps is the story of the fifty brave men who faced these grim odds and refused to back down. Based on Bing West's embeds with 3rd Platoon, as well as on their handwritten log, this is a gripping grunt's-eye view of life on the front lines of America's longest war. Writing with a combat veteran's compassion for the fallen, West also offers a damning critique of the higher-ups who expected our warriors to act as nation-builders--and whose failed strategy put American lives at unnecessary risk. Each time a leader was struck down, another rose up to take his place. How does one man instill courage in another? What welded these men together as firmly as steel plates? This remarkable book is the story of warriors caught between a maddening, unrealistic strategy and their unswerving commitment to the fight. Fearsome, inspiring, and poignant in its telling, One Million Steps is sure to become a classic, a unique and enduring testament to the American warrior spirit. Advance praise for One Million Steps "One Million Steps should be mandatory reading for every citizen who wants to understand the reality of the war we are in with those who would destroy our civilization and kill us. It is a stunning, sobering, and brilliantly written book. Every presidential candidate should read it and then meet with Bing West. It is a first step to rethinking the thirteen years of strategic failure we have been engaged in."--Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House of Representatives and author of A Nation Like No Other: Why American Exceptionalism Matters "One Million Steps transcends combat narrative: It is an epic of contemporary small-unit combat that in austere prose depicts the old fighting virtues of selflessness, skill, and perseverance. It is, at the same time, a stinging indictment of our strategy in Afghanistan that inspires reflection on wars upon which we have closed one chapter, but not, in all probability, the book."--Eliot A. Cohen, author of Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime "Bing West has created another masterpiece of war reporting. His first, The Village, was his personal account of leading a Marine rifle platoon in Vietnam. Now he has done it again. If you want a firsthand account of small-unit infantry combat, this book is it, and few others will ever top it."--Colonel Gian Gentile, U.S. Army (retired), author of Wrong Turn: America's Deadly Embrace of CounterinsurgencyFrom the Hardcover edition.
The Serbs behind them were preparing to attack, and in front of them lay open ground, flat and white as a shroud. We've run a hundred miles, Lang thought, to come up a football field short. When a fellow Marine is kidnapped, Captain Mark Lang and his recon team, the Pepperdogs, disobey orders and cross into snowbound Serbia to rescue him. A leader who can't quit, Lang is urged on by his team members. Five New York City reservists -- a trader, a fireman, an auto mechanic, a fitness trainer and a computer geek -- set out on an impossible odyssey. Superbly fit and equipped, they employ speed, ambush and the Internet to close in on their target. After a team member sends back e-mails describing their firefights, the Pepperdogs become front-page news. Once Weekend Warriors, by the end of their mission they are the most feared unit in Europe, fighting anyone who stands in their way. The press calls them "The Wild Bunch on technological steroids." Lang, haunted by memories of his missing buddy's dying mother, knows the horrific costs they are inflicting but won't turn back. Their rescue mission, condemned by the military, slowly escalates into a standoff between the Oval Office and NATO Europe with the world watching. A razor-sharp storyteller and Pentagon insider, Bing West unleashes a blistering techno thriller that probes the limits of physical and mental endurance. Drawing on firsthand knowledge of combat, West fuses the grit of Blackhawk Down with the behind-the-scenes intrigue of The West Wing, showing how in the near future a squad can become wired to the White House, to the dismay of the traditional chain of command. The Pepperdogs is a gripping story about American reserves, conflicting loyalties and devotion to comrade. What price will a nation pay to save one life?
From one of the most respected combat reporters in America comes a gripping battlefield history of how the U. S. military corrected its mistakes in Iraq and opened a path to victory.
America cannot afford to lose the war in Afghanistan, and yet Americans cannot win it. In this definitive account of the conflict, acclaimed war correspondent and bestselling author Bing West provides a practical way out. Drawing on his expertise as both a combat-hardened Marine and a former assistant secretary of defense, West has written a tour de force narrative that shows the consequences when strategic theory meets tactical reality. Having embedded with dozens of frontline units over the past two years, he takes the reader on a battlefield journey from the mountains in the north to the opium fields in the south. West--dubbed "the grunt's Homer"--shows why the Taliban fear the ferocity of our soldiers. Each chapter, rich with vivid characters and gritty combat, illustrates a key component of dogged campaigns that go on for years. These never-ending battles show why idealistic theories about counterinsurgency have bogged us down for a decade. The official rhetoric denies reality. Instead of turning the population against the Taliban, our lavish aid has created a culture of entitlement and selfishness. Our senior commanders are risk-averse, while our troops know the enemy respects only the brave. A fighter who understands strategy, West builds the case for changing course. As long as we do most of the fighting, the Afghans will hold back. Yet the Afghan military will crumble without our combat troops. His conclusion is sure to provoke debate: remove most of the troops from Afghanistan, stop spending billions on the dream of a modern democracy, transition to a tough adviser corps, and insist the Afghans fight their own battles. Amid debate about this maddening war, Bing West's book is a page-turner about brave men and cunning enemies that examines our realistic choices as a nation.From the Hardcover edition.
"The story of what Dakota did . . . will be told for generations."--President Barack Obama, from remarks given at Meyer's Medal of Honor ceremonyIn the fall of 2009, Taliban insurgents ambushed a patrol of Afghan soldiers and Marine advisors in a mountain village called Ganjigal. Firing from entrenched positions, the enemy was positioned to wipe out one hundred men who were pinned down and were repeatedly refused artillery support. Ordered to remain behind with the vehicles, twenty-one year-old Marine corporal Dakota Meyer disobeyed orders and attacked to rescue his comrades. With a brave driver at the wheel, Meyer stood in the gun turret exposed to withering fire, rallying Afghan troops to follow. Over the course of the five hours, he charged into the valley time and again. Employing a variety of machine guns, rifles, grenade launchers, and even a rock, Meyer repeatedly repulsed enemy attackers, carried wounded Afghan soldiers to safety, and provided cover for dozens of others to escape--supreme acts of valor and determination. In the end, Meyer and four stalwart comrades--an Army captain, an Afghan sergeant major, and two Marines--cleared the battlefield and came to grips with a tragedy they knew could have been avoided. For his actions on that day, Meyer became the first living Marine in three decades to be awarded the Medal of Honor. Into the Fire tells the full story of the chaotic battle of Ganjigal for the first time, in a compelling, human way that reveals it as a microcosm of our recent wars. Meyer takes us from his upbringing on a farm in Kentucky, through his Marine and sniper training, onto the battlefield, and into the vexed aftermath of his harrowing exploits in a battle that has become the stuff of legend. Investigations ensued, even as he was pitched back into battle alongside U.S. Army soldiers who embraced him as a fellow grunt. When it was over, he returned to the States to confront living with the loss of his closest friends. This is a tale of American values and upbringing, of stunning heroism, and of adjusting to loss and to civilian life. We see it all through Meyer's eyes, bullet by bullet, with raw honesty in telling of both the errors that resulted in tragedy and the resolve of American soldiers, U.S.Marines, and Afghan soldiers who'd been abandoned and faced certain death. Meticulously researched and thrillingly told, with nonstop pace and vivid detail, Into the Fire is the true story of a modern American hero. "Sergeant Meyer embodies all that is good about our nation's Corps of Marines. . . . [His] heroic actions . . . will forever be etched in our Corps' rich legacy of courage and valor."--General James F. Amos, Commandant of the Marine Corps
Taking us straight to the front lines, The March Up follows the famed 1st Marine Division on their decisive 1,184 kilometre trek to Baghdad, from first assault to the taking of the city. The 1st Marine Division, which had fought in Guadalcanal, Khe San, and Kuwait City, provided the critical force in Operation Iraqi Freedom. With unprecedented access to everyone from three-star generals to privates, authors West and Smith, men with 60 years of military and combat experience between them, trace the strategic war plans as they unfolded in battle, providing unflinching portrayals of what went well and what went poorly, and detailing power struggles and failures which have never before been reported. No embedded journalist had the mobility, battlefield knowledge or personal contacts as West and Smith. They were able to observe eighteen separate combat units in the division. What emerges is a dramatic, personal and human account of how the corporals fought and the generals plotted, revealing the men behind the guns and the brave and sometimes unorthodox actions that resulted in astonishing triumphs. THE MARCH UP is the behind-the-scenes story of how the men on the frontlines and the strategists in the backroom turned the march to Baghdad into a road to victory.