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Lions of Kandahar: The Story of a Fight Against All Odds [Kindle Edition]

Rusty Bradley , Kevin Maurer
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (449 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $27.00
Kindle Price: $11.99
You Save: $15.01 (56%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

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.


From the Hardcover edition.


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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.

Review

Advance praise for Lions of Kandahar
 
“A powerful and gripping account of a battle that helped shape the war in Afghanistan. But Lions of Kandahar is more than that. Major Rusty Bradley and Kevin Maurer give readers a stirring inside look at the day-to-day operations of a Special Forces team—and what it takes to defeat insurgents hell-bent on regaining control of 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 the critically acclaimed Tiger Force: A True Story of Men and War
 
“A raw and authentic war story about untamed Green Berets in action. Bradley and Maurer crush it! Mr. President, grab a copy—this is a sure-bet Special Forces exit strategy. Unleash more of these brave lions across Afghanistan and America will win this war.”—Dalton Fury, New York Times bestselling author of Kill bin Laden: A Delta Force Commander’s Account of the Hunt for the World’s Most Wanted Man
 
“I have read this book three times and I am still chilled to the bone with every word. In Lions of Kandahar you will be riveted by the unabridged action of our real-life military heroes. It took a group of exceptional individuals to accomplish Operation Medusa. We as a nation can only pray we have half the guts and fortitude given selflessly every day on our behalf by the Army Special Forces.”—Marshall R. Teague, actor; U.S. Navy (ret.)
 
“The war in Afghanistan is made for Special Forces, but very little has been written about these soldiers since the initial attack on Afghanistan in 2001. Bradley and Maurer do a great job of showing how these elite units fight and why they are so important to the battle against the Taliban. Lions of Kandahar<...


Product Details

  • File Size: 4435 KB
  • Print Length: 314 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0553807579
  • Publisher: Bantam; 1st edition (June 28, 2011)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004J4WKCE
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,361 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
106 of 113 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow, I am glad I am safe at home May 23, 2011
By Terry L
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I know that unless you were there yourself, it is impossible to understand what those in the book were really going through, but this description of battle is spine-tingling never-the-less.

I have read several books concerning the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the first part of this book I would rate about average with those others. However, once the main battle starts, this book is simply amazing. It describes in vivid, harrowing detail the battle raging around the author and those around him. It makes one wonder how any one survived the battle.

When I started the book, I would read a bit, put it down and read some more later. But once the description of the battle started, I didn't put the book down until the end. I wanted to know what was going to happen next and if those involved were going to survive. The writing and description of what was going on was excellent. I could picture the scene in my head as if it were a movie.

This book gave me a much greater appreciation of, and a greater respect of, what our servicemen are going through. What I liked about the book the most is that we see the battle though the eyes of the author as he was directly involved in the battle. We see what he is seeing, feel what he is feeling, and get to know what he was thinking when making decisions. This is a book about how the battle was fought by individual men and how it affected them. It is personal, written by one was being shot at, not by one directing a war effort miles away.

I would give the book a 3 star rating for the first part as the author gives us a general idea of what was going on, what he had done before and the people involved. But once the battle starts, I give the book a double 5 rating, so that brings the total star rating up to 5.

This book is just plain excellent in presenting the personal view of a battle from the eyes of one man.
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41 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A well-written, well-timed book June 9, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Lately, we as a country have seemed to forget that we have a war going on in Afghanistan. Once in a while you hear a story on the news about a coalition death, but by and large the media, and the country, have focused on other things.

"Lions of Kandahar" serves as a sobering reminder of what the human cost of the War on Terror really is. These events are not some distant event you read about in the history books: the battle for Sperwan Ghar took place less than five years ago. Author Rusty Bradley is still in the Special Forces (so far, the only active-duty SF soldier ever allowed to write a book with the backing of the Army), about to start his fourth rotation in Afghanistan. And since the battle did not get the media attention it probably deserved, when you pick up the book it is not a foregone conclusion who will win the battle.

A first-person account, the book describes the war in vivid, often excruciating, detail. The first half of the book covers Bradley with his unit beginning his tour. The action is somewhat slow in building but provides a fascinating glimpse into a world few of us can imagine. Once the team arrives at the valley, though, the book turns into the literary equivalent of the D-Day scene in "Saving Private Ryan" - a harrowing, no-details spared account of a group of soldiers taking on a vastly overwhelming foe.

Not for the sensitive ears, faint of heart or those who cannot read a book by an author with differing opinions (Bradley does his best to make the book apolitical, but his own opinions are understandably very strong), "Lions of Kandahar" is a fascinating read that reminds us that foreign policy is much more than a policy, that war is hell and that there are real people behind the statistics. I, for one, have a profound new respect for our Special Forces.
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39 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Jetsons versus Flintstones in Afghanistan May 7, 2011
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"Lions of Kandahar" describes the most important battle we've never heard about until now, one in which a few dozen American special forces and Afghan allies saved overall U.S. and N.A.T.O. efforts in Afghanistan from disaster in 2006. Writing this a few days after the death of Osama Bin Laden at the hands of a similar team of Navy SEALS, I find myself thankful we have such special forces heroes on our side in our continuing troubles.

The mission of this book is described as follows: "My team was tasked to 'clean out' the Taliban and foreign fighters, mitigate their influence, reinstate local, legitimate governance, and assist in the reconstruction and security of an underdeveloped urban area the size of Rhode Island. This Herculean task was given to ten men."

In the course of the book we come to know these incredibly-heroic men, and the answers to such questions as why they fight. "My family is why I fight, but it's hard for them to understand the reason I had to travel thousands of miles away to do it." To some extent, we also come to know their enemy. "Their ideology does not value their own people, except as sacrifices for their cause."

The battle itself pits the best of the best American warriors, using advanced equipment and aerial support (a la the Jetsons) against much larger Taliban and foreign forces (the Flintstones) using cheap but effective older weapons and communications technology. We also see, once again, how overly-restrictive rules of engagement nearly lose the day against opponents who respect no such rules.

The history leading up to the pivotal battle is detailed and interesting. No punches are pulled in describing prior failures and opposition that led to the battle and almost to its loss.
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