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The U.S. at War in Afghanistan and Iraq
  • ISBN/SKU: 9781612510224
  • Binding: Hardcover, with Ebook available
  • Era: 21st Century
  • Number of Pages: 408
  • Subject: Afghan War
  • Date Available: October 2012
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Full Description:

These experts in the field challenge commonly held views about the success of the global war on terrorism and its campaign in Afghanistan. Their book questions some fundamentals of the population-centric COIN doctrine currently in vogue and harshly criticizes key decisions about the prosecution of the Afghan war. It is the only book to compare the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan from a national strategic perspective. It questions several key operational factors in Afghanistan, including the decision to give NATO the lead, the performance of both civilian and military leaders, and the prosecution of an Iraq War-style surge. It also contrasts the counterinsurgency campaign styles and the leadership of senior American officials in both Iraq and Afghanistan. A final chapter outlines key lessons of the two campaigns.

John R. Ballard is the Dean of Faculty at the National War College. David W. Lamm is the Deputy Director and John K. Wood an Associate Professor at the Near East South Asia Center for Strategic Studies at the National Defense University in Washington, D.C.

Praise for From Kabul to Baghdad and Back~

"This is an excellent book. It is highly recommended for anyone who has served in the Middle East, for those who know someone who has served in the Middle East, as well as for anyone who wishes to understand the strategy behind what the coalition armed forces did in the Middle East. In other words, From Kabul to Baghdad and Back is required reading for civilian and military defense professionals."

– Headmark:  Journal of the Australian Naval Institute

“The three highly qualified and objective authors have produced a very thorough analysis of the whole decision making process.  Importantly, they lucidly describe lessons learnt particularly in the context of fighting two major campaigns separately but simultaneously.  Clearly, this book will be the first of many.  It will be a hard act to follow.”


“Despite being a comprehensive analysis of both operations, this book is highly readable and a page-turner, filled with interesting overviews and insights….This book is highly recommended for anyone interested in gaining an overall understanding of two very complex and contrasting wars.”

– On Point

“In summary, this is a well-research and well-written book on the Afghan and Iraqi wars. Written from a military perspective, the book covers most of the important military decisions regarding the strategies and tactics of these two wars. Yet, unlike some military historians, the authors are realistic about the ultimate outcomes of these two conflicts and the mistakes made in them. The book is a must read for those who are interested in understanding these two conflicts.”

Middle East Media and Book Reviews Online

“A concise, well-written depiction of the events in Iraq and Afghanistan and should be considered required reading for the military student. The authors’ research provides lessons learned in the way of strategic decision making in the operational approach to war, with takeaways of resource and post-hostilities’ planning.”

Military Review

"Recommended as an Australian Command and Staff College (ACSC) primer. A useful professional study for [Australia Defence Force] personnel."

Australian Defence Force Journal

“One of those books that is both timely and thought provoking…[a] real gem…fills a significant historical gap by examining these two campaigns in parallel rather than isolation. a very valuable book for anyone trying to understand the “grand strategy,” or lack thereof, of the U.S. during the crucial years of the early 21st century when it was waging two simultaneous campaigns and any serious student of the GWOT, or anyone studying strategy, should read it.”

Journal of Military History

“This authoritative volume offers new insight into the complex nature of conducting two simultaneous military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq. Meticulously researched and masterfully written, the authors—all experts in U.S. defense strategy—caution against waging wars on dual fronts…. This is a must-read for those interested in Middle East politics, strategic studies, and military history."

Proceedings, June 2013

“Overall, this is a highly recommended book. The authors’ assessments of the conflicts, the method by which they present their findings and the depth of evaluation that they undertake make this a singular work for an understanding of the conflicts thus far.”

Leatherneck, November 1, 2012

From Kabul to Baghdad and Back, from the heart of the defense establishment, provides a substantial and thoughtful contribution to our understanding of what happened in Afghanistan and Iraq.  It also provides a harsh, comprehensive critique of U.S. defense policy from just before September 11, 2001 to President Barack Obama’s announcement of U.S. withdrawal from the conflict in Afghanistan on May 1, 2012. . . .  There is considerable discussion about what it meant to ‘go to war on two fronts,’ and ultimately the authors blame this for the failure in both countries. . . .   From Kabul to Baghdad and Back enables us to learn how we got here.”

New York Journal of Books

“A valuable and insightful analysis of America’s two wars that pulls no punches,  From Kabul to Baghdad and Back offers candid judgments on the U.S.’ inability to fight two wars at once, the weaknesses of NATO partners and a bifurcated command structure in Afghanistan, and ultimately the failure to achieve momentum from that surge--unlike the successful surge and counterinsurgency applied in Iraq.  Ballard, Lamm, and Wood make an important contribution to understanding the longest period of warfare in U.S. history.”

—Linda Robinson, author of Tell Me How This Ends and Masters of Chaos

From Kabul to Baghdad and Back weaves a comprehensive yet accessible narrative of the U.S.-led military campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq.  The account is enriched by the authors’ backgrounds in U.S. defense strategy, providing requisite historical background of the U.S. experience in fighting multi-front wars, waging counterinsurgency campaigns, and formulating policy in the two theaters.  The book's greatest contribution is its analysis of increased difficulties in Afghanistan after 2005.”

—Zalmay Khalilzad, former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan and Iraq and U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations

From Kabul to Baghdad and Back is an invaluable addition to the literature on fighting two simultaneous major wars.  John Ballard, Dave Lamm, and John Wood--three superb scholar-practitioners--are the first to weave the complex operations in Iraq and Afghanistan into a single conceptual tapestry.  There is much new research on both wars.  The authors’ comprehensive assessment on lessons learned is on the mark.  This book will be a standard in war and peace studies for the next decade.”

—Joseph J. Collins, professor, National War College, and author of Understanding War in Afghanistan

“This book should be required reading for all civilian and military national security professionals.  The authors provide a highly readable and concise examination of the development and execution of the Afghanistan and Iraq campaigns.  The insights on two-front conflicts are compelling and should be internalized by all future strategists.”

— Patrick C. Sweeney, professor of joint operations, U.S. Naval War College

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