The book identifies the elements that made the 2001 military operation to oust the Taliban successful, then with combat operations in Iraq as a standard of comparison, the authors analyse the remainder of the Afghan campaign and the essential problems that plagued that effort, from the decision to go to war with Iraq in 2002, through the ill-fated transition to NATO lead in Afghanistan in 2006, the dismissal of Generals McKiernan and McChrystal, the eventual decision by President Obama to make the Afghan campaign the main effort in the war on extremism, and the final development of drawdown plans following the end of the war in Iraq.
No other book successfully compares and contrasts the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan from a national strategic perspective, analysing the impact of fighting the Iraq War on the success of the United States campaign in Afghanistan. It is also the first book to specifically question several key operational decisions in Afghanistan including: the decision to give NATO the lead in Afghanistan, the decisions to fire Generals McKiernan and McChrystal and the decision to conduct an Iraq War-style surge in Afghanistan. It also compares the Afghan campaigns fought by the Soviet Union and the United States, the counterinsurgency campaigns styles in Iraq and Afghanistan and the leadership of senior American officials in both Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the final chapter, the key lessons of the two campaigns are outlined, including the importance of effective strategic decision-making, the utility of population focused counterinsurgency practices, the challenges of building partner capacity during combat, and the mindset required to prosecute modern war.
Publisher: Naval Institute Press
Number of pages: 384
Weight: 703 g
Dimensions: 229 x 152 x 33 mm
"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." --Ausmarine
"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
"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
"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 Backenables us to learn how we got here." --New York Journal of Books