Lions Of Kandahar: The Story Of A Fight Against All Odds by Rusty BradleyLions Of Kandahar: The Story Of A Fight Against All Odds by Rusty Bradley

Lions Of Kandahar: The Story Of A Fight Against All Odds

byRusty Bradley, Kevin Maurer

Paperback | May 19, 2015

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Includes a new Afterword by the authors

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.

Praise for Lions of Kandahar
 
“A raw and authentic war story about untamed Green Berets in action.”—Dalton Fury, New York Times bestselling author of Kill Bin Laden
 
“A powerful and gripping account of a battle that helped shape the war in 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 Tiger Force: A True Story of Men and War
 
“One of the most important documents to emerge from the war in Afghanistan.”The Seattle Times
 
“Powerful . . . a riveting account of a strategic battle that doesn’t glorify war or focus on heroic deeds . . . Make room on your military bookshelf for Lions of Kandahar.”San Antonio Express-News
 
“Bradley takes the reader into battle.”—Time
Major Rusty Bradley was wounded during the Battle of Sperwan Ghar in command of a Special Forces A-team, on his third combat tour as a Special Forces team leader. A native of North Carolina, he graduated from Mars Hill College and enlisted in the Army in 1993, serving as an infantryman for six years before earning his commission from O...
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Title:Lions Of Kandahar: The Story Of A Fight Against All OddsFormat:PaperbackDimensions:320 pages, 8 × 5.18 × 0.68 inPublished:May 19, 2015Publisher:Random House Publishing GroupLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0553386166

ISBN - 13:9780553386165

Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from A Breathtaking Account This was an awesome piece of non-fiction. I liked the pace of the story-telling and the vividness of the battles. I have the deepest respect for Rusty Bradley. He is a true leader and extremely courageous warrior. More importantly, his humilty allowed the story pay fitting tribute to his wounded and dead comrades.
Date published: 2014-07-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very accurate I was informed to read this book by someone in SF. It's a great read for all of us who want to understand and help our soldiers.
Date published: 2014-05-10
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Great tale but writing is wanting Great story, good detail but the writing is unclear and often very hard to follow. Needs to be polished more.
Date published: 2013-07-06
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Lions of Kandahar Excel ant read !!
Date published: 2013-02-08

Read from the Book

First Contact "The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." —attributed to Edmund Burke September 2006 The first rounds slammed into the windshield like a jackhammer. I winced, expecting the worst. Luckily, the bullet-resistant glass did its job, otherwise my brains would have been blown all over the truck. Rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) shot by just feet away, so close I could see the spring-loaded stabilizer fins that can easily shear off men’s heads, arms, legs, and destroy a small vehicle with appalling quickness. Their vapor trails hung in the air. The roar of machine guns was deafening, overwhelming. We had just arrived at the battlefield. Operation Medusa, the largest NATO-led offensive in history, was turning into an absolute disaster. Nearby, the main Canadian advance had stalled, and then stopped altogether, ambushed by anti-armor assaults and then enveloped in urban firefights. My Special Forces team and our Afghan allies were five minutes into a savage firefight at the base of Sperwan Ghar, a remote hill in the Panjwayi district in western Kandahar Province. Two other SF teams were also leading Afghan soldiers up the hill under heavy fire. If we could seize the hill, we could call in air strikes to help our NATO allies. The first two minutes of a fight are the most precious. You know who you are up against in the first thirty seconds, if you live that long. The machine guns that raked our Ground Mobility Vehicles (GMVs) and the volleys of RPGs told me that we were up against enemies who knew exactly what they were doing. Already, the Taliban fighters had dealt the nearby Canadian mechanized units a severe blow, killing nearly a dozen and destroying several vehicles. I could hear the Canadians on the radio. They were fighting for their lives. We all were. This was my third tour in Afghanistan, and when I’d departed seven months earlier we’d nearly chased the Taliban out of Kandahar. They were supposed to be broken and defeated. But since then, NATO forces had assumed control of southern Afghanistan, replacing American units with a collection of troops from around the world. The NATO commanders focused heavily on setting up reconstruction teams and less on combat and maintaining security, critical to the reconstruction efforts. Five years into the war, the change in strategy would result in the bloodiest period since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001. We’d been warned that the Taliban had returned in force. They had massed thousands of fighters in Panjwayi, their heartland, and had their sights set on overrunning Kandahar city, the capital of the province and of southern Afghanistan. These guys weren’t bush-league Taliban villagers. This wasn’t the Taliban of old that “sprayed and prayed,” hoping Allah willed them to kill the infidel and live another day. These Taliban were using well-coordinated and synchronized movements. After a volley of airburst rocket-propelled-grenade rounds, the enemy followed up with well-placed RPG rounds aimed directly at our heavy machine gunners, hoping to disable the guns or kill their operators. This was our first glimpse of a resurgent Taliban movement wholly focused on pushing the coalition forces out of southern Afghanistan. Now, hunkered down in our trucks, we faced firepower rarely seen since the first months of the war. Hard thumping cracks of gunfire from the right rear of my truck startled me. I sat sidesaddle, facing out, and turned my head just in time to see the intense red glow of another RPG slam into the ground. The red tracers that immediately followed from the Taliban machine guns struck our vehicles and the earth around us, ricocheting in all directions. I swung my M240 machine gun in that direction as fast as I could. The matrix of irrigation ditches, which ran six feet deep in some places, thick vegetation, and grape-drying huts exploded with enemy fire. “Contact right, contact right!” I screamed over the roar of the guns. Every machine gun and grenade launcher on my team’s trucks erupted toward the Taliban positions. The race was on to pour as much firepower into the enemy as possible. Just as we were beginning to gain an edge, a mud fortress and its surrounding buildings directly in front of my truck suddenly opened up. We were in the open and exposed. Rounds skipped all around inside and outside the vehicle, then the flash. An RPG exploded on the truck’s front bumper. My teeth hurt and I had the strong metallic taste of explosives in my mouth. The confusion and pain assured me I was alive. We had enemy fighters to our right, front, and left. Their ambush almost cut our column in half, preventing any reinforcements from getting into the fight. This was their goal from the start. Divide the unit, cause confusion, and destroy each of us individually. We needed air support NOW!Dutch Apache helicopter gunships circled above us. The thumping sound of the Apaches’ 30-mm cannon fire was sweet music. The gunships made runs on the heavily defended buildings to drive out the occupants. The first two of four 2.75-inch rockets from the Apaches slammed high into the grape house less than a football field away. The sharp cracks of the explosions marked a good hit. As the dust cleared from the rocket blasts, our Afghan Army soldiers opened fire and cut down the four or five Taliban fighters who came stumbling out of the building, dazed and confused. Good kills usually drop like rag dolls, as these did.I figured we were facing about fifty to eighty fighters in and around the hill. We had about sixty Afghans and thirty Special Forces soldiers in three A-teams and one command and control B-team. This B-team was supposed to be composed of twelve additional men, but this was just four in one truck. Our target, Sperwan Ghar, jutted out of the valley of farms separated by deep irrigation ditches. It was prime real estate because whoever owned it could see up and down the valley and across the river, where the Canadians were getting mauled. As we desperately tried to push up the hill, we radioed back to the tactical operations center (TOC) for more information. They were watching a live feed from a Predator drone flying over the battlefield that revealed a drastically different scenario than we had been briefed on.“Talon 30, this is Eagle 10. Here is your situation: The enemy count is not dozens, but hundreds, maybe even a thousand. They are everywhere! Do you copy, over?” We’d already shot half of our ammo. Now we knew we were horrifically outnumbered and outgunned. We faced hundreds of Taliban fighters, with more pouring in from all directions.We were in very serious trouble.

Editorial Reviews

“One of the most important documents to emerge from the war in Afghanistan.”—The Seattle Times “Powerful . . . a riveting account of a strategic battle that doesn’t glorify war or focus on heroic deeds . . . Make room on your military bookshelf for Lions of Kandahar.”—San Antonio Express-News “Bradley takes the reader into battle.”—Time“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“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“This is a riveting tale, told from the front lines of the secret war against the Taliban. Lions of Kandahar is the definitive account of a modern Special Forces mission—a must-read for anyone hoping to understand the harsh realities of the Afghan conflict.”—David Zucchino, Pulitzer-Prize-winning journalist and author of Thunder Run: The Armored Strike to Capture Baghdad“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 is a gripping, moving, and well-told war story.”—Greg Jaffe, Washington Post reporter and co-author of The Fourth Star: Four Generals and the Epic Struggle for the Future of the United States ArmyFrom the Hardcover edition.