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.
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, laced through 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.
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Kandahar Battle Described As Never Before
The experience that made listening to Lions of Kandahar the most enjoyable was that it was a very edge of your seat listen. There was always action, action, action. I don't believe that any of the men who were a participant in the battle of Kandahar ever slept over 3 hours without another man pulling on his boot to wake him up.
One of the most memorable moments of Lions of Kandahar was when the Taliban and American forces were having another fierce battle and two Americans and four Afghans went to the school to conduct surveillance. The school was situated in the compound that had been won in one of the many vicious battles. The Taliban discovered them and they had to flee. The medic left his position to attend to the injured men. He ran across open space without giving any thoughts to the danger he was putting himself in. One of the American men, in the army special ops, was severely injured. One of the bullets had ripped through him and his intestines and other organs were exposed. The medic fixed him up as well as he could to be med evaced out. He was gotten onto the med evac hilo and flown out. Because of the medic's immediate attention, the soldier did survive. The medic was put in for the medal of honor by his commander.
Eric G. Dove provided reality to the story. The fierceness of the many battles were given more validity then if I had read the words. I could feel the action and suspense. I could see the men's faces, filthy, with sweat running down into their eyes. I could hear the screams on the battlefield of the wounded men. I could see the raging fires caused by the air support dropping bombs on significant specified areas. I could also see the dead Taliban strewn across the battlefield.
My extreme reaction was tears. This occurred a couple of times during particular scenes that the authors, Rusty Bradley and Kevin Maurer, described so clearly in words and Eric Dove, the narrator, brought to life.
The capital of Afghanistan, Kandahar, was wanted by both the Taliban and the US. The Army Rangers and Afghan allies, were sent out to help the Canadians, who were losing men of their own special ops and were having great difficulty holding on, at a different battle close by. The battle of Kandahar, raged for four weeks, with no let up. The US had to keep asking for more supplies to be air-lifted in, they called for air defense many times as well as med evac hilos. The days were well over one hundred degrees and the nights could drop to freezing. The men were eating MRE's and drinking so much water, that the supply of water became critical at times. This has been the best described battle that I have read in the many books about the Afghanistan war. I can understand why Captain Rusty Bradley had to take many, many notes and compile them into a book. To allow this battle, that was so crucial to the American's, not to be put into words would have been unthinkable. This one battle illustrates how difficult and hellish war it. War illustrates how the men work together as a team. The men are very aware on one another. These men will do anything to help out one another. There was not one man described, who was not willing to die for their fellow man. These men would make unprecedented rescues of their fallen comrades on the battlefield. They would not leave a man behind, even if it meant their own death. This book is definitely a must read. The book passes by so quickly and to think that these men would not all go home after that battle was over. They were getting their gear together to move on to the next site, where the Canadians were fighting, that was considered worth fighting for. War is definitely not what I would consider the best job but thank you to the men and women who are willing to fight war to keep their fellow man safe and free.
- Pamela Dale Foster