Battalion 3/5 suffered the highest number of casualties in the war in Afghanistan. This is the story of one platoon in that distinguished battalion.
Aware of U.S. plans to withdraw from the country, knowing their efforts were only a footprint in the sand, the fifty Marines of 3rd Platoon fought in Sangin, the most dangerous district in all of Afghanistan. So heavy were the casualties that the Secretary of Defense offered to pull the Marines out. Instead, they pushed forward. Each Marine in 3rd Platoon patrolled two and a half miles a day for six months - a total of One Million Stepsin search of a ghostlike enemy that struck without warning. Why did the Marines attack and attack, day after day?
Every day brought a new skirmish. Each footfall might trigger an IED. Half the Marines in 3rd Platoon didn’t make it intact to the end of the tour. One Million Steps is the story of the fifty brave men who faced these grim odds and refused to back down. Based on Bing West’s embeds with 3rd Platoon, as well as on their handwritten log, this is a gripping grunt’s-eye view of life on the front lines of America’s longest war. Writing with a combat veteran’s compassion for the fallen, West also offers a damning critique of the higher-ups who expected our warriors to act as nation-builders - and whose failed strategy put American lives at unnecessary risk.
Each time a leader was struck down, another rose up to take his place. How does one man instill courage in another? What welded these men together as firmly as steel plates?
This remarkable book is the story of warriors caught between a maddening, unrealistic strategy and their unswerving commitment to the fight. Fearsome, inspiring, and poignant in its telling, One Million Steps is sure to become a classic, a unique and enduring testament to the American warrior spirit.
"One Million Steps should be mandatory reading for every citizen who wants to understand the reality of the war we are in with those who would destroy our civilization and kill us. It is a stunning, sobering, and brilliantly written book. Every presidential candidate should read it and then meet with Bing West. It is a first step to rethinking the thirteen years of strategic failure we have been engaged in." (Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the House of Representatives and author of A Nation Like No Other: Why American Exceptionalism Matters)
"One Million Steps transcends combat narrative: It is an epic of contemporary small-unit combat that in austere prose depicts the old fighting virtues of selflessness, skill, and perseverance. It is, at the same time, a stinging indictment of our strategy in Afghanistan that inspires reflection on wars upon which we have closed one chapter, but not, in all probability, the book." (Eliot A. Cohen, author of Supreme Command: Soldiers, Statesmen, and Leadership in Wartime)
"Bing West has created another masterpiece of war reporting. His first, The Village, was his personal account of leading a Marine rifle platoon in Vietnam. Now he has done it again. If you want a firsthand account of small-unit infantry combat, this book is it, and few others will ever top it." (Colonel Gian Gentile, U.S. Army (retired), author of Wrong Turn: America’s Deadly Embrace of Counterinsurgency)
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- David T.