In this episode of the PME Podcast, I interview Wesley Morgan. Wes is a journalist and author, who wrote a book called The Hardest Place: The American Military Adrift in Afghanistan’s Pech Valley. The book draws on hundreds of interviews and firsthand accounts from former commanding officers to the soldiers that spent months in the field. The Hardest Place provides a unique insight into many of the mistakes that drew the American military deeper into eastern Afghanistan as well as the country more broadly. In reflecting on and learning from 20 years of war in Afghanistan, this book is a must read.
Wesley Morgan’s book: The Hardest Place
Topics of discussion include:
- How the U.S. got involved in the Pech Valley and how operations grew larger over time
- The evolution of American strategy from a counterterrorism mission to counterinsurgency
- The difficulty of obtaining accurate and reliable intelligence
- How the military got caught in the middle of tribal disputes
- Challenges with command and control
- The U.S. experience in the Pech vs. the Soviet experience
- The arrival of ISIS in the Pech Valley and how their presence changed operations
- How the complexity of the operational environment hindered U.S. efforts in the Pech and Afghanistan overall
Books and Resources
- The Bear Went Over the Mountain is a book about the Soviet Union military experience in eastern Afghanistan
- David Kilcullen’s The Accidental Guerilla. This book uses the Pech Valley as a case study on counterinsurgency success
- Ronald Fry’s book Hammerhead Six
- Sebastian Junger’s book, War and movie Restrepo
- Books on Counterinsurgency: Learning to Eat Soup with a Knife, Counterinsurgency Warfare: Theory and Practice, The U.S. Army and Marines Counterinsurgency Field Manual
- Interview with Sebastian Junger
- Interview with Michael Gordon
- Featured Image source. Photo by Spc. Jon H. Arguello July 10, 2007
Follow Wes on Twitter: @wesleymorgan
Check out the book The Hardest Place: The American Military Adrift in Afghanistan’s Pech Valley
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