Working in teams of two, [Embedded Training Teams] ETTs are tasked with training, leading in combat, and mentoring the Afghan Army to victory against the thriving and brutal Taliban insurgency. Writing and recording from a remote outpost, Benjamin Tupper’s boots-on-the-ground dispatches were broadcast on NPR and posted on Doonesbury’s milblog The Sandbox. Now he takes us inside the intricacies of the war, opening up a unique and multifaceted view of Afghan culture and war tactics. From the rush of gunfire to surreal, euphoric moments of cross-cultural understanding, this emotional and thought-provoking narrative is rich with humor, eloquence and contradiction. Writing of danger and desire, confusion and camaraderie, outrage and inspiration, Tupper illuminates the challenges of the war, vividly bringing to life both the mundane and the extraordinary and seeking a way forward. Readers will take away an understanding of the Afghan people, from soldiers to interpreters to villagers, that is critical to shaping our policies in what will soon be America’s longest war. His journey comes full circle; from direct involvement in fighting for Afghanistan’s future he is suddenly transported back home, haunted by dreams and enduring the travails of PTSD. ‘Welcome to Afghanistan’ offers new insight into America’s eight-year mission, and takes readers to a place where our warriors need us to go.
Don’t let the ‘NPR’ and ‘Doonesbury’ references deter you. This book is a quick read (opened it one bedtime and was done by 0300), is wonderfully written, and is free from virtually any of the knee-jerk collectivist tripe usually peddled by those outlets.
Let’s put it this way — it is so powerful that I am NOT recommending to the two tribe members whose men are in AFPAK now.