One Hundred Victories is a portrait of how—after a decade of intensive combat operations—special operations forces have become the go-to force for US military endeavors worldwide.
Linda Robinson follows the evolution of special ops in Afghanistan, their longest deployment since Vietnam. She has lived in mud-walled compounds in the mountains and deserts of insurgent-dominated regions, and uses those experiences to show the gritty reality of the challenges the SOF face and the constant danger in which they operate.
She witnessed special operators befriending villagers to help them secure their homes, and fighting off insurgents in the most dangerous safe havens even as they navigated a constant series of conflicts, crises, and other “meteors” from conventional forces, the CIA, and the Pakistanis—not to mention weak links within their own ranks. They showed what a tiny band of warriors could do, and could not do, out on the wild frontiers of the next-generation wars.
One Hundred Victories also includes the inside story of the dramatic November 2011 cross-border firefight with Pakistan, which sent the US commander into a fury and provoked an international crisis. It describes the murky world of armed factions operating along the world's longest disputed border, and the chaos and casualties that result when commanders with competing agendas cannot resolve their differences.
Our elite forces fought brilliantly to topple the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001, writes senior RAND international policy analyst Robinson (Tell Me How This Ends: General David Petraeus and the Search for a Way Out of Iraq). Sadly, within a few years, the militant Islamist group was flourishing again. Its willingness to bully and murder its fellow countrymen and women created plenty of enemies, but the average Afghan kept quiet, expecting little outside help. American Special Ops leaders began brainstorming how they could change this pattern of silence, and after 2009, they were finally given the chance to put their ideas to the test. Here, Robinson delivers vivid, blow-by-blow accounts of a dozen Special Ops campaigns to train local Afghans to defend their communities. She recounts many victories despite spotty cooperation from the Afghan government and conventional American forces as well as a few failures. The success of counterinsurgency tactics can only be accurately assessed in the long term, yet America is committed to withdraw nearly all its forces from Afghanistan in 2014, and Robinson fears we may have started too late to see any lasting change. The author who is no Pollyanna and is a much better writer than the average academic delivers a painfully realistic account of how Special Ops have valiantly tried to turn matters around in Afghanistan. 8-page b&w photo insert.