[by Mark Safranski, a.k.a "zen"]
Just received a review copy of this yet-to-be-released memoir from Callie at Oettinger & Associates, which I have thumbed through ( formal review coming soon).
The author, Michael G. Waltz has had a very interesting career arc – Green Beret officer, Commander of multiple SF and SOF teams, Afghan combat veteran with valor awards, DoD counter-narcotics policy adviser, counter-terrorism adviser to Vice-President Dick Cheney, Senior National Security scholar at the liberal New America Foundation, Co-founder of Askari Associates and President of Metis Solutions.
Waltz , it must also be noted, is donating 100% of the proceeds of this book to veterans charities.
An active commenter on FP and .mil affairs, Waltz most recently opined on ISIS here:
….There were over 40 nations involved in the ISAF coalition, which caused numerous functional and strategic issues. Even base terms such as “counterinsurgency” (COIN) were interpreted very differently by every partner. For the French, COIN, invoked memories of their brutal campaign in Algeria; while for the Dutch, the military focus of COIN was to provide security for development projects. These differences led to years of 40 countries going in as many different directions to little strategic effect. In the ISIS campaign, the U.S. should start with ensuring all members of the coalition have the same understanding of the President’s stated goals of “degrade” and “destroy.” These terms are more than just rhetoric in military circles and will have different meanings to each contributor.
….Coalitions are difficult to assemble and even more difficult to maintain when the going gets tough. Too often ISAF’s military failings would be swept under the rug in Washington and Brussels for the sake of preserving the political unity of the coalition. It reflected the view of many in U.S. and European circles working the NATO portfolio that the war in Afghanistan was good for NATO; as it would force the alliance into shape rather than forcing NATO to confront its failings for the good of Afghanistan. The coalition against ISIS must be good for winning the war effort against Islamist extremism, not the other way around.
Read the rest here.
Warrior Diplomat falls into the same military genre represented by American Spartan, About Face, A Bright Shining Lie and to a lesser extent, classics like Street Without Joy and Diplomat Among Warriors - books that integrated “the fight” with the political, bureaucratic, policy context in all of the latter’s monumental dysfunction. For example, writing of the Tagab District, where the Bagram air base is located, Waltz lamented:
….Though we had information about the HIG broadly as an organization and about some of their commanders in the area, I was bothered by our lack of knowledge about Tagab and the people of the valley. We knew little beyond the very basics of local government, the police, or the local economy. We also knew little to nothing about the tribal make-up of the area or which tribes had aligned with the HIG. most important, we had no idea why certain locals were supporting them. Was it ideological? Tribal rivalry? Abuse from local officials? I hoped our patrol would answer these questions, but I was astonished that we didn’t know more about an area so close to our main base in Afghanistan. Four years into the war, in 2005, we were going into the area partially blind because of our lack of meaningful intelligence
This passage would probably ring true with Major Jim Gant. Or with friend of ZP blog Pete Turner, who spent so much time in Zabul. Or with most of the soldiers and Marines who went on patrol in Afghanistan any time in the past decade.
Warrior Diplomat is scheduled for release November 1, and I will try to have my formal, full review posted that week.