The Mission: Waging War and Keeping Peace with America's Military

Overview

Walk with America's generals, grunts, and Green Berets through the maze of unconventional wars and unsettled peace.

Four-star generals who lead the military during wartime reign like proconsuls abroad in peacetime. Secretive Green Berets trained to hunt down terrorists are assigned to seduce ruthless authoritarian regimes. Pimply young soldiers taught to seize airstrips instead play mayor, detective, and social worker in a gung-ho but ill-fated...

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The Mission: Waging War and Keeping Peace with America's Military

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Overview

Walk with America's generals, grunts, and Green Berets through the maze of unconventional wars and unsettled peace.

Four-star generals who lead the military during wartime reign like proconsuls abroad in peacetime. Secretive Green Berets trained to hunt down terrorists are assigned to seduce ruthless authoritarian regimes. Pimply young soldiers taught to seize airstrips instead play mayor, detective, and social worker in a gung-ho but ill-fated attempt to rebuild a nation after the fighting stops.

The Mission is a boots-on-the-ground account of America's growing dependence on our military to manage world affairs, describing a clash of culture and purpose through the eyes of soldiers and officers themselves. With unparalleled access to all levels of the military, Dana Priest traveled to eighteen countries—including Uzbekistan, Colombia, Kosovo, Indonesia, Nigeria, and Afghanistan—talking to generals, admirals, Special Forces A-teams, and infantry troops. Blending Ernie Pyle's worm's-eye view with David Halberstam's altitude, this book documents an historic and thought-provoking trend, one even more significant in the aftermath of September 11 as the country turns to its warriors to solve the complex international challenges ahead.

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Editorial Reviews

San Francisco Chronicle
Priest documents [how] the...armed forces pursue tasks for which they are ill suited, untrained and sometimes only loosely mandated.— John T. Finn
Wisconsin State Journal
[N]ot a dry tome aimed at policy wonks. Written in a journalistic style... [it] conveys its message through colorful stories.— William Wineke
Washington Post Book World
Priest has done prodigious research, including travel....The result...is an often fascinating kaleidoscope of the US military circa 2003.— Max Boot
Gilbert Taylor - Booklist
“Insightful reportage that integrates the small with the large scale.”
Maj. Gen. Edward B. Atkeson
“The fine texture of [Priest's] reporting of the views of the personalities involved is impressive....well written.”
Christian D. Brose - Weekly Standard
“Contains colorful anecdotal evidence...[that] the military cannot take the lead role [in nation building].”
Richard Holbrooke
“Dana Priest's revealing, close-up look at this dramatic new development is especially timely as we view the challenges of the post-9/11 world.”
Benjamin C. Bradlee
“A book that is just in time for the great new debate between the hawks and the doves.”
John T. Finn - San Francisco Chronicle
“Priest documents [how] the...armed forces pursue tasks for which they are ill suited, untrained and sometimes only loosely mandated.”
William Wineke - Wisconsin State Journal
“[N]ot a dry tome aimed at policy wonks. Written in a journalistic style... [it] conveys its message through colorful stories.”
Max Boot - Washington Post Book World
“Priest has done prodigious research, including travel....The result...is an often fascinating kaleidoscope of the US military circa 2003.”
Joseph Nye
“[A] fascinating set of answers to...important questions about America's role in today's world.”
Jody Williams
“Anyone trying to understand the interplay between US military and foreign policy must read The Mission.
Lawrence J. Korb
“[S]uperbly written....should be required reading for anyone hoping to understand the goals and objectives of contemporary US foreign policy.”
Jessica T. Matthews
“An important, frequently troubling, portrayal...raises questions that urgently need answers.”
Booklist
Insightful reportage that integrates the small with the large scale.— Gilbert Taylor
Newsweek
“Examines America's increasing reliance on its military to manage—and cure—complex crises in foreign policy and international diplomacy.”
Weekly Standard
Contains colorful anecdotal evidence...[that] the military cannot take the lead role [in nation building].— Christian D. Brose
The New Yorker
This absorbing survey argues that the State Department, because of a lack of funding, has, in the past decade, essentially handed over to the military the task of international relations. The "mission" of the title is vast, and ranges from chasing drug traffickers in Colombia to monitoring town-hall meetings in Kosovo. Priest profiles colorful regional commanders -- one sky-dives for relaxation; another practices falconry with the Saudi royals -- who operate abroad with astonishing latitude. On the ground with the Special Forces, she finds that their prodigious combat training has not prepared them for such difficulties as persuading rival Afghan tribes to live side by side, or fielding a request for sewing machines from a Serbian women's collective. If Priest's account, like her subject, is a bit overextended, she has a sharp sense of the nations who know America best not through diplomats but through soldiers -- as when she tells of the king of Swaziland remarking to an American captain, "I'd really like to meet your ambassador."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393325508
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/19/2003
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 432
  • Sales rank: 1,384,080
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Dana Priest reports on military and intelligence issues for the Washington Post and is the recipient of the 2001 Gerald R. Ford Award for Distinguished Defense Reporting. She lives in Washington, DC.
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Table of Contents

Introduction: Pax Americana 11
1 A Different Kind of World 21
2 The Rise of the American Military 41
The Commanders
3 The CinCs: Proconsuls to the Empire 61
4 The Royal CinCdoms of the Persian Gulf 78
5 The Invisible Front Line of Central Asia 99
The Special Forces
6 Inside the Wire with Special Forces 121
7 A-Teams in Afghanistan 141
8 Below the Radar in Nigeria 175
9 Gambling with Green Berets in Colombia 195
10 The Indonesian Handshake 216
The Cinc and His Soldiers in Kosovo
11 Force Trumps Diplomacy in the Balkans 247
12 Waging Peace in Kosovo 275
13 Drita's Kosovo 292
14 Ellerbe's 82nd Airborne Division 303
15 Vitina and the New Mafia 320
16 Dishonoring Merita 343
17 Vitina, One Year Later 366
Afterword: The Mission 385
Postscript: The New Idealism 395
List of Interviews 407
Acknowledgments 409
Notes 411
Index 419
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