Ashley's War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield

Ashley's War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield

by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon


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In 2010, the Army created Cultural Support Teams, a secret pilot program to insert women alongside Special Operations soldiers battling in Afghanistan. The Army reasoned that women could play a unique role on Special Ops teams: accompanying their male colleagues on raids and, while those soldiers were searching for insurgents, questioning the mothers, sisters, daughters and wives living at the compound. Their presence had a calming effect on enemy households, but more importantly, the CSTs were able to search adult women for weapons and gather crucial intelligence. They could build relationships—woman to woman—in ways that male soldiers in an Islamic country never could.

In Ashley's War, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon uses on-the-ground reporting and a finely tuned understanding of the complexities of war to tell the story of CST-2, a unit of women hand-picked from the Army to serve in this highly specialized and challenging role. The pioneers of CST-2 proved for the first time, at least to some grizzled Special Operations soldiers, that women might be physically and mentally tough enough to become one of them.

The price of this professional acceptance came in personal loss and social isolation: the only people who really understand the women of CST-2 are each other. At the center of this story is a friendship cemented by "Glee," video games, and the shared perils and seductive powers of up-close combat. At the heart of the team is the tale of a beloved and effective soldier, Ashley White.

Much as she did in her bestselling The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, Lemmon transports readers to a world they previously had no idea existed: a community of women called to fulfill the military's mission to "win hearts and minds" and bound together by danger, valor, and determination. Ashley's War is a gripping combat narrative and a moving story of friendship—a book that will change the way readers think about war and the meaning of service.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062333827
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/12/2016
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 133,094
Product dimensions: 5.20(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon is a Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and a contributor to the Atlantic's Defense One writing on national security and foreign policy issues. In 2004 she left ABC News to earn her MBA at Harvard, where she began writing about women entrepreneurs in conflict and postconflict zones, including Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Rwanda. She is the bestselling author of The Dressmaker of Khair Khana and has written for Newsweek, the Financial Times, the International Herald Tribune, the Christian Science Monitor,, and the Daily Beast, as well as for the World Bank and Harvard Business School.

Table of Contents

Preface: Kandahar xiii

I The Call to Serve

1 Uncle Sam Needs You 3

2 Hearing the Call to Serve 19

3 The Landmark Inn 31

4 100 Hours of Hell 53

5 Making the Cut 79

6 Training Days 95

7 Diamonds Among Diamonds 115

II Deployment

8 Arrival, Afghanistan 143

9 Operation "Fit In" 163

10 The "Terp" 169

11 Climbing Mountains in the Night 189

12 Making a Difference 201

13 The Lies of War 217

III Last Roll Call

14 The First Death 225

15 A Grief Observed 247

16 The Man in the Arena 255

17 Kandahar 263

Epilogue 277

Acknowledgments 283

Select Bibliography 287

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Ashley's War: The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Aelius More than 1 year ago
I was truly moved by the fierce determination of these women to do whatever it took to better serve their country. It is an extremely important book that tells the story of a band of extremely strong women, who became "sisters" on the battlefield. A story about a groundbreaking military program and the women who served along side our military special forces. It's a story most of us would have never known about without this brilliantly written book. I applaud these women and their courage to make a difference in the world. Read this book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
could not put it down. great read and interesting. wish there was more like this book. everyone should read this to see what our solders are doing men and women!
luv2read6 More than 1 year ago
Could not stop reading.  This book is an honor to the women who had the courage and determination to serve their country in a  non-traditional role.  The determination to finish the training and prove it could be done.  Many times they proved to the men in the unit  that they could do the job.  Every word keeps the reader feel they are also part of their and their families journey.  These women did not get the recognition  they should.  Ashley White Stumf was a leader who became the first woman to be honored on the Ranger Wall of Honor. and sadly the  first woman with a special ops unit to be killed.  All first and future members of the Cultural Support Team are heros
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Deserves full praise!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An amazing and interesting book. A subject of which I knew nothing. I have never been in the military but I support those who have served. This book brings a whole new topic I never heard of before.
brf1948 More than 1 year ago
This is an extraordinary book, about some extraordinary women. I would recommend it to everyone, at any ago, but especially to our young adults
MissLML More than 1 year ago
This is an engaging read. You learn SO much about our military’s challenges and accomplishments. Even more is revealed about our unique and valuable FEMALE warriors. Their hearts carry them through a lot, often even more than physical strength. Don’t EVER count them out! They are our SECRET WEAPON and prove themselves time and again. LADIES - THANK YOU VERY MUCH for all you have done and continue to do!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Story of females serving along side US Rangers to do what they could not.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Finally there is a bool thts nt just about the war with boys. You can see how hard it is to be a girl going through the war.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book was super! Gggggpo
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I do not like it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was horrible
Anonymous More than 1 year ago