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
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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From Gayle Tzemach Lemmon, the author of the New York Times bestseller The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, comes the story of a unique team of warriors — women who could not be Army Rangers and Navy SEALS in their own right, but who answered the call to get as close to the fight as the Army had ever allowed women to be — including Ashley White, a beloved soldier who was killed serving her country’s cause

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 women 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 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 are 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.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062333827
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 04/12/2016
Pages: 336
Sales rank: 197,218
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 Atlantic Media’s Defense One, writing on national security and foreign policy issues. She is the bestselling author of The Dressmaker of Khair Khana and has written for Newsweek, the Financial Times, International Herald Tribune, 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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