War Front to Store Front: Americans Rebuilding Trust and Hope in Nations Under Fire

War Front to Store Front: Americans Rebuilding Trust and Hope in Nations Under Fire

by Paul Brinkley
War Front to Store Front: Americans Rebuilding Trust and Hope in Nations Under Fire

War Front to Store Front: Americans Rebuilding Trust and Hope in Nations Under Fire

by Paul Brinkley


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As the top-ranking official at the U.S. Department of Defense in charge of economic rebuilding, Brinkley and his organization of hundreds of business volunteers struggled against bureaucratic policies to revolutionize foreign aid by leveraging America's strength—its private sector. In doing so, his team demonstrated success in the midst of failure, and created hundreds of thousands of jobs in areas long written off by the civilian bureaucracy as hopeless.


Reporting directly to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Brinkley spent five years overseeing economic improvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. The lessons learned in these two nations were soon extended into the war-torn nations of Pakistan, Rwanda, and Sudan.


Brinkley, who worked under both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama Administrations, reveals why American foreign policy has left these nations in the Middle East and Africa disappointed, resentful, and suspicious of American intentions. Optimistic that America can deliver on its economic promise, Brinkley outlines in War Front to Store Front the necessary changes in U.S. foreign policy if we want to rebuild and revitalize an economy under fire. 


This engaging account details:


  • Fascinating insights of the inner workings of American government and its largest bureaucracy—the U.S. Department of Defense
  • Vivid descriptions of a group of business leaders who sought to change how the Pentagon did business, and who wound up in a war zone, including a firsthand experience of a terrorist attack
  • Detailed account of the American business model for foreign development that can improve the lives of war-ravaged citizens, at far less cost than existing military and foreign aid programs
  • Insights into the transition of the Bush Administration to the Obama Administration, and its impact on foreign policy
  • Inside details on the real business climate in Iraq, before and after Saddam Hussein, as well as its political landscape
  • Detailed analysis of the future of Afghanistan, economically and politically, and how its democratic institutions struggle to gain a foothold
  • Comprehensive map to connect Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan to the global economy, creating opportunity and reducing anti-Americanism
  • Thorough breakdown of lessons learned in the Middle East and U.S. efforts to translate them to African nations, including Rwanda and Sudan

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781118239223
Publisher: Turner Publishing Company
Publication date: 02/18/2014
Pages: 400
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Paul A. Brinkley served five years as Deputy Under Secretary of Defense and director of the Task Force for Business and Stability Operations, charged with the revitalizing the economies of Iraq and Afghanistan. He is the recipient of the Joint Distinguished Civilian Service Medal and the Secretary of Defense-Defense of Freedom Medal for injuries sustained in a car bomb attack in Baghdad in 2010. He has published articles in Newsweek and Military Review and has been profiled in Businessweek, Fortune, New York Times, Washington Post, Der Spiegel, and The Economist.

Read an Excerpt

The decade-anniversary Iraq war dialogue paid little attention to the failure of our civilian government institutions to generate positive benefit from foreign aid spending on economic development. Significant focus was placed on the failures of early military strategy after initial combat operations, the lack of sustained security in post-combat Iraq and Afghanistan. On religious sectarian causes of conflict. On ethnic causes of conflict. On failed leadership by newly elected government officials struggling to implement democracy in broken, war-ravaged societies.   

But little to no emphasis is placed on the impact of our civilian foreign aid institutions, the organizations dedicated to establishing the basis for a better life once the bullets stop flying. The effect of these institutions on the lack of success of these critical national security missions has largely been subsumed in the rush to associate failure with security, ethnic, and religious causes.    

While we may hold our civilian bureaucracy in contempt here at home, we have had no problem continually channeling billions of dollars to civilian bureaucracies working overseas to provide post-conflict economic development. Just as at home, those civilian institutions have not succeeded in their missions – leaving military force as the only effective tool of foreign policy, with an outcome of lost American lives, broken societies with disaffected embittered populations, and untold financial debt that will burden future generations for years to come.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

This is the unlikely story of a group of business leaders who encountered the civilian federal bureaucracy at war, and were asked to step in and reverse failed American post-combat economic policy in Iraq. First focused on restoring employment to Iraq’s workforce, and reducing the sympathies of everyday Iraqis with a growing insurgency and ever-increasing violence,  we encountered the bureaucracy at its most intransigent – at home and overseas – in a journey that would go on for five long years, and expand to encompass similar but unique efforts in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Sudan, and Rwanda.

Reporting directly to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, this unorthodox organization of business volunteers would eventually include hundreds of men and women operating outside of the restrictive security imposed upon all other American civilian organizations, embedded with our military forces in areas of open armed conflict, and eventually independently working in conflict zones.   

Before our work would be complete, we would witness firsthand the horror of war, and the courage of our armed forces against near-impossible circumstances trying to restore stability to communities falling into open civil conflict among religious sects and tribes in the absence of hope for a better future, while our bureaucracy failed to provide needed civilian support.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: New Recruit

Chapter 2: A General's Call

Chapter 3: State of Confusion

Chapter 4: Pressurization

Chapter 5: Building Momentum

Chapter 6: Dark Days

Chapter 7: The Business of Diplomacy

Chapter 8: The Best Year Yet

Chapter 9: Out of Africa

Chapter 10: Into Afghanistan

Chapter 11: Land of the Pure

Chapter 12: Black Horror

Chapter 13: Upon Further Review

Chapter 14: Checkmate

Chapter 15: Fueling the Fire


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