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At 6:00 a.m. on the morning of October 3, 2009, Combat Outpost Keating was viciously attacked by Taliban insurgents. The 53 U.S. troops, having been stationed at the bottom of three steep mountains, were severely outmanned by nearly 400 Taliban fighters. Though the Americans ultimately prevailed, their casualties made it one of the war's deadliest battles for U.S. forces. At 6:00 a.m. on the morning of October 3, 2009, Combat Outpost Keating was viciously attacked by Taliban insurgents. The 53 U.S. troops, having been stationed at the bottom of three steep mountains, were severely outmanned by nearly 400 Taliban fighters. Though the Americans ultimately prevailed, their casualties made it one of the war's deadliest battles for U.S. forces. And after more than three years in that dangerous and vulnerable valley a mere 14 miles from the Pakistan border, the U.S. abandoned and bombed the camp. A Pentagon investigation later concluded that there was no reason for Outpost Keating to have been there in the first place. The Outpost is a tour de force of investigative journalism. Jake Tapper exposes the origins of this tragic and confounding story, exploring the history of the camp and detailing the stories of soldiers heroic and doomed, shadowed by the recklessness of their commanders in Washington, D.C. and a war built on constantly shifting sands.


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At 6:00 a.m. on the morning of October 3, 2009, Combat Outpost Keating was viciously attacked by Taliban insurgents. The 53 U.S. troops, having been stationed at the bottom of three steep mountains, were severely outmanned by nearly 400 Taliban fighters. Though the Americans ultimately prevailed, their casualties made it one of the war's deadliest battles for U.S. forces. At 6:00 a.m. on the morning of October 3, 2009, Combat Outpost Keating was viciously attacked by Taliban insurgents. The 53 U.S. troops, having been stationed at the bottom of three steep mountains, were severely outmanned by nearly 400 Taliban fighters. Though the Americans ultimately prevailed, their casualties made it one of the war's deadliest battles for U.S. forces. And after more than three years in that dangerous and vulnerable valley a mere 14 miles from the Pakistan border, the U.S. abandoned and bombed the camp. A Pentagon investigation later concluded that there was no reason for Outpost Keating to have been there in the first place. The Outpost is a tour de force of investigative journalism. Jake Tapper exposes the origins of this tragic and confounding story, exploring the history of the camp and detailing the stories of soldiers heroic and doomed, shadowed by the recklessness of their commanders in Washington, D.C. and a war built on constantly shifting sands.

30 review for The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor

  1. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    “This new camp in the Kamdesh District would…be surrounded by higher ground…in a cup within the valley’s deepest cleft, ringed by three steep mountains that formed part of the five-hundred-mile-long Hindu Kush mountain range. Blocked off on its northern western, and southern sides by rivers and mountains, it would moreover be a mere fourteen miles distant from the official Pakistan border – a porous boundary that meant little to the insurgents who regularly crossed it to kill Americans and Afgha “This new camp in the Kamdesh District would…be surrounded by higher ground…in a cup within the valley’s deepest cleft, ringed by three steep mountains that formed part of the five-hundred-mile-long Hindu Kush mountain range. Blocked off on its northern western, and southern sides by rivers and mountains, it would moreover be a mere fourteen miles distant from the official Pakistan border – a porous boundary that meant little to the insurgents who regularly crossed it to kill Americans and Afghan government officials before taking refuge in caves or in the mountains or returning to their haven across the border. [Combat Outpost Keating] would be one of the most remote outposts in this most remote part of a country that was itself cut off from much of the rest of the world, and the area all around it would be filled with people who wanted to kill those stationed there…” - Jake Tapper, The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor “They’re the bottom of the barrel, and they know it. Maybe that’s why they call themselves grunts, because a grunt can take it, can take anything. They’re the best I’ve ever seen…The heart and soul.” - Charlie Sheen as Chris in Oliver Stone’s Platoon (1986) When I first heard of Jake Tapper’s The Outpost I was more than a little wary. After all, I thought – perhaps uncharitably – what does a White House correspondent with perfect hair know about crafting a compelling account of a recent battle? These kinds of projects are too easy to get made simply by dint of an author’s name recognition, and I was frankly uninterested in what I suspected might be a television talking-head’s glib, hurriedly-produced, rah-rah portrayal of outnumbered heroes in a mountain outpost. Well, I can admit when I’m wrong. The first time I laid hands on a physical copy of The Outpost, I knew there was nothing glib or hurriedly-produced about it. It is, to the contrary, an ambitious work, 614-pages in length, and covers not simply a single battle in the mountains of Afghanistan, but an entire three-year period in the Kamdesh Valley. While the combat scenes are riveting – and occasionally gruesome – this is also an effective, non-preachy case study of America’s forgotten war in Afghanistan, focused on the distant Nuristan Province. The conclusions that are derived from the narrative come not from Tapper – or at least, not wholly from Tapper – but from the men who lived it, the soldiers, from captain on down, at the low end of the military food chain. The Outpost is divided into three separate sections, corresponding to the outfits who variously manned the base that ultimately came to be called Compat Outpost Keating. This involves a large cast of characters spread among four Army units (3-71 Cav; 1-91 Cav; 6-4 Cav; and 3-61 Cav). For the most part, Tapper does a good job of introducing you to these men, and providing enough backstory for the reader to become invested in their individual stories. Unfortunately, however, Tapper frequently does a poor job with the transitions. While each of the three individual sections are strong, the segues are weak, and many of the officers and soldiers that we meet – and come to care about – end up disappearing from the story via parentheticals or footnotes. With that said, Tapper’s overall ability to control a sprawling narrative is commendable, as is his ability to distill the lessons to be learned from the lives that were lost. The tale of Combat Outpost Keating reminded me a lot of Dien Bien Phu in miniature. Like the French in Indochina, the American Army put CO Keating in an unfavorable, hard-to-supply location, nevertheless certain that it could be sustained without problem. There were, in fact, many problems. For one, the base outpost was at the bottom of a mountain, surrounded by high ground. It was built in this unfavorable position to be close to the road, but that road soon proved to be useless for purposes of resupply. Instead of moving the enterprise, the Army just kept it where it was, a victim of bureaucratic inertia. With the road unusable, helicopters had to be used to keep food, medicine, and ammunition flowing. However, a base’s placement at the bottom of a mountain in Afghanistan is not conducive to easy helicopter runs. Help – whether that was more men, more ammo, or a medevac – were not close by. Added to this was a chronic shortage of air support, as helicopters and fix-winged aircraft where shipped to Iraq. Despite these odds, and despite the fact that CO Keating was always a dangerous place – it was named for a promising young officer killed in a truck accident on the soon-to-be-abandoned road – there were periods when the soldiers garrisoning the base seemed to make real inroads with the local civilian population. Always, though, there were setbacks. A stretch of tranquility could quickly erupt into a flash of violence, leaving desperate American soldiers way out on a limb. The Outpost covers a three-year, nine-month period from January 2006 to October 2009. Trying to capture the experience of this intimate epic involves a lot of repetition. Reading this can feel like a slog, not because the writing is bad – Tapper’s prose is clear and well-paced, and mostly avoids stretching for grandiloquence – but because that was the reality. These troopers were not unlike Sisyphus, rolling a boulder uphill, only to see it tumble back down. The end of CO Keating came on October 3, 2009, with a dawn attack by hundreds of insurgent fighters. Tapper gives an extremely good, minutely-detailed account of this frenzied battle, where the base was actually overrun for a time. This might not be as good, in the end, as Black Hawk Down, but there are moments when it comes close. It is clear from the level of detail, the excerpted emails, the personal photographs, that Tapper did a great deal of work with the participants, including over two hundred interviews. Despite this impressive research, the Afghani perspective is almost entirely missing. I don’t say this as a criticism, since it’s not hard to imagine the difficulty of securing face-time with members of a heavily-damaged Nuristan village, much less chatting with anti-American and anti-government forces who are still engaged in an ongoing conflict. Nonetheless, the result is a solely American story. At times – and not inappropriately – Tapper presents it almost as a memorial. For instance, whenever there is a skirmish or firefight, he always includes – often in a footnote – the names and hometowns of all the fatalities. This bare biographical information is not so different from what you’d see on a cross at Arlington. The Outpost is most notable for its ability to bring some coherence to the chaos of a mountain gun-battle, the thin air filled with bullets and RPGs and screams of pain. To Tapper’s credit, though, he also bakes a credible critique of the War in Afghanistan into the proceedings. On this front, no one is really spared. The Bush Administration is faulted – often by the soldiers themselves, vehemently – for taking their eye off the ball by deciding to invade Iraq. Whatever the merits of that venture, it certainly cannibalized American forces, leaving the most advanced military force in history short of necessities in the Kamdesh Valley. The Obama Administration is taken to task for promising to make Afghanistan a priority, but then getting distracted by public fights with the Pentagon. In the end, Tapper’s final point is well taken: We owe the men and women of America’s military better decision-making. When a democracy goes to war, there has to be a worthy, well-defined goal, and that goal has to be attainable. By the time that CO Keating fell, it is arguable that neither of those preconditions were present. As America’s lingering experience in Afghanistan limps to its now-foregone conclusion, it is worth reading about and remembering the experiences of CO Keating, in the hope that maybe, just maybe, we’ll ask the vital question before starting the next war. The question, of course: Is this worth dying for? In other words, before we send troops into harm’s way, we need to make very sure that they are doing so for a cause that is worthy of their sacrifice. It does no disservice to the men who gave their lives – or who had their lives changed – to say that clinging to CO Keating was not worth the price that was paid.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Paige

    Just finished reading this book that I knew was in the making for the last two years. My husband was a commander with 6-4 Cav and Rob Yllescas and Dena were personal friends of ours. It was surreal reading The story of Keating and the Outpost and really just pisses you off on how and why this could happen. Our soldiers are so brave and professional and deserve our respect. These families who lost their love ones deserved to be toasted whereever they go for the rest of their lives. This is highly Just finished reading this book that I knew was in the making for the last two years. My husband was a commander with 6-4 Cav and Rob Yllescas and Dena were personal friends of ours. It was surreal reading The story of Keating and the Outpost and really just pisses you off on how and why this could happen. Our soldiers are so brave and professional and deserve our respect. These families who lost their love ones deserved to be toasted whereever they go for the rest of their lives. This is highly recommended reading so you can actually see what continues to go on even today in Afghanistan that the average American has forgotten about.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Phil Melton

    Every American should read this book. And every member of Congress should have to read 'The Outpost' before casting any votes involving sending Americans into harm's way. Detailed, involving, sobering, infuriating. Jake Tapper has done a marvelous job of writing, and performed a public service by authoring this. Every American should read this book. And every member of Congress should have to read 'The Outpost' before casting any votes involving sending Americans into harm's way. Detailed, involving, sobering, infuriating. Jake Tapper has done a marvelous job of writing, and performed a public service by authoring this.

  4. 5 out of 5

    'Aussie Rick'

    How to do justice to a book full of accounts of brave young men being horrifically wounded and dying in the course of their duty – I can’t! All I can say is that people need to read this book, the story of brave young American servicemen based in a deadly and highly vulnerable valley just a few miles away from the Pakistan border and surrounded by enemy forces. The book’s main focus is on the troops manning Combat Outpost Keating – named after an officer who lost his life at that location. The o How to do justice to a book full of accounts of brave young men being horrifically wounded and dying in the course of their duty – I can’t! All I can say is that people need to read this book, the story of brave young American servicemen based in a deadly and highly vulnerable valley just a few miles away from the Pakistan border and surrounded by enemy forces. The book’s main focus is on the troops manning Combat Outpost Keating – named after an officer who lost his life at that location. The outpost was first established in 2006 and the author follows the various units and their men throughout their rotation of duty at the post till it’s dramatic end in 2009. At times some of the accounts of soldiers being wounded and killed by the enemy is quite confronting and graphic and you think to yourself; ‘God I hope the families don’t read this book’. I think the author was trying to confront the reader with the reality of combat, to make us sit back and think, that really should we, as a nation, be so quick to put our young men in harm’s way. I understand that the author interviewed many of the men and the families whose stories are told here. I came away with nothing but admiration for all the soldiers involved and a sense of rising anger at those who put these men in this situation that lead to many fine young men losing their lives or being wounded, in both body and mind. The book is well-written and easy to read and appears to be well researched with numerous footnotes to various items of interest. At times I found it hard to put the book down and the accounts of the many battles and skirmishes had me reading till late at night or early next morning. Some of the accounts were funny, like this one; “Howard had told Keating that he wanted him to switch Able Troop’s focus from strictly fighting the enemy to counterinsurgency work: more meeting with local leaders and assisting on development projects, less driving around trying to find insurgents. That wasn’t so easy: ‘nobody told them,’ Keating would quip about the enemy. ‘The little bastards keep shooting at us every day’.” Or this account of when Sergeant First Class Jeff Jacops was wounded one morning when a recoilless rifle round hit a wall right in front of him, blowing him backward and knocking him unconscious. He awoke with a number of injuries caused by shrapnel and also realised that he was spitting out teeth. He was stabilised by the base medic and medevac’d to a larger support base: “At Forward Operating Base Bostick, the surgeon told Jacops he was going to put him under so he could take a good look at his wounds. Preparing for the anesthesia, he asked his patient, ‘What did you have for breakfast?’ 'A fucking rocket,’ Jacops replied” I was happy that I decided to read this book although I will confess that at times I felt saddened at the loss of so many good young men in a war that would appear was badly handled and supported by the very government that sent these men into action. I do not understand how these men were not provided the full support with all the resources that the United States military has at is disposal. This was the war that had to be won, but appears may have been lost, I hope not, for these men’s sake and their families.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Heather C.

    This book drained me. 600+ pages describe the tragic story of a lone outpost in 2006 Afghanistan. Someone, somewhere, came up with the moronic idea of putting a post in a location so remote, so inaccessible, and so dangerous that many, MANY soldiers lost their lives, unnecessarily, the author shows. The mountains of Afghanistan are dangerous, (with bad guys for sure, but also with a people who live pretty much the same way they did 5,000 years ago and don't have any desire for anything different This book drained me. 600+ pages describe the tragic story of a lone outpost in 2006 Afghanistan. Someone, somewhere, came up with the moronic idea of putting a post in a location so remote, so inaccessible, and so dangerous that many, MANY soldiers lost their lives, unnecessarily, the author shows. The mountains of Afghanistan are dangerous, (with bad guys for sure, but also with a people who live pretty much the same way they did 5,000 years ago and don't have any desire for anything different) but it is also made clear that money, equipment, and other soldiers were being used in Iraq (a moronic war that someone, somewhere, came up with...) and without the necessary resources, our troops in Afghanistan were cold, hungry, and without medical aid. You will become attached to every single soldier in this book, and your heart will break when they die. And it will break again when the two soldiers in dress uniform show up on their wives' porches, and their parents' porches, to deliver the news. This little outpost was truly a piece of hell on earth, but for all the agony, the story caused me to feel an even greater affection and appreciation for these men than I already had. The author gave an interview on NPR about his book: http://www.npr.org/2013/02/20/1724024...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

    This book has high ratings on this site and has recieved good reviews from a number of different sources and for good reason. This is, perhaps, the best book on combat in Afghanistan for American soldiers available now. The other book I've read about this was Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10, but this one does a much better job as it follows the birth, life, and death of a combat outpost in a remote region of Afganistan, following This book has high ratings on this site and has recieved good reviews from a number of different sources and for good reason. This is, perhaps, the best book on combat in Afghanistan for American soldiers available now. The other book I've read about this was Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10, but this one does a much better job as it follows the birth, life, and death of a combat outpost in a remote region of Afganistan, following the trials and travails of the soldiers posted there during that time. Throughout there is this sense of impending tragedy and doom, like in the movie Zulu, because the outpost was built in a place it should never have been, a deep valley surounded by tall mountains where large numbers of insurgents could easily fire on the base and hide, and the reason it was put there became obsolete within a year of the outpost's birth. You don't have to be a 5-star general to realize from page one how stupid it was to put that base there, and Mr. Tapper does a marvelous job of using that theme throughout the book without bashing you over the head with it. The other theme of this book is the lack of a strategy in Afganistan following the U.S.'s invasion of Iraq in 2003. The book picks up three years after the intial invasion of Iraq, but it's effects on this theater are felt throughout and not even the changing of the guard from Presidents Bush to Obama seems to have changed that by the books end. And finally, the book shows how tough it is for soldiers in Afghanistan not just from a strategic level, but from a day-to-day perspective as the shortcomings of Outpost Keating exacerbates supply troubles that soldiers in that theater were having due to the aforementioned invasion of Iraq. This book has a lot to say about how military strategy is formed, not all of it very positive, and should be read by everyone not just to undersatnd the difficulties of the war in Afghanistan, but also for future generations of military leaders and policy makers to avoid making pointless decisions that ultimately gets good men and women killed.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    “I know that when I get home, these stories are from just one chapter in a life that I will continue to use in meaningful ways.” This is one of the best books I’ve read in a really long time. It’s one that I think every American needs to read. It’s incredibly sad and often infuriating, but eye-opening in so many ways. It certainly made me look at things differently. I’m not a huge non-fiction reader, so this really wasn’t ever on my radar. It was a combination of my step-dad putting this book “I know that when I get home, these stories are from just one chapter in a life that I will continue to use in meaningful ways.” This is one of the best books I’ve read in a really long time. It’s one that I think every American needs to read. It’s incredibly sad and often infuriating, but eye-opening in so many ways. It certainly made me look at things differently. I’m not a huge non-fiction reader, so this really wasn’t ever on my radar. It was a combination of my step-dad putting this book in my hands and my latest obsession, season 2 of the Serial podcast, that piqued my interest and got me to give it a chance. It’s very well-written, but it’s not an easy read. There were times, I was so upset and heartbroken by what I read that I had to set it aside for a few days and gather my thoughts before picking it back up. There were other times, I was so outraged and pissed off. How could this be allowed to happen? Over and over? From the start, everyone knew the outpost was in a horrible location, one so remote and dangerous, but they pushed ahead anyway. Why? As an outsider looking in, it’s hard not to feel that so many soldiers and innocent people lost their lives in vain. To feel that after three years of mistakes, political agendas and inflated egos, not much was accomplished. What was made clear to me was that the American public is in the dark about what’s really going on. That we care more about celebrities and frivolous things (I’m totally guilty), than whether our soldiers are getting the support and care that they need and deserve. These people are sacrificing their lives while we turn a blind eye. This is something that has to change. This book has given me a deeper appreciation for the sacrifice that these brave men and women and their families make every day. I honestly don’t know if I would be strong enough to do the same. “There were many lessons from COP Keating. One of them is that our troops should never, ever be put in a position where they have to defend the indefensible. But that’s what these soldiers did - for each other, in sacrifice driven by pure love.”

  8. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    This is a vivid depiction of our professional military in combat and in confused, difficult counterinsurgency situations. The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor is a 4 Star story of a small corner of the Afghanistan War that claimed so many fine young men. These soldiers are exceptional. The final battle of the book is awe-inspiring. A Medal of Honor was just awarded to SSGT Romesha for his actions in the battle. He was just one brave man among many brave men who came to Combat Outpost K This is a vivid depiction of our professional military in combat and in confused, difficult counterinsurgency situations. The Outpost: An Untold Story of American Valor is a 4 Star story of a small corner of the Afghanistan War that claimed so many fine young men. These soldiers are exceptional. The final battle of the book is awe-inspiring. A Medal of Honor was just awarded to SSGT Romesha for his actions in the battle. He was just one brave man among many brave men who came to Combat Outpost Keating over the 3 years of its existence. The highlights of the book are the soldiers and their stories. Their backgrounds are revealed; their performances in combat told and when they are killed or wounded, get ready for graphic details. That graphic detail has to be tough to read for those who knew these men. Tapper spares nothing in describing gory maiming and death. The combat is intense and he brings you into the close-in fight. He also writes the book for those ignorant of basic military terms. He takes the time in footnotes and appendices to explain army terminology in minute detail. One thing he did that I really like is identify by name and hometown any KIA that comes into the story, a nice touch. It goes with his overall theme of making you come to see these soldiers as your neighbors, friends, members of the community; not nameless statistics. Well done. Tapper is no Dexter Filkins, he does not bring any larger context to this story. The Outpost is placed, a bunch of units come through, some successes are achieved against great odds, the ground gained is subsequently lost. The Outpost remains while getting shot up regularly, soldiers are killed and wounded in and around the camp. A decision to close it is delayed until the final attack reveals the vulnerability of the site. Virtually nothing is explained in any detail on the interplay of factors in the theater, except to say people were hesitant to take action on the Outpost due to “changes”. I marvel at the soldiers’ amazing efforts to succeed despite daunting obstacles. For a time, cooperation between the units at Outpost Keating and the locals starts to coalesce. Some progress is made, however halting, toward improving basic living standards. Corruption, misunderstanding, waste, opposition, hesitation to cooperate, hidden agendas all take a toll, yet the soldiers keep trying. Like I found in Imperial Grunts: The American Military on the Ground, these men and women in the armed forces are so impressive. My biggest gripe about the book resides in the title An Untold Story of American Valor . Well, no shit, Sherlock, there are probably hundreds of untold stories of valor ignored by the media. Tapper recounts the frustration of the soldiers at this fact; no one seemed to give a rat’s ass about what was happening in Afghanistan: (view spoiler)[ Dave Roller was distraught at the loss of Bostick; everyone in Bulldog Troop was. But for Roller, the hardest thing of all was his belief that even as he and his fellow soldiers were out there fighting for their lives, no one back home cared. Ninety percent of the American people would rather hear about what Paris Hilton did on a Saturday night than be bothered by reports on that silly war in Afghanistan, Roller thought. Of this he was convinced. That the people they’d been fighting for would never even know their names made the death of soldiers such as Tom Bostick and Ryan Fritsche all the more tragic. (hide spoiler)] The ignoring of soldier valor and suffering in Afghanistan continues. Probably less is known about Afghanistan now than when this story took place. The only stories covered now are green-on-blue attacks, errant bombing/killing of civilians by coalition forces and successful Taliban suicide bombings/attacks. How many untold stories of valor are yet to be covered?

  9. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    This should be required reading for every American. Reading this has evoked many emotions in me. Pride in these men, love for these men, sorrow for the loss, anger at our political leaders....the majority of our citizens have no clue whatsoever as to the price being paid by our armed forces. It is my hope and prayer that many will read this and perhaps come to some understanding of the great and terrible price paid by our troops and their families. To all who were a part of this story, may God This should be required reading for every American. Reading this has evoked many emotions in me. Pride in these men, love for these men, sorrow for the loss, anger at our political leaders....the majority of our citizens have no clue whatsoever as to the price being paid by our armed forces. It is my hope and prayer that many will read this and perhaps come to some understanding of the great and terrible price paid by our troops and their families. To all who were a part of this story, may God ever bless and keep you, there are no words to express the gratitude and love I feel for you and your families. God bless America and God bless our troops, and may He keep our combat troops ever in His hand.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Forrest

    Just a suggestion if you are interested in reading this book. Consider first reading "Red Platoon" by Clinton Romesha. He was one of the soldiers actually present at Outpost Keating during the battle. After Keating, he received the Medal of Honor for his heroism during battle. He gives firsthand witness of the battle. After delving 4 hrs into the audio of this book, Tapper gives extra detail of many events preceding the battle not included in Romesha's version. Perhaps Tapper, through his resear Just a suggestion if you are interested in reading this book. Consider first reading "Red Platoon" by Clinton Romesha. He was one of the soldiers actually present at Outpost Keating during the battle. After Keating, he received the Medal of Honor for his heroism during battle. He gives firsthand witness of the battle. After delving 4 hrs into the audio of this book, Tapper gives extra detail of many events preceding the battle not included in Romesha's version. Perhaps Tapper, through his research provides a second perspective, albeit from a journalist who was not even there. But for 21 hours of audio? No thanks. To be honest I grew a little bored of the material. Thus, the story ends the same. Red Platoon was an amazing read. I may decide to pick this one up again at a much later date, but for now I am content already knowing the story of Keating as told by a soldier.

  11. 4 out of 5

    David Quijano

    I found The Outpost through a friend's review on Goodreads. Having recently finished a book about this history of ISIS, I thought it would be good to continue with the terrorism theme, but from a different perspective. When I realized it was written by Jake Tapper, I was a bit skeptical. I don't know why, because I don't really know anything about Jake Tapper. I think I assumed a cable news celebrity isn't the best person to write a book about war. For the most part, though, I think Jake Tapper I found The Outpost through a friend's review on Goodreads. Having recently finished a book about this history of ISIS, I thought it would be good to continue with the terrorism theme, but from a different perspective. When I realized it was written by Jake Tapper, I was a bit skeptical. I don't know why, because I don't really know anything about Jake Tapper. I think I assumed a cable news celebrity isn't the best person to write a book about war. For the most part, though, I think Jake Tapper did a pretty good job of representing what the soldiers went through during the events he writes about. I assumed The Outpost would cover a specific group of soldiers over a relatively short amount of time - something like Black Hawk Down. Instead, the book covers nearly four-year period in the Kamdesh Valley and follows three different groups of troops who move in and out of the area over the time covered in the book. This was one of the most difficult aspects of the book for me. As soon as I got used to soldier's names and could identify them, they were switched out for new troops with new names. This was that was difficult for me to track. Much of the story revolves around Combat Outpost Keating (CO Keating) which was a military outpost meant to help protect a road from from the constant stream of fighters and weapons that were moved into Afghanistan from Pakistan. The problem is that the army built CO Keating very close to the road which was at the bottom of a valley with high ground on all sides, making it vulnerable to attacks. It was so bad, every time Tapper introduced a new group of soldiers that were stationed at CO Keating, one of their first remarks would be along the lines of "who the fuck thought this would be a good idea." That is how poorly CO Keating was designed. That's not all. The road they were protecting was essentially impassible for the large, clumsy American military vehicles, so the army was unable to take advantage of the fact that they were right next to a road. Not long after CO Keating was established, command made the decision to resupply the outpost through air. This too was difficult because there were limited places where a helicopter could land, and a lot of opportunity for ambush. Once CO Keating was operational, enemy fighters ended up utilizing other roads or paths to get fighters and weapons into Afghanistan. Because the area was so large and generally difficult to move around, the US soldiers had a difficult time identifying these alternate paths. So the main reason they build the outpost where they did was obsolete early on. Much of the book consists of the soldiers at the CO Keating getting attacked in the indefensible outpost, without a clear mission or path to victory. Very early on, it becomes unclear why the army is even there which is incredibly frustrating. Frustrating is a good way to describe the war on Afghanistan in general. I wish I could ask decision makers at the time if they realize how many superior military forces had lost wars in Afghanistan and why they think America won't face the same pitfalls as past empires. War should not be taken lightly. Ideally you have clear objectives and and take steps that are logically and methodically planned in order to achieve your goals. Instead, America was too optimistic going into this war and thought the Afghani's would do all the heavy lifting. That obviously didn't happen. I don't think our decision makers understood Afghanistan or the people going into the war. Tapper mentions early on in the book that soldiers would talk to Afghanis who thought 9/11 was in retaliation for America's invasion of Afghanistan (they didn't realize 9/11 happened before the invasion). These are people from a different world. The decisions you would make in their situation are not necessarily the decisions they will make. Yet US policy was created as if the military was interacting with American-minded people. That mistake played out over and over again in this book. Near the end of the book, Tapper plainly says that American troops deserved better. Although he had mostly avoided commentary up until that point, it really summed up the whole book and war very well. Once the decision to go to war was made, the troops deserved better leadership and more resources. Anything less than a full commitment to them and their sacrifices is unfair. There is more than one strategy to win a war, and reading this book makes me think the US just chose "none of the above" - deciding instead to half-ass everything. I like this book and I wish I had read it in 2012 when it originally came out. Anyone interested in the history of the American invasion of Afghanistan should consider this book. It is a very zoomed in narrative, meaning larger context is often missing. This can be frustrating at times, but the focus of this book is meant to be the American soldiers. I will give it four stars because it is difficult to follow so many different people and I do think it could have benefited from more context at times.

  12. 5 out of 5

    MichelinaNeri

    This book was about 300 pages too long. The gripping tale of the final brutal battle to prevent a foolishly placed US Army outpost from being overrun by enemy fighters occupies the last quarter of the book. To get there, you have to slog through 500 pages recounting every single minor battle in the area, the location and backstory for every other outpost, the four different squadrons of soldiers that rotated in and out of the outpost, and assorted other unnecessary stories. This book was badly i This book was about 300 pages too long. The gripping tale of the final brutal battle to prevent a foolishly placed US Army outpost from being overrun by enemy fighters occupies the last quarter of the book. To get there, you have to slog through 500 pages recounting every single minor battle in the area, the location and backstory for every other outpost, the four different squadrons of soldiers that rotated in and out of the outpost, and assorted other unnecessary stories. This book was badly in need of an editor to cut out repetitive sentences and redundant chapters. Tapper could have gotten the point across about the futility of the US Army's presence in Nuristan and the senseless loss of human life that achieved very little without having to exhaustively recount every single detail of the YEARS spent there. Another maddening thing about the book is how the soldiers play the roles of the red shirts from Star Trek. You can always tell when one is about to die a gruesome death in an ambush when Tapper opens the chapter with a maudlin backstory usually involving a young fiance and a new baby, or an elderly parent or sick sibling. And you can never really get to know any of them very well because there are literally hundreds introduced throughout the book. Tapper also doesn't show much interest or empathy for the Nuristanis or the Afghan National Army soldiers. Mostly I would say that the problem with this book is that Tapper isn't a very good writer - his descriptions are muddy, his characterizations rely on cliche, and the prose is wooden. It's very workman like where I would have wanted something more poetic. Tim O'Brien, he is not. Mark Bowden managed to achieve in a short article for Vanity Fair what Tapper needed 600 pages to accomplish - a concise and touching story about a battle gone wrong, soldiers sacrificed to achieve objectives that were meaningless in the end, and the very real humans that exist behind all the short blurbs in the news about America's wars: http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2011/1...

  13. 5 out of 5

    Michael Flanagan

    Outpost tells the life of the soldiers that manned one of the many US outposts in Afghanistan. This one is situated in an area the Afghani's themselves consider hardcore and worse than that it sits in the bottom of a valley. All aspects are looked at as the author puts a face and story to the many injured and killed troops that daily fill the news reports as statistics. It shows the battle to win hearts and minds of a population that can be friendly one minute and taking pot shots at you the nex Outpost tells the life of the soldiers that manned one of the many US outposts in Afghanistan. This one is situated in an area the Afghani's themselves consider hardcore and worse than that it sits in the bottom of a valley. All aspects are looked at as the author puts a face and story to the many injured and killed troops that daily fill the news reports as statistics. It shows the battle to win hearts and minds of a population that can be friendly one minute and taking pot shots at you the next. The author also explores the political and military reasons behind such outposts that place troops in such isolated and deadly places. The madness of some of the decisions of the upper echelon that translated to the death and serious injury to the troop with their feet on the ground was at time jaw dropping. Why I take my hat off to the author for bringing to the public the stories of these brave troops and their day to day life of fear and suspense. For those who final chapter was written in the mountains this book is a fitting tribute to their memory. For all the great aspects of this book, there was something in this book that I could not connect to, and because of that I could not fully immerse myself in the story it told.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Michael Burhans

    This is one of the most important books I have read n years. EVERYBODY in the USA needs to read this book and see what is being done in our name. The waste of the sacrifice and heroism of our front line troops becasue they are put in ridiculous untenable situations. the absurdity of trying to force pur political system and values on people who find them abhorrent. There is so much going on in this book you need to know. Yet it is written with a gripping and fast paced narrative that makes it an This is one of the most important books I have read n years. EVERYBODY in the USA needs to read this book and see what is being done in our name. The waste of the sacrifice and heroism of our front line troops becasue they are put in ridiculous untenable situations. the absurdity of trying to force pur political system and values on people who find them abhorrent. There is so much going on in this book you need to know. Yet it is written with a gripping and fast paced narrative that makes it an easy read, other than the fact you will get so angry sometimes you have to put it down and walk away. If you honor our troops, you owe it to them and their families to read this book and see what is being done to them in our name.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jen Rothmeyer

    I spent some time in the U.S. Army National Guard, but I will immediately disclose that I did not deploy overseas during my commitment. My opinions on this book come primarily as an American citizen with a little flavor of former military POG through in. (POG means “person other than grunt” or someone who is typically in a support role far away from combat.) Now that my disclaimer is out of the way, let’s move on to the real review of the book. Once I actually received the book and started readin I spent some time in the U.S. Army National Guard, but I will immediately disclose that I did not deploy overseas during my commitment. My opinions on this book come primarily as an American citizen with a little flavor of former military POG through in. (POG means “person other than grunt” or someone who is typically in a support role far away from combat.) Now that my disclaimer is out of the way, let’s move on to the real review of the book. Once I actually received the book and started reading it, I had an inner debate raging. At points, I was so emotionally drained by remotely experiencing what these military-brothers of mine had experienced, that I absolutely had to put the book down. Sometimes I would drop the book even in the middle of a described skirmish because I just couldn’t take it anymore. At other times, though, I wanted to keep reading and race through to find out exactly how the soldiers fared. I will admit that because I kept imagining friends of mine who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan going through similar situations, I may have been even more connected to the narrative than someone who has not experienced many losses because of these wars. Halfway through the novel, I posted my recommendation to my personal Facebook page for my friends and family: "I’m almost halfway through the book The Outpost by Jake Tapper about Combat Outpost Keating in Afghanistan. I can’t say that I love the book, because it is impossible to reconcile the emotion “love” with the Bad Shit our troops have gone through during these operations, but I will say that I heavily recommend this book to anyone who does the lip service of saying they support the troops without having the faintest idea of what that even means. (While I appreciate the gesture, that’s all that comment and “thank you for your service,” typically is: an empty gesture.) As always, I have mixed feelings about the fact that I never deployed to a combat or war zone. Now that I’m long out, I’m grateful that I didn’t have to experience that and I get to live my cushy life with my family without the mental burdens of war. When I was still in, I was devastated that my friends were dying and I was just a state-side POG with no power and no control. The guilt was incredible, and led me to volunteer my name several times for deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, I feel no guilt because there was nothing I could do about it. Anyone who is interested in the politics at the federal level involving our military (the budget our military gets, the missions it goes on, the efforts it supports) needs to read this book to have a better understanding of just what those numbers and column-inches in the local newspaper really mean. They’re people. They’re tiny individual missions that you never hear about. They’re wounds and deaths and hardships for our families worldwide. I don’t know how accurate the book is; I didn’t deploy. I wouldn’t ask my friends who have been in Afghanistan or Iraq to read it for veracity. I can’t even imagine making the ones who have actually had to experience similar situations, as the troops in the Kamdesh area purportedly have, to relive the horror. For the rest of you, however, check it out. My limited military experience lines up with most of what this reporter wrote – including inept command, stupid personality conflicts, crappy gear, and ridiculous orders that you absolutely cannot dispute or refute." Having now finished the book, I can safely and whole-heartedly say that I still recommend it. At times, it seems to be repetitive and that Mr. Tapper could have edited much of it out. However, as a (grossly amateur in comparison to Mr. Tapper) reporter myself, I would gather that this is probably because the people who rotated through the area had repetitive experiences and thoughts. Mr. Tapper seems to base almost all of his narrative on the real interviews and primary and secondary documents that he reviewed in preparation for the book. Many times, instead of his own conclusions being written, he writes using the conclusions and thoughts of the people involved. This can lead to a repetitive nature, but is essential in capturing the truest flavor of what occurred to those soldiers who were there. Mr. Tapper is a reporter and as such, the entire book is written in a somewhat formal journalistic style. This lends itself well to the subject, yet does not at any time hinder the development of an emotional connection with the situation and persons involved. There are many details that are sometimes hard to keep track of during the course of the book, and one criticism that I have is that I wish Mr. Tapper would have included a formal list of the individuals who died and on what date they died. There were times when I was trying to keep all the names straight that I wasn’t completely sure. It felt disrespectful to have read all these pages about these people and then not even be able to tell immediately if that person had just rotated out or had died in a previous battle. I wanted to remember all the names and it would have been easier with a list to reference. As a warning, the language of the book is not PG. Many military members curse and many people would curse when they are getting limbs blown off, jaws shattered, etc. If you can’t handle it, then I suggest that you may not be able to handle the gritty and despairing details of war. War is not pretty, people. It is not heroic. It is dirty, it is depressing, and it is heart-breaking. If your experience is anything like mine, you won’t leave this book with a happy-go-lucky feeling. However, as residents of planet Earth our friends, family members, co-workers, neighbors, and even random acquaintances or strangers we come across have all been touched by the effects of wars throughout the years. In my opinion, it is very important for people to understand the actual effects of war and this book describes the injuries – emotional and physical – that these troops underwent in a way that can be more easily processed. This is important as we continue to vote on governmental leaders who have the ability to send more people into combat situations. We should really understand what that cost is to others and to our society. Disclosure of Material Connection: I received The Outpost free through the GoodReads First Reads program. I was not required to write a positive review and did not receive any other compensation. The opinions I have expressed are my own and no one else’s. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

  16. 4 out of 5

    Captain Sir Roddy, R.N. (Ret.)

    A stunningly painful book to read, but not because the book is not well written. In fact, this is some of the finest combat journalism I've ever read. This is the clear and concise facts-only story of a three-and-one-half year period in extreme eastern Afghanistan at a small U.S. Army combat outpost, and the horror and hell that four companies of soldiers endured while deployed there. The story of Combat Outpost Keating may also end up serving as a microcosm for the overarching U.S. strategic vi A stunningly painful book to read, but not because the book is not well written. In fact, this is some of the finest combat journalism I've ever read. This is the clear and concise facts-only story of a three-and-one-half year period in extreme eastern Afghanistan at a small U.S. Army combat outpost, and the horror and hell that four companies of soldiers endured while deployed there. The story of Combat Outpost Keating may also end up serving as a microcosm for the overarching U.S. strategic vision in its quest to subdue the Taliban and Al Qaeda insurgency. More importantly though, this book is the story of the brave soldiers--a modern-day "Band of Brothers"--who were stationed at Combat Outpost Keating, and devoted every moment and ounce of energy in trying to ensure that every one of them returned home safe and sound. Alas, as in every war, bad things happen to good people; and these soldiers had way more than their fair share of the "bad". Two Congressional Medal of Honor awards and a boatload of Silver and Bronze Stars typify the character and courage exhibited by the men at Combat Outpost Keating. Read this book and better understand the longest war that the United States has ever been involved in.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jack

    This is my first book discussing battles in Afghanistan. I was impressed with the amount of dedication the author spent discussing the troops. I usually read histories that discuss generals/admirals or other leaders. Rarely do I pick up a book that covers the actions of soldiers fighting for every scrap of an outpost. I have never been to Afghanistan, only Iraq, so I have no clue how rough the terrain, how culturally diverse, or how formidable the Taliban can be. The Outpost is a story of misgui This is my first book discussing battles in Afghanistan. I was impressed with the amount of dedication the author spent discussing the troops. I usually read histories that discuss generals/admirals or other leaders. Rarely do I pick up a book that covers the actions of soldiers fighting for every scrap of an outpost. I have never been to Afghanistan, only Iraq, so I have no clue how rough the terrain, how culturally diverse, or how formidable the Taliban can be. The Outpost is a story of misguided politics which filter down to the boots on the ground. Yes, what a 4-star wants in the IZ can lead to some crazy situations out in the boonies. Procrastination is a situation. No decision is a decision. Also, under-resourcing a war can lead to deadly situations. The Outpost is a culmination of events that lead to a solid night of terror for many young serviceman. Outnumbered and outgunned, they managed to hold and repulse the enemy. Some did not make it. Only history will determine if their battle and sacrifice will truly be worth it. Thankfully, the author did a wonderful job preserving their actions for future generations.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Andre Zollars

    This book is like reading "The Things We Carried" or any other war book from any other era. However, the echoes of Vietnam are unmistakable in the failed leadership, the lack of resources, the poor planning, and the clear inability to accomplish something the Soviets were unable to do. An Army veteran myself, engaged to a 25-year Army Veteran, who commanded a Brigade in Afghanistan, I have a different perspective than most. It is powerfully told story full of everything you'd expect in a good war This book is like reading "The Things We Carried" or any other war book from any other era. However, the echoes of Vietnam are unmistakable in the failed leadership, the lack of resources, the poor planning, and the clear inability to accomplish something the Soviets were unable to do. An Army veteran myself, engaged to a 25-year Army Veteran, who commanded a Brigade in Afghanistan, I have a different perspective than most. It is powerfully told story full of everything you'd expect in a good war novel. In the end, however, I was unable to finish it. I could not hear the end of this story - because I knew the ending - and it was just too tragic for me to read. So many young lives, so carelessly thrown away, and all because of politics - because of reckless decisions made by G.W. and his cronies, all warhawks, who had no business planning a war on any front. Absolutely sickening - but a must-read for anyone far removed from the military or the madness of war. "War! What is it good for? Absolutely Nothin'!" - You got it right Bruce. Peace -

  19. 5 out of 5

    Gary

    This is an amazing book. At time is very hard to read because of Tapper’s detailed descriptions of battles and the mayhem of battles as well as many sad outcomes. Now that I have finished this book I am very glad I invested the time. So many soldiers give everything they have including their lives. This book gives you the feeling you are an up close observer in what soldiers experience. It gave me a significant appreciation for their sacrifice. Not a political book but gives you some insights to t This is an amazing book. At time is very hard to read because of Tapper’s detailed descriptions of battles and the mayhem of battles as well as many sad outcomes. Now that I have finished this book I am very glad I invested the time. So many soldiers give everything they have including their lives. This book gives you the feeling you are an up close observer in what soldiers experience. It gave me a significant appreciation for their sacrifice. Not a political book but gives you some insights to the politics of war. You see the good and bad of the counter insurgencies strategy. The main point of reading book is to receive a small glimpse into the life of soldiers in war. Certainly does not glamorize their world. I would highly recommend this book (but not an easy read).

  20. 5 out of 5

    Mike Stanley

    where to start. immerses oneself into what it might be like to be a soldier in Afghanistan. First, about idiotic beuracracy directly leading to pointless deaths before the outpost story really begins. that's my quick description anyhow, i think Mr. Tapper would concur. then you vividly relive the story of the outpost, the soldiers and some of the larger perspective. bottom line is this book covers a lot of themes as well as tells a compelling tragic story of an individual outpost. highly recomme where to start. immerses oneself into what it might be like to be a soldier in Afghanistan. First, about idiotic beuracracy directly leading to pointless deaths before the outpost story really begins. that's my quick description anyhow, i think Mr. Tapper would concur. then you vividly relive the story of the outpost, the soldiers and some of the larger perspective. bottom line is this book covers a lot of themes as well as tells a compelling tragic story of an individual outpost. highly recommended. feel much admiration for the heroes described in the book and much grief for the fallen.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    THIS BOOK BROKE MY HEART It personalizes the war in Afghanistan and makes me wonder, yet again, why we are there, and why we continue to let old men send young men to die. The soldier who is one week away from taking leave during which he'll be married; the soldier whose wife is expecting their first baby; the only son taken from his mother; the 19 and 20-year-olds murdered on the other side of the world, in a country that doesn't want us there in the first place. I would give it 10 stars if I c THIS BOOK BROKE MY HEART It personalizes the war in Afghanistan and makes me wonder, yet again, why we are there, and why we continue to let old men send young men to die. The soldier who is one week away from taking leave during which he'll be married; the soldier whose wife is expecting their first baby; the only son taken from his mother; the 19 and 20-year-olds murdered on the other side of the world, in a country that doesn't want us there in the first place. I would give it 10 stars if I could.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Nick Lloyd

    Better than I expected from Jake Tapper. The parts of the book which actually discuss the attack on Keating are incredibly real and thorough. Unfortunately, the author spends 1/3 of the book on backstory (we get it, the COP was in a shitty location. I don't need the life story of officers from three deployments prior). Better than I expected from Jake Tapper. The parts of the book which actually discuss the attack on Keating are incredibly real and thorough. Unfortunately, the author spends 1/3 of the book on backstory (we get it, the COP was in a shitty location. I don't need the life story of officers from three deployments prior).

  23. 4 out of 5

    Brandon

    Absolutely riveting. I was transported back to Afghanistan. One of my all time favorite books.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mal Warwick

    A wrenching view of the Afghanistan war that brings the conflict into focus Christians are urged to “hate the sin, love the sinner.” Difficult as that may be to believe in many circumstances, the distinction between action and actor seems to be the only way to reconcile honor and support for American troops at war with the horrific acts they so often commit overseas. One recent book, award-winning journalist Nick Turse’s Kill Anything That Moves, fastens our attention on the numberless atrocities A wrenching view of the Afghanistan war that brings the conflict into focus Christians are urged to “hate the sin, love the sinner.” Difficult as that may be to believe in many circumstances, the distinction between action and actor seems to be the only way to reconcile honor and support for American troops at war with the horrific acts they so often commit overseas. One recent book, award-winning journalist Nick Turse’s Kill Anything That Moves, fastens our attention on the numberless atrocities carried out by the U.S. military in Vietnam directly as a result of policies handed down from the top (the White House and Joint Chiefs of Staff). Turse shows how the military’s racist emphasis on the “body count” led directly and inevitably to the routine and indiscriminate murder of civilians throughout Vietnam. Rank-and-file soldiers (“grunts,” non-coms, lieutenants, captains, majors, light colonels) had little choice but to either participate in the slaughter or stand silently by. Doubtless, some enjoyed the opportunities for cruelty, but the overwhelming majority assuredly did not. Because for all intents and purposes the atrocities weren’t their “fault,” we could still honor and support them no matter how much we despised their heedless leaders. Writing from a totally different perspective — from the ground up rather than top down — Jake Tapper relates the story in The Outpost of the men (and very occasionally, the women) who cycled in and out of an isolated combat installation in northeastern Afghanistan from 2006 to 2009. As in Kill Anything That Moves, we find soldiers in the field up to the rank of lieutenant colonel captives of policies set at much higher levels. They frequently display outstanding courage and suffer the deprivations of life in a harsh and hostile environment largely in silence, victims of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld’s deliberate decision to under-resource American forces in Afghanistan from the moment they invaded the country. However, the fatal decisions that sealed the fate of so many of the troops on the ground at what came to be named Combat Outpost Keating were a colonel’s decision to site the installation at what one visiting officer called the worst base location he’d ever seen and Afghan president Hamid Karzai’s insistence that the post not be closed until after he was reelected. The story told in The Outpost relates the history of the Afghanistan war writ small. At its creation, Combat Outpost Keating was the northernmost U.S. installation in the country’s northeast, the first in the province of Nuristan, a historically and linguistically distinct enclave with a reputation for fierce hostility toward all outsiders. It was placed in an exceedingly vulnerable location in a valley, surrounded on three sides by steep mountains, against the advice of virtually every officer who viewed the site from the air. The colonel in command of U.S. forces in that region insisted on placing it there anyway, since it had easy access to a road that could be used to supply it, saving precious airborne resources. However, in short order it became clear that the road was both indefensible, because every convoy was ambushed by insurgents, and impassable by any vehicles with a wide wheelbase (such as Humvees). Only when one heroic officer was killed trying to prove to his superiors just how treacherous the road really was did the Army stop attempting to supply the outpost by truck. Nonetheless, the outpost itself remained where it was instead of being moved high up into the mountains (as the troops on the ground kept requesting), because no commanding officer wanted to cede territory on his watch. And the number of troops assigned there, which was inadequate to begin with, was gradually reduced because of the scarcity of military resources. Eventually, when a new unit came onto the base, a brilliant junior officer implemented the counterinsurgency policy associated with General Petraeus, managing to bring attacks on his troops to a halt for more than half a year. Then he was replaced by a soldier who was critical of the policy, reversed course, and saw his hostility to the local people returned in spades. Finally, orders came down to abandon the outpost, but spies among the Afghan soldiers living there reported the preparations to the Taliban. In short order, days before the planned evacuation date, several hundred mujahideen surrounded the 53 Americans, fought their way into the outpost, and succeeded in killing seven of them and wounding eleven. Only one of the Afghan soldiers chose to fight; all the others either fled or hid. The Taliban was only driven back by the heroism of the defenders — and the extravagant use of airpower, including Apache attack helicopters, A-10 warthogs, F-15 fighter jets, and even a B-1 bomber dropping 2,000-pound bombs. After a decent interval, the outpost was abandoned and bombed to smithereens by American planes. Think about the broad strokes in that picture. Doesn’t it resemble the history of U.S. involvement in Afghanistan as a whole? Clearly, Jake Tapper wrote The Outpost to honor the brave soldiers who were assigned there. He cites the name and rank of virtually every soldier whose actions are part of the four-year story — and there appear to be hundreds of them. For the major actors on the ground, chiefly sergeants, lieutenants, and captains, with a smattering of low-ranking non-coms, Tapper features extensive biographical information, sometimes including interviews with spouses. These soldiers rise fully formed from the pages of the book — real people, with self-doubts and passions and convictions all their own. Tapper’s effort to convey a fully three-dimensional portrait of the soldiers at Combat Outpost Keating is both the book’s greatest strength and its greatest weakness. Reading this book seems to convey about as accurate a picture of what life is like on the front line of the Afghanistan war as words might convey. The weakness lies in the use of so many individual names. In the course of the four years the outpost existed, four different units cycled in and out, each bringing its own cast of dozens of characters. It becomes tedious to follow all the individual stories because there is so much coming and going. To some degree, it’s easier to follow a few of the Afghan leaders in the nearby villages, because they generally stay where they are. Tapper is a former White House correspondent for ABC News and is now an anchor and chief Washington correspondent for CNN.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Downing

    A highly informative, eloquent narrative about an amazing group of military service men and women. The American soldier is predominantly selfless and courageous, ever willing to shed blood for a country often unconcerned and inconvenienced by the stories, experiences which they have endured. This report is an in-depth, sometimes long winded version of the brutal realities of Combat Outpost Keating, formally located in Afghanistan. This narrative explores the realities of all the soldiers who were A highly informative, eloquent narrative about an amazing group of military service men and women. The American soldier is predominantly selfless and courageous, ever willing to shed blood for a country often unconcerned and inconvenienced by the stories, experiences which they have endured. This report is an in-depth, sometimes long winded version of the brutal realities of Combat Outpost Keating, formally located in Afghanistan. This narrative explores the realities of all the soldiers who were stuck in this doomed location of the world. I highly recommend the book but do prefer a soldiers account for the personal touch that memoirs typically exhibit. With that said, there is plenty of first hand eyewitness accounts and blunt, brutal and deeply touching stories concealed in this historical piece of work. The reader will be forced to conceal tears and be challenged to stomach the gruesome realities of modern warfare. Shrapnel quickly turns a beautiful landscape into hell on earth. It’s inspiring and an honor to share a country with military personnel with such incredible professionalism and grit. Make no mistake, the modern American Soldier is not made from a different thread than the “great generation”. Read this to wake up to the reality that our country has been in an incredibly difficult war, made further challenging by the senseless bickering, squabbling and power hungry motives of far too many politicians and generals who are more concerned about their professional careers than the blood of the men and women who are stuck at the end of the spear.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    Excellent book. Highly recommend it if you're interested in learning more about the events that lead to the battle of Kamdesh and Medal of Honor recipient Clint Romesha. I've read a lot of other reviews and 2 complaints are: 1. That author Jake Tapper didn't tell the story of that battle as well as Clint Romesha did in Red Platoon. Probably true, but Tapper wasn't trying to tell the story of the MOH recipient. At the time that Tapper wrote the book, Romesha had not yet received that honor. Instea Excellent book. Highly recommend it if you're interested in learning more about the events that lead to the battle of Kamdesh and Medal of Honor recipient Clint Romesha. I've read a lot of other reviews and 2 complaints are: 1. That author Jake Tapper didn't tell the story of that battle as well as Clint Romesha did in Red Platoon. Probably true, but Tapper wasn't trying to tell the story of the MOH recipient. At the time that Tapper wrote the book, Romesha had not yet received that honor. Instead, he told the story of The Outpost - the genesis and the demise of the camp in Kamdesh. 2. That Tapper mentioned way too many people to be able to keep them all straight. Valid complaint, but I appreciate that he mentioned as many of the people who were affiliated with COP Keating because he did it to honor and remember them. He continues to honor and remember them on the anniversary of the battle every October. It's a sobering story of a failed counter-insurgency mission in a country where we are still losing good young men 17 years after 9/11/01. I wonder why we still have troops in Afghanistan after all this time. I highly recommend The Outpost. I listened to the audiobook, which is a great listen - well-narrated by Rob Shapiro.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tom M

    I thought Jake Tapper told this story about a War Post in Afghanistan in a way that could help anyone understand the complications of this war and the sometimes disconnect of the Washington bureaucracy. The United States war machine is amazing but sometimes falls short on protecting our soldiers over policies that are not working. Jake Tapper nailed it and has given me a deep appreciation for his work and a deeper appreciation for the men and women of our Armed Forces, especially those serving in I thought Jake Tapper told this story about a War Post in Afghanistan in a way that could help anyone understand the complications of this war and the sometimes disconnect of the Washington bureaucracy. The United States war machine is amazing but sometimes falls short on protecting our soldiers over policies that are not working. Jake Tapper nailed it and has given me a deep appreciation for his work and a deeper appreciation for the men and women of our Armed Forces, especially those serving in a war zone.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Zac

    Afghanistan is a country that has been at war for thousands of years. From Alexander the Great, Kahn, Soviets, and USA, and others in between. The terrain hasn’t changed, and the techniques haven’t changed. From a strategic standpoint, COP Keating was a horrible location. Being stuck in a fishbowl is not ideal, and it’s even worse because they are out in the middle of nowhere with no help close by, not enough men, and sporadic supply drops. The enemy had the high ground and used it to their adva Afghanistan is a country that has been at war for thousands of years. From Alexander the Great, Kahn, Soviets, and USA, and others in between. The terrain hasn’t changed, and the techniques haven’t changed. From a strategic standpoint, COP Keating was a horrible location. Being stuck in a fishbowl is not ideal, and it’s even worse because they are out in the middle of nowhere with no help close by, not enough men, and sporadic supply drops. The enemy had the high ground and used it to their advantage. The worse feeling to have is walking out of your bunks and looking straight up into the mountains that are surrounding you, knowing that’s the terrain you have to fight on against an enemy who is experts on it. Against people who are no strangers to the area. Who knows, you’ve only been there 7, 8, 9 months, and they’ve been there their whole lives. They’re conditioned to the elements; they can run up and down the mountains without losing their breath; they have no rules. Military leadership at the highest level should have looked into this location a lot more. Had they read a few books, they would have understood that being that far out, at the bottom of a fishbowl, had absolutely no tactical advantage. It’s a brutal place to fight, and this book, after reading it. . You can’t help but to just fucking feel for each and every one of these men. You want to throw your kit on and go help them. I never write reviews this long. Or ever, but this book is one that makes you wonder how the fuck a COP would ever get the go ahead to be out there. Once you see the pictures of it, you might understand.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Debbie Keller

    Oh my God. This book. Over 600 pages of frustration watching the U.S. Army send troops into an extremely dangerous part of eastern Afghanistan in 2006 to set up small combat outposts and observation posts that quickly became targets for the insurgency. The bases were small, difficult to defend, and far from any available air support. I felt so often during the book that the troops were put into an impossible position (one of the outposts was placed in a valley at the bottom of three mountains!). Oh my God. This book. Over 600 pages of frustration watching the U.S. Army send troops into an extremely dangerous part of eastern Afghanistan in 2006 to set up small combat outposts and observation posts that quickly became targets for the insurgency. The bases were small, difficult to defend, and far from any available air support. I felt so often during the book that the troops were put into an impossible position (one of the outposts was placed in a valley at the bottom of three mountains!). Most troops said, "Holy shit" when they first arrived. None of them could believe the dangerous spot they were put in by their superiors (and this doesn't even address the lack of support for this war because all of the resources were being sent to Iraq to look for weapons of mass destruction that didn't exist). The bravery of the U.S. military is beyond admirable. I was sickened every time one of them lost their life and will never forget this book.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nickson Kaigi

    It was at times hard to put down this book. It was harder to comprehend that colossal death trap that Combat Outpost Keating had become. There are hard lessons to be learnt from this book. This book reads like an Hollywood blockbuster film.... only that it describes true events that transpired in Afghanistan. It moves at a breakneck speed, the pages are colored with events that led to unnecessary loss of life, unfortunately.

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