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In the Warlords' Shadow

In 2010, U.S. special operations forces (SOF) in Afghanistan began a new and innovative program to fight the Taliban insurgency using the movement's structure and strategy against it. The Village Stability Operations/Afghan Local Police initiative consisted of U.S. Army Special Forces and U.S. Navy SEAL teams embedding with villagers to fight the Taliban holistically. By enlisting Afghans in their own defense, organizing the local populace, and addressing their grievances with the Afghan government, SOF was able to defeat the Taliban's military as well as its political arm. Combining the traditions of U.S. Army Special Forces with the lessons learned in the broader SOF community from years of counterinsurgency work in Iraq and Afghanistan, this new approach fundamentally changed the terms of the conflict with the Taliban. However, little has been written about this initiative outside of the special operations community until now. In this first-hand account of how the Village Stability Operations program functioned, Daniel R. Green provides a long-term perspective on how SOF stabilized the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan, the site of the Pashtun uprising against the Taliban in 2001 led by Hamid Karzai, future president of Afghanistan. In the Warlords' Shadow offers a comprehensive overview of how SOF adapted to the unique demands of the local insurgency and is a rare, inside look at how special operations confronted the Taliban by fighting a "better war" and in so doing fundamentally changed the course of the war in Afghanistan.
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About the Author

Daniel R. Green is a Defense Fellow at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy in Washington, D.C. He is a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve, has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, and received his PhD. in political science from George Washington University in 2012.


"Green is perhaps one of the best-placed Americans to write definitively on the ongoing war in Afghanistan. It is clear from the first chapter that he has an unparalleled understanding of the tribal structures in Afghanistan and that he probably understood them before the rest of us realized there was a problem with the 'search and destroy' method." --Naval Historical Foundation "In the Warlords' Shadow tells the compelling story of SOTF-SE and its successful counterinsurgency efforts to provide stability in Uruzgan Province. It is a must read for policy makers and those desiring a better understanding of counterinsurgency warfare in Afghanistan." --Military Review "In the Warlords' Shadow joins a growing number of thoughtful 'after-action' analyses by field officers set in the context of local and national politics and evolving US policies. . . . Recommended for university and large public libraries and collections supporting international affairs and military and security studies."--Choice "In this first-hand account, Green offers a long-term perspective on how SOF stabilized the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan and its impact on the course of the war in Afghanistan." --The Foreign Service Journal "The author of three books... you can tell he knows what he is talking about... his message is worthwhile." - Military Times Fall Reading Guide ..".Green makes interesting points defining the problem with earlier counterinsurgency efforts and has produced a well-documented personal account of his trials and tribulations in Afghanistan..." - Modern War Institute and Small Wars Journal "In the Warlord's Shadow is forthright in its critique of U.S. strategy and highlights areas that we as a U.S. military have room to grow." - Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC) "At a time when Islamic State and other violent extremist terror groups are fomenting instability around the world--and at home, Dan Green has an answer to defeating them. In the Warlords' Shadow is an honest and hard-hitting account of how Village Stability Operations changed the game in some of the most violently contested places of rural Afghanistan. Dan's lessons come first hand from a warrior-diplomat who immersed himself in the local environment on an unprecedented scale. If we are serious about ending the longest war in U.S. history, our politicians, policy makers, and senior military leaders would do well to take numerous margin notes inside the pages of this book." -- Lt. Col. Scott Mann, USA (Ret.), author of Game Changers: Going Local to Defeat Violent Extremists "In the Warlords' Shadow is a rare, insider's account into the Special Operations program Village Stability Operations which was so devastatingly effective against the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan. Dan Green's on-the-ground perspective, as both a civilian and a member of the military, provides an insightful look into how Special Forces and SEALs eventually adapted their strategy to the unique demands of Afghan stability - in a sea of Special Operations memoirs, this one stands alone." -- Dick Couch, author of Always Faithful, Always Forward: The Forging of a Special Operations Marine and The Warrior Elite: The Forging of SEAL Class 228 "In the Warlords' Shadow is a riveting firsthand account of an important initiative by American Special Operations Forces to work with community leaders in Afghanistan and dramatically improve local security; it is impressively researched and written by an accomplished soldier and scholar." -- Gen. David Petraeus, USA (Ret.), former Commander, NATO International Security Assistance Force, and Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan, 2010-11 "Dan Green brings his considerable military expertise and knowledge of Afghanistan to reflect deeply on the Special Forces-led war in Uruzgan, deep in the heart of Taliban country. Green writes with great authority about this largely unknown conflict and his book is important for anyone who wants to understand how Special Forces work in the field and for those who want to better comprehend the tribal and political structures of southern Afghanistan."--Peter Bergen, United States of Jihad: Investigating America's Homegrown Terrorists "In the Warlords' Shadow is a superb, unflinching look at one of the most important yet most neglected endeavors of the last fifteen years of combat. Special Operations Forces raised local defense forces that successfully defended key areas of Afghanistan from the Taliban, providing an important case of partnering with nonstate local actors. Simply put, harnessing those with the most to gain--and the most to lose--is the right way to win today's wars." -- Linda Robinson, author of One Hundred Victories: Special Ops and the Future of American Warfare "Dan Green has done it again. After what I considered to be his terrific account of Fallujah, he's now brought us an accurate and compelling history of the Village Stability Operations program and the Afghan Local Police. This was one of the key features in our war against the Taliban, and Green captures its history marvelously." -- Gen. John R. Allen, USMC (Ret.), former Commander, NATO International Security Assistance Force, and Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan, 2011-13 "Dan Green's In the Warlords' Shadow delivers a vivid first-hand account of the liberation of the southern Afghan province of Uruzgan from Taliban rule. His book is a unique combination of a personal memoir, scholarly study and narrative history of the innovative 'Village Stability Operations' program he helped realize. Always engaging and often compelling, Green's work earns a place alongside counter-insurgency classics like Bing West's The Village and Stuart Herrington's Silence was a Weapon. No detached academic or armchair strategist, Dan Green offers the striking proposition that success in Afghanistan is actually possible, one valley and one village at a time." -- Dr. Kalev I. Sepp, former Green Beret and co-author of Weapon of Choice: U.S. Army Special Operations Forces in Afghanistan "This book accurately describes why the 15-year effort of American nation-building in Afghanistan failed. Narrated in detail by an expert, this account will be studied by a generation of officers. For the civilians in our government, especially in the White House, it should be required reading." --Bing West, author of The Village and No True Glory: A Frontline Account of the Battle of Fallujah "Why is counterinsurgency doctrine more effective in some settings than others? And what are the keys to successfully battling an insurgency that are universal, despite the unique challenges of each conflict? These are among the questions that Dan Green answers with In the Warlord's Shadow, a highly-detailed and illuminating look at COIN efforts in Uruzgan province, Afghanistan. This well-researched, first-person account gives both historians and small wars practitioners an invaluable resource to examine the war in Afghanistan--and future conflicts that will demand the dedicated strategies, tactics, and skill sets of counterinsurgency." -- Bill Ardolino, author of Fallujah Awakens: Marines, Sheikhs, and the Battle Against al Qaeda, recipient of the 2014 General Wallace M. Greene, Jr. Award for distinguished nonfiction "In the Warlords' Shadow is a brilliant study of the intimate dynamics of the Afghan war, of its tribal elders, and militias and insurgents. . . . Part memoir, part reportage, and part analysis, this book is a masterpiece of local history and a crucial piece to the puzzle of understanding how to bring peace to Afghanistan."--Anand Gopal, No Good Men Among the Living: America, the Taliban, and the War Through Afghan Eyes

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