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Blood, Metal and Dust


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Table of Contents

List of Maps List of Illustrations Preface Acknowledgements 1 Before the Fall: The military experience of the US and its allies before 9/11 2 Strategic Shock and Response: Afghanistan from 9/11 to Operation Anaconda 3 Economy of Force: Stabilizing Afghanistan 2002-05 4 Operation Cobra II: The invasion of Iraq 5 Descent into Chaos: Iraq 2003-04 6 'As the Iraqis stand up we will stand down': The Transition Strategy 2004-06 7 The Iraq Surge: Regaining the initiative 8 Learning under Fire: The struggle to adapt 9 The Battles for Basra: Britain' s near-defeat in southern Iraq 10 Endgame in Iraq: Success turns to failure 11 The Enemy Gets a Vote: Afghanistan 2006-09 12 The Afghan Surge: 2009-12 13 The Failure of the Transition to Afghan Security Leadership 14 COVID-19: A dark postscript 15 Bloody Lessons Glossary Recommended Reading Endnotes Index

Promotional Information

Written by the author of the official British military analysis of the Iraq campaigns, Blood, Metal and Dust is the first authoritative military history of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to tell the detailed story of what happened on the ground.

About the Author

As Senior Fellow for Land Warfare for the International Institute for Strategic Studies, Ben Barry has written extensively for IISS publications including Survival, its journal, and Strategic Survey, its annual assessment of world affairs. He is one of the authors of the annual Military Balance, an authoritative assessment of global military affairs, and his publications with Military Balance include 'Combat and Capability: Military Trends since 9/11', a concise analysis of the decade of military conflict from 2001 to 2011, published in 2012. Before leaving the British Army in October 2010, he wrote A Cold War: Front-line Operations in Bosnia 1995 -1996 describing his battalion's operational tour under both UN and NATO flags in the mid-1990s. The book was shortlisted for the British Army Book of the Year 2009 award. His final appointment was leading the British Army's analysis of the lessons of the Iraq campaign, which informs Blood, Metal and Dust.


At one level Blood, Metal and Dust is a clear, dispassionate and succinct military history of the post-9/11 wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But it is much more important than that. As the US and UK turn their backs too quickly on both wars, they are in danger of disregarding the lessons and so failing to profit from their experiences. This book puts that right. Ben Barry is forthright in his criticisms and depressingly correct in his conclusions. Blood, Metal and Dust is essential reading. * Sir Hew Strachan FBA FRSE, Professor of International Relations at the University of St Andrews and former Chichele Professor of the History of War at All Souls College, Oxford. *
With a soldier's eye for telling operational details, Ben Barry offers an authoritative, compelling and inevitably bleak account of the American and British campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. * Sir Lawrence Freedman, Emeritus Professor of War Studies, King's College London *
Blood, Metal and Dust is a seminal work that exploits newly available archival material to produce a riveting account of the allies' wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Armed with a keen scholarly eye and long military experience, Ben Barry dissects key decision points and pitched battles ranging from Tora Bora, Operation Medusa and Wanat in Afghanistan to the US Marines' Anbar campaign, Operation Viking Hammer in Kurdistan, and the Sadr City battle of 2008. His unsparing judgments should inform future war planning, making this book required reading for the policymaker and the practitioner alike. * Linda Robinson, Senior International/Defense Researcher, RAND Corporation and author of 'Tell Me How This Ends' *
The telling of this particular audit of war is accomplished with precision and with dispassionate honesty. This book is required reading. -- Mark Barnes * War History Online *
This is without doubt the best military history of the campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan I have read to date. * Wavell Room *
Blood, Metal and Dust is an essential, landmark work. -- Mungo Melvin * The RUSI Journal *

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