Ashley's War

Ashley's War

The Untold Story of A Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield

Book - 2015
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In 2010, the Army created Cultural Support Teams, a secret pilot program to insert women alongside Special Operations soldiers battling in Afghanistan. The Army reasoned that women could play a unique role on Special Ops teams: accompanying their male colleagues on raids and, while those soldiers were searching for insurgents, questioning the mothers, sisters, daughters and wives living at the compound. Their presence had a calming effect on enemy households, but more importantly, the CSTs were able to search adult women for weapons and gather crucial intelligence. They could build relationships--woman to woman--in ways that male soldiers in an Islamic country never could.

In Ashley's War, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon uses on-the-ground reporting and a finely tuned understanding of the complexities of war to tell the story of CST-2, a unit of women hand-picked from the Army to serve in this highly specialized and challenging role. The pioneers of CST-2 proved for the first time, at least to some grizzled Special Operations soldiers, that women might be physically and mentally tough enough to become one of them.

The price of this professional acceptance came in personal loss and social isolation: the only people who really understand the women of CST-2 are each other. At the center of this story is a friendship cemented by "Glee," video games, and the shared perils and seductive powers of up-close combat. At the heart of the team is the tale of a beloved and effective soldier, Ashley White.

Much as she did in her bestselling The Dressmaker of Khair Khana, Lemmon transports readers to a world they previously had no idea existed: a community of women called to fulfill the military's mission to "win hearts and minds" and bound together by danger, valor, and determination. Ashley's War is a gripping combat narrative and a moving story of friendship--a book that will change the way readers think about war and the meaning of service.

Publisher: New York : Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, ©2015.
ISBN: 9780062333810
Characteristics: xix, 292 pages :,illustrations, portraits ;,24 cm.


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Jan 31, 2018

I am glad a story like this was written so well. Moving and informative read of courageous women who answered a call to serve on the front lines of a messy war. The pages and stories give life to Ashley and her crew and make you appreciate those who risk their lives and those who break down barriers.

Aug 19, 2017

Excellent depiction of the historical context that led up to "attaching" female soldiers to combat units, so they could fight in the fields. The support role didn't mean out of danger--on the contrary, these highly skilled, superbly physically fit women fought side-by-side with their male comrades. Their gender allowed them to talk with the local Afghanistan women and gain valuable intelligence. One soldier's story is highlighted: Ashley, who initially trained as a medic. Once proven in the field, most of the men supported them (as an aside, prior to this combat service, two of the women were raped. How they surmounted the assault and successfully moved on to this elite team is told in a compassionate, matter-of-fact manner.) Also well-described is the desert conditions of the headquarters and local mountains--a harsh environment.

Jan 14, 2016

Wow. Now I understand the context of why females be allowed in front line combat roles in US armed forces.

Nov 03, 2015

This was an excellent book re: women in the services. I learned so much about the Special Ops programs, especially re: support troops.

Oct 31, 2015

To commenter, JanGeier: Is Alfreda Bikowsky Silverstein of the CIA, who was fraudulently portrayed in that fraud of a movie, Zero Dork Thirty, patriotic for ordering the torture of innocents in order to extract false confessions?
Was Robin Raphel, now under investigation for espionage and treason, a patriot for supporting the Taliban? Questions you should consider. . .
Are DoD personnel patriotic for somehow not being able to track, or embezzling, many many trillions of dollars?
Sure wished at least one of these strong, powerful, awesome, sensitive, smart females possessed the intellectual wherewithal, or ounce of curiousity, to understand who Gen. Smedley Butler was, or to read Michael Hudson's book, Super Imperialism, or perhaps even to wonder why this war never ends?

Oct 31, 2015

i consider myself an anti war type of person, but it was so interesting to think about women who felt compelled to defend their country and excel in a physical way to the needs of the country. I was so impressed with their strength and bravery. I learned about a new part of American Patriotism. It was very humbling.

Jul 31, 2015

Have wondered why anyone especially women(I am a woman) want to be on front lines. This book answers that question. These women are strong, powerful, awesome, sensitive, smart, and should get credit for all they give up to get to the front lines and all they risk. I would have given it the best rating but the first half of the book was about military getting in the way of itself.

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