A NATO view of Afghanistan

The second book of my new tripod of goodness for the Society of Military History provides a fairly neglected viewpoint of the Afghanistan conflict--the role of Coalition and NATO forces in that conflict.

Dr. Sean Maloney, a history professor at the Canadian Staff College, offers a unique perspective as an embedded historian with military forces with a Canadian brigade during the 2006 campaign for Helmand and Kandahar provinces. 

Needless to say, this is a no-holds, but politely Canadian look at the challenges of waging coalition warfare.  Maloney describes not only the command issues with having American, Canadian, British, Dutch, Afghan and Romanian forces operating together, but the Byzantine political issues of working with the competing goals of the Afghan government, the US military command, their own national governments, NGOs, and, of course, the minefield that is NATO and the UN.

Through it all, a valiant group of Canadian soldiers wages pretty high intensity combat on  a shoestring, without the heavy armor, constant air cover, intelligence or reconnaissance support or even logistical support of their better equipped American allies.  Using Light Armored Vehicles and up-armored 4x4s, the Canadians not only fight the Taliban in Kandahar, but are often called to assist the beleaguered British forces in neighboring Helmand province. 

Maloney does a good job of blending history, a little analysis and cogent observation, and first-person reporting to show just how difficult a time the Canadians had and how they were able to accomplish what they could with the resources at hand.

It was also a pretty good scene-setter to understand why the US had to surge the troops into these two provinces during the half-hearted attempt to bring the Taliban to heel before Barrack Hussein Obama retreats from Afghanistan on the eve of the 2014 mid-term elections.

This is the final book of Maloney's trilogy on his embeds in Afghanistan and is the capstone to what is likely to be the go-to books on our allies involvement in what will soon become America's longest war.