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WAR ON TWO FRONTS: An Infantry Commander's War in Iraq and the Pentagon [Hardcover]

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Item description for WAR ON TWO FRONTS: An Infantry Commander's War in Iraq and the Pentagon by Christopher P. Hughes...

Winner of The Army Historical Foundation's Distinguished Writing Award for Excellence in U.S. Army History Writing- Journals, memoirs and letters, June 2008

Shortly after the launch of Operation Iraqi Freedom, the war in Iraq became the most confusing in U.S. history, the high command not knowing who to fight, who was attacking Coalition troops, and who among the different Iraqi groups were fighting each other. Yet there were a few astute officers like Lt. Col. Christopher Hughes, commanding the 2d Battalion of the 327th Inf. Regiment, 101st Airborne, who sensed the complexity of the task from the beginning.

In "War on Two Fronts" Col. Hughes writes movingly of his "No-Slack" battalion at war in Iraq. The war got off to a bang for Hughes, when his brigade command tent was fragged by a Muslim sergeant in the 101st, leaving him briefly in charge of the brigade. Amid the nighttime confusion of 14 casualties, a nearby Patriot missile blasted off, panicking nearly everyone while mistakenly bringing down a British Tornado fighter-bomber.

As Hughes' battalion forged into Iraq they successfully liberated the city of Najaf, securing the safety of Grand Ayatollah Sistani and the Mosque of Ali, while showing an acute cultural awareness in doing so that caught the world's attention. It was a feat that landed Hughes within the pages of Time, Newsweek and other publications. The "Screaming Eagles" of the 101st Airborne then implemented creative programs in the initial postwar occupation, including harvesting the national wheat and barley crops, while combating nearly invisible insurgents.

Conscious that an army battalion is a community of some 700-plus households, and that when a unit goes off to war the families are intimately connected in our internet age, Hughes makes clear the strength of those connections and how morale is best supported at both ends.

Transferred to Washington after his tour in Iraq, Hughes then writes an illuminating account of the herculean efforts of many in the Pentagon to work around the corporatist elements of its bureaucracy, in order to better understand counterinsurgency and national reconstruction, which Lawrence of Arabia characterized as "like learning to eat soup with a knife." To read this book will help understand the sources of mistakes made-and still being made-and the process needed to chart a successful strategy.

Written with candor and no shortage of humor, intermixed with brutal scenes of combat and frank analysis, this book is a must-read for all those who seek insight into our current war in the Mideast.


Winner of The Army Historical Foundation's Distinguished Writing Award for Excellence in U.S. Army History Writing- Journals, memoirs and letters, June 2008

"Hughes offers an insightful review of our problem in Iraq as a loyal supporter of President Bush...His book becomes genuinely thoughtful as he concludes that, while America was absolutely right to invade Iraq to depose an evil dictator, our ignorance of that nation 's history and religion has led to chaos"Publisher's Weekly, 8/27/07

"... a very clearly written appraisal that affords more than the usual perspective on what kind of cleaning up in the Pentagon will be needed when the war and the Bush administration have passed into history. Definitely valuable to serious students of defense issues."Booklist, 9/2007

"...deserves your attention. Hughes is close enough to see the big picture and small details...unfiltered by media looking to sell paper or ratings...", 09/2007

"This battle narrative gives a clear and candid overview of how a leader deals with combat. . . . Likewise [Hughes] is clear about what he feels the strengths and successes of the army are, both in Iraq and institutionally. . . . Recommended."--Library Journal 11/2007

"A first-class, personal account of combat in Iraq and how bureaucracies wage war. . . . War on Two Fronts makes real contributions to understanding battalion command in both conventional and unconventional operations, and to understanding the essence of full spectrum operations."-ARMY Magazine, 02/2008

"...conveys the perceptive views of an exceptional officer who should definitely be bound for higher places."Proceedings Magazine, 07/2008

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Item Specifications...

Pages   306
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 1.25" Width: 6.25" Height: 9.25"
Weight:   1.25 lbs.
Binding  Hardcover
Release Date   Dec 1, 2007
Publisher   Casemate
ISBN  1932033815  
ISBN13  9781932033816  

Availability  0 units.

More About Christopher P. Hughes

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Christopher Hughes has an academic affiliation as follows - University of Manchester, UK King's College London King's College Lond.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > History > Americas > General
2Books > Subjects > History > Middle East > Iraq
3Books > Subjects > History > Military > General
4Books > Subjects > History > Military > United States > General
5Books > Subjects > History > Military > United States > Veterans
6Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > General

Reviews - What do customers think about WAR ON TWO FRONTS: An Infantry Commander's War in Iraq and the Pentagon?

NFS medic  Mar 19, 2008
I had the privilage to have COL Hughes my Battalion Commander during OIF1. This book does great justice to all of the soldiers of the battalion. Leadership emanates off of COL Hughes and you can not help but follow this American Patriot.

No F*@kin Slack!
The straight skinney from a straight shooter  Jan 15, 2008
In "War on Two Fronts," Col. Christopher Hughes provides a raw, honest account of not only what transpired during the invasion of Iraq in 2003 but also a rare glimpse into the inner workings of the Pentagon. Written with clarity and closeness, he brings us along for a look into a very different world than what was many times presented in the mainstream. After all, few writers or commentators bear as much responsibility for their actions as a man in Hughes's position. Written with refreshing honesty, Hughes is neither cheerleader nor detractor; he merely tells it like he saw it.

It is a work that shares with us a view from high enough on the "Food Chain" to provide a broad perspective of operations, but at the same time close enough to the ground to smell the cordite. We at once see the larger strategies of his commanders that he is tasked to carry out, while at the same time feel the jarring discomfort of trucks designed for a dozen men carrying twice that number. We can walk the ground as actions with global impact play out in an area ground the size of a typical city block. We share the palpable relief when conventional ground fighting ceases, but feel the stress as the daunting task of being responsible for the civil welfare of a population across an area of 11,000 sq kilometers is suddenly thrust upon one man. And this has to be performed with less than 1,000 men. Then, from the dust and flies into the polished halls of the Pentagon...and it's oftentimes even more polished, Byzantine ways.

Such is the unique fate of infantry battalion commanders.

Throughout, Hughes presents his odyssey with a clarity and frankness that makes this one of the most educational books on the Iraq conflict to date. Whatever your position on Iraq, "War on Two Fronts" will give you fresh perspective on the realities of war on the ground amidst an ancient and complex civilization, and the mechanisms of one of the largest, and deadliest, organizations ever build by man.

You will find it hard to put down.
A look at the History and the Future of America's War in Iraq & beyond  Jan 7, 2008

I met Chris Hughes in June of 2002 at Ft. Campbell when he and No Slack (2/327th INF) were preparing for the deployment that would become "OIF" the following March.

As a Vietnam Veteran of No Slack having served with its Alpha Company in 1969 & 70 I was impressed with the soldiers who were filling the boots of my old unit and its sister battalions (1&3/327Th) that comprised the 1st Brigade (The Bastogne Bulldogs) of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).

I left LTC Hughes that day knowing that he and his troops were ready to write their own pages of No Slack's history. This book is an eyewitness to that history. It speaks well of the resourcefulness of the finest Army America and the world has ever seen. From the confusion of having an imbedded terrorist strike just days before the war begins to the resourcefulness of the men and their leaders as they adapt to the ever changing situations that comprise combat. Reading the first half of the book made me proud of my old unit and to be an American. But there is so much more here.

Chris's analysis after he returns to the states, what we are doing right, what needs to be changed and what he and others who are serving have proposed to ensure that we win is insightful. Much of what Col Hughes lays out in this piece is already operational and current events have proved him to be right in his assessment and planning.

You will not be able to put War on Two Fronts down once you start reading it. It's a historical record and a look at the future as we continue the fight against America's deadliest enemy, fanatical Islam.

To "The Hammer", I thank you for your continued service and for this outstanding book.

No Slack, Sir!
Yankee Jim
Exceptional reading!  Dec 26, 2007
I highly recommend this book to any Patriot, man or woman, who wants a vivid insight on the true account of one hero's experience on and off the battle field. You won't regret reading this.
In Iraq and on the Home Front  Dec 6, 2007
How do you meet an Ayatollah? Chris Hughes had to find an answer and fast.

Anyone who knows Chris appreciates the extraordinary nature of this sterling man: a natural and gifted leader of great poise, keen insight, swift reactions and a profound sense of humanity, the last of which pours out of his account of his campaign in Iraq and service at the Pentagon and at the National War College.

As the commander of "No Slack" (2nd Battalion 327th Airborne Infantry) in the 101st "Screaming Eagles" Chris relates about how the families girded for the deployment by sewing patches on the new camouflage uniforms in an ad hoc organization that came to be known as the "Stitch and Bitch." He then recounts the fragging of his brigade commander and staff, how he led the liberation of an-Najaf, securing the Mosque of Ali and ensuring the safety of Grand Ayatollah Sistani, who invited Chris to a private meeting which got spoiled by a near riot in the marketplace. "Take a knee, and smile," Chris calmly ordered his men, as the world's media looked on. He defused a tense situation, and though he never got to meet the seniormost Shiite cleric, did get a fatwa from the clergyman instructing the Shiites to stand aside and let the Americans continue their mission. One of Chris' most powerful assets was his translator/advisor, Kadhim al-Waeli, who now serves as senior cultural advisor to Lt Gen Ray Odierno, in Baghdad.

Chris then writes about starting the first post-Saddam municipal government, while avoiding the trap of appointing "bad guys" to that governing body. Up country with the rest of the division, Chris and his colleagues organized the national wheat and barley harvest and he set up a regional council of municipal mayors, known as "The Tigris River Valley Council," giving those delegates all the honors the president receives on "Marine-1." He also recounts an effort to put a stop to Kurdish looting from the refinery in Beiji.

In Part II -"A Footstool at the Seat of Power," Chris recounts efforts to set up the Army IED Task Force and the Iraq Cultural Advisory Task Force with help from Kadhim and "Major Bob" Bevelacqua. He also writes of the cancellation of the Comanche helicopter program and some of the pitfalls in the Pentagon system.

Chris then narrates his experiences at the National War College, where he and his classmates forced change on the faculty, in order to refocus on the problems of insurgency and counter-insurgency and away from the Cold War. That coup produced an anthology,Fresh from the Fight: The Invasion and Occupation of Iraq: An Anthology of National War College Studies by American Combat Commanders.

The book concludes with serious thoughts on how to counter Iraqi IED bombing teams and how to plan and execute an orderly withdrawal from our current war-time footing in Iraq.

War on Two Fronts includes dispatches from reporters, some e-mails and an interesting monograph on field sanitation from one of his NCOs that flesh out the narrative. In all, this is an incredibly insightful book (and with a lot of good photos), produced by an ordinary guy from Red Oak, Iowa.


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