Warrior Diplomat: A Green Beret's Battles from Washington to Afghanistan

Warrior Diplomat: A Green Beret's Battles from Washington to Afghanistan

Warrior Diplomat: A Green Beret's Battles from Washington to Afghanistan

Warrior Diplomat: A Green Beret's Battles from Washington to Afghanistan


Grappling with centuries-old feuds, defeating a shrewd insurgency, and navigating the sometimes paralyzing bureaucracy of the U.S. military are issues that prompt sleepless nights for both policy makers in Washington DC and soldiers at war, albeit for different reasons. Few, however, have dealt with these issues in the White House situation room and on the front line. Michael G. Waltz has done just that, working as a policy advisor to Vice President Richard B. Cheney and also serving in the mountains of Afghanistan as a Green Beret, directly implementing strategy in the field that he helped devise in Washington. In Warrior Diplomat: A Green Beret’s Battles from Washington to Afghanistan, Waltz shares his unique firsthand experiences, revealing the sights, sounds, emotions, and complexities involved in the war in Afghanistan. Waltz also highlights the policy issues that have plagued the war effort throughout the past decade, from the drug trade, to civilian casualties, to a lack of resources in comparison to Iraq, to the overall coalition strategy. At the same time, he points out that stabilizing Afghanistan and the region remains crucial to national security and that a long-term commitment along the lines of South Korea or Germany is imperative if America is to remain secure.


With the Afghan war ostensibly coming to an end after thirteen long years, many who were involved with the American adventure in South Asia have written a postmortem on America’s longest war. Journalists, policymakers, and soldiers have all provided their perspectives on what went right and what went wrong. What distinguishes Waltz’s book from the rest is that he experienced Afghanistan both at a senior policy level and on front lines around the country.

Serving first in the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Counternarcotics, where he helped establish the Defense Department’s funding, programs, and strategy for counternarcotics activities in Afghanistan, and then as Vice President Richard B. Cheney’s special advisor for South Asia and counterterrorism, Waltz brings readers into the Pentagon and the Eisenhower Executive Office Building where the sausage of policy is made. It is not a pretty process.

Having been the commander of a U.S. Army Special Forces unit, making multiple deployments to Afghanistan and the Middle East, Waltz also illustrates how these policies affected the war fighters on the ground as they tried to work with their coalition partners, Afghan security forces, and the local populace.

A well-trained operator, Waltz notes that from the very beginning, there didn’t seem to be a strategic vision for Afghanistan, causing coalition efforts to be primarily reactive in nature. This was only compounded by the U.S. decision to invade Iraq in 2003, diverting key resources and expertise from Afghanistan. It’s a theme he repeats throughout the book: that the men and women on the ground didn’t have the tools they needed to make effective changes. One can’t help but wonder where Afghanistan would be now if they had.

With his years of service, Waltz is one of the most qualified people to bring these two sides of the Afghan war together, and the story he tells is one of seemingly good intentions but confused, uncoordinated, and stifling bureaucracy. While he is not afraid to criticize his former . . .

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