Counter Jihad: America's Military Experience in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria

By Dutcher, Briana N. | Air & Space Power Journal, April 1, 2017 | Go to article overview

Counter Jihad: America's Military Experience in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria


Dutcher, Briana N., Air & Space Power Journal


Counter Jihad: America's Military Experience in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria by Brian Glyn Williams. University of Pennsylvania Press (http://www.upenn.edu/pe nnpress/), 3905 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-4112, 2016, 400 pages, $39.95 (hardcover), ISBN 978-0-8122-4867-8.

Two images have been circulating together around the Internet in recent months. The first picture is of a young boy waving an American flag; the second, a young Soldier holding the same flag. Above the child are the words "We were just kids on 9/11." Those below the Solider read "We're not kids anymore." As time goes on, more and more military personnel are too young to remember or were too young at the time to understand this critical event. A 2014 demographic study of the military determined that almost 50 percent of enlisted members and 13 percent of officers were younger than 12 on 11 September 2001 (p. iv). This generation is in dire need of an honest history of the wars since 9/11 and of a detailed analysis of today's terror threats. Not only could they use this for their personal edification but also they deserve to know whom they are fighting and killing-and why. Prof. Brian Glyn Williams's Counter Jihad provides just the account they have been lacking.

A professor of Islamic history at the University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, Williams offers a detailed view of a complex chronicle to which many millennials (and even some late Generation X individuals) may have never been exposed. In his words, "This history of counterterrorism and warfare in distant lands and tragedy in the United States is not intended for experts alone. It is meant to be a guide for all those who want to learn from the mistakes and successes of the wars in the Middle East and Central Asia and apply them to the future and present" (p. xii). Although Williams's target audience includes the undergraduate students he instructs daily, another group requires such an education: young military professionals. No other assemblage has a greater need for an account of the conditions and decisions that brought about these wars than today's junior combatants. These are the people who have been called upon to win this war and who may bear the burden of taking enemy lives in order to protect coalition and civilian lives. It is important that the average citizen understand these events, but it is paramount for our military members, especially those who are now coming of age to fight and lead. Counter Jihad will provide them a better understanding of the war their superiors have spent their careers fighting, thereby equipping our millennial warriors with comprehension of how the current state of affairs in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria came to be. …

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