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Into the Viper's Nest: Task Force 1 Fury and the Battle for Musa Qala [Hardcover]

Stephen Grey

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Book Description

1 Oct 2010

Recounts the dramatic three-day battle for the Taliban stronghold of Musa Qala that started on 7 December 2007. With a pre-battle population of fifteen to twenty thousand, Musa Qala was the only significant town held by the Taliban at that time. Attacking against two thousand Taliban fighters, who were heavily dug in after occupying the town for more than nine months, the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) was spearheaded by Task Force 1 Fury: 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, of the 82nd Airborne Division.
 
For the ISAF Musa Qala  was a target of immense importance; the Taliban had to be driven out and the town secured. With months of occupation to get ready, the Taliban were prepared to stand and fight. What resulted was one of the biggest and most terrible battles of the war.

 


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About the Author

Stephen Grey is a journalist based in London, best known for breaking the international exclusive story of the CIA's secret rendition program for which he won the 2005 Amnesty International Media Award and formed the basis for his book Ghost Plane. He is a former editor of the Sunday Times and continues to contribute there as well as the New York Times, Guardian, Times, Independent, and Newsweek.

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Customer Reviews

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Amazon.com: 4.1 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Little known action in Afghanistan 27 Sep 2010
By Gregory Hope - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Outside of military circles perhaps, the battle at Musa Quala in December of 2007 got almost no coverage from the US media. I suspect this was in part due to the fact that there was no US Marine presence (no offense to the Marines but they do get more media coverage than the US Army) but also due to the fact that the high command wanted the operation to appear like something the Afghan Army played a major role in. According to the author they did not. My interest in the campaign and my previous knowledge of it is due to the fact that my son was serving in B company 1/508 during the battle. This book presents the background to the offensive, the combat experience of both British and US forces and also some thoughts on how the war in Afghanistan can be won or lost from a strategic standpoint. The book is well written and fast paced.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Good First person Narrative 8 Dec 2012
By DevilDogOz - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
The disclaimer before I begin is that I'm on my third tour in Afghanistan, am staioned in Helmand Province, (where the book is set), and have been to Sangin, Musa Qa'lah and the other locations that the author writes about.

Overall this is a good book, well written, accurate in it's detail and the author gets it right in terms of how we operate. The great advantage of being a media embed is getting to work with and know your subjects and Grey did that; he conducted over 200 interviews in researching the book and put the stories to paper in a way that brings the reader as close to the experience as you can get (without actually enlisting!).

There are two weak points that kept this from being a 'five star' book - maps and pictures. There's not a single map or diagram in the book - and the reader trying to 'Google' up the map of Helmand and figure out what is where will be disappointed, particularly as many of the place/village names will not be spelled the same. Same complaint regarding the action; when Grey discusses the attack on Musa Qa'lah or Sangin, a diagram showing the plan of attack and where the battalions and companies maneuvered would work wonders to help the reader better understand the action - alas, no maps or diagrams... In the same vein, the dozen or so pages of pictures are almost an afterthought - there's not a single picture of any of the characters mentioned in the book, they don't support or enhance the narrative and the pictures used appear to be US Army 'stock' footage - most have credits from official Army photographers. The pictures are from all over Afghanistan, with virtually none from Helmand, the setting for the story.

If this book is reprinted, taking the time to get the maps and diagrams into the story will make it a collectible from this war; their absence makes this just a 'so-so' work.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent ground level perspective of the war in Afghanistan 12 Nov 2010
By J. Rudy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Stephen Grey's "Into the Viper's Nest: The First Pivotal Battle of the Afghan War", is the story of how American and Afghan forces have begun to fracture the Taliban stronghold on southern Afghanistan. Despite the misleading subtitle, it is an outstanding book capturing the nuances of international cooperation of modern combat. [I would argue the initial assault in Afghanistan in 2002 was the first pivotal battle of this Afghan War. The combination of American airpower, the Northern Alliance and fewer than 300 American special forces were able to completely upset the balance of power in the country.] After their initial eviction from power, the Taliban managed to regroup their power in Southern Afghanistan. Grey expertly tells the story of how American, British, and Afghan forces took the fight to the Taliban in 2007.

One of the most difficult things for an American to understand is that the labels can be temporary. Take for example Republican Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania who changed his political party affiliation to the Democrats. Despite years of loyalty to his constituents, Pennsylvania Democrats rejected him in his attempt at reelection. Afghani clan leaders face much the same danger in changing their loyalties from the Taliban to the new Afghan government. Except the price for losing isn't merely the loss of office - they can lose their lives.

Coalition forces jokingly compare the situation in Afghanistan to the game of "Whack a Mole". In this game, a toy mole will come out of a hole and the player must hit the mole with a mallet. As one mole goes back into the hole, two or three more moles are coming out. The combat situation is very similar - for every combat patrol to take out a Taliban leader, new leaders arise to take their place. Without a major shift in the rules on the ground, this game would go on forever.

The town of Musa Qala was an infamous Taliban stronghold, and it was in this town that the game was going to change. A leader decided he was going to leave the Taliban and join Hamid Karzai's government. With this defection, he was going to need coalition protection.

Grey captures all aspects of this story - from the conversations between President Karzai and coalition leaders, down to the details of the deadly combat to wrest control of Musa Qala from the hands of the Taliban. He tells the story through the words of the British, Afghani, and American men who were there. Zenith hired an incredibly talented graphics artist to create charts to illustrate how the battle unfolded.

I highly recommend this book for any reader looking for a tactical-level perspective on the Afghan War. This book deserves a place in the library next to "Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10" and "Not a Good Day to Die: The Untold Story of Operation Anaconda".
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A 'you are there' reporting method makes this a top pick for any who want blow-by-blow, moment-by-moment descriptions 20 Jan 2011
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
INTO THE VIPER'S NEST: THE FIRST PIVOTAL BATTLE OF THE AFGHAN WAR is a specific analysis recommended for any in-depth military coverage of the Afghan War's experiences. It comes from a journalist who recounts the three-day battle for the Taliban stronghold of Musa Qala, covering strategy, experience, and the biggest battle of the war. A 'you are there' reporting method makes this a top pick for any who want blow-by-blow, moment-by-moment descriptions.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The best I have read on United States involvement in Afghanistan. 14 Jan 2011
By Jimmie A. Kepler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
"Into the Viper's Nest: The First Pivotal Battle of the Afghan War" by Stephen Grey is the story of American and Afghan forces cooperation in dealing with the Taliban stronghold on southern Afghanistan. It details the vivid three-day battle for the Taliban stronghold of Musa Qala. The battle started on 7 December 2007 This is an excellent, well-written book. Grey skillfully tells the story of how American, British, and Afghan forces took the fight to the Taliban in 2007.

The town of Musa Qala was a notorious Taliban stronghold. This was the location chosen for everything to change. A local leader decided he was going to leave the Taliban. He was joining the Hamid Karzai's government. This defection needed coalition protection.

Stephen Grey is an excellent writer. He captures all phases of this story. He covers the discussions between President Karzai and coalition leaders. He covers the particulars of the deadly combat to wrest control of Musa Qala from the hands of the Taliban. He paints a picture of International cooperation as he tells the story through the words of the British, Afghani, and American men who were there. The publisher did an excellent job with eight pages of graphics and charts to showing systematically how the battle took place.

I highly recommend this book for any reader looking for a tactical-level viewpoint on the Afghan War. Anyone interested in Afghanistan and the war against the Taliban will benefit from reading the book. I recommend for community and university libraries as well as the personal libraries of all military historians. This is the best I have read on United States involvement in Afghanistan.
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