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Winning Paktika: Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan

Tue, Oct 21, 2014, 4:30pm - 6:00pm

You are cordially invited to a book lecture for

Winning Paktika: Counterinsurgency in Afghanistan

with author 
Robert S. Anders  

Tuesday, October 21
4:30 PM

The Institute of World Politics
1521 16th Street NW
Washington, DC 20036
Parking Map 


Please contact with any questions.

Winning Paktika: Counterinsurgency in AfghanistanAbout the book 

“We can win the war without killing a single person.”

Just days prior to deploying to combat in Afghanistan, Lieutenant Colonel Walter Piatt, commander of the 2nd Battalion, 27th Infantry “Wolfhounds” announced this visionary statement in front of an assembly of 800 infantrymen and their families. Naturally, none of the soldiers listening to the Colonel’s rhetoric thought it was possible to actually win the war without killing a single person. That hardly sounded like “war” at all. In fact, that simple concept was the very antithesis of the previous 10 months they had all spent training to explicitly kill people with speed and violence. Destroying the enemy was the fundamental focus of every infantryman. It was, of course, the very reason the infantry existed in the first place.

The Colonel, an infantryman himself no less, challenged his battalion’s conventional thinking that day and throughout the ensuing campaign. His striking pronouncement was the theoretical extreme of counterinsurgency doctrine. It emphasizes the importance of nation-building instead of man-hunting, construction instead of destruction, and dropping schools and wells into villages instead of artillery shells. That was his vision and that is what he led his infantrymen to do.

This is the story of the Wolfhounds in 2nd Platoon, Bravo Company through the eyes of a young platoon leader. He details their adventures on the frontier in a little-known dangerous place called Paktika Province, centrally located along Afghanistan’s volatile border with Pakistan. It is the story of ordinary men, cast into a treacherous and unfamiliar world with the mission to destroy the enemy’s sanctuary, not just the enemy. It is the story of triumph and failure, elation and frustration through a hard-fought struggle with their identity as infantrymen, evolving from trained tactical killers to strategic nation builders in their quest to win Paktika.

About the author 

Rob Anders grew up with a pen in his hand, constantly writing about his travels and adventures as a young boy. His family moved often during his childhood, settling briefly in every time zone in the United States and for a few years in Europe. He attended eleven different schools before high school, including 4th grade in a rural German elementary school — without speaking the language. Rob was perpetually “the new kid” and early on he learned to adapt to new environments and appreciate different cultures.

On September 11th, 2001, Rob was beginning his senior year at the United States Military Academy at West Point. As the world erupted into violence, he knew he would be thrust into a new war. Upon graduation, Rob churned through the Infantry Officer Basic Course, Airborne School and Ranger School, eager to get to the front. Shortly thereafter, he arrived at his first assignment in Hawaii. He took charge of his platoon and began preparing them for combat. Rob and his men were expert managers of violence and destruction by the time they deployed to Afghanistan in early 2004.

As fate would have it, Rob landed in an unusual position for a junior officer in a complex and confusing war. In addition to his responsibility of executing tactical level orders with his platoon, he also served as a primary liaison to the highest ranking Afghan leaders in Paktika Province. Thus, Rob was perfectly positioned to gain a close-up account of life in the trenches as well as the operational and strategic tectonics of the battlefield. Rob’s depth of experience, superb military training and passion for writing are what make Winning Paktika such an extraordinary war story from the perspective of a culturally savvy Airborne Ranger on the front lines with a rifle and pen.