Book Review: American Spartan

American Spartan

I hear much conflict around Major Jim Gant but that seems to be an attribute that follows many great leaders. Malcontent, rebel, maverick, shit-stirrer, were some of the choice names given him by those who saw his unorthodox ways as a scar on the Army. Howver to others many have called him a modern day "Lawrence of Afghanistan." To the Pashtun tribesmen he was "Commander Jim," leader of the "bearded ones." Army Special Forces Major Jim Gant, one of the most charismatic and controversial U.S. commanders of modern memory, a man who changed the approach of America's war in Afghanistan when his white paper, "One Tribe at a Time," went viral at the Pentagon, the White House, and on Capitol Hill.

Jim Gant is a decorated Green Beret who had spent years training indigenous fighters, Jim argued for embedding autonomous units with tribes across Afghanistan: these American soldiers would live among Afghans for extended periods, not only to train and equip tribal militias, but to fight—and even die—alongside them in battle. He argued that we could earn the trust of the Afghans and transform them into a reliable ally with whom we could defeat the Taliban and Al Qaeda networks. The military's top brass, including General David Petraeus, then commander of U.S. Central Command and overseeing the war in Afghanistan, and Admiral Eric Olson, head of Special Operations Command, approved the plan and gave Jim the go-ahead to embark on the mission.

The book "American Spartan" I thought was a great read that actually reads like it's made for a movie, it was easy to follow and riveting. The stories of battle ad battle focused leadership that include innovative thinking and unconventional tactics and adaptability I must say steal my heart especially in a world that's filled with conformity and rigid linear thinking. Major Gant as most of us humans had his vices but if half of what this book relays is true, he is my kind of guy and one I would like to have worked with.

I recommend this book as it offers many lessons on leadership, building trust among very different cultures and small unit cohesion we could all learn from.