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book review: "Ashley's War"...

Thursday, April 14, 2016
...by Gayle Lemmon. The subtitle is:' the untold story of a team of women soldiers on the Special Ops. battlefield'. I have not read it, but already know I would recommend it to all females and especially anyone with a daughter.  An amazing lesson for anyone who doubts their abilities, and a sweet story of women who care, love and support other females.  It is about female soldiers embedded with Special Ops. teams in Afghanistan. Women who could go places men were not allowed, and talk to the portion of the population males were not permitted to speak with.

They volunteered for a special mission, were tested both physically and mentally to find the most qualified. Two hundred applied and about fifty finished the course. Trained at Ft. Bragg in North Carolina, and sent to the mid-east to military bases around Kandahar. Embedded in ground troops who went out in  night missions. Men who were Green Berets or Seals or Special Ops., searching out insurgents in towns and villages across Afghanistan. The women could go into homes, and meet with the women, talk to them in privacy and get information they could use to help find the rebel forces. Or find out where IEDs were being planted, to warn the troops prior to movement. Providing intel. and vital info. to US and allied forces that the male troops would never have access to.

Ashley White was one of the first women who was killed in the Afghan war, there on the front lines, serving with the Special Ops. team. The men were initially reluctant to accept women thinking they were not qualified, and would be a burden, someone who would hold them back, or need protecting. But soon found that these female troops were more than capable: able to hold their own and provide information the men could not other wise access.

The DOD did not publicize her death, and attempted to down play the importance of the women who were there serving their country, on the battlefield. When Lemmon first heard about Ashley and began to ask questions, it was difficult to get information. Commanding officers did not want the American public to know, and did not want to talk about what these females were doing. But when Lemmon finally got enough information to go and talk to Ashley's mother, Mrs. White was waiting and willing to talk. Opening the door to provide Lemmon with contact information for many of the other women who had trained and served with Ashley.

I went to the Infantry Museum to hear Lemmon talk about the book. I think it was just released in the past month. She is a professional journalist, and though married to a Navy vet., with a home in California, says she lives mostly on airplanes. She also wrote the best seller: "The Dressmaker of Kahar Kahana: five sisters, one remarkable family, and the woman who risked everything to keep them safe".

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