FIRST CASUALTY tells the story of the secret mission of the eight members of the CIA’s Team Alpha, the first Americans to be dropped behind enemy lines in Afghanistan after 9/11.
After just a month, Team Alpha, riding on horseback alongside warlord Abdul Rashid Dostum and U.S. Special Forces, had pushed the Taliban out of much of northern Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda, however, was plotting to strike back. A “Trojan horse” surrender of 500 foreign fighters led to their incarceration inside Qala-i-Janghi – “the House of War” – just outside the key city Mazar-i-Sharif. Determined to prevent another 9/11, the CIA went in to interrogate them despite the danger. CIA officer Johnny “Mike” Spann was killed when the prisoners, including an American, John Walker Lindh, overcame their guards using weapons they had smuggled in. Spann’s CIA comrade David Tyson fought his way out in some of the most intense combat ever faced by an American who lived to tell the tale.
Tyson was honored for his valor in remaining inside the fort to help coordinate U.S. and British forces who had raced to the scene to quell the uprising. If successful, the revolt, part of a broader plan to recapture Mazar-i-Sharif, could have reversed the defeat of the Taliban regime and led to countless more deaths.
Toby Harnden, winner of the Orwell Prize for Books, paints an intimate portrait of intelligence and war, drawing on extensive research inside Afghanistan and interviews with Team Alpha members, CIA leaders, Special Forces, Mike Spann’s widow Shannon, and Dostum. FIRST CASUALTY is the searing, untold story of how America’s war in Afghanistan began with a swift victory, many of the lessons of which were ignored as America became bogged down in an unwinnable war.