from Women and Foreign Policy Program

Ashley's War

The Untold Story of a Team of Women Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield

The poignant and gripping story of a groundbreaking team of female American warriors who served alongside Special Operations soldiers on the battlefield in Afghanistan­.

Book
Foreign policy analyses written by CFR fellows and published by the trade presses, academic presses, or the Council on Foreign Relations Press.

More on:

Wars and Conflict

Gender

Military Operations

Afghanistan

In 2010, the U.S. Army Special Operations Command created Cultural Support Teams, a pilot program to put women on the battlefield alongside Army Rangers, Green Berets, Navy SEALs, and other special operations teams on sensitive missions in Afghanistan. The idea was that women could access places and people that had remained out of reach, and could build relationships—woman to woman—in ways that male soldiers in a conservative, traditional country could not. Though officially banned from combat, female soldiers could be “attached” to different teams, and for the first time women throughout the Army, the National Guard, and the Reserves heard the call to join male soldiers on special ops missions. Each had her own story, her own reason for wanting to serve alongside America’s finest fighters—for wanting, as the recruiting poster advertised, “to be part of history.”

In the New York Times best seller Ashley’s War, Gayle Tzemach Lemmon uses exhaustive firsthand reporting and a finely tuned understanding of the complexities of war to tell the story of CST-2, a unit of women handpicked from across the Army, and of the remarkable hero at its heart: First Lieutenant Ashley White. Lemmon reveals how First Lieutenant White and the pioneers of CST-2 worked to earn the respect of combat-tested special operations warriors and illuminates the very human stakes of their battlefield successes.

Transporting readers into the little-known world of the CSTs, a community of fierce women bound together by valor, danger, and the desire to serve, Ashley’s War is a gripping combat narrative and a testament to the unbreakable bond of friendship born of war.

Up

Reviews and Endorsements

An unforgettable story of female soldiers breaking the brass ceiling. The women who answered America’s call to serve show that our military is stronger when it engages both halves of the population. This book will inspire you and remind you of the power that comes with defying limits.

Sheryl Sandberg

Ashley’s War shares the remarkable stories of one of the first teams of women serving in the U.S. Army Special Operations Command. This team forged the path for American women who serve in harm’s way all over the world and continue to make the ultimate sacrifice.

Senator John McCain

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon expertly gives readers an inside look at what it takes to work alongside America’s elite forces. The book is a gripping, moving, and well-told war story, but more importantly it offers the first glimpse into a historic program.

Kevin Maurer, author of Gentlemen Bastards

Fascinating and often moving, Ashley’s War follows one of the early groups of women who volunteered to serve alongside special operations soldiers, vividly portraying their training, their early missions as they learn their jobs, their bonds of friendship, and their reckoning with the toll of war. Remarkable.

Phil Klay, author of Redeployment

In the News

Inside Look at a Team of Female Soldiers on the Special Ops Battlefield

HarperCollins

The Incredible Bravery of America's Female Special Ops

HarperCollins

Flags of Our Daughters: Honoring the Women Warriors Who Serve Our Country

HarperCollins

The Sister Soldiers Who Assisted Special Ops in Afghanistan

HarperCollins

Should Women Be Allowed in Combat?

HarperCollins

Three Women Advance, Inspire at US Army’s Ranger School

HarperCollins

A Look at First-Ever All-Female Army Team

HarperCollins

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon on the Diane Rehm Show

HarperCollins

Book Discussion on <i>Ashley's War</i>

HarperCollins

America’s Next Social Battlefield Is on the Actual Battlefield

HarperCollins

Inside Special Ops Program That Sent Women Soldiers to Afghanistan Warzones

HarperCollins

Women in Combat? Inside the Untold Story of <i>Ashley's War</i>

HarperCollins

Noted Journalist Tells Story of the Women Soldiers of the Afghan War

HarperCollins

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon at TEDWomen 2015

HarperCollins

<i>Ashley's War</i> Author Describes How Women Soldiers Assisted Special Ops in Afghanistan

HarperCollins

Cultural Support Team Women Served With Distinction

HarperCollins

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon on Global Dispatches

HarperCollins

Huffington Post Live on Ashley's War

HarperCollins

<i>Ashley's War</i>: A Look at the Use of Cultural Support Teams in Afghanistan

HarperCollins

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon on SiriusXM's <i>The Lid</i>

HarperCollins

Special Assignments for Women Soldiers

HarperCollins

Army Ranger female graduates won't be last

HarperCollins

Inside <i>Ashley's War</i> on <i>Good Morning America</i>

HarperCollins

Female Warriors on the Frontlines

HarperCollins

Produced By: Reese Witherspoon, Bruna Papandrea on Making Movies With Great Roles for Women

HarperCollins

Chuck Williams: Ashley White paved the way for women in Ranger School

HarperCollins

Inside <i>Ashley's War</i> on ABC World News

HarperCollins

Our Secret Weapon

HarperCollins

When G.I. Jane Comes Home

HarperCollins

The Female Soldiers Who’ve Already Joined Special Ops Teams

HarperCollins

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon on <i>The Daily Show</i>

HarperCollins

Special Ops Leaders Praise Women's Role in Ranger Raids

HarperCollins

Creative Spotlight: <i>Ashley’s War</i>

HarperCollins

Will the first women to finish Ranger School change what’s off limits in the military?

HarperCollins

Inside the Military Program That Put Women in Combat

HarperCollins

Military Appreciation Month: Women in Combat—Inside the Untold Story of Ashley's War

HarperCollins

29 Books You Should Definitely Bring to the Beach This Summer

HarperCollins

Band of Sisters: Elite Group of Female Army Soldiers Battled Under Harrowing Conditions

HarperCollins

19 Women Washed Out of Army Range School. That's Actually a Good Thing.

HarperCollins

Gayle Tzemach Lemmon on the <i>Sound of Ideas</i>

HarperCollins

Army Shows Women No Slack at Elite Army Ranger Qualifiers

HarperCollins

How One Woman Earned Her Way Onto the Special Ops Battlefield

HarperCollins

When GI Jane Joined Special Ops

HarperCollins

Women in the War Zone

HarperCollins

Ashley's War Shares the Untold Stories of Women in Combat

HarperCollins

Make No Mistake, These Women Are Warriors

HarperCollins

Seven Career and Life Lessons Inspired by Women in the Military

HarperCollins

Ashley's War: A Special Ops Heroine

HarperCollins

A Fallen Member of an All-Female Team

HarperCollins

New Book Tells Story of Women Serving on the Front Lines

HarperCollins

The Army's All-Women Special Ops Teams Show Us How We'll Win Tomorrow's Wars

HarperCollins

Ashley’s War Chronicles Women on the Special Ops Battlefield

HarperCollins

Reese Witherspoon Is Building the Ultimate Book Club

HarperCollins

A Band of Sisters on the Special Ops Battlefield

HarperCollins

Something to Read at the Beach or on the Base

HarperCollins