Table of contents for Inside CentCom : the unvarnished truth about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq / Michael DeLong with Noah Lukeman.

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Introduction by General Tony Zinni, USMC, Ret.
Chapter One: Welcome to CentCom
Chapter Two: September 11
Chapter Three: The War in Afghanistan
Chapter Four: Building to H-Hour
Chapter Five: Iraq
Chapter Six: Iraq: The Aftermath
by General Tony Zinni, USMC, Ret., former CentCom commander
I knew from serving four years at CentCom as the commander and deputy commander that these positions are vitally important. This was also clear to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Hugh Shelton and Secretary of Defense Bill Cohen. Both asked for my recommendations for these posts and stressed their view that these were among the top few positions that demanded the very best and most competent selections they could make. In their words: ôWe have to get these right.ö
As I was leaving command of the U.S. Central Command in 2000, my recommended successor, General Tommy Franks, asked for my help and advice in getting the deputy commander he desired for CentCom. He said he wanted a Marine aviator, and asked who I would recommend. Without hesitation I told him he needed Mike DeLong.
I first worked with General Mike DeLong in Somalia. I was highly impressed by this square-jawed Marine who could quickly cut through the red tape and get to the heart of all the important issues we faced; he further impressed me with his seemingly effortless ability to get difficult things done well. When I was assigned as the commanding general of the First Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF), I was pleased to have Mike as my deputy commanding general. He reinforced every quality I had seen in him in Somalia and I recommended him to the commandant of the Marine Corps for future command and higher grade. To me he was clearly a superb leader, with a great future in our Corps.
Obviously, Tommy Franks and Mike DeLong proved to be a great team in trying times. We all saw firsthand the brilliant handling of the military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and elsewhere in the volatile area of responsibility assigned to CentCom during the three years that Franks and DeLong were there. They were masters at fighting a war, managing the sensitive relationships in the region, and holding together the complex coalition put in place to deal with the significant threats that faced us.
Mike DeLong was the unsung hero of these efforts. He kept things together behind the scenes and saw all facets of the day-to-day operations firsthand. He had a unique position that enabled him to truly see how and why things unfolded as they did. His savvy, intellect, common sense, professional competence, and honesty come through in this book, and give us a rare insight into critical events that have shaped our course at the beginning of this troubled century.
ôI consider it no sacrifice to die for my country. In my mind we came here to thank God that men like these have lived rather than to regret that they had died.ö
ùGeneral George S. Patton Jr.
speech at an Allied cemetery in Italy, 1943
It began as a typical Monday morning at United States Central CommandùCentCom. General Franks was in the Middle East, so I was in charge. I had already run the morning meeting, gotten briefed by my men, and now I had Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld on the phone and was filling him in on the events of the day before. It was relatively uneventful.
Suddenly, one of my aides approached me. He handed me a piece of paper, not wanting to interrupt my conversation. I knew it must be important.
It was.
I held an ôurgentö message from Current Operations (ôCurrentOpsö), which meant that something was going down at that very moment in the battlefield, and it was sensitive enough that it required Rules of Engagement approval. As I glanced over the paper, I saw the magnitude of the situation. I immediately knew that this was something IÆd need to run by Rumsfeld. I interrupted him.
ôExcuse me, Mr. Secretary, but somethingÆs just landed that you need to know about.ö
ôTell me.ö
ôA speedboat has been spotted racing out of a Pakistani port. Our men hailed it on the radio, and it didnÆt respond. They fired a warning shot over the bow, and it still hasnÆt responded. As of this moment, itÆs speeding away, and it has already reached international waters.ö
We both knew what this meant. From the beginning of the Afghan war, we had known that al-Qaeda operatives would try to flee. We knew they had only two real options of escape: small aircraft and speedboats. So we watched the skies and the ports very carefully. We were especially on the lookout for any small craft speeding out of Pakistan. This fit the description. If we let this craft go, it could very well be Mullah Omar or Osama bin Laden on that boat.
Additionally, the boat had already reached international waters, which complicated things infinitely. If the boat had been within twelve miles of the Pakistani shore, it would have been in Pakistani waters, and we could have easily forced it to stop. But once it crossed the twelve-mile mark, the waters were international, and the rules were no longer clear. That meant we had to follow our Rules of Engagement. These called for a warning by radio, then a warning shot over the bowùand if that failed, nothing else. Our men had to go to a higher authority in order to escalate the conflict. ThatÆs why they were calling me.
Every war and every conflict that the United States enters has its own Rules of Engagement. Contrary to what most people think, the U.S. military does not have a complete license to kill, even in wartime. We are not a barbaric stateùwe do not enter any war with the intention of unilaterally killing anything in our path. On the contrary, we go out of our way to spare civilian lives, to keep those who are not in the war out of itùsometimes even at the expense of risking our own soldiersÆ safety. We do this by creating strict rules to which our soldiers must adhere. These rules govern when they can fire, when they cannot; what type of force they can use, what type they cannot; what they can do in particular situations, and what they cannot. The reason for this is that battles can become very confusing very quickly, and the common soldier needs simple rules to guide him, to know when he is or is not allowed to killùand who is and is not the enemy.
The Rules of Engagement were drafted by our CentCom staff, and approved by General Franks and myself. They were then sent to the Department of Defense and the White House for approval. Once approved, they were final, and if we needed to override them, we needed approval from Rumsfeld. Rumsfeld, in turn, would need to get approval personally from the president, depending on the magnitude of the situation.
ôAre you sure itÆs al-Qaeda?ö Rumsfeld asked.
ôNo, weÆre not sure. But intel leads us to believe it could be.ö
There was a pause.
ôMr. Secretary, I have Admiral Moore on the other line. If itÆs all right with you, IÆll talk to him, have him fill me in, and then call you right back.ö
ôDo that.ö
I hung up and picked up with Admiral Moore.
Admiral Willy Moore was a three-star admiral, commander of the entire 5th fleet, stationed in Bahrain. Willy Moore was the best war-fighting admiral in the Navy.
ôHow reliable is this intel?ö I asked him.
ôVery,ö he answered. ôOne of my admirals called it in. His ship is 150 miles from the location. He has planes patrolling, one of which spotted it.ö
ôWhat ships do we have in the vicinity?ö
ôFrench and Canadian coalition ships, and one of ours. We have a fourteen-person Marine attachment on board the U.S. ship commanded by a First Lieutenant Zinni.ö That would be ZinniÆs son. Tony Zinni, that is, a four-star general and the previous commander of CentCom, whom General Franks had replaced. The stakes were rising.
ôDo you think itÆs al-Qaeda?ö I asked.
ôLet me talk to the secretary. Hang on.ö
I put him on hold and got back on the line with Rumsfeld.
ôHe confirmed it,ö I said to Rumsfeld.
There was a pause.
ôWhat are our options?ö Rumsfeld asked. ôCan we stop them?ö
ôWe can shoot out the engines. But theyÆre moving so fast, we only have one shot at this. And itÆs an open-hulled craft. If we shoot out the engines, chances are someone might get hit.ö
This was our first Rules of Engagement incident in international waters, and we both knew the ramifications of a wrong decision. It couldnÆt have come at a worse time, or in worse waters. At that time, tensions were at a peak between Pakistan and Indiaùthe two countries were literally on the brink of a nuclear war. We needed both sides to stay neutral, not only to help us fight in Afghanistan, but more importantly, to prevent a nuclear war. In fact, I had been spending nearly all my time in those days on the phone with Pakistani senior staff, doing all I could to calm the Pakistani side while the State Department worked India. Tensions were high, and making a mistake in these waters was the last thing we wanted to do.
Rumsfeld cleared his throat.
ôDo what you have to do.ö
I picked up the phone with the waiting admiral. It was twilight in Afghanistan.
ôDo it.ö

Library of Congress Subject Headings for this publication:

Afghan War, 2001- -- United States.
Iraq War, 2003.
United States. Middle East Central Command.
United States -- Armed Forces -- Afghanistan -- History.
United States -- Armed Forces -- Iraq -- History.
War on Terrorism, 2001-.